I want to trigger an event if an enemy (or player) can hear a sound generated from other enemy/player.

How to implement a sound detection system ?


  • \$\begingroup\$ Can or potentially could? There are plenty of reasons why you might not hear even quite loud sounds. \$\endgroup\$ – wondra May 20 '18 at 9:40
  • \$\begingroup\$ Potentially could: maybe with a sphere collider .. ? \$\endgroup\$ – stighy May 20 '18 at 9:46
  • 2
    \$\begingroup\$ This depends a lot on how complex you want the system to be. It could be as simple as a radius check on key events, or as complicated as simulating sound propagation through doorways or around obstacles. Can you give us a bit more context so we can understand the scope of what you need in more detail? \$\endgroup\$ – DMGregory May 20 '18 at 12:06
  • \$\begingroup\$ Not complex: the enemy must hear a sound near him without regarding wall etc... like a simple sphere collider ... but how ? \$\endgroup\$ – stighy May 20 '18 at 13:14

When it comes to AI actors reacting to noises, then most games do not actually jack into the audio system. The reason is that it is far too unpredictable from a gameplay perspective.

Enemies reacting to noises is something you usually focus on in stealth-based games. And stealth-based games often play more like puzzle games than action games. This also applies to the level design. In order to create a good puzzle, you need to know exactly how your pieces interact. If you use a real audio engine with occultation, dampening, reflections etc. (which Unity won't do out-of-the-box, but there are ways to do these things) and use audio clips as inputs which can change during development, then your AI actors behavior becomes quite unpredictable. This makes it very difficult to design enemy encounters which play out the way you want them to.

It also makes the game very unintuitive to play. In most games, players develop a feeling for the hearing range of the enemies and use that information to plan their strategies. But with a realistic audio engine, hearing ranges can be very dependent on environmental details. It will become very difficult for the player to estimate what the AI opponents will hear and what they won't hear. This can become very frustrating.

For that reason you should create an own audio detection system which is separated from the actual audio system. When the player performs an action which generates a sound the AI actors are supposed to react to, then use Physics.OverlapSphere (or Physics2D.OverlapCircle if your game uses 2d physics) to find any AI actors in range and inform them of the player's position and the nature of the sound. Your AI should then measure the distance to the player and decide what to do with that information.

If you don't want AI actors to be able to hear the player through walls, you can use a Physics.Linecast / Physics2D.Linecast to detect obstructions. Increase the distance accordingly when your AI actor decides whether or not it reacts to that input.


From Unity's Audio Listener API it seems like there is no way to check if the camera hears a sound or not.

The only solution I can think, is to control manually the volume of a specific AudioSource based on its distance from the camera. So that you can get that AudioSource's volume to see if the sound is actually audible or not.


Your Answer

By clicking “Post Your Answer”, you agree to our terms of service, privacy policy and cookie policy

Not the answer you're looking for? Browse other questions tagged or ask your own question.