When I was 14 years old, I bought a CD full of sound effects. I paid good money for it, too. The CD included around 20-30 sound effects of everything from a baby crying to ocean waves, and I would pop it in my CD player and listen to the sound effects. That’s about all I could do with them, except for recording them onto a tape, maybe. So why did I buy it? Because sound effects are awesome, and you never know when you might need them.
If you like or need to use sound effects, things look quite different now. Today you can find hundreds of good-quality sound effects for free, just by searching the right websites. Do you need sound effects for a prairie dog in a blender? No problem. You only need to know where to look.
Below you will find 5 great resources where you’ll be able to find almost any sound effect you can think of, available for immediate listening and download. As always, don’t forget to read the terms carefully for each website to make sure you know exactly what you’re allowed and not allowed to do with the audio you download.
FindSounds is a great source of free audio clips, and offers pretty much anything you can think of in terms of sound effects. All you have to do is search the vast database. You can screen your results by file format, number of channels, minimum resolution and minimum sample rate. The website is also available in several languages, including Spanish, Chinese and Russian.
If you’re looking for sound effects on your mobile device, you can try the mobile version of FindSounds, or the FindSounds Android app. Once you find some sound effects, you can listen to them or download them to your computer. You can also tweet them or email them straight from FindSounds’s interface.
FreeSound is an online community dedicated to sound effects and audio clips. Users who register with the site can download clips from the huge FreeSound database, as well as upload their own audio clips. At the time of this writing, FreeSound is experiencing a temporary email problem which is preventing users from registering, but hopefully the issue will be resolved soon.
Even without registering, you can explore the vast FreeSound database by searching for keywords or through tags, and filter your results by file format, sample rate, bit depth and number of channels. Each audio clip also includes detailed licensing information.
FreeSound is also a community, and as such it boasts a busy forum where you can posts requests for specific sound effects you can’t find and ask any audio related question you might have.
Sound Jay is a smaller database, but is a good source for free sound effects you might not find anywhere else. The site is not searchable by keyword, but you can easily find what you’re looking for by browsing the 10 available categories. You can listen to each sound effect before downloading, and then download it as either Mp3 or WAV file.
There’s no filtering options provided, but since the database is not too large, it’s not a major issue. Aside from sound effects, Sound Jay also includes some royalty-free free music tracks you can download and use.
AudioMicro is a stock music library which also offers a large collection of sound effects you can download for free. The library includes over 2,000 free sound effects, ranging from animal sounds to musical instruments and science fiction sounds. You can browse the collection by category or search by keywords, but note that searching tends to bring up paid options rather than free ones. If you browse the free categories manually, you’ll be able to stick to the free collection.
An account is required in order to download sound effects, but you’re able to listen to each one before you decide. If you don’t want to create an account, you can log in using Google, Facebook and others
With thousands of free sound effects and music tracks, FreeSFX is another great place to look for free sound effects. There are hundreds of categories you can browse through, including whole categories for crashes, public places, sports and more. Alternatively, you can search for effects by keyword. An account is required in order to download files.
Could You Not Find What You’re Looking For?
These 5 websites together offer a huge amount of free audio clips and sound effects. On the off chance you still couldn’t find what you’re looking for, be sure to check 5 more great websites for free sound effects we’ve written about in the past.
Do you know of another great resource I missed? Are you looking for an effect you can’t find anywhere? Tell us about it in the comments.
Image credit: Sound effects image via Shutterstock