Whether you’re making a short film and need sounds to go with your action sequences, or just want some fun noises for your vlog or challenge video, it’s easy to find great sound effects you can use for free online.
Here are 7 places to download free sound effects! Or, if you’re interested in making your own, click here to jump to ‘Make Your Own Sound Effects’.
Filmora Video Editor provides you with a huge library of free sound effects without download from anywhere else. There are 25 pieces of sound effect available in Filmora, such as transition swoosh, cinematic horn, beep sound and phone ring.
If you do not see the sound effect you want in Filmora, you can also go to the online effect store to find out more sound effects. The sounds are in.wav or mp3 files, so you do not have to use them inside Filmora only. They’re free to use for everyone after downloading, no matter what video editor you use.
The Filmstock audio effect library covers sound effects in different categories: nature sounds, animal sounds, movie sounds, gun sounds, fireworks, bird sounds, cricket sounds, wet sounds, dog barking, water sounds, guitar sounds, city sounds, monster sounds, laughing sounds, dinosaur sounds, fart sounds, pet sounds, dog sounds, car sounds, video game, and thunderstorm.
Sounds on Freesound are uploaded by users under various Creative Commons licenses (some may require attribution, some may not allow commercial use).
The easiest way to browse the sounds on Freesound is probably to click into Sounds in the top menu, and then ‘Browse tags’ in the menu on the right of your screen. All of the tags on the site will be displayed, and the most commonly used ones will be biggest. The tags include what the sounds are meant to be (i.e. percussion or thunder) and what type of sounds they are (i.e. field-recording or synth).
PacDV has been producing sound effects since 2001. You can browse and download sounds individually from their site, or download all at once in a huge bundle. You can use all the sounds for free (you just can’t sell them or provide direct download links to other people).
On the left of the website there’s a menu where you can choose what kinds of sound effects you’re interested in. The categories are:
Ambience: this is where you’ll find general background sounds, like ‘car interior’ or ‘grocery store’. Even when nothing in particular is happening, locations have sounds. This is also where you’ll find things like crowd noises.
Domestic: these are sounds you hear around the home, like sounds related to doors and appliances.
Interfaces: a lot of tech sounds live here, like beeps and clicks. Beeps are all titled ‘Beep’, but nothing else is really labeled beyond being called ‘Interface Sound’. You just have to listen and find out.
Machines: a variety of different machine sounds can be found here, from power tools like chainsaws and drills to things like typewriters or paper shredders.
Mechanical: this is where you’ll find sounds associated with cameras, coin slots, zippers, and more.
People: laughing, clapping, footsteps and even farts – this is where you’ll find human sounds.
Transportation: these sounds are all related to vehicles, be they cars or airplanes.
Voices: here you’ll find voices saying common things like ‘hi’, ‘aaah’, or ‘come on’.
Music: PacDV also has a selection of royalty free music. If you use it in your video, you need to give them credit by including Music by www.pacdv.com/sounds/ in your video description.
Miscellaneous: sounds that don’t quite fit into other categories.
The sounds on Sound Bible are either in the public domain, which means anyone can use them for anything without restriction, or licensed under the Creative Commons Attribution 3.0 License, which means you just need to provide a credit for the person who created the effect you use. When you click on sound effects on Sound Bible you’ll be able to see whether the effect is Public Domain or Attribution 3.0, and it will tell you who the sound was recorded by. Both public domain and Attribution 3.0 sounds are available for commercial use.
This site has a search function, so if you want dog sounds you can search for ‘dog’. This might be easier than trying to pick the category closest to what you’re looking for and just scrolling through, like you do on some sites.
Sound Bible is updated about 3 times a week, so you can always check back for fresh sounds.
Sound Gator has a huge number of sound effects divided into too many categories to list (24). The categories tend to be very specific, like ‘drink sound effects’ or ‘phone sound effects. If you don’t see a category that sounds like what you’re looking for, make sure to check under Misc Sound Effects because there are 68 Mp3#s in there for everything from tools to static.
You can sort the sound effects on Sound Gator by date added, popularity, top rated, runtime, top favorites, or most discussed.
Sounds Crate is part of the larger Production Crate which provides all kinds of resources to creators for free (you can upgrade to a paid account to access exclusive content, but there’s a lot of great content available for free). The categories available on Sounds Crate are:
Ambient: room tones and general background noises from nature or cities.
Animal: includes things like puppy barks and angry cats.
Blades and Metal: you’ll find sounds from swords, chains, and other metal implements here.
Crashes and Debris: perfect for action, this is where you’ll find sounds associated with destruction.
Electricity: things like electrical blasts and charges can be found here.
Electronics: any sound made by anything electrical, like beeps and appliance sounds.
Explosions and Bangs: if you have a visual explosion effect, you’ll probably need to combine it with something from here.
Fight: find sounds associated with action sequences, like whooshes and punches.
Gun Related: everything from reloads to gunshots.
Impact: any kind of thud or shattering sound.
Lock n’ Load: although there are some ‘gun checking’ sounds in here, it’s mostly clothing related sounds like zippers and Velcro.
Movement: wind sounds and whooshes.
People: sounds humans make, from voices to footsteps.
Sci-Fi SFX: zaps, beeps, and sci-fi ambience.
Vehicle: includes both common vehicles like cars and less-common vehicles like tanks.
Weapons: both modern weapons like missiles and old-timey things like arrows.
Zapsplat claims to be the fastest growing free sound effects library on the internet. With more than 23,999 professional sounds, and more being added every week, they might just be right. The owner of the site, Alan McKinney, adds 500 sound effects every week by himself and the site also accepts sounds from contributors. All of their sounds were recorded using professional equipment and then edited to make them perfect.
You can even send Alan a message and request specific sound effects if you can’t already find what you want on the site.
On Zapsplat you can browse 26 categories including fantasy, warfare, and animals for individual sounds. Or, you can visit the Free SFX Packs section and download a set of related sounds together. Packs include ‘Magic Wand’, ‘Science Fiction Alarms’, and ‘Cartoon Boings’.
Part 2: Make Your Own Sound Effects for YouTube Videos
Here are some easy ways you can make your own sound effects at home.
1. Making Natural Sounds
Fire using cellophane. Just crinkle the cellophane wrap to create a sound like a crackling fire. Chip bags work too.
Rain using rice. Sprinkle rice (or birdseed) onto a thin metal sheet.
Alternatively for rain, you could record the sound of bacon frying.
Wind using a Ziploc. Fill a large ziplock with air and then open the bag a bit and force the air out.
Thunder with aluminum. Just shake a sheet of aluminum to make a thunder sound.
2. Making Action or Sci-Fi Sounds
Ticking Bomb with a clock. Any clock that ticks will do.
Hits/Blows with a pillow. Hit a pillow to make a sound like a body blow. For really hard hits, you might want to whack a sofa cushion with a broomstick.
Bones breaking with celery. Just snap the celery stalks in half.
Richard Bennett is a writer and a lover of all things video.