I’ve been noticing a great many asking questions about where to get royalty-free sound effects for their productions. A number of people suggest using freesound, but even that has its share of issues. For one, while the sounds are free for personal use, they’re not royalty-free. Secondly, the quality of sounds can be hit or miss. Finally, they often require a lot of editing before you can use the sounds. So, as an early Christmas present, I’m going to show you how and where to get a good chunk of professional-quality, royalty free sounds for free to start a nice chunk of you SFX library. I’m also going to introduce you to a free tool you can use to help you sort through your ever expanding collection of sounds.
First, were going to need a few tools to simplify our journey. You’re going to want to grab is called flashget . Flashget has a lot of nice features, but the main feature I enjoy is the ability to quickly navigate, filter and mass download based on file type. I also use this to mass download free stock images and anything else I need to download mass amounts of files from. For you mac users, you’ll have to find a program equivalent, but the idea is to be able to mass download. There are also Firefox extensions like Download Them All and a host of others.
When you install Flashget, an icon floats on your screen that looks like or similar to this:
Then the fun begins. In the address bar, type http://www.soundjay.com:
I highly recommend creating a folder structure similar to the Sound Jay setup. You may need more or less folders, but as your library grows, it’s extremely important to stay organized.
So we’ve pulled up the Sound Jay page and now we’re faced with a bunch of html page we need to sort through. The nice thing about Flashget, is that it does that for you in the directory tree on the left. Yay Flashget! As you click on the directories more directories come available as the site shows more pages. It all stay fairly organized and keeps everything pretty accessible once you get used to it. It may be helpful to run a browser with the site running in it to help you understand what’s happening.
Click ambient-sounds.html. First, you’ll notice a new page (ambient-sounds-2.html) and a jumble of files on the right. Two possibilities here:
1) You can click the Type column to sort by type, then slect the files you want to download (I highly recommend WAV over MP3, but that’s your choice).
2) Click the edit menu and select filter. In the box that follows, type the file extensions you’d like to filter separated by semicolons (.wav;.mp3).
From there, you can select all the files to download, or control-click to select specific files to download. Click the green play icon, select file > download, or right-click download to start the download dialog. Select the folder you want the sounds to download too and click OK to download:
But wait! There’s more.
Navigate Flashget over to http://www.pacdv.com/sounds/ and grab a ton more.
Still not enough?
How about 100 free professional sound effect from Blast Wave FX, owned by legendary sound effects man Ric Viers? What What What? Oh yes.. Check it out here: http://www.blastwavefx.com/Free-SFX-Download-Pack-%231/t3/articles.html
Additionally, if you register for contests at the Blast Wave FX site, they give you not only give you a bank of royalty-free sounds to work with, but also a code to get one of their download packs free (or credit toward a more expensive pack).
Sound Ideas, a standard for broadcasting and theatre companies doesn’t have free sounds. What they do have is quite possibly the most useful piece of software in my sound arsenal, MetaDigger. MetaDigger allows you to categorize and organize your sounds based on whatever keywords you enter. Additionally you can search by keyword in order to find all the audio in you collections that meet a specific criteria (“splash” “blurp” “sploosh” “sword” “clank”) once you have entered those terms into the files metadata using the program. It also allows you to audion those sounds and send them to a workfolder for use in your editing software. Pick it up at http://www.sound-ideas.com/metadigger.html.
Got more suggestions? Need more ideas? Send me your comments below and we’ll compare notes.