Previously, we shared with you how (and why) you should use sound effects to your advantage in a podcast. You may have decided to incorporate some new fun sounds into your audio show and might be wondering where to find them. Particularly, you might be in search of cheap - or free - high quality sound effects that won't get you in trouble for copyright infringement.
Thankfully, the internet is a wonderful place where several websites with downloadable sound effects live. Listed below are some online sound effects libraries we recommend checking out!
The Freesound Project (or Freesound for short) is the most popular sound effects database on the internet. It's a collaborative resource where anyone can upload their own recorded clips and make them available for use on various “Creative Commons” licenses (commercial, non-commercial, etc).
While some of the sound effects on FreeSound are low quality, there's plenty of good stuff, too. It's a nice place to start if you're quickly looking for a simple sound effect for your show.
With a library of over 92,000 sounds, ZapSplat is another great resource for sound effects. It's a freemium tool - meaning it's mostly free, but you'll face restrictions unless you get a subscription. In the free version, you'll need to credit ZapSplat in your shownotes for every sound you use. You're also limited to MP3 downloads, and can only download a maximum of 3 sounds per 10 minutes.
Upgrading to a Gold membership removes the need to give credit, and allows for unlimited WAV downloads. But even with the free version of ZapSplat, all the sounds in the database are very high quality. You'll find lots of variations on the same kinds of sounds, too. If you're serious about sound effects, going Gold might be worth the investment.
YouTube Audio Library
YouTube isn't just for watching funny cat videos: it's also a wonderful place to find free sound effects! YouTube has a specific tool built in to help creators with their videos and audio projects called the YouTube Audio Library. You can download thousands of royalty-free sound effects and tunes right off of it.
If you have a YouTube account, you can access the audio library through your YouTube Creator Studio. Not to mention, all of the effects are very good quality.
A Sound Effect
A great resource for audio drama or fiction podcasts, A Sound Effect is a huge marketplace for sound effects bundles. You can buy a pack with 89 sounds of clay pots breaking! Or a bundle of 789 sounds just of male fighting vocals! There really is a sound effect for every scenario on this site.
The only downside is that the packs can get very pricey. So if you're trying to find a very niche sound effect for your show and you're at the end of your rope, looking on A Sound Effect is a good last resort.
Offering sounds in either WAV or MP3 format, SoundBible is a holy addition to our list. (See what we did there?) Downloads are totally free, and upfront with large download buttons to prevent confusion. The website also has a blog where sound effect packs can be found if you're looking to save time.
SoundGator is similar to Freesound in a lot of ways. It's doesn't have the largest selection of sounds out there, but everything is royalty-free and doesn't cost a cent.
One cool feature on SoundGator is you can subscribe to members who post audio content on the site. So if you like one person's sound effects, you can subscribe to them to see every time they post a new sound!
Storyblocks is another subscription-based sound effects database. You can get unlimited music and sound effects there for as little as $12.41 a month. Everything is royalty-free, fresh new content is always being added, and anything you download once is available to be re-downloaded in the future.
Podcastle is the new kid on the block. They're a young start-up that's already won a Webby Award and Product Hunt's Golden Kitty Award for their broadcasting toolkit. A huge boon of choosing to use Podcastle to record and edit your podcast is that the website also has an integrated library with sound effects and 7,000+ music tracks that you can add to your podcasts while recording! The browser-based platform already comes with a free library to access, but if you want even more sounds, you'll need to upgrade your package.
Music Radio Creative
Last but not least on our list, there's Music Radio Creative. If it's sound effects for radio-style jingles, swooshes, stingers, or podcast intros you're looking for, this is definitely a site to check out.
They're a secret weapon for audio branding, and you can buy custom-made effects, transitions, and even voiceovers right off their website. It's also very budget-friendly. If you run an unscripted conversational or interview show and want to make people think you have a bigger budget than you actually do, Music Radio Creative is a go-to website!
When In Doubt, Make Your Own!
If you've pored through all these sites and can't find the right sound effect for your podcast needs, don't be afraid to make your own! While it can be time-consuming, you'll save a lot of money and get some wicked bragging rights.
If you're looking for a resource to help you get started, we recommend reading The Sound Effects Bible by Ric Viers. Who knows - you might enjoy making your own sound effects so much, you'll start a new career as a Hollywood foley artist! Or maybe you'll make your own online sound effects database.
We hope you enjoyed our recommendations. If you're looking for great resources that offer free music for your podcasts and radio shows, check out our article, Music for Podcasts. There you'll find online databases similar to the ones listed in this post that specialize in quality royalty-free music.
That's all for now. Happy podcasting!
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