15 Awesome Free Sound Effects Sites

Sound effects are often the unsung heroes of our favourite movies, video games, apps, and even explainer videos. They’re an aspect that we think we don’t notice, but when they are removed it becomes very apparent that they’re missing. The most powerful examples of this can be found in horror movies. Horror is a genre that relies on using sound to evoke emotion in viewers. Take a look at this montage of horror movie scares without the sound effects:

Even though the visuals, dialogue and music is all still there, without the sound effects those scenes just don’t work. They become anti-climatic and weird. And that’s why it is so important that you don’t forget about sound effects when creating content that contains audio!

The Best Free Sound Effects Sites

There are so many sound effects sites out there that boast “the highest quality” or “the most cost-effective downloads”, but the only way of really knowing which is best is to review them. So we’ve collated 15 of the best free sound effects sites and reviewed the pros, cons, functionality and more, to help you decide which is best for you.

Freesound

freesound

Although not the prettiest site, Freesound is easy to navigate and puts a real focus on the community of people who use the site. As you can see from the above screenshot of the homepage, their blog is front and centre with lots of community updates for their users (who they affectionately call ‘Freesounders’).

It’s simple to search for any sound via the search bar, and users can view a wealth of information at a glance, including reviews, properties, download amounts, and the license:

freesound-download

The community feel of the site continues here too, with users able to follow each other and listen to similar sounds with just one click.

Pros

  • All sounds are absolutely free
  • Account set up is quick and easy
  • Sound effects are of a high quality

Cons

  • You cannot download without setting up an account
  • Not all sounds are available for commercial use
  • Limited search filters

Library Size

Almost 400,000 sound effects, with more added every day.

Licensing

Sound effects can be listed under 3 different licenses. Here’s a quick summary of each:

  1. Zero – free commercial and non-commercial use
  2. Attribution – free commercial use, but attribution is required
  3. Attribution Non-Commercial – free for non-commercial use, but attribution is required

For a more detailed explanation, visit the Freesound FAQs page.

AudioMicro

audiomicro

AudioMicro is a huge site that includes stock music as well as sound effects. As you can see, the search bar is unmissable, making it very easy to get started on your search for sound effects.

Although the homepage boasts free sound effects, the majority of those on the site are charged at a flat rate of $4.95 per sound effect. It can cost more for a premium sound effect, but the standard ones sound great too. They also have a membership option, starting at $14.95/month for 5 sounds, going all the way to $199.95/month for 250 sounds (this reduces the cost per sound effect to $0.80).

Pros

  • The license agreement allows you to use your sound effect for pretty much any commercial project
  • It’s easy to filter your search by category, length, cost, and more
  • You can create a favourites list

Cons

  • You cannot download without setting up an account
  • Most sound effects aren’t free
  • The same price is charged regardless of sound effect length or quality

Library Size

Just over 420,000 sound effects, with around 2,000 of those being free.

Licensing

The license agreement allows you to use your sound effect for pretty much any commercial project. The only prohibited uses refer to distribution, for example, selling the sound effect as part of a media tool, like an e-card platform.

SoundBible

soundbible

One of the more simple websites on our list, SoundBible boasts lots of sound clips, but there is no easy way to filter through them. There is a search bar on the homepage that you can use to find sound effects by keywords, but no way to refine those results further.

However, the sound effects are of a high quality, free and all are available in both WAV and MP3 file formats. Plus, there’s no need to create an account!

The website also makes it really easy to see the licensing agreement of each sound effect, so you don’t have to waste your time looking at effects that you won’t be able to use for your project:

soundbible

Pros

  • There are options for WAV or MP3 for each sound effect
  • It’s easy to see the license for each sound effect
  • There is a separate tab for royalty free sounds to avoid confusion

Cons

  • No filtering options
  • Most sound effects require attribution for creative use
  • Not the friendliest user interface

Library Size

The site boasts thousands, but the exact number is not listed.

Licensing

A mixture of public domain, non-commercial, and attribution.

99 Sounds

99-sounds

According to the 99 Sounds website, their goal is to ‘provide free sound effects and sample libraries of commercial quality, at no charge.’ So you can rest assured that all sound effects on this site are 100% royalty free for commercial use.

99 Sounds is less like a sound effect directory, and more like a small collection of themed sound effects. There is no way to search and download an individual sound, you can only download a themed collection:

99-sounds-downloads

The collections are presented in a nice, clean format and almost look like they have album covers. But because of the themed nature of the collections, there probably isn’t something for everyone here.

Pros

  • All sound effects are free for commercial use
  • You can get your hands on a giant, themed collection
  • The website looks great and is easy to navigate

Cons

  • Collections are huge and take a long time to download
  • The collections haven’t been updated since 2016
  • There is no search option

Library Size

32 collections.

Licensing

All royalty free for commercial use.

FreeSFX

free-sfx

FreeSFX is a ‘no-frills’ sound effects site, but it is super-easy to navigate. From the homepage, you can either use the big search bar at the top, click one of the categories on the left-hand side, or use the tabs to find a sound effect.

It’s not the biggest site out there, and if you search for something that they don’t have you will be taken to a 404 page. This happened a couple of times when we were trying it out.

You need to create an account to be able to download sound effects, but it is quick and free to do so. The biggest downfall of this site is that the quality of the effects is hit and miss.

Pros

  • It’s free
  • Easy navigation
  • The website has royalty free music too

Cons

  • All downloads are MP3 (no option for WAV file)
  • Attribution is required for each use
  • The library is small

Library Size

Approx. 3,000.

Licensing

Free for commercial use, but attribution required.

Noise For Fun

noise-for-fun

There are many sites that feature the same regurgitated sound effects, but what’s so great about Noise for Fun is that they boast fresh, original, self-produced sound effects. That means all of the sound effects on their site are exclusive, and on top of that, all sounds are provided in 44.1 khz stereo WAV format.

Out of all of the sites so far, this one is the most true to the term ‘sound effects’. All of the sound bites are short, punchy snippets that would be used to emphasise an action through sound.

Their library of sound effects is small, with only 10 categories. But the site is in beta, so maybe more will be added in the future.

Pros

  • It’s free
  • No sign up required
  • Exclusive sounds

Cons

  • The effects wouldn’t suit all projects
  • Attribution is required for each use
  • The library is very small

Library Size

The exact number isn’t listed but after looking around the site we would estimate less than 1,000.

Licensing

Free for commercial use, but attribution required.

SoundEffects+

soundeffects+

Similar to Noise for Fun, SoundEffects+ is a site full of exclusive sound effects that are all designed, recorded, and produced by the site’s team of audio professionals. According to the about us page, all of their sound effects are ‘recorded with state of the art audio equipment, carefully edited, and mastered to be clean and crisp without any unwanted noise or interference.’

They have a list of impressive clients, including LG and Sony, and all of their sound effects are royalty free and available in MP3 and WAV formats.

You do need to register to download the sound effects, like most of these sites, but the registration form is a little longer than most that only ask for your email address and password.

Pros

  • Exclusive sound effects
  • Attribution not required
  • High quality sound effects

Cons

  • Lengthy registration form
  • All files come with an audio watermark
  • The site has almost 50,000 members sharing those sound effects

Library Size

Over 5,000.

Licensing

Royalty free, for both non-commercial and commercial use.

BBC Sound Effects

BBC-SFX

That’s right, even the BBC are in on the sound effects party! Their site, BBC Sound Effects, has a large library of WAV format sound effects that are free for personal, educational, or research purposes.

The site isn’t much to look at, but it is very functional. The only problem we found was with the search bar, which wasn’t very intuitive. For example, it couldn’t recognise ‘beeping’ or ‘car beeping’. To find this sound effect we had to type in ‘car horn’.

If you want to use the sound effect in a commercial setting, then it’s easy to click a link to be sent to another site called ProSoundEffects where you can buy the license to use it.

Pros

  • Large library
  • High-quality sound effects
  • No sign up needed

Cons

  • Not free for commercial use
  • The search is hard to use
  • A lot of the sound effects are long and will need to be cut before use

Library Size

16,000.

Licensing

Royalty free for non-commercial use, and a paid option for commercial use.

Zapsplat

zapsplat

Zapsplat boasts a collection of over 25,000 royalty free sound effects, and also a collection of royalty free music. The ability to post requests, along with the ‘top searches’ section, gives the website a ‘social media’ feel.

You do need to sign up for an account to download sound effects, and you must include attribution if you use the sound effect for commercial purposes. However, if you give a donation (a minimum of £20 per year or a monthly fee set by you) you don’t have to give attribution.

You can download sounds individually or as a pack of similar effects, and it is easy to choose either MP3 or WAV.

Pros

  • Social media feel
  • Easy to use
  • Donations are flexible

Cons

  • Sign up required
  • Not the greatest-looking site
  • The search results often bring up a lot of choice, causing it to feel overwhelming at times

Library Size

25,000+

Licensing

Attribution required for commercial use, but this can be removed for a small donation.

SoundGator

soundgator

Similar to Zapsplat, SoundGator has also borrowed some features from social media sites, including the ability to make friends with other users and send messages back and forth. But that is seemingly where the similarities end.

SoundGator has a very small library of sound effects and, although there is a ‘recently added’ section and a prominent search bar on the home page, it is difficult to find specific sounds.

However, SoundGator is unique in the fact that it includes voice clips as well as sound effects. These are quite random, and could in no way be used as a replacement for a voiceover in your video, but would be great for the odd character exclamation.

Pros

  • You can communicate with other site users
  • Voice clips are available
  • All sounds are free for commercial use

Cons

  • Small library
  • Search bar is not very intuitive
  • Registration is required

Library Size

Approx. 1,000

Licensing

Free for non-commercial and commercial use.

Sound Jay

sound-jay

One of the first things that stands out about Sound Jay is that there is no search bar. The only way to search for sound effects is by clicking on one of the ten categories on the homepage, as you can see from the screenshot above.

Clicking on a category, say ‘weather’, will take you to a list of more niche categories, for example: ‘rain sounds’, ‘wind sounds’ etc.

The sound effects on Sound Jay are 16 bit stereo 44.1 kHz or 48 kHz high-quality, and available in MP3 or WAV format. The size is also disclosed before download, which is helpful. Although the library seems small, there is a message on the homepage advising users to bookmark the site as they often add new sounds.

Pros

  • High-quality sound effects
  • No sign up required
  • All sounds are free for commercial use

Cons

  • Small library
  • No search bar
  • Tons of ads

Library Size

The navigation of the website makes it too difficult to know for sure, but it is clear that the library is small compared to other sites on this list.

Licensing

Free for non-commercial and commercial use.

PacDV

PacDV

PacDV has been around since 2001 and their sound effects have been featured in a variety of films and TV programmes.

At first glance, the layout is very similar to Sound Jay. There is no search bar and the only way to find sound effects is to navigate through the list of ten categories on the left-hand side. However, whereas Sound Jay has categories that become more and more niche, PacDV sticks with the broad categories and that makes it more difficult to find what you’re looking for.

Some of the files are WAV and some are MP3, so it is kind of just ‘luck of the draw’ when it comes to finding sound effects for your project. The sound effects are free for commercial use and you are not required to give attribution, but PacDV does politely ask for it!

Pros

  • It’s a long-standing website
  • No sign up required
  • All sounds are free for commercial use

Cons

  • Small library
  • No search bar
  • Difficult to navigate

Library Size

The navigation of the website makes it too difficult to know for sure, but we can estimate that they have a couple of thousand.

Licensing

All royalty-free for commercial use.

GR Sites

GR-Sites

At its heart, GR Sites is for web designers. The main bulk of their offering includes background images and textures, type-fonts, and other design elements that would be useful for web designers. A small part of that includes sound effects.

GR Sites has an archive of 2,000 sound effects across 30 different categories, and all are available in either WAV or MP3 format.

It’s free, quick, and easy to download one-off effects, but you can only use them for non-commercial use. For commercial use, you need to purchase a license for $50.

Pros

  • Free for non-commercial use
  • No sign up required
  • Lots of categories to choose from

Cons

  • No search bar
  • A charge for commercial use
  • Sound effects are only one small part of the site’s focus

Library Size

2,000

Licensing

Free for non-commercial use, but a charge for commercial use.

Sound Effects for Free

sound-effects-for-free

Sound Effects for Free is great for people who are new to the world of sound effects. They even have a ‘New? Start Here’ section that breaks everything down. The site boasts no fees, no catch, and unlimited downloads for users.

Users can choose to search for sound effects and navigate the website by the categories drop-down option. Each effect has a star rating by previous users, making it easier for you to whittle down your choices.

Users are required to register to download sound effects, but can use their social accounts (like Facebook and Google) to do so.

Pros

  • Free for commercial use
  • User-friendly
  • You can login with your social accounts

Cons

  • Downloads expire
  • Sign up is required
  • All the effects we could find were WAV format only

Library Size

According to their site, it is never-ending!

Licensing

All royalty free for commercial use.

Partners in Rhyme

partners-in-rhyme

When you visit Partners in Rhyme, it is clear to see that it is a well-organised directory of sound effects. All of the sound effects are categorised in a way that makes it easy to find what you’re looking for. There’s also a search bar to give you the option to search via keyword.

Clicking on a category will usually take you to a different site that hosts the sound effects. All of these (that we came across) were royalty free, however some cost a couple of dollars to download.

All of the sound effects we found were available in WAV or MP3, and none of the sites that Partners in Rhyme linked to required users to sign up for an account.

Pros

  • Lots of choice
  • It’s easy to find what you’re looking for
  • No sign up required

Cons

  • Opens a new tab for every sound effect
  • Not all sound effects are free
  • The search bar isn’t specific to sound effects, so you’ll get results for other things too

Library Size

Thousands

Licensing

All royalty free.

TL;DR? Here’s Our Top 3

1. FreeSound

FreeSound has over 400,000 FREE sound effects! We also really like how clear they make everything for users. All you could possibly want to know–file format, file size, bitdepth, star rating–is all there in front of you.

2. SoundEffects+

We liked that SoundEffects+ didn’t require users to sign up to download their sound effects. It’s also a huge benefit that they create all of their own sound effects. It gives you peace of mind that everything you download from them is unique.

3. Sound Effects for Free

It’s awesome that Sound Effects for Free allows you to sign up using your social accounts. It’s also really user-friendly, and the huge library of sound effects are all free, so you don’t need to worry about reading licensing agreements.

Summary

Considering how much of an impact sound effects have, it’s amazing to see how inexpensive they are. Most of the sites we reviewed didn’t even charge a penny for their sound effects.

But more important than obtaining your sound effects, is learning how to use them correctly in order to make your content as compelling as possible. Now that you’re up to speed with the best sound effects sites, take a look at our round up of the best royalty free music sites.