Open source sounds
Sometimes I need a short sound clip for a software project – maybe a click when a user selects something, a buzzer or bell when a timer expires, or some special effect for opening and closing documents. Making and recording sounds can be a real time sink, depending on the equipment and software that you have available.
I will use FLStudio with software synths to make some sounds or pieces of music. The Sytrus hybrid synthesizer is usually my first choice, but recently I have been starting to use the Morphine additive synth. Morphine works well for me if I have an existing sample or recording as a starting point. If you are purchasing an image line product, consider using my affiliate link – you will save 10% on your purchase, and I can earn discounts on my future purchases.
Although I really enjoy working with sounds, I can easily spend hours playing around. Sometimes, I’m better off just finding exactly what I want that someone else has already made. For public domain sounds, FreeSound.org has a great collection. These are available for use under the creative commons license; in effect you need to attribute the work to the creator in a way that doesn’t imply an endorsement.
Recently I found that iStockPhoto now also offers sound files in addition to images. Here you can buy royalty free sound clips for use in any project. I have used iStock for both buying and selling photos, and it looks like their interface for sound files is as good as the one for images. So far their library isn’t as extensive as it could be, but it seems to be growing quickly.
For editing sound files and converting formats, I’ve grown pretty attached to Audacity. This is an open source sound editor, that does pretty much everything I need or could imagine needing. It handles multiple tracks, so it’s easy to layer sounds together to get a special combination. It includes plenty of effects, from the standard amplitude and frequency changes to echoes, phasers and wah type effects. The noise removal and normalizing functions work well, and make it very easy to clean up samples.
Using royalty free samples and open source editing software, I can now get sounds done in a few minutes. It’s not as much fun as building them from scratch with softsyths, but the time savings usually makes up for that.