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Finding, creating and using free sound effects for YouTube videos

 

So, you’re a YouTuber and are making great videos, or are about to get started on your creative journey. There are so many things you need to master to make your videos shine and be engaging and interesting to your audience. One of those things is the sound… and there’s a lot to know. So in this guide, we’ll discuss what type of sound effects you can use and for what purpose, where to find them or how to create them and how to use them legally.

YouTubers make up a large portion of our members here at ZapSplat so we spend a lot of time and resources creating free sound effects that you can download and use safe in the knowledge they’re 100% legal and won’t throw any content ID claims. Every single sound in our library has either been created by the ZapSplat team, or we work closely with our contributors and vet every sound we host guaranteeing they’re all royalty free.

Sound is half of the viewer’s experience and some producers often neglect the importance of it. While it’s true that sometimes less is more, well placed and cleverly thought out usage of audio in your videos will bring them to life. This article explains why and is a great read. Things like transition sounds to move the viewer from one scene to the next are often the missing piece that can help add a sparkle and more professional edge to your creation. Or a subtle background noise can help immerse the viewer into the scene.

 

What type of sound effects are there and how should you use them?

This is a great question and one that we will answer below. Keep in mind, creativity is subjective and you should consider your audience, or the message your video is trying to get across. How you use the visual and audio elements will translate this message in the appropriate way if done right.

Spot sound effects

Spot sound effects are sounds that represent a single event. These one-shot sounds can be anything from an impact, punch, kiss, splat… you get the picture. They’re often the most heavily used sound as depending on how complex the scene or environment the sounds are being placed into is, the more there will be and they will likely need to be layered correctly to sound just right.

Ambience/background sounds

As the name suggests, these sounds typically don’t represent an action or event, but allow you to add depth and sometimes realism to your video. These could be anything from nature sounds (rain, wind, thunder, birds etc.) to subtle drones, air atmospheres or even more abstract elements for things like science fiction themed works. These recordings are usually long (2 to 5 minutes) and would be more subtle and quieter in your videos.

Production elements

A production element is a sound (often designed) that enhances something in an exaggerated way. A good example is a transition effect. Probably the most classic transition is the whoosh, the fast airy swiping sound that you hear that splices one scene to another. These audio cues help tell the user ‘on to the next scene’, and can convey a passing of time or space. But please do not fall into the trap of overusing this type of transition effect, it’s kind of overused (but still great). Be creative and find alternatives. Depending on the theme of your video, you can experiment with musical sounds and many others to get the right effect.

 

Why should I use a sound library like ZapSplat and not just use commercial music or other sounds?

When you use a sound and music library such as us, you’re acquiring a License to use the sounds and music legally in your videos. This means when you download any of the audio found here, or on another stock library, you’re granted permission by the copyright owner of each file to use it. It’s important to remember, we are granting you the rights to use the audio, NOT transferring ownership. This means you can use the sounds as stated in our License Agreement and it’s important to follow those terms.

If you simply rip music from a commercial music release, you’ll be using music (or sounds) without permission of the copyright owner/publisher. Not only will it almost certainly throw up a content ID claim or copyright strike, it will also leave you open to legal action. So, don’t do that, it’s just not worth the risk. Using a professional stock library such as ZapSplat.com means you’re using audio created specifically for synchronisation in audio/visual works and you have the rights to do so.

 

What are some of the most popular sounds used in YouTube videos at ZapSplat?

Okay, so if you’re at the stage after reading the above to get on with finding sounds for your next video, here are some of our most popular with YouTubers. Continue reading for more info on how to use them legally and more resources you’ll find useful.

How to use our sound effects in your videos

If you haven’t already, sign up for a free account with us. Once you’ve done that you’ll be able to start downloading our sfx right away, instantly to your device. There are a few questions we get asked Frequently regarding attribution and complying with our License Agreement, so here we will clear up a few of those questions.

 

How do I credit ZapSplat?

Crediting us is required if you’re a free Basic member. We have made this easy and there are a number of ways you can do it. The most common method is to mention in your YouTube video description that the sound effects were obtained from ZapSplat. A simple line of text such as “Sound Effects from ZapSplat.com” is enough, but if you wish to go one step further, you can also credit the contributor, such as “sound effect by [contributor name] from ZapSplat.com. Our contributors aways welcome a little recognition for their work.

 

Do I have to credit ZapSplat and what if I don’t want to?

As per our License Agreement, yes you are required to credit us as a Basic member. However to remove this requirement, you can upgrade for the price of a coffee which removes the need to attribute us. To find our more about that, click here.

 

Will I receive a content ID claim or copyright strike for using your sounds?

No, you won’t. We spend a lot of time and energy making sure all our sounds are safe for YouTube. If this did happen, which is highly unlikely, just let us know and we will get this resolved for you.

 

Can I use your sounds in relaxation videos?

This is a big one and a question we get asked A LOT. The answer depends on a couple of things. Yes you can, so long as our sounds are not the only element used in the relaxation video. You can take our sounds, mix them with other sounds and music for this purpose. But you can not just take, for example, one of our rain sounds and loop it without mixing any other sounds or music with it.

For more information, please read our License Agreement which explains everything you need to know.

 

How many YouTube videos can I use them in?

Okay so this is something that sometimes our users get confused by. Basically, you can download and use our sfx and songs in unlimited videos, so long as you credit us in each one separately (unless you have donated and upgraded, then there is no requirement). If you’ve upgraded to Gold, any sound or song downloaded from our website retains the attribution removal for life.

That’s about it… basically as long as you follow the terms set out in our License Agreement, you can download and use our sounds legally and safely and use them to take your videos to the next level.

Other recommended sound effect libraries

We are not the only online sound library you can use and while we are certain you’ll find more than you need here at ZapSplat, we also recommend you check out the following resources. This list will be updated regularly, so check back for more. The list includes free and paid resources, which are labeled accordingly.

 

YouTube sound library (free)

You’ll kick yourself if you didn’t realise this library was available for you and has thousands of free sound effects for you to use. The library contains a wide variety and will prove extremely useful, so go check it out

Check it out

 

Adobe Audition library (free)

If you have an active license to use Adobe Audition, you also are allowed to use this HUGE library of thousands of professional sound effects conveniently arranged into themed folders for quick download.

Check it out

 

FreeToUseSounds.com (free)

If you’ve not come across Marcel and Libby’s sound library yet, you’ll be glad you found them. The two young sound recordists are travelling the world documenting their time by recording mostly ambience sound effects from the countries they visit. They have very generously allowed these libraries to be completely free to download (or you can pay a fee to say thanks). This is such a unique library and one that’s continually growing. The library is facinating to listen to and use, with ambiences and atmospheres from almost every continent. Go grab some downloads for your YouTube videos.

Check it out

 

YourFreeSounds.com (free and paid)

A newbie on the scene, but one that should not be overlooked, Your Free Sounds is a growing library of free and paid for sound effects. We really love the simple classic design of the site that’s easy to navigate, displays sounds nice and simply with previews for each and allows you to download them quickly. The list of sounds isn’t massive right now, but we know they’re recording more weekly and is one to watch.

Check it out

 

Freesound.org (free)

If you’ve never checked our freesound.org, it’s a must. The library was created and is to this day run by Music Technology Group of Universitat Pompeu Fabra, Barcelona, Spain. The library hosts sounds licensed under Creative Commons so it’s always important to check each file’s licence type and abide by the terms. Freesound is a great resource and has so many sounds that it’s one for the list. However the quality of sounds can vary. You’ll find some gems, but also some that are low quality and less useful.

Check it out

 

Freesfx.co.uk (free)

Hundreds of free sound effects here to download after registration. The library on offer contains some great content that you’ll find useful. It’s a nice and simple library without all the bells and whistles, but that’s not a bad thing considering most of the time you want to get in and out quickly with the right sounds for your videos.

Check it out

 

PMSFX (free and Paid)

We love PMSFX (who are also a contributor here at ZapSplat) as they record and create some exceptional sound libraries. While the libraries they offer are paid, you can grab this free sampler pack (and use them royalty free in your YouTube videos). As of this writing, it contains 661 sounds at almost 10GB.

Check it out
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