How to create a sound effects library Asbjoern Andersen


A growing number of audio pros are getting into independent sound effects libraries - but how do you get started, and how do you get it right? This in-depth guide by Chase Steele shows you how to build a sound effects library from scratch, and he even shares some free sound effects he created while making this video.
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How To Build a Sound Effects Library from Scratch (includes free SFX!) - a guide by Chase Steele


 

Download a selection of sounds from this project here (updated link)

A big thanks to Chase Steele and Sound Spark LLC for exclusively hosting this video on A Sound Effect. Find the Sound Spark Youtube channel here, and meet Sound Spark on Twitter here.

 

Some of Chase Steele’s key points from the video, on how you can build up your library of sounds:

Put a System in Place

The creative process can be very chaotic by nature. Sometimes it can feel more like a discovery process than anything else. Without some guidelines or limitations to direct what the approach should be time is at risk. Without an organizational system, the ability to track progress or assign goals becomes flimsy. In the case of building a personal sound library, it’s possible to lose really great material in the chaos of working on projects or demo reels.

It’s easy to get frustrated trying to conform a creative workflow to a rigid system. Sometimes the steps or order initially put in place will fail or become obsolete. Accepting that this is ok and in itself part of the process is important. Systems and approaches can be changed over time and should be. Have the system in place for getting sound into your personal library, use it and improve it. Do not expect it to be perfect at first.

Things to think about in building your system for sound library creation:

– After finishing recording, and importing the files on a computer where do they go?
– How will they be found again in the future?
– After editing the sounds what happens to the originals? Where do the edited sounds go?
– How will sounds that change or become manipulated heavily over time be traced back?
 

Active Versus Passive Library Curation

When I am adding to my personal library of sounds I have two different mental modes of operation. When time permits I engage in active library building. This is an in depth exploration and creation based on ideas, props or design aesthetics that I’ve had on my mind. These are usually self contained projects of their own. The goal in mind is to add a lot of new material to my personal library and potentially offer it to others.

Most of the time, I’m in a more passive mode. My personal goal is to try and record something every day. It doesn’t really matter what it is. Ideally I don’t spend more than 15-30 minutes doing this. Over time this naturally expands my library and can easily lend itself to new ideas that I can actively expand on later when time permits. Patterns also start to emerge, eventually it will make sense that a group of material recorded passively works well together and might be something worth releasing as a commercial library.
 

Build a Foundation for Success

Making an effort to cultivate your own library of sounds can feel daunting. Especially after a day of dealing with a regular workload, setting aside time for library building can quickly get written off. In addition to setting up a system and making everything about how you’re going to do this look great on paper, you have to then actually do itn There are a few very simple adjustments that can be made to help.
First of all, be ready to record. Personally, I hate setting stuff up. I suspect this is common. At the minimum I always have a mobile recording rig ready to go, only needing to turn it on. Even if it’s just a handheld recorder.
With handheld recorders I do recommend also having some wind protection and a mini tripod. Wind and handling noise can be pretty inexpensive to prevent and these items will save time in your editing process.

Maybe you don’t mind setting stuff up but perhaps there is some other barrier. Identify the friction in your workflow and try to eliminate it.

Look for ways to create positive feedback loops in your workflow. Need to update your demo-reel? Great – make sure every sound you design or record makes it back into your personal library. In this case make it a learning opportunity too and try crazy ideas. Maybe you don’t care for exactly how this design work turned out. Well, all that sound could be just great down the road in a different context. So save it!

Popular sound effects libraries from Sound Spark:

Hear some of the popular sound effects libraries from Sound Spark below –
and browse their full catalog here:

  • Gore Sound Effects Gore (SSP) Play Track 257 sounds included, 13 mins total $19.99

    The Gore library contains 257 total sounds of squishes, smashes, squelches melee weapon attacks, zombies and more. All effects have been thoughtfully named and crafted into multiple variations making them extremely flexible and easy to use. This library will work well if you need ready to use sounds for your game or if you’re a sound editor needing some extra material for your latest project. Sounds are well rounded and simple enough to fit Sci-Fi, Horror, Fantasy and any other genre where you might need some blood and guts.

    Sound types include:

    • General Gore Attacks
    • Melee Weaponry
    • Basic Smashes, Hits and Slaps (Yeah Slaps).
    • Squishes and Squelches
    • Bonus Zombie Growls and Horror Ambience!
  • The Magic Spells, Buffs and Attacks library contains 507 total spell sounds. Each spell type has been thoughtfully named and crafted into multiple variations making them extremely flexible and easy to use. This library will work great for MMOs, RPGs and other fantasy style games. Of course, it will be great for film or any other form of media also! Many of these sounds are also well suited for Sci-Fi or Futuristic applications.

    Bonus Reaktor Ensemble:

    As if the sounds alone weren’t enough, we’re also including a special bonus in the form of a Native Instruments Reaktor Ensemble. We call it “The Mage”.. it is designed to allow you to take spell types, mash them together and create endless new iterations of material!

  • Metal Sound Effects Metal Hits, Scrapes and Squeaks Play Track 689 sounds included, 22 Minutes mins total $29.99

    The Metal Hits, Scrapes and Squeaks library contains a variety of small to medium sized metal props with each material type including multiple performance variations.

    Props include objects such as sheet metal, sledgehammers, paint cans, metal buckets, metal grating, metal marbles, cups, pots and pans, dry ice (contributing squeaks and squeals), metal bars, metal stands, chains and more.

    All recordings were made in a studio or iso booth environment to produce a very clean sounding library.  The library works perfectly as a construction or foley kit.  Files included were recorded at 24bit/96kHz.

  • This library includes a series of cinematic and basic whoosh, movement and transition effects.  It also includes a number of impactful drops.

    What makes this library unique is the varied amount of content and processing techniques used to create the movement effects.  Some effects are created totally organically, others manufactured with analog synths and others creatively processed from nothing other than atonal noise.

    Another great quality of these effects is a natural doppler effect is often incorporated.  This was done by re-recording some source elements and either moving the source or the mic itself.

    A slim library, of 127 sounds – it feels much larger in the amount of varied content that it includes.  This library is one I’ve personally used a lot and I’m very happy to bring it to you now!

    Sound types include:

    • Organic Whooshes
    • Designed Transition Effects
    • Tonal, Atonal and Noise asthetics
    • Drops and Impacts

    Get this in a bundle:This library is also included in the Forge Sound Design Toolkit Bundle

 

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THE WORLD’S EASIEST WAY TO GET INDEPENDENT SOUND EFFECTS:
 
A Sound Effect gives you easy access to an absolutely huge sound effects catalog from a myriad of independent sound creators, all covered by one license agreement - a few highlights:

  • Human Sound Effects Crowds: Emotions And Reactions Play Track 400 sounds included, 90 mins total $39.50

    This SFX library contains a wide range of reactions and emotional responses varying from quiet crowds to roared battle cries to a large selection of exclamations generated by a group of passionate theatrical actors in indoor venues.

    Apart from the vocalizations, we’ve also included recordings of more unusual crowd ambiances like people walking around the mics, falling down, sitting down and getting up, jumping around, marching, or just being present in the space.

    Crowds library is split into the following two parts:

    Small Groups: Includes small groups of up to 30 people which you can layer together and quickly create the sound of any sized realistic groups of people.

    Large Crowds: Brings pre-designed, easy-to-use sounds of medium to large crowds in various types of reactions, moods, and surroundings.

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  • A complete collection of sonic exploration by Slava Pogorelsky.
    Grow your sound arsenal with an ever evolving collection of high-end cinematic and fresh sound effects!
    Here’s what to expect:

    RESONATING METAL FORCE offers a fresh sound palette of reverberant aggressive metal rampage, totaling 680 sound effects. Featuring creeping evolving metal pressure and resonating rattle, massive rumble, explosive impacts and nerve-racking squeaks.
    HORROR SERIES VOL.1: EVIL STRINGS TORTURED WIRES offers a unique toolset for nightmarish designs, totaling 564 sound effects. Featuring creeping dread of bowed metal wires, strings and double bass, providing exciting opportunities for unique layering.
    CINEMATIC MAGICAL ICE is offering a unique toolset for ice-cold freezing designs, totaling 267 sound effects. Great for fantasy genre with ice based magic, motion graphics, time lapse and flow motion freeze sequences.
    CINEMATIC WATER WHOOSHES AND TEXTURES is offering a unique toolset for water and underwater designs, totaling 285 sounds. Great for hyper realistic designs, water based magic, surreal underwater movement or motion graphics with liquid elements.
    CINEMATIC WOOD SYMPHONY is offering a variety of wood based recordings that were morphed into a unique audio experience that bends the boundaries between recognisable source and unusual wooden textures, totaling 611 sound effects.
    SCI – FI ELEMENTS VOL.1 is offering a variety of carefully crafted futuristic sound effects that vary from pleasant and musical to unpredicted and glitchy, totaling 364 sound effects.
    CINEMATIC METAL WHOOSHES is offering a unique collection of aggressive roaring metal whooshes and transitions with cinematic feel and mind bending characteristics, totaling 120 sound effects.

    WHAT SOUND PROFESSIONALS SAY:

    Victor Mercader – AAA Sound Designer (Apex Legends)
    “I find myself continuously using Slava’s SFX libraries to blend it’s pristine and detailed sound designs into my own sounds. They always add that cutting edge I am missing and make my sound designs more unique and pristine. The Sci-fi Elements sound library is the perfect library to use and blend into my UI designs in Apex Legends.”

    Enos Desjardins – Sound Designer/Sound Effects Editor (Mission: Impossible – Dead Reckoning, Black Mirror)
    “Slava has been creating some really cool libraries which I find myself using time and again. Really high quality recordings to start with but then the cool processing he has used for example in his cinematic whoosh libraries really stand out. They are not just your standard generic whoosh sounds but are loaded with character and have a unique feel to them that is really fresh and cuts through in the nicest of ways.”

    Bjørn Jacobsen – AAA Sound Designer (CyberPunk 2077, HITMAN, DARQ)
    “Slava has for several years made high quality sound effects for me to play with. I use his sound libraries across multiple projects as lego blocks of my creations.”
     
    Yarron Katz – AAA Composer and Sound Designer
    “Slava makes some wonderful libraries. He’s relatively new on the scene and his libraries have come to critical acclaim. He takes some general ideas, like whooshes and he injects some extremely revolutionary and innovative ideas to them, so you’re not getting another whoosh library – you’re getting something very unique, very fresh. He brings some wonderful ideas to the table.”

    Ginno Legaspi – SoundBytes Music Magazine‎
    “‘Evil Strings Tortured Wires’ is an all-scary affair with plenty of really good, nightmarish, imaginative sounds from authentic materials, like double bass, dulcimer strings and metal wires. Sound-wise, this sample pack is clean and carefully recorded. The editing and processing of sounds is top notch, with sound design techniques applied very professionally. Overall, very gritty and not for the faint of heart.”
     
    Ginno Legaspi – SoundBytes Music Magazine‎
    “As far as the sound goes ‘Cinematic Magical Ice’ is both beautiful and mystical. I happen to like the icy textures that are oozing with coldness. Overall, this sound library boasts a good variety of effect samples ready to drop in various cinematic projects.”
     
    Ginno Legaspi – SoundBytes Music Magazine‎
    “The spotlight of ‘Cinematic Wood Symphony’ is the wide range of complex sounds that can be dropped in your sound design projects. I love the Wood Movement and Tonal sounds, and I’m sure thriller and horror music composers will be delighted with the Friction and Impact sounds. If your cinematic projects are lacking texture and impact sounds ‘Cinematic Wood Symphony’ is a library to be considered – especially if you’re looking beyond common wood sounds.”
     
    Ginno Legaspi – SoundBytes Music Magazine‎
    “Cinematic Water Whooshes and Textures is great for anything. You won’t be hearing recordings of calm rivers or relaxing streams, but cinematic whooshes and textures for soundtrack works and media projects. Whether you’re into this type of sounds, this pack was recorded quite well, professionally edited and processed with Slava’s own flair.”

    Ginno Legaspi – SoundBytes Music Magazine‎
    “Slava is back with another aggressive and energetic sample library called Resonating Metal Force – a 680 strong collection of modern metal effects captured using various tools and high-end studio equipment. The source material was edited and processed professionally for instant use. These sounds are primed for experimentation – whether you add your unique processing, layer several WAV samples or slice and dice to your heart’s content, the sky’s the limit. This sound pack is another winner.”

    Ginno Legaspi – SoundBytes Music Magazine‎
    “Sound-wise, the quality of ‘Cinematic Metal Whooshes’ is clear and punchy, and very consistent from start to finish. The whole content promises to be a tool to get you going in your cinematic adventures – and it delivers.”

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  • Farm & Horse Sound Effects Animal Farm Play Track 165 sounds included $69

    This library is dedicated to popular farm animals, rural backgrounds and agricultural activities – all you need around farm life. It features 165 sounds in total, from 14 different species with multiple variations for each animal, 25 discreet rural backgrounds and 10 types of modern and traditional agricultural activities.

    Recorded and mastered at 24-bit/96kHz high-resolution, Animal Farm took over a year to get ready, since the goal was to capture as many seasonal work activities, weather conditions and animal habits, as possible.

    List of animals recorded: Cat • Chicken • Cow • Dog (Wolf hound, Sheepdog) • Duck • Fowl • Goat (Mediterranean) • Goose • Horse (Arabian, Andalusian) • Pig • Pigeon • Rooster • Sheep (Mediterranean) • Turkey

    Types of agricultural work recorded: Chopping • Feeding • Gardening • Loading Manure • Milking • Mowing • Olive harvest • Sowing • Tilling • Watering

Explore the full, unique collection here

Latest sound effects libraries:
 
  • Presenting the most malfunctioning, dirty old gritty sounding engine failure library out there

    Featuring a staggering 81 files with numerous takes in most tracks, the Kaput sound effects library will cover the bases of almost any broken false starting engine scene one can imagine.

    I can honestly say, that finding the vehicles and tools for this library, has been among the most challenging I have come by. Old and broken cars and trucks are hard to come by these days. Most cars are obviously either driving and dont have start problems, and many of the rest just wont start at all.

    Just as rare are broken petrol powered tools, which usually fit the latter category of not working at all.

    Still, with amazing recording help from recordist Michal Fojcik Soundmind Poland, and just as amazing help from recordist Erik Watland from Norway, the Kaput sound effects library is featuring no less then

    24 different cars, trucks, moped and motorcycles

    1 boat engine

    A few weird sounding power generators and water pump motors

    Back firing exhausts

    Petrol powered garden tools, chain saws, and hedge trimmers

    Brutal construction machines

    From old eastern european trucks, vintage US V8 muscle trucks, classic scandinavian cars, and more modern diesel and petrol engines to funny sputtering dying petrol power tools.

    There is even a few more recording sessions planned, that just didn’t make the deadline for the first batch of sounds in this library (buying a copy of this first of sounds, will of course make any future sounds added to the library free of charge).

    KAPUT is 81 stereo and mono files, 96/24. 1,6 gb big, all UCS ready!

  • Hear the majesty of tropical seas from soothing surf, trickling water laps, and crashing wave sound effects.

  • ACOUSTIC GUITAR FOLEY FOR YOUR PROJECTS
    The SB111 ACOUSTIC GUITAR FOLEY Sound Effects Library is a collection of handling movements, grabs and sets, string noise, drags, impacts, strumming, fingerpicking, tuning, and the smashing and destroying of an acoustic guitar.

    A UNIQUE ACOUSTIC GUITAR FOLEY LIBRARY
    We’ve gone above and beyond just capturing the sounds of strumming and picking – we’ve recorded the nuances and details that make acoustic guitars so special. Like the subtle sounds of the guitar strap as it settles against your shoulder, string noise of fingers on the fretboard, the satisfying sound of the guitar being tuned, grabs and set downs, strings being clipped and even a full restringing sequence. Of course we’ve also included the playing of chords and riffs while strumming and fingerpicking – some played in tune and some out of tune. We did not forget to record your pick as it rattles around in the abyss of the guitar’s sound hole – and the satisfying sound of the guitar being smashed and destroyed. All the details you need to bring realism to your project.

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  • The Drawers & Cupboards SFX library is an essential collection for professionals seeking high-quality sound effects for their projects. This library features 63 meticulously recorded sounds of opening, closing, and rummaging through cupboards and drawers, making it perfect for game developers, animators, and filmmakers.

    This library offers a diverse range of sounds, including:

    • Opening and closing cupboard doors
    • Picking up glass bottles
    • Rummaging through various materials (glass, mixed materials, containers, plastic)
    • Metal and wooden drawers opening and closing
  • Car Sound Effects Broken Car Engine Play Track 5 sounds included, 28 mins total $27

    My car engine broke! As a result of making a huge costly mistake caused by accidentally skipping an oil change service from getting dates and miles mixed up (on top of being a higher milage car), my 2006 Volvo V50 T5’s engine starting making incredibly loud knocking, clicking and rattling sounds. Took it for one last drive before it was picked up by a junk yard, and recorded the process. I put a DPA 4061 and a Rode NT5 in the engine and drove it around the neighborhood, first on residential streets, then drove it harder on some faster streets (the engine was so loud you can’t hear any other cars in the recordings), abusing the manual mode for higher rpm recordings the whole time until it started overheating, smoking and dumping liquid (coolant I think? Oil? Both?). I Quickly took the DPA out because it was right near a section of the engine that was overheating, but I left the NT5 in. Satisfied with what I recorded but still a couple miles from home, after my car cooled a bit I continued to record my drive home, this time with the DPA inside the car to get an interior perspective (this drive is labeled “bonus drive” in the library).

    This library is just 5 files, totaling 27 minutes and 28 seconds, 24/96k, 956MB. Quality Soundminer metadata and UCS compliant. Recorded with a DPA 4061 and NT5 for starts, idles, off, revving, slow to moderate driving, harder faster driving, with lots of variation. One file is just the NT5 engine recording for an additional 5 and a half minute drive, and one is just the DPA for an interior perspective of that drive.

    I’ll miss that car a lot, but at least I got some great recordings out of it! I hope you find them useful.


   

One thought on “How to create a sound effects library from scratch – an in-depth video from Chase Steele (includes 60 free sound effects!)

  1. Good and very informative content , thank you Chase Steele !
    I’m actually impressed by the level of organization you have.

    I guess in the end you have to find your own system, the one that works for you :) But this video is definitely a cool ressource for anyone wanting to improve their process or just learn from scratch.

    Good luck with your future libraries.

    aXL

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