The Best Sources for FREE SFX in 2022
Hello friends and welcome to 2022!
Let me be one of the first to congratulate you on making it through 2021.
That year was.... something.
To start this new year on the right foot, I thought I'd share some resources we sound designers can all benefit from.
I'm talking about free sound effects!
That's right! I'm going to show you my favorite sources of SFX freebies so you can get your sound library ready for a year full of awesome sound design projects!
Crush 2022 with a boatload of free new sound effects!
First! A Message to the Reader
I'm a big fan of convenience and speed.
Just because sound effects are free, doesn't mean I'm going to jump through endless hoops to get access to them.
If you have to create a useless account, follow companies on all their socials, or retweet twenty posts just for a couple of free sounds, you won't find them on this list.
I want to help you get the goods fast!
Now that you know what awaits you, let's dive in:
Free SFX You Can Download RIGHT NOW
You want free sounds and you want them now??
Then let's start with sound libraries that are online and waiting for you to download them right this minute!
1 | Sonnis GDC
Each year at the Game Developer's Conference, Sonnis gives away thousands of dollars of samples from the many sound libraries available on their online shop.
They've been doing this since 2015 and to date they've uploaded a whopping 125GB of free sound effects!!
That's a lot of free sound!
It's all available for you to access at any time in their GDC Sound Archive.
As I mentioned, these are free samples from their multitude of sound libraries, which means you're only getting a small taste from each of the full products.
That being said, it's a fantastic resource for tons of free sound effects and if you find yourself needing more, you can find and purchase the full versions easily on their website.
2 | Free To Use Sounds
If Sonnis is the king of free sound effects, then Free To Use Sounds is the queen.
Marcel (the owner) is a sonic adventurer who travels the world and records everything he encounters on his way.
His libraries are without a doubt the most reasonably priced on the market.
Many sell for just $3!
As if that isn't enough, you can also grab over 100 of his libraries for free in his Freebies Section.
The only drawback to this otherwise perfect situation is that you have to download each free library individually from Bandcamp.
With well over 100 libraries in the freebies section, this could take a while...
If you wanna keep things free, I suggest scanning the freebies for stuff you actually need or want and coming back for more later.
...if you have $23 floating around, you can bypass that inconvenience and get all 1.4TB of sound effects from Free To Use Sounds in one enormous bundle!!!
Yes, that means it's technically not "free".
If there is a better deal for sound libraries out there, I haven't heard of it!
3 | Kenney.nl
This last one is an honorable mention because, although the libraries you can find here aren't nearly as enormous as those from Sonnis or Free To Use Sounds, they are full packs of useful sounds that are extremely game audio specific.
Since many freebies are just samples to get you excited about buying the full product, it's nice to see someone hosting complete packs of helpful, free sounds.
Not only that, but Kenney also has a ton of free game dev assets in general that you or your clients just might just find interesting.
Check them out for yourself over at kenney.nl.
Stay tuned for an upcoming post about how I used Kenney's free packs to win $5000.
Free Sounds Delivered Straight to Your Mailbox
I know, I know.
We are all subscribed to more than enough newsletters and aren't interested in signing up for anymore.
Except for my newsletter, right? 😁
I'm in the same boat as you, which is why I unsubscribe as soon as the mail becomes irrelevant.
The mailing lists I'm about to present to you are my top picks for consistently delivering high-quality, free sound effects with relatively little fluff.
See for yourself:
1 | A Sound Effect
If you work in sound, you've probably already heard of A Sound Effect (ASFX for short).
It's one of the premier online marketplaces for sound libraries.
Besides the online shop, they have loads of great blog posts with interviews with the world's greatest sound teams, deep dives into audio-related topics (here's a shameless plug for my own blog post about Mastermind Groups which was featured on ASFX), and tons of other helpful content.
And if that isn't enough for you, their monthly newsletter is a constant source of free sound effects to add to your collection.
Yes, friends. A Sound Effect goes the extra mile to provide us all with awesome freebies and great SFX deals so if you aren't on their mailing list, sign up here now!
2 | BOOM Library
Unless you've been hiding under a rock, you're familiar with BOOM and their industry-defining tools and sound libraries.
If you want to get your hands on the sounds and software that the pros use for all your favorite movies, shows, and games, look no further than BOOM.
Let's not kid around, premium quality comes with a premium price and not all of us can just hop over to the BOOM store whenever we need something.
You get what you pay for.
If that situation sounds familiar to you, you'll be happy to know that BOOM sends out monthly freebies to their mailing list.
It's a great way to test drive some of the best sound effects in the world and you might just get your hands on the sounds your project needs for free!
What are you waiting for? Go sign up!
3 | Krotos
Krotos is another legend of the sound design world.
Their top-of-the-line plugins like Dehumaniser and Weaponiser can be heard in just about every AAA project you can think of.
As far as I know, they've only recently gotten into the sound library game but the quality is what we've come to expect from this expert team.
And guess what?
They also give away samples from their libraries every single month!
Scurry on over to the Krotos sign-up page and get ready for free sounds delivered straight to your inbox.
A Free Sound Manager
This final tip is about the organization of all these free sounds you've just gotten access to.
One of the most difficult parts of our job is actually finding the sounds we need from our libraries quickly and easily.
And the biggest drawback to all these free sounds is that they often don't come in beautifully structured, easy to search through folders.
Often, it's quite the opposite.
Without a tool to help you manage and locate your sounds, all the free sound effects in the world will go unused and undiscovered in your hard drive.
Most likely your DAW will already have some kind of media management system but these can be less than optimal.
That's why I'm adding a "kinda free" software to this list:
Soundly is a fantastic tool that many swear by and their free version has the following perks:
1 | A library of 300 free sounds from their collection
2 | The ability to manage up to 2,500 of your local sounds
3 | All the features of the software that are available to pro users
Admittedly, 2,500 sounds is not a lot.
If you download all the SFX from Sonniss, you'll already have nearly 5,000 files in your collection.
But if you're just getting started, this will no doubt be quite helpful.
And if you're like me, you'll soon realize that the Soundly software is more than worth the very reasonable $14.99/month subscription fee, which gives you instant access to:
1 | The full Soundly library (which they add to frequently without raising the price of the subscription!)
2 | Unlimited local file management
3 | 10GB of cloud space so you can host your most important sounds for remote access anywhere
What's even cooler is that Soundly also pipes two enormous free libraries into their software for direct access.
Those are the Free To Use Sounds libraries (mentioned above) and all the files available on the freesound.org site.
That means a Soundly subscription not only gets you a dope tool for quick and easy sound management for your daily workflow but also allows you to instantly access many thousands of new sound effects!
Wow is right!
If you're thinking, "holy crap, I gotta check this out!" then click the link below to test the free version with no time limit;
Nothing makes a sound designer happier than a cool new sound library.
And who can say no when that library is FREE?
"I don't care how much money you have, free stuff is always a good thing."
There are no doubt many more freebies out there but these are by far my favorites.
If you have any more tips on where to get great free sound effects, please leave a comment below!
And one final tip from me for those who are looking for even more free SFX:
Pretty much every company in the world that sells sound effects offers something for free on their website.
Usually, it's in exchange for an email address, but if that doesn't bother you and you have some time to spare, you can no doubt increase your collection considerably with a bit of google-ing.
Happy hunting and please share your tips here with me and the other readers!!
I created The Game Audio Pro with the goal of helping others understand the fundamental business skills that are often the difference between success and failure for freelancers.
If you're ready to take your game audio career to the next level, download my guide to The Most Important Mindset for Game Audio Success.