Want to learn how to make free sound effects using the tools in your home studio? Look no further! Using a combination of audio tools like Garageband, Audacity, Bfxr, and others can help you make some amazing sound fx like creepy whispers for your next music album, indie film score, iPhone game, or commercial sound library.
Taking recorded sounds and morphing them into new exciting sounds is addictive. Don’t rely on the same stock sounds and presets that everyone uses. Make your mix unique with innovative audio. Use your ear training and aural skills to invent original (and free) sound effects. Read on for great tips to creating free sound effects and to get these synthesized sound effects free.
BONUS: Download these great free creepy whisper sound fx and mix them into your own projects. Make sure you come back and share your work with us!
Before we get started it’s important to distinguish between sound effects which are short sounds used for effect (in music, TV, films, etc.) and audio effects which are processes applied to transform a sound (e.g. distortion, chorus, reverb, etc.). Make sure you understand this distinction as we’ll be using both terms below. If you have any questions, just ask in the comments.
Choosing the Right SoftwareFor this sound effects project, I worked in Garageband, which comes free with Mac computers. You could also use a free program like Audacity or Reaper, a free sound generator like Bfxr, or an inexpensive program like Ardour Digital Audio Workstation. Creating free sound effects is pretty simple, and combined with other software programs like Soundhack or Garageband, you can get some interesting sounds using audio effects like vibrato effects, flanger, chorus, feedback, and phasers. If you want to know more about audio effects like phasers, flanger, or chorus, you can check out our Easy Ear Training audio effects overview.
Recording the Sound Effects
If you don’t use a sound generator tool like bfxr.net you’ll need a different source of materia to start from. Record your own!
For recording, you can use a high quality microphone or a built-in USB one in a quiet recording environment. You can start with any type of sound for your homemade free sound effects. You want to avoid distortion, clipping, extra noise, and very quiet sounds. Although many problems can be fixed in post-production, a bad initial recording will often wind up sounding amateur.
Be creative! You never know how vibrato, chorus, feedback, and other audio effects will transform a sound. For this example, I will show you how to make some creepy “whisper” fx. Check out the final version of sci-fi freaky whispers below. Great for an indie film, as added twistedness to your band’s tracks, for a real time sampler, or as sound effects for an iPhone game.
This is the initial recording with some minor reverb, compression, and gating applied. You can see the audio wave below:
By the way, if you are aiming for creepy whisper fx, it helps to sound pretty creepy and demented in the first place. Just invoking my inner Diamanda Galas here!
Adding Audio Effects
There are several types of audio effects, like distortion, modulation, and delay effects. Playing around with some of the modulation effects can give you some very distinctive sound effects. First I added a mild chorus effect to the creepy whisper fx, as well as some echo to give the audio a little more substance and ambience:
When I start adding audio effects to any file, I always do the following:
- Ignore the presets (or choose one that is already close to what I want), then set the options to Manual.
- Test out some parameter extremes. I slid the intensity of the chorus effect to max then min, just to give my ear a taste of what is possible. This is where your ear training skills come in handy.
- After experimenting with the audio effects, I started the chorus parameters at the lowest levels and inched my way up to where I want the sound.
Since I wanted to go for more electronica and sci-fi types of creepy whispers, I added in a phaser. Listen to the Chorus-only version and the Phaser version. The sound of the phaser is very, very distinct. In fact, I rarely use it since it has been overused. In this effect, I only added a little touch of phaser to avoid that cliché sound. The first sample has a lot of phasing, and the second example has a more tasteful amount of phasing:
Important Tip: Avoid overused effects. Find ways to combine and mix effects to create your own unique and original sounds. Trust me, a decade from now, Autotune will seem about as cool as a 1980s MIDI drum patch…
Final Tweaks: EQ, Tremolo, and Panning
I admit I am a bit obsessed with tremolo and panning effects. Unless I am mixing down a purely orchestral or acoustic mix, I hate letting a sound stand still! Adding tremolo allowed the whisper fx to travel dizzily around my head. Other final tweaks included adding a touch of flanger and doing some EQ work to maximize the treble, creating a more “whispery” sound. Here’s that final version again:
A Bit of a Bonus
Just for fun, you can take the same recording and mix it with other fun sound effects. You never know what it might lead to.
Here I decided to experiment with the recording and make it a bit stranger (yes, pun intended!) I also added a few Garageband Loops for fun:
Now that you know how to transform a recording into a cool sound effect, experiment in your studio with some of your own zany sounds.
You can develop your sound effects hearing skills at Easy Ear Training.com. The ‘Hearing Effects’ ear training series helps you train your ears in audio effects like distortion, delays, and modulation effects. This is a must-read series for any aspiring or professional audio engineer!
- Hunter, Dave. Effects Explained: Modulation-Phasing, Flanging, and Chorus. Gibson.
Download the fun free creepy whisper effects and share your remix with us. Let us hear your own DIY sound effects too. Post a link in the Comments below!
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