Sound Effects

Sound Effects help tell the story in audio. They tell you where or when the story takes place. They tell you about the action, how events are unfolding. The Old Time Radio guys called themselves Sound Effects Artists. They would not like to be called "Foley" performers. Jack Foley is known for organizing and standardizing sound effects for films, but the name of Foley effects has blurred over into audio as well. Here you will find some websites and
books that tell you more about the use of sound effects in audio theater.


Old Time Radio sound effects -
Jack French wrote this history of radio sound effects, which includes some tips on making them, too.

Foley sound effects devices - shows photos and offers descriptions of those great OTR machines that used to make us believe almost anything.

Foley: Live Sound Effects, by Yuri Rasovsky, download his book, The Well-Tempered Audio Dramatist -
Yuri always has a lot to say, and his experience makes him worth listening to. The PDF book is available free from
NATF, along with other materials on the creation of audio theater.

Jerry Stearns' Outline of Sound Effects-
An outline of vocabulary and philosophy of sound effects and designing events and settings for audio drama. Gleaned from many places, particularly the Midwest Radio Theater Workshop. Reprinted in the MRTW Journal, spring 1998, and in the June 1998 issue of Radio World.

Tony Palermo's Sound effects How To -
Tony has articles on building noise-makers, and how to use them. Mostly hand-held OTR sound effects machines. Endlessly useful, especially for live performance radio. And he has links to many other places that talk about the same thing.

Film Sound effects and sound design
  • Audio - Links to sites on the subject of sound effects for films.
  • The Art of Foley - A nicely designed site with an extensive overview of Foley effects in movies. Requires Flash.
  • Sound Effects in Science Fiction and Horror Films - Briefly.
  • - A whole site dedicated to the art of film sound design.
  • "Back of the Mike" (1938) - YouTube movie. A light-weight reconstruction of a radio program, emphasizing how the sound effects & acting were done. Chevrolet sponsored the film: Note the major plug for the advantages of a new Chevrolet sedan in the cross-country chase of an outlaw gang.

Online Sound Effects Sources
  • - Sound exchange. Join and you can get 5 free music and sound effects a month. Subscribe and you can get more. Upload sounds you've made yourself. Forum.
  • BBC Sound Effects library - Released for non-commercial use by the BBC in 2019. Not searchable, so it takes time to find what you want, but there are over 16,000 sound effects files available.
  • The Freesound Project - h A site offering free sounds. Field recordings, kit recordings, generated sounds, ... as long as the sounds are not copyrighted, or you are willing to make them available under Creative Commons License. Searchable.
  • Videvo - High quality effects. A few royalty free and Free, most by subscription.
  • Sound Effects Plus -
  • SoundDogs - World's first online sound effects library. For sale.
  • Partners In Rhyme - Royalty free music and sound effects.
  • SoundRangers - For purchase downloads of music or sfx.
  • Sound Ideas - Many large collections of sfx that you can purchase. Not inexpensive.


  • The Sound Effects Bible - Ric Viers, Michael Weise Productions, 2008. ISBN 978-1-932907-48-3. And excellent book that covers modern hardware and software, field recording, sound design, and how to make specific sounds. Very up-to-date for contemporary film sounds.
  • Radio Sound Effects - Robert L. Mott. McFarland, 1993. ISBN 0 89950 747 6
  • Sound Effects: Radio, TV, and Film - Robert L. Mott. Focal Press, 1989. ISBN 0 240 80029 X
  • Radio and Television Sound Effects - by Robert B. Turnbull. 1951. Rinehart & Company Inc.; New York. How to be a sound effects artist in the industry, as it existed in 1950. Photographs, illustrations and designs for building effects, working a show. Very complete.
  • The Great American Broadcast - Leonard Maltin, 1997. Penguin Putnam, Inc. ISBN: 0-525-94183-5. The chapter on the history of sound effects is lots of fun.
  • Raised on Radio - Gerald Nachman, 1998. Pantheon Press: New York. ISBN: 0-520-22303-9. Again, a good chapter on sound effects and the people who made them for OTR.

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