Sound design resources for audio tours

It’s not just a great story that makes a tour. Tasteful sound design and the right choice of music can go a long way to helping bring your tour to life and further immerse your listener in the journey you’re taking them on.

But knowing where to find the right royalty-free sound or track is not easy if you don’t know where to look. So we’ve put together a list of resources where you can find great sounding, useable and best of all, free material.

Once you have the sounds or music you want, you can email them over to your editor. Our audio editors will edit and mix in the sounds for you.

Attribution

When using free sounds, you may need to give credit to the creator. This usually applies more for music. This is referred to as attribution.

There are various degrees of licensing that apply when using someone else’s music or sounds, and it can get a little complicated. This is known as Creative Commons.

For a detailed explanation, please see: https://creativecommons.org/licenses/

For the most part, we will be sticking to those sites where only giving credit to the creator is necessary, or may not be needed at all.

You can add the music credit at the end of your Route Description in final touches.

This is an example of a music credit for usage under Creative Commons:

Folk Round by Kevin MacLeod is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution license (https://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/4.0/)

Sound Effects

YouTube Audio Library – Sound Effects

A great place to start is on YouTube. You’ll find a large number of free sound effects in this library. From walking on wooden floors to cats purring; there’s a wealth of good sounds to get you started.

You can search for sounds by category, create favourites, and preview all the sounds. You can also sort sounds by popularity. When you find a sound you’re happy with, just click the download button.

You are free to use these sounds as you wish and attribution is not needed.

Free Sound

This is another site that is a great source for free sound effects and short instrumental music pieces.

Although it’s free, you’ll need to create an account to log in before being able to download the sounds. But once you do, you’ll have access to a wealth of material to choose from.

There are various levels of licenses on this site. Most of the sounds are attribution-free and can be used for commercial purposes. Some will require attribution, and others can only be used for non-commercial purposes.

What’s great is you can search your sound effects according to license.

Freesound has a handy section that explains its license types:

http://freesound.org/help/faq/#wait-this-is-all-free

The quality of the sounds varies from excellent to not very good. This makes the site a mixed bag. But overall, the variety is far greater than the YouTube sound effects library.

Librivox

If you’re looking for audio readings of books that are available in the public domain, Librivox is the perfect place to find them. Whether you need a witty quote from a Jane Austen novel or a passage about London by Dickens, you’ll find most of the classics here. They make it easy for you by being able to search for the author, title or genre.

Your smartphone

Many VoiceMap creators record their scripts using their smartphones. So why not use it to record your own sound effects?

If you want some street ambience, go out into a busy area and just hit record.

You want to add some nature sounds to your narrative? Head to your nearest park and record the birds and the bees.

Household items are a great source of interesting sound effects as well. Try slowly shaking coffee beans to simulate the sound of hail. Walk on a wooden floor with hard-sole shoes to get a dramatic walking sound effect. Flushing toilets, knocking on doors, or even your dog barking can all be useful in the right context.

If you’re unsure about how to record using your smartphone, have a look at our tutorial here:

https://blog.voicemap.me/2016/07/how-to-record-your-voice-using-apps-for-ios-and-android/

When you’ve got a collection of sounds you like, you can email them over to your editor.

Music

Whether you want a theme song for your tour or the right track to enhance a particular location, here are some sites to find free music.

Unlike sound effects, music is generally more subjected to stronger licensing. The sites we recommend all offer free music with various degrees of licensing. Usually, some form of credit or attribution will be required. This involves crediting the name of the artist and the name of the composition.

Youtube Audio Library – Music

YouTube comes to the rescue again! Just like the Sound Effects library, there is a wealth of various genres and styles to choose from. You can sort by popularity, mood and even instrument type. Then click “download” once you’ve found the right track.

The difference between this and the sound effects library is that the music has an attribution category, so some of the compositions will need to have credit given. But all are free to use.

This is a great resource to start with and is constantly growing.

Free Music Archive

Free Music Archive has a large and extremely varied collection of free compositions.

You will need to create an account to download the music, but signing up is free.

Unlike the YouTube music archive, the licensing levels on this are more varied. Some of the compositions can be edited and reused; some can only be used for non-commercial purposes and some just require attribution.

What you can’t do is search according to the license type. Once you’ve found a composition you like, you’ll need to click on the track and have a look at the licensing type to see what you’re permitted to do with it.

The variety of genres and sheer size of the library means you’ll have a good chance of finding the right composition.

Free Music Archive provides how-tos regarding using music from their site.

http://freemusicarchive.org/License_Guide

Audio Jungle

If you can’t find what you’re looking from any of the free sites, there are tons of sites where you can pay for high quality royalty-free music. The terms and prices vary, so you’ll need to do some digging to find the right track at the right price. There are far too many to name, but Audio Jungle is a good place to start. They have a wide selection of music, in many styles and at affordable price ranges.

Happy sound hunting!

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