11. Sound Effects

Sound Effects Categories

Sounds Effects can be defined as any element of a track that falls outside the classification of drums, percussion or musical instrument.    Sound Effects can be used in 2 main was, either as atmospheric, i.e. set the mood / convey an emotion or as a rhythmic component.

A few examples of DSP sound effects include atmospheric noise, swoosh wind sounds, and zaps.  The addition of sound effects give a song character and can be used either subtly or dramatically.


Creating Digital Sound Effects
Most sample libraries come with a range of sound effects.  However, if you’ve created your own Synth sounds from scratch, you have the additional satisfaction of guaranteeing originality.

Electronic sound effects can be generated by manipulating white noise or tones with filters.  Most Synthesisers and VST have the ability to generate noise, and add their own particular character with onboard effects.

As with Synthesiser instruments, the best way to understand how to generate sounds is to play around with the presets.

Adding Filters

  • By adding distortion, thin noise presents can be thickened.
  • Filter the noise through a vocoder to add harmonic components.
  • Add noise through modulation, e.g. Phaser, Flanger etc to create an element of motion.

Swoosh = noise VCO = BP cut off modulated to LFO Sine

Creating Sound Effects from Analogue Sources

Sound Effects from an Analogue Source are infinite.  A few examples are listed below.

Analogue Source


SFX from analogue sources


Samples animal sounds to create atmosphere

Atonal Analogue

Instrument with atonal melody

BBC Library

Door, creaking, gunshot etc

Chime Bells

Bells and Chimes

Industrial Multiple

Multi tone machinery

Industrial Singular

Machine noises, metal grinding, clanks


Metal clanging

Noise static

Record fluff


Reversed music


Original scratches of a voice/ instrument/ ambient etc.

Spin Back

Record spin back

Vocal backwards echo

Reversed vocal, with echo, reversed again.

Vocal Syllable loop

Samples shouting and cut up rhythmically and played repetitively through various filters for SFX.


Sound Effects from a Digital Source are infinite, limited only by your imagination (or ablility to copy other people).

DSP Source

Ambience Micro Sequence Feedback

1/64 sequence hits increasing in volume, cut off modulated by velocity Feedback

Ambience Noise Feedback

Atmospheres noise with multiple layers to define specific emotion Lion roar, thunder, or anything

Ambience Rumble

Repetitive rumble

Ambience - Atmos Calm

Atmosphere which creates a specific emotion Calm

Ambience - Atmos Neutral

Atmosphere which creates a specific emotion Neutral

Ambience - Atmos Evil

Atmosphere which creates a specific emotion Menacing

Ambience Stab

Single atmosphere that gradually fades


Quick, grainy, DSP, hi squeak -Cut up millisecond samples of anything -Amalgamate with milliseconds of silence

Dissonant Chords

Dissonant Chords

Dissonant Strings

Evil Ambience atmos usually dissonance harmony Strings

Drum Synth

Electronically created drums

Electronic water

Electronic simulated water


Movie quality sound effects.  Many different types of fx.


Computer generated explosion


Descending noise prior to beat drop

Feedback Loop

+50% feedback on a loop


Pops n clicks, Squeaks, and glitches, messed up sounds Long computer filter fucked to shit mountain


Tiny elements of analogue sounds from all sources

Hi Freq

Short, high frequency sounds


HI res zap - used in garage which covers the entire range of the human hearing

LFO Motion

LFO wowp with changing speed from 1 per sec to 0.01 per sec and back

Machine Gun FX

32, 64, 96 LFO per bar


Sound changes from 1 timbre to another

Music ambience

Musical chord atmosphere

Nasty timbre

Cause physical pain using the brown note / high pitched pain

noise blast

Noise stationary blast

Pre beat

Anticipation of beat


Bleeps in various random pitches, Small blipps and tapps


Dynamic organic sound with rhythmic qualities repeated ever bar


Ascending noise prior to beat drop

Robot Voice

Synthesised voice

Shut down

Simulated shut down of machinery

Siren - LFO

Slow LFO Slow morphing LFO siren

Siren - Alarm

Static pitch, repetitive frequency

Slow Down



Sparkling stars

Speed Up


Squidge Tipper

Squeltchy, Squidge, rhythmic bits, characterised by Tipper


Noise stabs

Stab Harmonic

Harmonic Stab

Stab Music

Chord stabs


Short wind swoosh sound


Wind or swoosh noise stab to add substance