We often get asked by our first year Sound Design and Music and Sound for Film & TV students if there are any free sounds or libraries to help get them started when they begin learning composing and sound design. So we've rounded up a stack of great resources to help with sound design and composition for both game audio and film. A word of advice though, sometimes rather than searching for hours for that perfect Foley sound or effect, it might be faster just to record it yourself!
SOUND FX AND SAMPLES
This incredible archive of over 16,000 sound samples was opened up by the BBC back in April 2018 and is an incredible resource for educational, personal or research use. If you want to use the samples commercially, you'll need to contact the BBC for licensing permission.
There are a pile of free sample sounds here and some really interesting musical parts. But, be prepared to dig and do a lot of downloading if you're after something specific as the categorisation isn't perfect.
This is an incredible resource and we've featured their free plugins in our regular free software Friday feature before. There are loads of free sounds including classics like rain and thunder sound effects, to drum loops, synths, claps and random foley. It's all royalty free too! Get some!
This site hides a huge pile of sound effects behind its rather ugly pages! The categories are well put together but the only downside is the compressed MP3 format of the sounds, although high at 320kbps, we'd all prefer nice shiny Wav or Aiff files.
There are thousands of sounds on this site with most under a creative commons licence meaning you can use them for educational projects and non-commercial projects. If you're looking for sounds for commercial projects then you'll need to search their archive under the royalty free tab. A great resource and you can even request sounds and get access to more if you become a patron of the site.
Click on the free sounds tab on this site and discover a nice selection of sci-fi, space-machinery and robot type sounds. There's also a free instrument called DR01D that's also worth checking out.
INSTRUMENTS AND ROMPLERS
Kontakt 6 player
This should be an obvious one on the list, but having Kontakt player means you can take advantage of not only all the awesome free sounds that come with the Kontakt player, but a load of third party romplers that use the player as the host.
Spitfire Audio LABS
One of the most notable and well-respected companies making libraries for media is Spitfire Audio, and their recent LABS initiative is a fantastic way to sample their incredible recorded instruments for free. Ranging from soft piano, strings, modular synth, guitar and choirs, it's a fantastic tool to have and is constantly being updated with new instruments!
There are both virtual instruments and romplers here with multiple guitars, strings, sax, choirs and more. There's a little less choice for Mac users over windows users, but if you're looking for great sounds to compose soundtracks or for idea generation, this is a fab resource.
Scroll down to the bottom of this site for 6 great instruments including strings, piano, harp, zither and some horror and bell effects too.
sonatina symphonic orchestra
Here's a 654MB orchestral library that is compiled into a handy instrument and presents a really decent sounding pack. Sounds are recorded with a nice ambience at 16bit 44.kHz and when you add your own quality reverb on top, they work great for starting your journey into score.