You can download sound effects legally by choosing options that are available publicly and don’t have a license, options that are available under Creative Commons (CC) licenses, or royalty-free options.
There are some sites where you can download unlicensed sound effects for free. Typically, these are not particularly high quality.
Other sound effects are under a CC license, which often do not cost to use as long as you credit the creator.
Sound effects that are professionally created can be obtained through a royalty-free license. You can download and use these legally with a subscription to a service or for a one-time fee.
Most sound effects are protected through some form of license, and you will need to obtain the license to download them for legal use in your project.
10 Best Sites to Download Sound Effects
To use sound effects in your commercial project, you will need to make sure you have the proper permission to do so. Each of the sites below can ensure that you have the proper licensing to avoid legal issues.
Nearly all sound effects on the market have been copyrighted or are the property of the creator. To use them, you need to either have a license or subscribe to a service that takes care of all the licensing for you.
This list includes both free and paid options. Often, the free options will require that you give credit to the independent artist or creator. The paid options can cost a one-time fee for particular sound effects, or you can subscribe to a service and pay an annual or monthly fee for unlimited access.
Many of the subscription services allow you to try a free trial for a week to a month. This is a good way to be sure that the service will fulfill your project needs.
Here are 10 best sites to download sound effects from legally:
Freesound: Under a Creative Commons license, this site allows you to download and share sound effects for free from a large collaborative list.
AudioJungle: This site provides a host of sound effects for as little as $1 to $2 each.
SoundBible: This site offers both free and royalty-free, premium options that cost a small fee for an entire pack of sound effects.
Artlist: This subscription service provides royalty-free music and premium sound effects that members have unlimited access to with a paid monthly or annual subscription.
Epidemic Sound: With a vast catalog of royalty-free music and sound effects, subscribers can have unlimited access for projects and video with a paid monthly or annual subscription.
Partners in Rhyme: A royalty-free music collection, this site has both paid and free options. You can buy entire packs of sound effects within the same category for a one-time fee, or you can download some sound effects for free through one of their free resources.
Soundsnap: With a large variety of sound effects to choose from, you can access and download royalty-free sound effects after creating a free account, navigating through the categories of types of sound effects to find what you are looking for, and then purchasing the ones you want to use.
Splice: This site offers a wide range of royalty-free sound effects for one low monthly subscription fee. Members have unlimited access to a well-organized catalog of sounds with a paid subscription.
Pond5: With a large variety of stock sound effects, this site offers you the choice to pay per track or per credit pack, or to have unlimited access to the entire library with a paid membership.
SoundGator: This site offers a range of completely free sound effects that you can download and use in your project. You don’t even need to attribute the creator or register to the site to gain access.