WRITTEN BY JEFF SHIFFMAN, CO-OWNER OF BOOM BOX POST

Our first Glossary of Sound Effects post was so popular we decided it would be fun to expand on it. This time around we not only included more specific search terms, but also a handful of modifiers. These terms, such as 'by' 'up' or 'quick' speak to the characteristics of the sound choice you are looking for. Try adding them to other terms (i.e. 'zip quick' or 'violin up')  to further narrow down your search. 


Ambience - Atmospheric sounds to build the space of a scene. Also look up: background, amb, environment

Beam - A steady synthetic sound. Also look up glow, ray, phaser

Beep - The tonal sound of a button press. Also look up blip

Bork - A cartoonish sound that conveys disappointment. 

Brush - The sound of leaves or foliage. Also look up: leaves, bush, foliage, twig

By - This modifier should be added to searches for moving objects like Jet or Car, characterized by an increase and decrease in volume as the object passes by.

Chatter - A repetitive sound that conveys shaking, commonly associated with cartoonish teeth movement. Also look up: shake, rattle

Chitter - small animal noise, repetitive and often cute sounding. Think squirrel or hamster.

Doppler - A sound that changes pitch as it passes by. Think truck horn starting from a distance and dropping in pitch as it crosses your path.

Drop - The sound of something falling to the ground. 

Electricity - The sound of an electrical current, often wavering in volume and intensity. Also look up: arc, crackle, spark

Flutter - Any sound with a very fast cycle of volume from low to high. Think of a humming bird’s wings or pod racers from Star Wars.

Ghost - Ethereal, often melodic and scary in nature. Also look up: spirit, whisper

Hydraulic - The very distinct sound of something propelled by liquid moving in a confined space. Think forklift or fancy door hinges. Also look up: servo

Impact - The sound of a collision, be it small or large. Also look up: hit, crash, smash

Debris - A cacophonous sound, usually starting thick and eventually settling. Can be used as aftermath of an event as big as an explosion or as small as kicking up dirt.

Konk - A hollow hit, usually tonal in nature. Also look up bonk, coconut, hollow

Laser - The sound of a synthetic weapon. Also look up: ray gun, pulse, beam

Movement - This modifier can be added to any search requiring both a material and motion. Also look up in short form: mvmt

Old - A modifier for sounds that are typically somewhat poor in quality, as though they were recorded a long time ago. This term is about looking for a specific character in your sound. Also look up: old, classic, antique

Poink - A short, pointy sound. Also look up: pluck, doink

Quick - Use this modifier when looking for sounds with very short duration. Also look up: fast, short, sharp

Ratchet - A repetitive clicking sound Also look up: crank, pulley, latch, turnstile

Ricco - This shorthand for Ricochet is the sound of a bullet bouncing. Can be used in cartoony moments when a character zips off screen very quickly.

Ruckle - The repetitive, throaty warble character of a sound. Typically emanating from the depths of a large animal or monster. Think of the T-Rex growl from Jurassic Park.

Rummage - Quickly digging through various materials. Also look up: junk

Servo - Short for servomechanism, this is the sound you would typically associated with the moments of a robot or other motorized electronics. Also look up: robot

Slide - This modifier signifies a changing in pitch; a character often associated with violin recordings or whistles to convey emotion in cartoony moments. 

Splinter - The sound of small breaking or cracking wood. Also look up: twist, stress, crack, wood break

Stinger - A musical sweetener that helps place emphasis on a dramatic moment. Also look up: trailer hit, action

Telemetry - Rhythmic and somewhat repetitive beeps. The sound of calculating technology. Also look up: computer, scan, beeps, tech, process

Up/Down - Add these modifiers to your search to convey the pitch motion of your sound. Slide whistle Up, for example, would start at a low pitch and end on a high pitch.

Valoop - The sound of something squeezing out of a small space. 

Wobble - A repetitive, quick pitching sound used for moments of shakiness. Also look up: warble, hypno, flutter

Zip - Any fast movement, often with some sort of musical character. Also look up: zing

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