When you start your podcast you’ll mostly be focusing on the basics of content creation, recording, and editing your podcast. But once you get the hang of things you’ll want to start to improve your podcasts and gain more listeners by offering them a higher quality show. A great way to take your podcast to the next level is by adding in some creative sound effects and really add in those extra layers to your show.
There are a wide variety of ways to use sound effects, but it all depends on which would work best for your podcast. You can use sound effects to create a unique intro or outro. Or, if your podcast has a focus on storytelling, you can use effects like ambient sounds and background noise to create the result you are looking for. Sound effects can also be used to break your episodes into segments and to highlight a key moment with a “swoosh” or a “horn” to really get your audience engaged.
For great options to take your podcast to the next level, Soundsnap is one of our favorite sound effect libraries housing 250,000+ sound effects. They focus solely on professional sound effects, with curated sounds added weekly. Founded in 2007, Soundsnap is operated by a team of sonic enthusiasts from all over the world, working non-stop to make it easier for you to find the perfect sound.
Soundsnap pricing starts at $15 for 5 downloads in the pay as you go package, or you can subscribe annually for $17/month and gain access to unlimited downloads. In partnership with Soundsnap, we are excited to offer all our We Edit Podcasts clients full access to their sound library to really boost your sound production.
So now that you know how to spice up your podcast and where to find some exciting sound effects, let’s look at a few real-life examples. Here are 10 podcasts that use sound effects to help stir emotions in their listeners.
Radiolab is one of the most popular podcasts out there, and you’ll always learn something new while still being entertained. Hosts Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich are the perfect duo, sharing topics that are relevant and relatable. Their use of sound effects in the intro does wonders for their listener’s curiosity while keeping it short enough to keep it from becoming the main focus. They also blend in conversation in the background, to really set the scene while explaining what’s going on. To paint an even more detailed picture, they use different sound effects like someone playing the piano or a ticking clock. Tune in to hear what else they have up their sound effect sleeve!
TED Radio Hour
TED Radio Hour is based on the intriguing conferences on the world-renowned TED stage! All those interesting topics brought straight to your phone to enjoy. Each episode revolves around a different theme that can help you in your everyday life such as “How We Love”, “Climate Crisis” or “Jumpstarting Creativity”. Their episodes are filled with tons of sound effects, including intro sound effects that draw on science, background effects to set the stage, and sound effects in the outro to end the episode off with a bang!
Reply All is an excellent podcast about what is happening on the Internet and how to survive it. The show is hosted by PJ Vogt and Alex Goldman, from Gimlet. With interesting topics such as, “The Roman Mars Mazda Virus”, “Robocall: Bang Bang” and “An Ad for the Worst Day of Your Life”. You’ll find sound effects being used during their intro as well as their outro. They also weave in background effects like people laughing, a news report being read, or even a tape being rewound. This truly sets the scene and pulls the listener into what’s happening on the podcasting “stage”.
Stuff to Blow Your Mind
If you think you know everything then the Stuff to Blow Your Mind podcast will prove you wrong. You might know the basics of the “Fartonomicon” but listening to Stuff To Blow Your Mind will give you details you never knew you needed! Hosted by Robert Lamb and Julie Douglas, tune in and listen to them explore everything from cosmic mysteries, evolutionary marvels to the latest technological discoveries. They have a fun intro with sci-fi sound effects that overlap a short introduction to the show. On their “From the Vault” episodes, they even throw in an old creaking door sound effect to let you know that it is an oldie, but a goodie!
Sound Design Live
Building your career as a sound engineer can be quite tricky but listening to how professionals do it is a great start. Host, Nathan Lively, of Sound Design Live loves helping people grow their business and coaching them to through his podcast offering listeners insights you can’t find in any textbook. Nathan also uses sound effects in a unique way for the intro and outro, so check it out.
Polygamer is all about gaming, online gaming and also board games. With every episode, they dissect a new game thoroughly. You can find out what the game is about, where to get new pieces (board games) and any other questions you might have for the designers of the game. Polygamer has an awesome intro and outro created using sound effects.
Filmspotting is a weekly podcast doing in-depth reviews of the latest shows out there. It is hosted by Adam Kempenaar and Josh Larsen. Each episode is filled with unique sound effects making it even better to listen to. They create a top 5 list so you can have an easy time trying to find a show you’d like. During the show, they add in background effects such as clips from movies, someone humming, or ringing bells.
Host Shankar Vedantam of the Hidden Brain podcast dives deep into the world of human behavior and what drives us to do certain things. He uses science and storytelling to find patterns behind people’s actions. For instance “I Buy, Therefore I Am: How Brand Become Part Of Who We Are”, “People Like Us: How Our Identities Shape Health and Educational Success” and “Pets, Pests, and Food: Our Complex Attitude Toward Animals”. Hidden Brain has great sound effects on all of their episodes, such as using harp music to transition scenes and even phone dial sounds to better tell the story. Tune in to hear more!
Diary of a CEO
Wondering what a CEO goes through on the daily? Then tune in to Diary of a CEO and listen to the challenges and the craziness Steven Bartlett goes through each day as he shares his diary entries with listeners every Monday. This podcast makes great use of sound effects during his intro as well as a few episodes with a page-turning effect to help with segmentation.
Hosted by Marc Smerling and Zac Stuart-Pontier, Crimetown investigates the culture of crimes with each season, all in American cities. Season 2 is out now, but season one is worth binging first. Crimetown makes pretty awesome use of sound effects throughout the entire season, which has a big effect on Crimetowns listeners by helping build tension.
Hopefully, those examples give you a better idea of how you can use sound effects to take your podcast to the next level!
An Interview with Tasos Frantzolas, CEO of Soundsnap
To help you get even more insight into the sound effects industry, we’ve interviewed CEO of Soundsnap, Tasos Frantzolas, to ask him about his experience working with podcasters and sound effects, and what his advice is for simply getting started!
Q: Have you listened to any good podcasts lately? Do you have any podcasts or resources you would recommend to our readers?
A: Yes! In terms of fiction, I can recommend Archive 81 that’s an audio version of Blair witch project. It’s done by an ex-Soundsnap employee Dan Powell and features great sound design. For work, I like ‘How I Built This’ from NPR. I also recently listened to the NY Times’ ‘Hacking the Russian Power Grid’ which is an investigative piece on Cyber War.
Q: How long has Soundsnap been around? How did this massive sound library get started? How large are the team and the current sound library?
A: We started out in 2007 as a free website but soon became a leader for paid professional sound effects. We‘re now at 250,000 sound effects with a team of seven.
Q: What are the most common questions you get from podcasters about sound effects?
A: “Is it legal to use sound effects in my podcast?” Yes!
Q: What is the most common reason that you think people are afraid of taking the step to adding sound effects to their production? What advice do you have for them to break past that hesitancy?
A: I think that sound is often a dark art that people don’t want to learn. I would suggest searching Youtube or Udemy to watch some basic courses on the basics of audio and see if you get into it. If you don’t feel like it, then try finding a friend to help you out. Then again, not all podcasts are meant to have a heavy use of sound effects; some are okay with music. For non-fiction, you can still add nice sounds for intros, outros, and transitions (like whooshes for example). You can find some great sound design articles on our Soundsnap blog and some freebies too.
Q: What does your typical customer look like? What groups of creators are most often searching for sound effects?
A: It’s really fragmented. From big TV stations like the BBC, major film studios like Disney to post-production studios and Youtube influencers. Lots of sound designers, editors as well as ad agencies, video and app developers, theater companies, podcasters, and even hardware or toy companies. It’s really diverse.
Q: Do you have any unique or outrageous examples of sound effect projects you have been a part of? (or personal funny sound effect stories?)
A: One time a porn star contacted us telling us she is a huge fan of the library and uses it every week in her productions. She found us on LinkedIn (?)
Q: What are the key ways that you think Soundsnap stands out in the industry? What are your customers loving about your platform?
A: First, its that we try to design a website that’s easy and fast. Then, its value for money- no one else in the industry can offer 250,000 sound effects for $199/ year. Finally, it’s the love and passion that we put into finding unique, rare, professional sounds from all over the world.
That concludes our interview for today. Thank you so much to Tasos for coming on the blog today and sharing his expertise and insights into the sound effects industry! To find out more about Soundsnap and explore their extensive sound effects library, head over to Soundsnap.com and check them out on Twitter.