Sound effect

A Sound Effect (English sound effect ) short SFX ( ambiguous with SFX - Special Effects ) is a naturally or artificially uncreated or technically altered acoustic signal to suggest to the listener an altered reality.


It is important to distinguish between:

  • The effect as such: a sound (sound ) in a film, radio play, computer or video game or on recordings of the music industry and other mass media.
  • The algorithm for its production; see technology section.

Purpose of sound effects is the desired improvement, alteration or modification of the sound quality or the listening experience of sound recordings. Responsible for the use of sound effects are primarily engineers, music producers or arrangers.


The use of sound effects goes back to the theater, which is mostly simple noises like thunder or the clatter of horses' hoofs were created. Only with the spread of the radio and the transmissions of radio plays in the 1920s, the production of sounds has been attached greater importance. At the latest with the change from silent to sound films were the sounds of the foley artist an indispensable tool in the film industry. Today, the media designer and sound is a recognized profession.

In its Yearbook 1931, the BBC published the first major professional articles on the use of sound effects ( " The Use of Sound Effects" ) on the radio: "It would be a mistake to regard them as being like punctuation marks and accents in print works. Sound effects should never be just like that, interspersed into an existing program ', but are seen by the author of a mission as building blocks upon which he based his work; they have for him with the same meaning as speech and music. "This article lists six " totally different primary genres of Sound Effects "on, including the " realistic, confirmatory " effect that what is mentioned in the text underlines, but also " symbolic " and " impressionistic " effects that can cause detached from the text associations and feelings. As an example, the sound of a Morse instrument is called to indicate a long voyage into the distance. The basic condition for good sound effects is according to the author, that the listener understands it immediately. If not, you should absolutely give it up.


In film and television productions sound effects are mostly used to create or support a specific atmosphere. Sound effects are therefore next to the dialogue and the soundtrack is an important means of artistic expression. We distinguish the following main categories of sound effects:

  • Natural sounds ( Nurtöne ) to actions that are also seen in the picture, such as slamming doors, gun fire or the noise of cars driving.
  • Background noise ( Atmos ), that are not synchronized with certain actions, but to the audience to illustrate a specific situation. These sound effects are typically forest sounds, rain, animals, machinery and subtle sounds of traffic.
  • Artificial sound effects (SFX ) occur in nature only in part or not at all weakened and therefore must be created by a foley artist. For example, a futuristic technology be provided with a suitable noise.


For the creation of sound effects enhanced digital sound software is used alongside synthesizers and effects units. However, many sound effects are based on everyday sounds. The well-known lightsaber sound effects from the Star Wars films was created by combining the sounds of a TV and a projector motor. But the foley artist, who arrives with a big suitcase full of things that he needs to create sounds that can be found still in the major film and television studios.

Among the most important techniques and effects in music include:

  • Overdub
  • Delay
  • Equalizer
  • Flanger
  • Phaser
  • Chorus
  • Filter
  • Pitch Shifter
  • Distortion