Here's the bad news: If you're an aspiring sound designer or you're looking for some random noise to insert into a big project you're working on, the BBC's new archive of more than 16,000 free sound effects won't help you much. They're all bound by a RemArc licence that prohibits using these files in commercial work.
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Ambient sounds are great for helping you focus and increasing your productivity. Listen to Wikipedia plays a symphony of ambient bells, strings and deep resonant notes that all represent Wikipedia edits happening in real time.
Earlier this week we asked if you listened to ambient sounds or music to help focus and boost your productivity. Those of you that enjoyed listening to white noise and nature sounds like ocean surf will want to check out RainyMood.
Last year we shared the best sounds for getting work done with you and the science behind using them. Today we want to hear about whether not you use ambient sounds when you work.
The Buddha Machine Wall webapp streams ambient patterns—the kind just distracting enough to take the edge off the noise in your office.The original Buddha Machine is a small device resembling a transistor radio, created by a pair of Chinese musicians known as FM. With permission from FM, the tech-support company ZenDesk hosts a version that, just like the original, creates randomised patterns from 9 FM-crafted ambient loops. This post was powered by loop B2—post your own favourite in the comments if you try out the free Buddha Machine Wall. For more ambient, work-friendly sounds, check out previously mentioned iSerenity, another web-based source. FM3 Buddha Machine Wall
Windows only: The Digital Inspiration blog posts a tiny AutoHotKey script that takes away the email-ruining power of the most useless key on your deck, Caps Lock, and converts it into an instant-muting tool. Really helpful for anyone using a stand-alone keyboard without multimedia keys, or whose left pinky finger is just irrascible sometimes. The script is available as both an AHK script and stand-alone executable to tuck away into your system tray. For another approach to re-assign Caps Lock, try one reader's Handicapslock tool. Photo by AV8TER. Mute your Speakers with the Caps Lock Key
All platforms: Free audio editing application WavePad Sound Editor can help you cut down an MP3 to ringtone size or remix that cute voicemail. It has basic editing features such as cut, copy, paste, insert and auto-trim and effects such as amplify, normalize, envelope, sample conversion and more. WavePad has support for many audio formats including WAV, MP3, VOX, GSM, Real Audio, AU, AIF, FLAC, and OGG. WavePad also comes with voice-activated recording and a built-in CD ripper with CDDB music database lookup. For another robust sound editor, check out Audacity. WavePad is a free download for Windows, Mac, and Linux.
For YouTube videos, presentations, or even just system sounds, having the right sound effect file can make all the difference. FindSounds, a search engine focused on audio files, is a heck of a lot more convenient than typing ".wav" into Google and wading through inconsistent results. Type in what you're looking for and specify parameters, and the results are offered in playable previews and waveform diagrams. I almost always found relevant results in the 10 or so test searches I performed, and being able to see how long the sound helps winnow down results when you're hunting just the right sound to fit into a project. Got your own sound clip search methods? Share 'em in the comments.