Cornell University Launches World’s Largest Natural Sound Archive

NASA Offers original sounds of space

By James DeRuvo (doddleNEWS)

If you’re looking for some good sound effects, you can pay for them, you can record your own, or you can go back to school. That’s because Cornell University has just put the largest archive of natural sound elements in world, and it’s all yours for the download.

“Our audio collection is the largest and the oldest in the world. Now, it’s also the most accessible. We’re working to improve search functions and create tools people can use to collect recordings and upload them directly to the archive. Our goal is to make the Macaulay Library as useful as possible for the broadest audience possible.” – Mike Webster, director Macaulay Library, Cornell University

Gathered as analog recordings over decades, the sounds have been used for exercises in sound identification for ornithology (bird watching) and other studies in the flora and fauna of the world.

The recordings are also used by many museums and other exhibits to provide a more natural presentation and environment. Cornell has also made them available to movie houses and commercial houses for production of movies, TV shows and even sound effects for smartphone apps.

“Now that we’ve digitized the previously archived analog recordings, the archival team is focusing on new material from amateur and professional recordists from around the world to really, truly build the collection,” Budney said. “Plus, it’s just plain fun to listen to these sounds. Have you heard the sound of a walrus underwater?  It’s an amazing sound.”

Now they’re available for anyone. And not only that, but Cornell is working to expand their effects library by taking submissions from professional and amateur sound recordists all around the  world. The sound effects are available for purchase, along with applicable fees to prepare any recording for commercial use.

Prices range from around $50 for sets, plus a license fee 75 per hour to prepare recordings for commercial uses, $50 per hour for institutions, and $25 per hour for individuals. Students can use them for no charge.  For more information, visit

Over at NASA, the space agency has collected over 70 years of sound effects from space launches and missions out from our solar system. The space agency has placed the entire collection on SoundCloud, along with mission sounds from manned spaceflight, rocket launches, and chirps of satellites. Also included are recorded sounds of lightning on Jupiter and other naturally occurring sounds in our solar system.

The best part is, that the entire collection is free since it’s a taxpayer-funded public service. There are a few restrictions, however, including not being able to use NASA’s name or logo without a separate agreement, and the effects can’t be used to imply commercial endorsement for any product. And, of course, you have to provide attribution. You can read the entire guidelines here.

Additionally, the European Space Agency has followed suit and also placed downloadable sounds on SoundCloud as well. They’re doing it under a creative commons license.

Hat Tip – CreatedigitalMusic and Cornell University

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Doddlenews is the news division of the Digital Production Buzz, a leading online resource for filmmakers, covering news, reviews and tutorials for the video and film industry, along with movie and TV news, and podcasting.

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