Best Free Audio Tools and Resources for Game Development

One of the most important aspects of creating a successful game is ensuring high-quality audio. From sound effects to music, audio plays a crucial role in immersing players in the game world and enhancing their experience. With the abundance of audio tools and resources available, it can be overwhelming to choose the best ones for your game development needs.

The purpose of this article is to give you a brief introduction to the world of sound design. I will show you free services that you can use to get music and sound effects, edit sound, and create great audio for your games.

What Is Sound Design?

Sound design is the art of creating sounds and music for movies, games and other art forms. Sound designers use various tools and techniques to record, edit, and mix sounds, such as music, special effects, speech, and background noise. The goal is to create an immersive audio environment that enhances the visuals and contributes to the story and overall feel of the game.

It’s not necessary to use the most advanced audio software or invest a lot of money into it, especially if you’re a beginner. There are plenty of free software options that you can use to create great background music and sound effects for your video game. I listed some of these options below.

Where Can I Find Free Sound Effects and Music Clips?

There are many websites that provide you with royalty-free sound effects and music. Some of the assets of these websites may require artist attribution, which means you have to mention the source of your music or sound effects somewhere in your project. The websites I listed below have high-quality free assets and a simple user interface, allowing you to easily find what you are looking for.

1. Freesound.org

Freesound.org has high-quality sound effects and music clips, free of charge. You can listen to all the clips on the website without registering; however, if you want to download files, you must create an account.

Most of the audio clips on the website fall under the “Creative Commons” license, which means you can use, edit, and distribute them privately and for commercial purposes with no strings attached.

audio tools and resources - freesound.org

If you are planning to use them commercially, I encourage you to check the license of the clips you choose, just to make sure you are not breaking any copyright laws. If you feel generous, you can give attribution to the artist in your game or website.

License

Free to download audio files. Requires checking the license of each audio asset. Some assets are for personal use only.

File Formats

wav, mp3

Audio Types

sound effects

2. Pixabay

Pixabay is usually though of as the free images website, but it actually has all kinds of assets, including music and sound effects. Like freesound.org, this website is completely free. The downloaded music and sound effects are royalty free and are high quality. Attribution is not required, although it is encouraged to mention the artist in your work.

audio tools and resources - pixabay

You don’t have to create an account on Pixabay, just click on the Download button next to the asset you like, and you will get it. You can use the audio assets for personal and commercial uses.

License

100% free for personal and commercial use. Attribution is not required, but encouraged.

File Formats

mp3

Audio Types

sound effects, music clips

3. Orange Free Sounds

Orange Free Sounds is a website that provides a collection of audio assets, including sound effects and music, for use in various projects, such as films and video games. The sounds can be downloaded in either WAV or MP3 formats, but not all of them are royalty-free, so be sure to read the license.

Same as the other resources, the assets from Orange Free Sounds is 100% free to use. Each download comes with the audio asset and an information file containing the license, which is also written on the asset’s page.

audio tools and resources - orange free sounds

You don’t need to create an account to download the sounds you like. Overall, Orange Free Sounds is a great resource for audio clips with a user-friendly interface.

License

mp3 files are free, while wav files are paid. Requires checking the license of each audio asset. Some assets are for personal use only.

File Formats

wav, mp3

Audio Types

sound effects, music clips, 3D sounds

4. SoundBible

SoundBible has a large library of sound effects that you can download for free. Despite having a large library, the website does not contain music clips. So, if you are looking for music, you will have to look at other websites. SoundBible allows you to download audio files in either WAV or MP3 formats, and you don’t have to create a user profile to download the files.

Most of the royalty-free resources on this website fall under the Attribution 3.0 license, which states that you can edit, remix, and distribute them, even commercially, as long as you give credit to the composer of the original piece. The website is a bit hard to navigate since there are no categories, and the main search tool is the search bar on top.

License

mp3 and wav files are free to download. Attribution is required.

File Formats

wav, mp3

Audio Types

sound effects

What Is the Best Free Software for Creating Game Music and Sound Effects?

Once you find the basic music clips or sound effect you want to use in your project, you will probably need some software to edit or mix them. The following software suggestions will help you do just that. The software products I will mention are completely free to use, both for personal and for commercial uses. I suggest you install all of them, try what works best for you and uninstall the ones you don’t want. The fit of the software will depend on your level of expertise.

1. Audacity

Audacity is a free and open-source software that allows you to record, edit, mix audio files, add effects, and export your work to various audio file formats. It provides a variety of features for audio processing, including multi-track editing, filtering, and effects processing. Audacity is easy to use, with a user-friendly interface and a large number of tutorials and resources available online, making it a good choice for beginners.

Audacity is considered one of the simplest and most popular free audio design software and is used extensively by indie game developers. It is supported on Windows, Linux, and Mac PCs. If you are looking for free and simple sound recording and editing software, Audacity is highly recommended.

Platform Support: Windows, MacOS and Linux.

Cost: Free and open-source.

Game Engine Integration: No game engine integration.

2. FMOD Studio

FMOD Studio is an adaptive audio software designed for video game development. Adaptive audio means that you can dynamically change various parameters of your audio clips according to the current conditions in the game. For example, you can change the volume and speed of a character’s footsteps based on their movement velocity. The cool thing about FMOD Studio is that it can be integrated directly into your game engine. Once the software is integrated, you can control the sound effects and music found in the FMOD project from your game code.

Using FMOD Studio, you can manage and edit audio clips, apply looping, randomization, effects, and much more. Next, you can package those assets and get them ready to be used by the game engine. Once the assets are ready, you will be able to access, control playback, mix, and change parameters from your game code. This software has been used by many popular commercial games and is one of the best tools to manage your game audio.

One small downside is that the company requires you to register with them to receive a permit to use FMOD in your video game (even if you meet the requirements for a free license). Additionally, you must attribute FMOD and include the application’s logo somewhere in your game.

Platform Support: Windows, MacOS and Linux.

Cost: Free Indie License available for developers with less than $200k revenue per year, on a small (under $500k) development budget. Otherwise, at least 2000$ per game.

Game Engine Integration: Unity and Unreal engines. Godot has community developed integration code. Integrates with any custom engine using C++ or C# APIs.

Video Game Examples: The Witcher 2, Crysis 3, Deus Ex (Mankind Divided), World of WarCraft, Guitar Hero, Mad Max, StarCraft 2, Celeste.

3. Linux MultiMedia Studio (LMMS)

LMMS (Linux MultiMedia Studio) is a free digital audio workstation. It provides features for creating, producing, and mixing music and other audio content and offers a large library of effects and an unlimited number of tracks. If you are familiar with FL Studio, you will notice that LMMS is very similar. And despite its name, this software is supported on Windows, macOS, and Linux.

LMMS does not support audio recording, which means you have to record voice or sound with different software and import the recording into LMMS. The user interface is a bit complicated for beginners, but you can get used to it over time.

A benefit of LMMS is it’s large community. If you go to lmms.io/lsp, you will find a large database of projects, samples, tutorials, and even UI themes. In addition, there are comprehensive video tutorials on YouTube discussing LMMS and its various features.

Platform Support: Windows, MacOS and Linux.

Cost: Free and open-source.

Game Engine Integration: No game engine integration.

4. Cakewalk

Cakewalk is a digital audio workstation (DAW) software for music production. With this powerful software, you can record, compose, edit, and mix audio and MIDI tracks. Additionally, you can apply effects like reverb, distortion, filtering, equalizers, and more. The user interface is clean and can be customized for your level of expertise.

Cakewalk is a useful tool for creating your own music tracks and sound effects, and it is completely free to use. You can either download Cakewalk directly or download the BandLab Assistant, which is a wrapper containing the Cakewalk software installer and a sound library you can use to download music and sound effects in various genres. Either way, you will need to create an account on the BandLab website, which takes only a minute and is 100% free.

Platform Support: Officially supported only on Windows.

Cost: Basic version is free. You can purchase advanced software for $50 – $200, depending on the product.

Game Engine Integration: No game engine integration.

Final Thoughts

Creating an immersive audio environment for your video game is crucial and can greatly enhance the player experience, so don’t overlook this step. I hope you found the tools and resources mentioned in this article helpful. If none of my suggestions appealed to you, consider searching for alternative free software or websites, or opt for a paid software instead.

If game development is your thing, check out my other posts at Night Quest Games Blog. Good luck!

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Attributions

The featured image of the article was kindly provided by starline on Freepik.

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