Frequently Asked Questions



What is this site anyway?

Freesound aims to create a huge collaborative database of audio snippets, samples, recordings, bleeps, ... released under Creative Commons licenses that allow their reuse. Freesound provides new and interesting ways of accessing these samples, allowing users to:

  • browse the sounds in new ways using keywords, a "sounds-like" type of browsing and more
  • upload and download sounds to and from the database, under the same creative commons license
  • interact with fellow sound-artists!

We also aim to create an open database of sounds that can also be used for scientific research. Many audio research institutions have trouble finding correctly licensed audio to test their algorithms. Many have voiced this problem, but so far there hasn't been a solution.

Wait... This is all... free?

As long as you follow the legal guidelines described below in the Licenses section, ... yup! Some sounds you cannot use commercially, and many of the sounds you need to credit the author. See one section below!


What do I need to do to legally use the files on freesound?

Well, it depends on what you want to do and which files you want to use. First of all, freesound lets the user select one of three licenses for his sounds. And, we used to have a 4th license, which complicates matters. Depending on the license there are things you can and can't do with the files. Let's start with the licenses. Creative commons has a really nice page explaining them:

We aren't lawyers so this isn't legal advice, but here's our summary: for the "zero" license you can do pretty much what you want with the sound. You could even sell the sound, ... but you can't claim you are the author! For "attribution" you should always mention the original creators of the sounds when you use them. "Noncommercial" works like attribution, but you can't earn any money with the piece of work you create! As with all licenses the original creator can give you permission to use the sound outside of the original license.

The content of the Freesound website is uploaded by the users of the site. As per our terms of service our users are required to follow the rules and not upload any copyrighted material. However, like all content on the internet, there might be cases where the users of our site are (un)knowingly uploading illegal content. If you find such content, make sure that you click the "Flag it!" link on the page which contains the sound.

In freesound "1" we had an additional license called Sampling+:

Our interpretation of this license: you can do pretty much what you could do with the attribution noncommercial license, but additionally you can't make commercial advertisement with the sound. You can't make a track with Sampling+ samples to sell a car, for example. Sampling+ is being removed by creative commons because it's a difficult license to interpret, see below for more on that.

Now I can already hear you saying, "attribution", how should I do that, so see the next section!

How do I credit/attribute?

Crediting people is easy, just say something like this:

This [video/theatre piece/...] uses these sounds from freesound:
"sound1" by user1 ( ) licensed under CCBYNC 3.0
"sound2", "sound3" by user2 ( ) licensed under CCBY 3.0

The official Creative Commons guidelines for attribution can be found here: How To Give Attribution - Creative Commons

If you want to know which files you have downloaded since you joined freesound, you can see this in the attribution list.

If you have a particularly long list of files or very little space to attribute sounds you can always do:

This [video/theatre piece/...] uses many sounds from freesound,
for the full list see here:

If you want to see a practical example from the video game Minecraft

License restrictions when publishing new sounds that include/modify/remix other sounds

In the event of using sounds in Freesound to create new sounds, the following table helps you understanding how you can mix them, what can the resulting license/s be, and what the attribution obligations are. Lets say that a user B adds a new sound of her own that includes/modifies/remixes a sound from another user A, then:

License of sound of A B wants to distribute the new sound under Can B do this?
cc0byYes (*)
cc0by-ncYes (*)
bybyYes (**)
byby-ncYes (**)
by-ncby-ncYes (**)

(*) If a third user C uses the sound from B, she must attribute to B.

(**) B must attribute the sound to A. If a third user C uses the sound from B, she must attribute both A and B.

Creative Commons says Sampling+ is "retired", why do you still use it?

Retired just means that Creative Commons is no longer recommending this particular license. If you want to read in detail why, have a look at their blog post which explains it all in detail.

We would love to remove all Sampling+ licenses from our site, but the sounds on freesound are not our sounds, they are the sounds of our users. So, we can't simply change the licenses for the users, we have to ask them to change the license. This is exactly what happens when an old freesounder signs into their old account: we ask them to upgrade all their samples to a new license. Again, you can see how we do that in the creative commons blog post. Until all old users have signed into freesound once, there will always be Sampling+ sounds on freesound...

This is an unfortunate consequence of systems such as YouTube Content ID Scanning.

For example, a lot of the sound effects from this site are being used "raw" in songs ("raw" which means "unchanged"; so without any editing, extra plugins etc. things that change the sound).

So if an artist creates a song that contains all of, or even a snippet of, a "raw" sound effect from this site, and then the artist also submits their song to the YouTube Content ID Scanning system, then if another person uses the same sound effect in a YouTube video, the ID scan will discover a match. If the sound was modified with plugins, stretched or slowed, etc., then the system is less likely to find a match.

When a match is found, the artist/publisher that submitted their work to YouTube Content ID gets notified that a video has been uploaded that contains a match with their submitted song, and then they may raise a copyright claim on the video.

Most often this can be (and has been) resolved by disputing the copyright claim through YouTube and explaining the situation. To support this, you can provide evidence that the Freesound upload predates the copyrighted work (e.g. provide a link to the Freesound sound page followed by the release date of their copyrighted work).


For all the sections below, please make sure you check your spam folder for the emails we send you.

I can't log in! Help!

I want to reset my password! Where should I go?

Please go here:

When I log in, it says my account is inactive. How do I activate it?

This should help:

Hey, I forgot my username. Can you help?

Sure! Go here...

How do I delete myself from your site?

You can find the option to delete yourself in your settings page. When you delete your account, all your personal data will be removed. We will still keep records of your downloads, ratings, comments, etc., and these will still be visible in Freesound, but will be assigned to an anonymized user account with a name similar to "Deleted User XXX".

If you have uploaded sounds, you'll be given the option to either keep the sounds (and packs) or to delete them. If you chose to keep your sounds, these will still be available for other users in Freesound but sounds will appear to be uploaded by an anonymized user account. In this way, the Freesound community can still download and reuse the sounds you created.

How do I change my username?

  • You can change your username in your settings page. However, be aware that you can only change your username a limited number times.
  • Contact us via the contact form if you have trouble changing your username.


How do I download a sound?

To download a sound, first make sure you are logged into your registered account. Then, navigate to a sound's full description page by clicking on the title of the sound on either the search results list or any link on the site. Example of this page:

On that web page you will find a big yellow download button on the right-hand side of the screen. Click on this button and your download should begin. If that doesn't start downloading the file, but instead takes you to another page with a streaming player, you might have to Right-click on the download button and select "save target as" or "save link as" depending on your browser. Do this for each sound you want to download.

How do I delete a sound?

On the "edit" page of a sound you will find a sound deletion link, at the very bottom of the page... You can find the edit page by looking for the link called "Edit sound information" on the single sound view page.

This file has a weird format (flac?? ogg??), how can I play/open/convert it on my computer?

We support 4 formats at freesound:

  • mp3 is mpeg 2, layer III. We don't really need to explain this :-)

  • FLAC (.flac or .fla) is the Free Lossless Audio Codec, an open-source compression scheme that can cut the size of an audio file in half (on average) while not losing any quality in the process. It's basically ZIP for audio files. Using FLAC is good for Freesound because it saves on disk space and bandwidth usage, reduces download times, but doesn't degrade the quality of the sample like mp3 or another lossy codec would.

  • Ogg Vorbis (.ogg) is an open-source lossy audio codec comparable to modern AAC Audio (as used in the iTunes store, etc.). It does degrade the quality of the sample somewhat in order to save on space, but it is much more efficient at this than an older format like mp3. An Ogg file can have the same quality as an mp3 file using less space, or better quality using the same space.

  • AIFF/WAV (.aiff or .aif/.wav) are both uncompressed audio formats. Files in this format are considered by some to be easier to work with because there is no extra conversion step in most cases. However, this comes at the price of a much larger file.

All file types can be opened with the audio editor Audacity. If you want to save files as mp3 files in audacity you will need to follow this audacity faq

Other recommendations for sound conversion software are:

How should I describe my sounds?

It is important to have a description of a sound, it can help you find specific sounds through the search for example. What use is our major sound library going to have if you are not able to find a specific sound when you need it. The purpose of description is, on one hand to provide information (preferably deep) about the sound, from where it comes, it's peculiarities and the tools used to create/record it ... and at the other hand to be used when doing a search.

However, this is a problem that all sound libraries have. So perhaps its best to have a look at how they solve this problem and then turn to our specific situation here at freesound and see if we can adapt their model to ours. In sampling, especially the big part of sampling that contains field recordings, there are several layers in which we can describe sounds.

  • Macro
  • Meso
  • Micro
  • Technical

We will take a simple example "car crash sound" and improve its description.


First of all, there is the macro description. This describes the whole event of a sound. For example "this is a recording of a car crash". For somebody looking for a sound of a car crash this description is perfect.


However, what if your looking for the sound of metal and glass breaking? This car crash could be very useful, but perhaps if you hadn't come up with that you might not have located this source. So in order for this to work you need to break up the sample in smaller events.

Our description: "Car Crash: breaking of glass, crushing metal on metal, burning rubber."


This is the level in which you use the same kind of language usually found in modular synthesis. The Envelope of a sound, the timbral aspects etc.

Our description: "Car Crash: breaking of glass, crushing metal on metal, burning rubber. Hard impact sounds, glass shards falling to the floor."

Technical Description

Another important factor is the technology used to create the sample. Make sure you list:

  • Recorder: MD, DAT, HDD, (if pc, what kind of soundcard)
  • Microphone: model & type: Shure SM57 dynamic mike
  • Processing: If so, what kind.

Our description: "Car Crash: breaking of glass, crushing metal on metal, burning rubber. Hard impact sounds, glass shards falling to the floor. Recorded with a SoundDevices recorder and stereo microphone (rode NT4). The sound was post-processed to make the impacts more dramatic (compression with waves C4)."

Another way to attack the problem is to try to answer these questions:

  • from where: the source of the sound.
  • what: what do I hear, try to describe the sound.
  • where: if you sampled or recorded this sound, where did you do it?
  • method: what gear did you use to sample the sound?
  • purpose: why did you record this sound? what purpose can it fill?

Our description now finally becomes: "Car Crash: breaking of glass, crushing metal on metal, burning rubber. Hard impact sounds, glass shards falling to the floor. Recorded with a SoundDevices recorder and stereo microphone (rode NT4). The sound was post-processed to make the impacts more dramatic (compression with waves C4). Recorded on windy afternoon in Melbourne centre for our new movie The Car Crash. The car we destroyed was a Fiat Panda."

I don't see any preview players to play back sounds!

First of all, make sure you have flash installed. You can test this on this adobe page: if you have flash installed it will tell you what version, if not it will have a "get flash" button.

It might not be completely apparent, but we use soundmanager2 for playing back sounds. Soundmanager2 uses both html5 and flash to play back sounds. If you already have flash installed, you might be running something like flashblock or noscript, both of which will break our players. Make sure you whitelist freesound in these extensions.

Last but not least if all of these fail, try another browser. We recommend alternate browsers like Google Chrome (our personal favourite) and Mozilla Firefox.

First off, we're not copyright lawyers, so these guidelines should not be seen as legal advice ;-)

  • You recorded the sound yourself: If you recorded the sound yourself, consider the source(s). If you recorded a part of a commercial song, chances are very high that you derived (that's a fancy way of saying sampled) your work from a "copyright" or "all rights reserved" source. This is not legal, so we can't allow these sounds on freesound. If you recorded the radio or television, the same applies, the broadcast you recorded is copyrighted by the entity broadcasting... All of these are not legal. What is legal, you ask? Well, you could record street noise, birds, an overhead airplane, a faucet running, a door slamming, a siren, a car alarm, .... So many sounds are not from a source which has copyright on the sound. Most of the time only human-made sounds can be copyrighted! And even when they are human made (say, protesters in the street, or a street vendor) you can get away with uploading them to freesound. If you record a single person, always ask their permission to upload the sounds!
  • You created the sound yourself: The same applies as for recording - consider the sources! If you cut a piece from a song by Madonna, guess what, you shouldn't put it on freesound! There are limits to this of course: if you cut a piece of sound from a song and then process it until it's completely unrecognizable, that's fine!
  • You downloaded the sound from somewhere: this one is really tricky! There are a lot of sites out there that have sounds that are "free". However, "free" is a tricky concept! Free to do what exactly? Free to sell? Free to use...? If you don't know very well what you are doing, don't upload random sounds you found on the internet, it's probably not legal. One exception to this are sounds that are already licenses under a clear license that is compatible with the licenses we use, for example a creative commons one.
  • You took the sound from a game/video/application/...: this is not legal in 99.9% of cases! The creators of the game probably have copyright on all the sounds in the game!
  • You sampled a synthesiser: aah, another tricky one. If the synthesiser is an analog one (think "old moog") you're probably fine, however if the synth you sampled from is a digital "ROM" synth, you might actually be recording the samples stored in the memory of the synth. And this is illegal! Some examples: PCM drum machines like the TR-707, TR-909 (cymbals and hi-hats), Linn Drum, Boss DR 550 etc... are all digital synths you should not sample. ROM samples like the Korg Wavestation internal ROM samples are also not legal to post on freesound. To make matter more crazy, if you have a digital "virtual" analog and you created some patches on it, those are fine to sample too, but if you buy a pack of presets from someone, those might not be legal.

If you have any doubts about your sound being legal or not to post try asking in the legal questions forum, but don't forget we aren't lawyers.

Hey, do you have this sound: ...?

Why don't you try searching for the sound you want: Try All the sounds on freesound are made by our users, Freesound itself does not create or record the sounds!

If that doesn't help you could try asking in the Sample Request Forum.

What's the maximum allowed duration allowed for a sound?

Sounds uploaded to Freesound can be of any duration, but there is a file size upper limit of 1GB. Note that when uploading multiple files at once, the size limit is applied to the sum of all file sizes. Therefore you can, for example, upload 4x250MB files, but not 3x500MB.

I hear a high-pitched squeaking in the audio preview - what is that?

When you listen to the sounds before downloading (on the site), you're listening to mp3 or ogg previews of the sounds encoded in relatively low bit rates to save bandwidth. No (dynamics) compression is applied at all out of that that the mp3 or ogg encoder itself might add (which should be minimal or none).

When you download the sound you get the exact same original file that was uploaded, no transcoding nor any kind of editing at all, without the squeaking.

I have many sounds to upload, is there a way to describe many sounds in bulk?

You can describe your uploaded audio files in batches of 10 sounds using the Freesound describe sounds page. However, if you have many sounds to describe this can become a tedious process. Luckily, if you have demonstrated being a faithful Freesound user (and have already uploaded 40 sounds or more), when you go to the describe sounds page you'll see an extra option named Bulk description of files. If you don't see that option and still need to describe files in bulk, please fill a request using our contact form.

Using that option you can provide descriptions for several files at once by uploading a data file which contains all the necessary metadata information. We support data files in CSV, XLS, and XLSX formats. Data files must be created following the instructions below.

Using this method you can describe hundreds of sounds at a time, this means you have to double check that all the metadata you provide is correct because you won't be able to modify the descriptions in bulk at a later time. We recommend that before uploading any large collection, you first try by batch describing a small number of test sounds and see if it all looks good. After that you can do the rest :)

Instructions for creating a data file with sound descriptions:

1) Download one of the following data file templates: CSV, XLS, XLSX.

2) Open the template file with any spreadsheet editor software like LibreOffice Calc, Microsoft Excel or Google Spreadsheets. XLS and XLSX should work well with any of these options and possibly other similar software. CSV has better support in LibreOffice Calc and Google Spreadsheets.

3) Fill in the metadata of your sounds by adding one new row per sound. You can delete the example rows provided in the template, but don't delete the header row. This is a description of what should go in each column of a row:

  • audio_filename: filename of the sound to describe (must be one of the filenames listed above in "Your uploaded files" section).
  • name (optional): name to be given to the sound. If left blank, audio_filename will be taken as a default.
  • tags: tags for the sound, separated with spaces like in the standard audio description forms.
  • geotag: geotag information for the sound. The geotag should be indicated as "latitude, longitude, zoom". Latitude must be in the range [-90, 90]. Longitude must be in the range [-180, 180]. Zoom must be in the range [11, 21]. If this field is left blank, no geotag will be added to the sound. For example: "41.40348, 2.189420, 18" is a valid geotag. Try our geotag picker tool, it will help you choosing the right values for the geotag field.
  • description: textual description given to the sound. Can be multiline like sound descriptions introduced using the standard describe interface.
  • license: name of the license to be given to the sound. Must be one of "Creative Commons 0", "Attribution", or "Attribution Noncommercial".
  • pack_name (optional): name of the pack in which the sound should be included. If there exists no pack with this name, a new pack will be created. If this field is left blank, the sound won't be included in any pack.
  • is_explicit: must be "1" if sound contains explicit content, or "0" if it does not.

4) Save the file in either CSV, XLS or XLSX format. If saving in CSV format, make sure that comma is used as the delimiter character.

Other questions

I created a song, where can I upload it?

Freesound isn't meant to upload songs, it's for sounds! We know this distinction is sometimes difficult (soundscapes come to mind), but if you made it you probably know in your heart if it's a song or a sound... For songs there are a lot of great already existing sites like:

How do I cite in a research context?

You should reference the ACM MM'13 Freesound Technical Demo article.
Frederic Font, Gerard Roma, and Xavier Serra. "Freesound technical demo."
Proceedings of the 21st ACM international conference on Multimedia. ACM, 2013.

I have a question not answered here...

Try the contact form