A definitive list of the best AI sound effect generator tools of 2024

Deep dive into the best tools on the market right now

Whether you're creating stand-out YouTube videos that captivate your audience or memorable corporate videos that impress your clients, sound effects can be the difference between a mediocre video and one that retains the viewer's attention.

Yet, gone are the days when great sound effects require dedicated actors, an expensive recording studio, and a myriad of props. Now, the latest AI technology means that content creators can easily generate audio files and sound effects that fit any circumstance, using artificial intelligence to manufacture sound at the touch of a button.

But what actually are sound effects, and what is the purpose of including them in today's content? How can AI tools help with generating sound effects, and what are the best tools to use?

In this article, we'll delve into sound effects, taking a look at the history of this unique sound generation and its uses. Then, we'll compare the leading AI sound effect generators available in 2024 and discuss how you can start including innovative sound effects in your next piece of video or auditory content.

What are sound effects?

Sound effects, sometimes known as sound FX, are artificially created or enhanced sounds used to emphasize or add realism to storytelling in diverse media, for example, movies, television shows, computer games, and theater productions.

Sound effects are so ubiqitous, you'll probably don't notice them in your favorite movie. They are incredibly diverse and include background noises, the sound of vehicle crashes, the chatter of a crowd, applause, the gentle trickle of a stream - whatever you can think of.

The purpose of this kind of sound in content creation, film-making, and storytelling is to enrich the narrative by providing auditory cues that complement visual images or recordings. They can be realistic (i.e., a real sound of something) or musical (i.e., background music that complements the storyline).

Ultimately, sound has an important role to play in how we humans interpret and understand stories. We all know and recognize the happy jingle of a popular advertisement, the tension from the Jaws background music, or even the inspirational swell of applause, and our bodies and minds react to these sounds in different ways.

As a result, sound FX can enhance your storytelling, delight your audience, and entertain your listeners. They're an important part of professional video and podcast creation and play a critical role in engaging an audience and effectively sharing a narrative.

The history of sound effect generation

But sound hasn't always been a part of the narrative scene. In fact, in the old movies, sound was unable to be recorded, meaning silent films were the standard. Yet, even in the showing of these silent movies, a live musician would play music, such as an upbeat waltz or a slow, sad ballad, to accompany the narrative.

When sound recordings in films became more freely available during the 20th century, realistic sounds in a movie or on the radio started to become important. Foley artists - the special kind of sound artists who created sound FX in a studio - now played a critical role in creating effects that added a believable element to films and audio recordings.

Foley artists used a range of everyday items to create the sounds of events happening on-screen or over the radiowaves. This could include a shoe and a wooden board for creepy footsteps, water bowls for the sound of splashing, and balloons popping for the sound of gunshots. This type of sound effect creation required precise human interaction and creativity, a silent audio recording studio, and expert equipment.

During the 21st century, sound effects have become ubiquitous and are expected in every type of film, movie, video content, advertisement, and even podcast. A modern movie audience is unlikely to watch a movie in silence, and grandiose sound effects, even on YouTube videos and in TikTik shorts, are increasingly common.

Research has given movie-makers and content creators the power to use sound effects for psychological purposes and an immersive experience, for instance, with background sounds that are unsettling to the listener or sounds that lull us into a false sense of security. Sound effects can even be used to move action on, close the screen, show an audience when to laugh or cry, and even be the punchline to a joke.

Although Foley artists still exist for big-budget productions, sound effects can be bought from a sound FX library or generated using AI technology. The reduced costs and wide availability of sound FX means that even amateur content can make use of professional effects and realistic noises to add the next level of immersion and entertainment to their content.

Can AI generate sound effects?

So, can AI really generate realistic, widely available, and unique sound effects? The answer is yes.

Generative AI has taken the world by storm in the past few years, resulting in incredible breakthroughs in softwares that produce incredible visual image generation, text generation, and even voice generation. Audio sounds and music, however, have been a little harder.

This is because AI struggled to comprehend the variety of noise. Ideas of melody, rhythm, genres, and creativity are difficult for computer models to replicate, which has held AI audio generation back in comparison to large-language models such as ChatGPT.

But 2023 marked a breakthrough, with hyper-realistic voice cloning software like ElevenLabs bursting onto the scene, bringing easy-to-use software that generates voice, sound, and speech with incredible degrees of accuracy. Already in 2024, excellent sound effect generators, like ElevenLabs' own generator, are making sure the power of realistic, professional-quality sound FX is available to everyone.

Why use sound effects in your content?

If you're a content creator, podcast speaker, or YouTuber, you might be questioning whether sound effects are important for you after all. Perhaps you've been getting by with a voice recording and a few musical jingles and have already built up your audience.

The reality is, sound effects add a professional, polished feel to your content. In today's media-centric society, your audience is likely already primed to expect FX features and content lacking them will seem amateurish and unprofessional.

Plus, a sound effect can play an important role in content, marking the change of scene, an end to a narration, prompting an emotional response, or building suspence. It's important for content creators to adjust their content to meet these expectations, build a loyal following, and create quality content that their audience engages with.

The top AI sound effect generator tools

Name Star Rating Ease-of-Use Output Quality Biggest Advantage
ElevenLabs AI Sound Effect Generator ⭐⭐⭐⭐⭐ 9/10 🥇 Hyper-realistic sounds with easy-to-use text prompts
AudioCraft ⭐⭐⭐⭐ 3/10 🥈 Variety of features, including music gen and dev tools
Plugger.ai ⭐⭐⭐ 6/10 🥉 Intuitive interface that’s simple to use

What are the tools available for creating exceptional, next-level content?

In this section, we break down the top three tools available for content creators on the internet in 2024, evaluating them for the quality of their output, their ease of use, and their pricing.

Number one: ElevenLabs

Leading the way, ElevenLabs is a clear winner when it comes to AI audio and takes the number one spot once again in our ranking of the best AI sound effects generator.

Originally launched as a text-to-speech generator, ElevenLabs has emerged as the number one auditory AI tool, generating output of an incredible quality with software that deeply understands the nuance of sound, audio, speech, music, and voice.

As well as precise voice cloning and generation, ElevenLabs has expanded its offering with a precise sound effect generation tool, with an easy-to-use interface that allows users to easily covert text prompts into generated sounds. Simply create a text prompt of the kind of effect you'd like to use, such as the slamming of a door, the howling of the wind, or the crackle of an open fire, then click generate and let ElevenLabs work its magic.

Once you've got your sound effect, try it out in the generator. If it's not what you wanted, make tweaks to the text prompt as needed and regenerate the sound. Once you're happy with the result, download your AI-generated sound FX in a WAV file and use it as you like, in a YouTube video, in a podcast, in a movie recording, or even in a TikTok.

ElevenLabs excels at generating outstanding sound effects from text prompts with an easy-to-navigate user interface that makes it simple for anyone to use. Plus, with a free trial available and low-month subscription options, ElevenLabs is the number one AI sound effects generation software available.

Number two: AudioCraft by Meta

Not to be one left behind by a technological innovation, Meta announced in August 2023 the release and emergence of AudioCraft, a free generative AI tool for music generation and sound effects.

AudioCraft features three distinct models, each with a specific function:

  • MusicGen: By using music owned by Meta or specifically licensed, MusicGen transforms text prompts into musical pieces. Input just a few lines of text, and MusicGen can generate a full composition.
  • AudioGen: Trained on a wide range of publicly available sound effects, AudioGen is capable of generating realistic sounds from text descriptions, such as the whistle of the wind or the sound of knocking on a wooden door.
  • EnCodec: This model represents the latest advancement in decoding technology, with cutting-edge, new features that allow for the generation of high-quality music in a range of HZ with reduced artifacts.

Collectively, the three AI models in AudioCraft provide creators with the tools to play with new musical compositions, enhance videos with soundtracks and sound FX, and create new pieces of audio from text.

The problem with AudioCraft? It's not very easy to install, run, or use. It's designed for those tech experts already comfortable with coding and complex AI systems, and it doesn't have a user-friendly interface like ElevenLabs.

While Meta has hopped on the bandwagon of generative AI with AudioCraft, it doesn't feel like the software is yet user-ready. It's certainly a great choice for coders and developers looking to adapt AudioCraft and make it their own, but it's a complex tool, and amateur video creators, experimenters, and busy video editors will find it unwieldy and complex.

Number 3: Plugger.ai

Finally on our list is Plugger.ai, an easy-to-use sound effect generator available online. Plugger.ai is a tool that works and looks similar to ChatGPT and can create text output, AI-generated images, and sound effects.

While the interface appears straightforward, there are few reviews and examples available online to help you understand the quality of Plugger output. Hidden behind a $19/month subscription for the Lite package, which includes 100 'tasks' per month (the generation of one image, text output, or one audio file constitutes a single task), Plugger.ai isn't cheap in comparison to others.

For a higher quality output and lower monthly costs, the best choice remains ElevenLabs.

Final thoughts

The generation of AI sound is in its infancy. AI tools have traditionally struggled to replicate the wide variety and subtleties of music, sound FX, and background noise, and it's only now that industry leaders, like ElevenLabs, are generating reliable-quality output for professional use. The latest software available shows this progression.

From the high-fidelity realism of ElevenLabs to the advanced capabilities of AudioCraft, each software offers unique features that suit a range of uses. Whether you're a professional sound engineer seeking support in movie production or a content creator looking to enhance your videos and build an audience, this selection of AI tools will revolutionize the way you create videos, offering unique sound FX and outstanding realism.

Experience this ground-breaking tech today, and try ElevenLabs for free.

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