How to create Scary Sound Effects

March 7, 2023| We Sound Effects

Creating scary sound effects can be a fun and creative process, but it depends on what type of sound you want to create.

Here are some general tips on how to create scary sound effects:

  1. Use unexpected sounds: Consider using sounds that are not typically associated with scary things, like a child’s laughter or a music box, but distort or layer them in a way that creates an eerie or unsettling effect.
  2. Experiment with different types of sounds: Scary sound effects can be created by manipulating a wide range of sounds, from animal noises to household objects to musical instruments. Try recording and manipulating different sounds to see what works best for your project.
  3. Use Foley effects: Foley effects are sounds created by manipulating everyday objects to create specific noises. For example, you can create the sound of a creaky door by squeaking a rusty hinge or the sound of footsteps by tapping shoes on different surfaces.
  4. Experiment with pitch and speed: Altering the pitch or speed of a sound can create a creepy and unsettling atmosphere. For example, slowing down the sound of footsteps can make them sound like they belong to a monster.
  5. Build suspense: Use long pauses or silence to build tension and anticipation before a sudden burst of sound. This can make the listener jump and feel uneasy.
  6. Build tension: One effective technique for creating scary sound effects is to build tension slowly over time. For example, start with a quiet, low-level sound that gradually increases in volume or intensity until it reaches a climax.
  7. Use low-frequency sounds: Low-frequency sounds can create a sense of unease and tension. Experiment with using bass-heavy sounds to create a sense of foreboding.
  8. Synthesizers: If you have access to a synthesizer, you can create all sorts of eerie and unsettling sounds by manipulating the different parameters of the synth. Try experimenting with filters, oscillators, and modulators to create sounds that are creepy and unsettling.
  9. Combine sounds: Layering different sounds together can create a complex and unsettling atmosphere. For example, combining a high-pitched screech with a low, rumbling sound can create a sense of disorientation.
  10. Consider the context: The context in which a sound effect is used can also contribute to its scariness. For example, a sound that might not seem scary on its own could become frightening if it is paired with an eerie visual or situation.
  11. Reverb: Adding reverb to a sound can create a sense of spaciousness and depth, which can make a sound feel more eerie and unsettling. Try experimenting with different types of reverb and settings to create a sound that is both unsettling and immersive.
  12. Compression: Compression can be used to make a sound feel more intense and unsettling. By compressing a sound and then boosting the volume, you can create a sound that is loud, distorted, and unsettling.
  13. Use field recorders: Field recorders are portable audio recorders that allow you to capture sounds in the environment around you. You can use a field recorder to capture ambient sounds like wind, footsteps, and creaking doors, which can be used to create scary soundscapes.

Remember to always consider the impact of your sound effects on your audience and use them appropriately.

Overall, the key to creating scary sound effects is to experiment and have fun with the sounds you’re working with.


When creating scary sounds, it’s important to keep in mind the context in which they will be used. Here are some things to consider:

  1. Tone and atmosphere: What kind of mood or atmosphere do you want to create? Is it a suspenseful scene, a jump scare, or something more atmospheric? Consider the tone of the scene and the emotions you want to evoke.
  2. Sound design: Think about the different elements that make up your scary sound. Is it a single sound effect, or a combination of different sounds? How can you layer and manipulate these sounds to create something truly terrifying?
  3. Timing and pacing: Consider the timing and pacing of your sound effects. When should they be introduced? Should they be sudden and jarring, or slow and creeping? Experiment with different approaches to see what works best.
  4. Realism vs. fantasy: Decide whether you want your scary sounds to be grounded in reality, or if you want to create something more fantastical. Realistic sounds can be just as scary as fictional ones, so don’t feel like you have to rely on supernatural elements to create scares.
  5. Consider your audience: Remember that not everyone will have the same tolerance for scary sounds. If you’re creating sounds for a horror movie, for example, consider the age rating and target audience. If you’re creating sounds for a haunted house attraction, be mindful of how intense the scares should be.

By keeping these factors in mind, you can create scary sounds that are not only terrifying but also effective in conveying the emotions and atmosphere you want to evoke.


Monster, creature & robotic sounds designer.


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