Hey fellow SSDers! I've been doing some library cataloging today, digging through some recent shows to finish some much-overdue mastering (who am I kidding though, I'm nowhere close to finished hah). But something occurred to me when mastering up some really sweet, long Foley recordings I did of leather, rope, and barefoot footsteps (sorry boys n girls, this wasn't an S&M scene so please get your heads outta the gutter ;) ). I'll bet all of us, especially those who have done a lot of shows and/or a lot of designing and recording, have come to create or record something that's become our prized possession, a $$$ sound that sits in our private stash. Whether we use it often or not, for some reason it's just got the 'it' factor that makes it our favorite sound byte that nobody else has.

My personal favorite "stashed" sound is this:


My production sound mixer buddy recorded it a while back when he mixed the RuPaul Drag Race and it was some sort of comedy show this time. He set up his Sound Devices rig with a set of dedicated mics facing the live studio audience in an A/B array. So he shared them with me and let me dig through them for anything cool, and after sifting through about 2 hours or so of recordings, I was able to wrangle tos of genuine crowd laughter as standup comedy routines were happening, so I carefully strung them together while removing the actual dialogue and was left with this track, a perfect bed of genuine crowd reactions that fits the bill for that hard to find energy level that isn't over the top but feels like the same kind of crowd energy heard in Seinfeld's stand up bits at the top of each of his shows. There were a lot other goodies in there, but this one was just $$$ to me.

So, the question I pose to you all is.... what's your favorite stashed custom recording/design/effect? It can be an actual sound effect, or some ridiculous outtake during a recording session that you've always felt was pure gold even though it'd never get used. No-holds-barred in that regard! I'd love to hear what yours are and any story behind them you may have.

The only parameters:

- If you have multiple favorites, please select one that you feel comfortable sharing (I know some are protective of some of their prized material, and that's okay, I fully respect that)

- It must be something of your own creation in some way/shape/form (e.g. not your favorite commercial/purchased library effect)

- It must be something from your personal, private stash that has been only traded with or given to a handful of friends/colleagues at most, or not traded/given at all (this speaks more to those of us sound effect recordists/license-granters)

Look forward to hearing what's on people's minds (pun intended, indeed)!

6 Answers 6


I've got one (actually a group of 3 that I'll pull from) that I've started hiding in everything I work on.

A little over a year ago, a friend and coworker died in a motorcycle accident. He was the primary camera operator for our company, and I was able to find a few relatively clean recordings of him in the footage from one of our previous productions. I grab one or more of these three and work them into the backgrounds somewhere in each production I work on. If that doesn't work, sometimes I'll process an element out of one of them to use.

There was a pair of lines in particular that he would say, that is kind of an inside joke for anyone who worked with him: "Hey, tell me what you think of this shot," or, "Hold on, I'm working on something important here." If he said this, it usually meant he had framed some attractive woman (usually in a swimsuit). I've only been able to find a recording of the latter.

So, I take the time to find some way to sneak these into the programs that I work on (kind of like my own version of the Wilhelm scream), in honor of his memory.

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    @Jay Jennings @ Stavrosound - Thanks. He was an awesome guy. Always positive and extremely energetic. It was hard to be in a bad mood around that guy. If you're curious, there's a video he did to test out a car camera mount here: vimeo.com/12604505 It wasn't enough for him to just mount it on a car and drive around...noooo. lol Commented Sep 2, 2011 at 0:34
  • Very touching story indeed. Commented Sep 3, 2011 at 13:17

About ten years ago I had borrowed an unimpressive but functional Mini DV-camera which I used to record sounds (this was before my first real field-recorder). At one time I brought it with me just to get some nice sounds from a special place I found quite a bit from where I stayed for the moment. The recording went well, and eventually I got home and began edit the material, including extreme filtering, noise-shaping and pitchshifting. To my surprise a pattern emerged, sounding very much like words, though intonation and articulation was totally off. Most of it was familiar but unintelligible, but many phrases, sounding mostly like insults or frustrated shouts, sounded uncomfortably distinct. The entire recording ended in a very coarse threat, and that part I'd never use in a movie. Mind you, I do not believe in the supernatural nor EVP whatsoever, but still this was a pretty surprising thing to develop no matter what your beliefs.

This segment wasn't very long, just about a few minutes as I took a bit from the original recording and processed it, then I backed it up and lost the rest in a HD-crash and have no clue which tape it would be on even if I did get a new tape-player. From this sequence I used an earlier generation of the sound, the one I talked about had very severe artifacts which made it basically useless for normal films anyway, and did choose a short 20-second part with absolutely no intelligible words at all, just deep snarls, roars and noise, and made a sound effect I call Satanic Noise from. Omitting anything risking to be interpreted as vocals in the commercially intended effect is also a conscious choice I've made as it doesn't matter even in the slightest what I believe in as long as my employer might do so.

I've been using this effect on most horror-movies I've made for years now, and it serves as a deep drone mostly supporting murderers, rapists and different kinds of higher specters, wraiths and undead to depict their calculated hostility, unlike zombies and werewolves who has no real agenda at all. They act on impulse and instinct :-)

  • @Christian could you post an example? I'm really curious now! Commented Sep 3, 2011 at 13:10
  • @Filipe I'll see what I can do! I'm off to location for a short while, but when back I'll take a look at SoundCloud try to post an example :-) Commented Sep 3, 2011 at 13:18
  • Thanks for being willing to post it. This sounds really intriguing! If you don't mind my asking, what was the 'very course' threat'? Commented Sep 3, 2011 at 18:49

Mine is not one i use very often, I've used it (not always the same take) around 5 or 6 times, but i like knowing its around. And come to think of it, i've recorded in my first ever field recording session!

It was at a friends jewelry workshop, the sound of melting silver being cooled in warm sulfuric acid. It sounds pretty much like a volcanic spaceshuttle toilet flush.

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    "volcanic spaceshuttle toilet flush"...? HA! that's an awesome description. Commented Sep 3, 2011 at 14:06
  • +1 to Shaun and the post. Maybe this is NASA's real mission statement as far as budgeting goes? ;) Commented Sep 3, 2011 at 18:46

I have a set of 4 body falls I recorded a few years ago that I end up using all the time. They are a mixture of a few different elements but the final result is magic. They work for falls on wood, cement or dirt. They have this great thud that is all body and really translates pain to the listener. Between the four falls I have used them maybe 50 times in different productions. They always get a comment at the mix. Not sure I could even re-create them if I tried to do everything the same. They just work in every situation.


My family has a black powder cannon that was custom built for my Dad many years ago. It's about 4 feet long and has a barrel nearly 6 inches across. Every Fourth of July (or anytime he feels like it, really) we load it up with packs of powder, newspaper, and a nice round hunk of granite from the beach and let it rip. It has a tremendous THUD and signature metallic FLWANG as the rock comes shooting out.

My first recording trip home I recorded the shot at about 3' away with my AT825 running through an mBox into my iBook (!). It's a great sound and I use it every chance I get. It's been shared only with a select few.

  • This sounds like a fun sound, I can totally picture it in my mind, but that mental image is probably nowhere near how awesome it sounds probably ;) Commented Sep 1, 2011 at 21:37
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    holy crap! i wish my dad owned a cannon. lol. guess i'll just have to record sounds from his mini-backhoe the next time i go up to visit them. Commented Sep 2, 2011 at 1:37

I made I have a few, but one that gets used pretty frequently at the moment is a recording of a 12" speaker being fed a 5Hz square wave with a 100 watt amplifier. The mechanics of the speaker cone flapping all over the place and the higher sounds that start to creep in over time give me a great "breakup" layer to lots of different things I have to build. I did it originally to underscore a particularly tense scene in a production of "Buried Child," and I'm currently using it for some of the big effects at the end of "Angels in America Part One." But it's also been part of spaceship noises, force fields and a whole bunch of other stuff.

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