I've read a few questions about creating HUD / UI / interface sounds and a lot of them discuss using snippets of audio as a starting point. That makes sense from the standpoint of button presses, clicks, etc. But what about when making the more musical feedback sounds?

Just as one example, The Boom Library has a package called "The Interface" that does a bit of this. It's located here: http://soundcloud.com/boom-library/sets/the-interface/ (you have to click the actual link for some reason)

Sections 0:15 - 0:20 and 0:32 - 0:42 are what I'm particularly interested in. But I've no idea how to create that sort of thing or how they're doing it. Any ideas?

8 Answers 8


Yep, pretty much use any decent synth you can find for sounds in those sections.

Some simple ideas to try for musical feedback buttons:

Load your synth. Choose a preset.

Find the main amp envelope and adjust so ADSR all on zero. Raise decay till you have a quick bleep.

Adjust the ADSR of both AMP and FILTER envelope of synth. Always keeping the envelopes quick and sharp.

harmonic/discordant (very) short chords or phrases depending on interface interaction.

Meaning if its a "happy" win sound or power-up, you want it harmonic and rewarding, incorrect or failure button discordant.

Hopefully your synth or host has an arpeggiator. Arpeggiate those short chords in various musical modes and speeds. Short sounds, so you want fast settings.

Or You can play a little three key arpeggio and keep it really short,less then a second, ...flick the keys.

Most buttons with delay in those examples have simple slow repeats,most synths will have one built in. Better to keep the delay minimal unless it has a purpose. Hope that helps.


I don't see anything special that couldn't be recreated with almost any virtual analog synthesizer. Simple chords, single notes with delay, small cuts made of pads and processed with phaser/flanger etc.

Try to imitate the sounds that you liked and then you'll catch the basics. I like to use Linplug Albino, it's pretty useful. As for free vsti synths, check FreeAlpha, Minimogue, SuperWave, Synth1, ZynAddSubFX.


I find, certainly with short notification sounds or even power-upesque sounds, that creating a a small arpeggio works. Put some delay on this, then pitch it up so that it affects the speed also, until you find the sweet spot.


Working those with well designed presets - super easy. The hard part in designing good interface sounds is finding the stuff that works for the exact use and has the right meaning.

The fascination of using sampled audio (e.g. in a sampler, or a synth that can use samples) is that you get different tones. Whereas pure synthesis has the ability to be pure, sampled sources can result in a more modulated/varying and perhaps interesting outcomes.


Thank you all for your answers. I spent a good four hours today in Reason applying the suggestions in this thread to Subtractor and Thor. I think the key to making these sounds come to life is dynamics. Not just w/ volume but with pitch and frequency modulation, etc.


From what I've experienced the trick to creating many of these is to have many very short sounds in succession. You can create pretty nice sounds by just using a virtual analogue synth, even a sine tone, provided you keep it at unusual/uncommon pitch and potentially combine more than one voice. Rapidly triggering the same tone in succession and for very short duration results in some nice modulation texture. Sharp attack and release are key, and your DAW piano-roll may look outrageous once you've crafted the finished sound - nothing to worry about.


You could dump Reason and start using a VST compatible DAW. Get your hands on a VST synth with loads of presets and start tweaking. This is what I did for a recent gig: http://soundcloud.com/george-v/sets/sound-effects/ - First three tracks.

  • 1
    While I'm glad that you had success with what ever VST synth you used, don't disregard Reason as just a simple dance music program. Reason is a very powerful program. It has absolutely everything needed in order to make interesting interface sounds. It can also be rewired into Protools for further processing if needed. Commented Mar 30, 2012 at 14:29
  • Those are pretty nice tracks - thanks for sharing. What VST did you use? And do you have any specific techniques you could share?
    – David K
    Commented Mar 30, 2012 at 15:07
  • First of all, I use Reason as well. I had some issues rewiring it into Ableton Live, which kind of made me hate it, but I have to say I love the endless possibilities given by Thor. However, the lack of VST support just makes it impossible for me to use it properly. I always use my PSP and Waves VST plugins, and without them I feel lost. As for the interface sound effects, I used Arturia's ARP 2600v, Lennardigital's Sylenth, Rob Papen's Blue, and a few others I can't recall. The idea is that anything can be used, as long as you know what fx can make the presets sound adequate for an interface
    – Cat
    Commented Mar 31, 2012 at 5:20

Here's a synth tool I just discovered while perusing the DesigningSound Independent SFX Libraries: http://soundmorph.com/index.php?page=soundpacks&spack=ga

I still have to test it, as I got it along with some 10 GBs of sfx that I need to unpack and organize, but it looks like a great tool for interface sounds.

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