Hey everyone,

I was wondering if you could get me some hints on this topic:

Which sounds will be gone in a few years and which sounds are already gone from our planet? (Erveryday life, not films)

I know this site: http://www.savethesounds.info/ But I imagine that there are tons more.

Is it perhaps that only pretty "new sounds" are going to die, because of the fast pace of modern society and technical progress (Otto engine, Gameboy,...). Will "old sounds" stay because of their nostalgic or romantic value (horse carriage, pendulum clocks).


13 Answers 13


The sound of children playing outside. Extremely endangered in many established countries.

  • So so so true.... Here in Portugal, the places where there used to be children playing outside, have very few people under 35... Oct 14, 2012 at 12:07

i'd say pre-70s technology sounds are an endangered species.

things like printing presses, tube televisions, rotary phones, dial up modems, film projectors, film cameras, etc.

  • (edit: dial-up modems are pre-70s technology?) Even mid-90s technology. I was talking to my sound design partner on Tuesday about how I wish I'd made good recordings of my old 14k modem while it was still useable. Oct 14, 2012 at 0:18
  • dial up modems were invented in the 50s. :) whirlpool.net.au/wiki/d_u_m_h
    – Rene
    Oct 14, 2012 at 4:41
  • Hands down the best keyboard workup I ever recorded was of a 1983 Compaq Portable (cough suitcase cough) - such a full bodied sound with character and not thin or tacky, I use that one all the time. With the arrival of solid state drives, hard drives will probably be on their way out too sadly, in all of their click and whurr goodness Oct 14, 2012 at 9:03
  • I stand corrected re: modems. Though they probably weren't in general use in the 50s... Oct 15, 2012 at 5:03

Well, I'm not sure about a few years exactly, but I've always thought of this question in terms of wildlife. The first thing that comes to mind are species lost from environmental destruction.

One example: whale song is changing. One theory is that they can no longer communicate as they did because marine traffic overwhelms their language.

Bernie Krause writes about how noise pollution is making certain ambiences extinct as well. Great article about him here:


Another similar one on the same topic, a great read:


I've also wondered how this applies to "heritage sounds," like traditional songs, singing, etc. As the world modernizes these sounds, and also the stories of cultures, seem to fade. Very expressive stuff and important to preserve! Even though it's not sound effects, I try to capture this stuff whenever I can so others can hear it and spread it along.

  • The loss of natural ambience (containing absolutely no man-made sounds) is really tragic. I was recording a rainforest a month ago and discovered that in the three years since my last visit, a new highway had been built a few miles away. The majority of the ambience was still pristine, but this was the first time I had to occasionally make an effort to get away from distant traffic sounds.
    – Tyler
    Jan 8, 2013 at 1:24

To my great dismay: space shuttle launches. Supposedly one of the (if not THE) loudest man-made sounds. I know the Transformers 3 sound team was able to record the last launch—quite a priceless recording if you ask me. Of course NASA and private companies will be launching other forms of rockets for years. I doubt many would be able to tell the difference.


  • frankly they're made by the carrier rockets, i don't think that technology has changed much with today's spacecraft..
    – georgi
    Oct 26, 2012 at 7:16

Fun question! True - you can find many of these sounds in sfx libraries. We have recordings of NASA space shuttle launches at Pro Sound Effects, and recently have been making 'sound a day' audio posts about sounds of endangered species.



I miss being able to sit out in the woods and not hear any signs of human life beyond my own breathing. Can't really find that many places anymore.


This is probably a sound already in someone's library, but I remember my parent's old 50's era (or prior to that?) electric coffee percolator. When it is left to perc for 30 mins. to an hour (adding additional water here and there) it has quite a vocabulary.

  • When I was a kid my parents used to have something called a Teasmaid that was an alarm clock that would make tea as well. It also had a very distinctive sound that I'd almost forgotten about till your post reminded me of it. I guess it was a similar sound to a percolator.
    – Bit Depth
    Oct 25, 2012 at 10:02

Phone work ups. Now everyone uses a smart phone in films. flip phones, antennas, function beeps, and key clicks I can see being endangered. I feel like I haven't heard a wilhelm scream in ahwile either.

  • I had a client insist on adding a Wilhelm Scream just last week. So, I don't think that one's endangered at all! ;-) Oct 25, 2012 at 22:07
  • Growing up I lived in a very rural area where not only did have the standard rotary dial phones but also a very unique dial tone, quite different from one I've ever heard since. It was more of a guttural square wave than the regular tonal one. This was in northern New England in the early 70s…anyone else have a recollection of that? Oct 25, 2012 at 22:07

On the technology front, when was the last time you heard a dot matrix printer? Same goes for a typewriter.


Some props will also become scarce over time; keeping typewriters functioning is getting challenging. I use my library of thick phone-book hits for all sorts of stuff, which also causes them to get duct-taped together and often nearly destroyed. What will I use when everyone stops publishing thick pulp softcovers? Resort to punching interns in the stomach?


The odd other side of this is, many of those sounds are available in large quantities on commercial SFX libraries, and if you're like me and made major SFX library purchases in the late '90s that's the bulk of what you've got!


Well, where I live (Denmark) I'm sure having a hard time capturing any kind of natural ambience completely free of man-made sounds. But it's a small country, densely populated, etc, so no wonder. In my part of the world, silence is definitely endangered.

  • Vinyl crackle (replaced by smeared transients)
  • That sound when you change FM stations on a radio. The one when you change AM ones is so rarely heard today too..
  • The cascade transformer whine of CRT TVs..

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