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Research Guides@Tufts

Multimedia Production Guide

for the Digital Design Studio at Tisch Library

Audio quality

When looking for audio to include in a multimedia project, it is important to be aware of how format and sample rate can impact the quality of your audio.   Mp3 files compress sound files while .wav files are uncompressed and can store higher quality audio. 

The standard sample for a project that combines video, image and audio elements is 48kHz.  It is important that you make sure all of the files you download and record are the sample sample rate.  You can check your files resolution by opening in a media player or video application and checking the properties of the audio file.

Downloadable audio

Audio libraries listed here contain sounds, music, and other audio. Some are out of copyright or openly-licensed, and some are under copyright and would require a fair use assessment before use. Be sure to double-check the terms of the license for anything you want to use to see what you can do with it and how to credit the creator

Starting points - large audio libraries:

  • Internet Archive Audio Archive - Recordings ranging from alternative news programming, to Grateful Dead concerts, to Old Time Radio shows, to book and poetry readings, to original music uploaded by our users. Check the Usage field on each video for copyright status
  • Wikimedia Commons - After searching, choose "Audio" in the menu above search results. Audio files have open licenses, check the Permission section of each file for details
  • Library of Congress audio recordings collections - Digitized audio collections from the Library of Congress. Check the Rights & Access section of each video for usage info. Most are in the public domain.
  • OpenVerse - Search across Creative Commons-licensed audio from a variety of sources. Choose "Audio" from the content type dropdown near the search bar.

Additional sources:

  • Audionautix - Music composed and recorded by Jason Shaw and licensed under Creative Commons for use in audio visual projects
  • BBC Sound Library– Sound effects in wav format. Free for non-commercial, personal or research purposes, and educational uses at an educational institution.
  • ccMixter - Remixes and samples for creating your own remixes licensed by Creative Commons.
  • Digital Public Library of American (DPLA) - After running a search, choose Type "sound" and see How Can I Use It? boxes on the left side
  • - Provides free loops and audio clip downloads with a Creative Commons license.
  • FreeSound– Database of recordings with Creative Commons licenses. Requires log-in to download.
  • Free Music Archive– Legally downloadable music in mp3 format. Creative Commons licensed.
  • Incompetech– Free music licensed under Creative Commons.
  • Jamendo Music - Large catalog of music under Creative Commons license. Includes rock, pop, jazz, hip-hop and dance tracks.
  • National Park Service Multimedia - Choose "Video" from the filters at the left. Videos credited to NPS without any other copyright statement are in the public domain.
  • Partners in Rhyme: Sound Effects - Collection of free sounds effects and web links to other online collections.

Streaming audio databases

Naxos Music Library

Naxos is the world's current leading producer of classical music. The collection offers the complete Naxos, Marco Polo, and Da Capo catalogues, as well as selected works in Jazz, Folk, and World music. 

Naxos Music Library -- Jazz
Based on the Naxos Jazz label, this collection offers contemporary jazz from around the world, featuring artists and ensembles from the US, Scandinavia, Germany, Australia and New Zealand.  This database includes selected performances from additional labels, such as Chesky, innova, Intuition, Jazzwerkstatt (based in Berlin), Yellowbird, and especially Fantasy® (which includes the Debut and Galaxy labels).

Database of Recorded American Music
Collection of sound recordings documenting American music largely ignored by the commercial recording companies.

Music Online -- Alexander Street Press 
One interface to search the Alexander Street Press music databases described below. 

  • Classical Music Library
    CML is the world's largest multi-label database of Classical music recordings. Included are tens of thousands of licensed tracks, covering all forms, genres, and time periods, from Gregorian chant to contemporary composers.
  • American Song
    Hear and feel the music from America's past. Includes songs by and about American Indians, miners, immigrants, slaves, children, pioneers, and cowboys. Included in the database are the songs of Civil Rights, political campaigns, Prohibition, the Revolutionary War, the Civil War, anti-war protests, and more. Genres include country, folk, bluegrass, Western, old time, American Indian, blues, gospel, shape note singing, doo-wop, Motown, R&B, soul, funk, and others.
  • Jazz Music Library
    The largest and most comprehensive collection of streaming jazz available online, with thousands of jazz artists, ensembles, albums, and genres.
  • Contemporary World Music  
    All regions from every continent. It contains important contemporary genres such as reggae, worldbeat, neo-traditional, world fusion, Balkanic jazz, African film, Bollywood, Arab swing and even some jazz.  It also includes other genres representing traditional musics - Indian classical, fado, flamenco, klezmer, zydeco, gospel, gagaku, and more. 
  • Smithsonian Global Sound®
    An encyclopedia of the world's musical and aural traditions. The collection provides a variety of online resources that support the creation, continuity, and preservation of diverse musical forms.
  • Garland Encyclopedia of World Music  
    The first comprehensive online resource devoted to music research of all the world's peoples.