Final Cut Pro Sound Effects: How-To & Best Practices

An explanation on how to insert sound effects into your creative workflow on Final Cut Pro, and best practices to follow when using them.

So, you’re an ardent Final Cut Pro user, but you’ve got a few questions on how to best use sound effects within your video projects. You’ve come to the right place. Below you’ll find our best practices for utilizing sound effects in Final Cut Pro.

You can expect the following in this blog:

  • An explanation on how to insert sound effects into your creative workflow on Final Cut Pro.

  • A discussion on best practices for utilizing those sound effects to their full potential, and how to use them to supercharge your video projects.


How Do I Get Sound Effects Into Final Cut Pro?

If you’ve already got your sound effects properly installed into Final Cut Pro, feel free to jump ahead to the best practice section.

If you don’t know how to get sound effects into your workflow, here’s how (Mac users):

  1.  Have your sound effects open in a folder.
  2. Open a new window with Ctrl + N
  3. Follow the following sequence of clicks:
  4. On the top left of your computer screen, click “Go” -> “Computer” -> “Macintosh HD” -> “Library” -> “Audio” -> “Apple Loops” -> “Apple” -> “Final Cut Pro Sound Effects”
  5. From here, press Shift + Command + N to create a new folder, and name it as you please.
  6. Highlight your sound effects from the original folder you opened (see step 1), and drag them into this new folder you’ve just created.
  7. Lastly, head into Final Cut Pro, and find that new folder you’ve just pasted your sound effects into, and add them to your video projects as you please.

Now, if you’re curious as to where people get their high-quality sound effects, I’ve got great news for you. Pro Sound Effects offers over 800,000 high-quality audio files from Academy® award-winning sound artists.

We’ve got massive sound effects libraries for purchase to fill every audio need. If you’re unsure where to start, try SoundQ. It’s a sound library workflow software designed to help you deliver better sound on every project – and there's a Free plan with unlimited access to sound effects and music tracks.

Best Practices: Sound Effects In Final Cut Pro

1. Add Depth To Your Project

Adding sound effects to your video project presents an opportunity to add depth to your video.

For example:

  • If you’ve got a shot of a person wandering through the woods, you can add layers to this scene by including bug sounds, bird calls, and even the crunch of leaves as your protagonist steps.

  • If your protagonist is in an abandoned building, you can add the sound of creaking floorboards, wind whistling, or even the pitter-patter of rain outside.

  • If your scene is a concert/festival, you can add generic crowd noise, music being played, or people dancing.

---> Pro Tip: Close your eyes and picture yourself in the scenario, and imagine all of the sounds you might hear. Then, add these sounds accordingly, and determine which ones add value to your scene.

2. Add Suspense/Emotion with Risers

One of our favorite benefits of adding sound effects to videos is the ability that risers possess to dictate to the audience what mood they should be feeling toward a certain scene.

---> For those who may not know, a riser is any sound effect that gradually rises in pitch over time; hence the term riser. It is commonly used in both video and film.

Some examples of when to use a riser:

  • When a cut will be occurring.

  • When a scene’s mood is changing, either for the better or for the worse.

  • When you wish to build suspense.

Risers are an extremely effective way to subtly communicate to your audience, and add context to your scenes.

3. Improve Transitions

Disclaimer: This tip is especially useful for all the video (not so much film) editors out there.

When you think of a transition, what do you visualize? More often than not, people picture a motion effect that bridges two different scenes fluidly and smoothly. You don’t often think of sound.

While a sound-less transition is just fine, and certainly gets the job done, you can add a lot of value and context to your video by including a corresponding sound effect with each transition.

Let’s take these two examples below:

  • Picture a scene pixelating, and then giving way to another scene.

  • Now, picture that same scene, but with a ‘Ripple’ sound effect attached to it.

It might be subtle, but doesn’t the latter sound just a tad bit more satisfying than the former?

  • Picture a sliding transition, in which the transitioning scene slides straight out to the side, and the new scene slides in to replace it.

  • Now, picture that same transition, but with a ‘Whoosh’ sound effect attached to it.

---> Doesn’t that sound just a little bit better?

4. Add Context To Your Scenes

Context is a term I’ve used frequently throughout this article, so let me define exactly what I mean when I say it. Adding context via the usage of sound effects is the intentional adding of value, layers, meaning, or emotion to a scene by improving audio cues.

---> This can truly be applied to any of the above tips.

The overall goal is to leverage sound effects to create the exact mood you’ve predetermined your audience should feel, and add audio effects to match that mood accordingly.

If you invested a fraction of the time you spend curating, editing, and improving video visuals into your audio, I think you’d see a dramatic improvement in overall project quality.


Final Takeaways:

  • The benefits of adding sound effects to your video projects in Final Cut Pro may appear to be subtle, but minor improvements do add up, and can result in improving the quality of your final product in a major way.

  • Learning to effectively utilize sound effects throughout your project could be the edge that separates your projects from your competitors’.

  • For more information on video editing, consider signing up for our newsletter below. We publish articles frequently covering all things audio and video editing.

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