The Psychology Behind the World’s Most Recognizable Sounds | WIRED

The Psychology Behind the World’s Most Recognizable Sounds | WIRED

Two sonic branding experts explain the thinking behind some of the world’s most recognizable sounds.

Andrew Stafford – Co-Founder & Director at Big Sync Music
Steve Milton – Founding Partner at Listen

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The Psychology Behind the World’s Most Recognizable Sounds | WIRED

Starring: Andrew Stafford and Steve Milton

Sounds include: THX, Mac Startup, Safari Download Sound, Basso Error Message, Funk Error Message, Trash, Windows 95 Startup, Windows 95 Shutdown, AOL Dialup, iPhone Text Alert, Marimba, Nokia Ringtone, T-Mobile Sound, Skype Ringtone, Skype Hangup Sound, iPhone Send/Receive, Facebook Messenger Ding, Slack Message Received, iPhone Typing, Sega, Playstation, Playstation 3, Xbox, EA Sports, Intel, MGM Lion, NBC, Law and Order


November 10, 2016 / 31 Comments / by / in
  • 1:03 Think you left that out.

  • AOL dial up connection sounds aren't designed though, they're natural.

  • the clear winner is playstation 1

  • Damn, I was waiting for the Windows XP shutdown song

  • No Gamecube? No Game Boy Advance?

  • Neat


  • fuck THX

  • Less unrecognizable apple shit

  • AOL dialup is scary af to me

  • Am I supposed to believe that these two actually have this information memorized? I seriously doubt it. The way this video is produced conveys just that. A sound is played with a graphic behind the two hosts who are supposed to know/guess not only the sound, but offer an encyclopedia on its history/origins? Bullshit. Next time you do a video like this, make damn sure not to use any cuts after the sound is played so as to not hide the fact that they referenced the history and origin of the sound for about 35 minutes on Wiki. If they do have this information learned, why would that make them an "expert"?

  • Windows 95 startup sound is very calming.

  • The most recognisable sound is


  • The irony of such poor sound quality on their personal mics and not having edited out the sound of clothing and bumps on the microphone is kind of annoying.

  • The skype ringtone freaks me out now…. after watching unfriended

  • PlayStation 1 sound gets my dick hard and goosebumps at the same time!

  • Huh, I've never heard the PS3 boot sound before. Must have heard the PS1 & 2 boot sounds thousands of times.

  • I nerded out so hard on this

  • What about intel inside?

  • This video was a LOT better than the videogame sounds two-parter, these guys had a lot more analysis to talk about and actually broke down the logistics of it rather than the four sound designers in the other two vids that just screwed around a bit. I like these two a lot, I hope they come back!

  • If companies were being honest every sound they made would be the "ka ching" of an old fashioned cash register.

  • In the late 90's my dad built this home theatre and he would always blast at full volume the THX intro to the terminator 2 dvd. It would shake the whole house and he would use that sound as a demo for family and friends.

  • Love the THX long note.

  • You forgot Netflix angry face

  • For some reason hearing all these sounds makes me feel good lmao

  • That “Xbox” sound isn’t the Xbox, it was the 360. I’m actually disappointed the startup for the original Xbox wasn’t in this video.

  • They had disappointingly little to say about the Playstation 1 sound. 5:51

  • and the mgm lion's sound is actually a bear…

  • Why no Nintendo DS startup or coca cola jingle or 20th century fox intro

  • I just wanted to hear these guys talk about the Emergency Broadcast noises.

    I'm disappointed.

  • Intel and Telekom hears like the same.

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