Top 10 Incredible Sounds

I believe sounds are consistently underrated. There are a lot of well-known images, graphs, and films out there, but for a sound itself to be well-known (besides music), or to even actually be that interesting, shoots something unique. So here’s some odd sounds – some may be recognizable, hopefully others will not be – but all are undoubtedly not credible.

Slow Down

The “Slow Down” is a sound that was first recorded on 29 May 1997, on an autonomous hydrophone array in the Equatorial Pacific, coming from a southerly direction. As it was initially discovered, it lasted about 7 minutes, and has been recorded many times each year. In 2002, it was suggested the sounds may be a result of the friction of ice in Antarctica going over the land, as the spectrogram of the sound is much the same to the sound of two things rubbing together – should you rub your fingers along a table, record the sound, and slow it down (as the scientist who proposed it did) you get a strikingly similar sound. But, the issue hasn’t been settled.

A similar sound is the “Upsweep”, a sound found between 1991 and 1994, which consists of several consecutive growing sounds. Its cause is, in addition, unknown, but it’s regarded as due to some subterranean volcanic actions, including the discharge of lava or submerged gas.

Singing Sand

Singing Sand dunes are a phenomenon discovered in about thirty locations all over the world. It creates a deep booming sound when distinct layers of sand rub against each other, pushed by the wind, or someone walking on it. Continuing investigations have found the sound is dependent upon the sand having specific features, including humidity as well as size, to make the sound. As an outcome of various kinds of sand, distinct sand dunes create distinct notes – Sand Mountain in Nevada provides a low C, Mar de Dunas in an F is given by Chile, as well as the littoral of Ghord Lahmar in Morocco give a G sharp.


The aforementioned record was made on 27. The Galileo spacecraft made it as it passed a moon of Jupiter, Ganymede. An antenna on the spacecraft was picking up plasma waves, created by the very powerful magnetosphere of Ganymede (about 3 times more powerful Mercury). This was utilized to make an audio signal (previously, the 45 minute signal is compressed into about 60 seconds), where the sound frequency corresponds to the frequency of the waves found. At about 8 seconds in, Galileo enters the magnetosphere (there’s a surprising upsurge in sound, sounding in the manner of a clap of thunder). As the spacecraft the sound rose to summit in pitch, then fell again. The irregularities in the record, including the abrupt fall in volume at 15 seconds, are due to irregularities in the magnetosphere of Ganymede as it passes through the sway of the enormous magnetic field of Jupiter.


In 1967, Jocelyn Burnell found a wellspring of pulsed emissions of radio waves which she described as sounding like an “idling truck” on the radio telescope, as it had a frequency of just over 1 Hz, about the same as a big idling diesel engine. A number of theories were suggested regarding the source of these emissions, including that they were coming from extraterrestrials, as the pulsations were so regular (they’re more trustworthy than atomic clocks), resulting in the first pulsar being called LGM1 (standing for Little Green Men). Yet in 1968 they were revealed to be coming so we just see the radiation when it points our way. In 1974, Antony Hewish, who’d worked as her doctoral adviser in the time with Burnell, received a Nobel Prize for finding pulsars, while Burnell didn’t – a choice that received much criticism from fellow scientists. Above is a record of the Vela Pulsar, a pulsar using a span of 89ms, the shortest understood in the time of discovery. The current fastest known pulsar spins once every 1.3ms, so rapidly that at the equator of the star goes at 24% the speed of light.

Lightning Pop

Pip, or the lightning pop, or vip, or numerous words which were employed to describe it, is a sound which can be heard preceding the regular thunder related to a lightning strike. It’s heard if you’re reasonably near the lightning, and is considered to result from an electrical discharge of nearby metal items as the electric field instantly intensifies with the lightning strike. Above is the sole record I could find with a lightning “pop” – the cameraman was standing near a metal power line (he certainly knows his stuff about lightning), which was perhaps where the sound of the discharge came from. It ought to be noticed that the “pop” isn’t just an artifact on the mic, as people report hearing this sound with their very own ears.


Whistlers are low frequency radio waves which are found on radio receivers. Lightning strikes create radio waves, which in turn travel along the earths magnetic field lines throughout ionosphere and the magnetosphere, meaning they could be found far away from any real thunderstorms. In the plasma of the top atmosphere, higher frequencies of radio waves go faster, so higher frequencies will be picked up by a receiver followed by lower frequencies in a descending tone. The radio waves happen at frequencies low enough such that they could be converted straight into sound by means of a loudspeaker, where you are able to hear the characteristic “whistling” sound. They could be heard virtually any place on the planet. They also have been found on Jupiter, revealing lightning happens there.

Space Dust

As it passed close to Saturn’s rings, the aforementioned record was made by the Voyager 2 on August 26, 1981. The way the sound was created isn’t as complicated as on other entries on this particular list – dust from the rings was hitting on the radio antenna. However, considering the sound was made by a miniature probe, going at over 35,000 miles per hour, through a ring of dust 144,000km broad and over 1.2 billion kilometers away, it nevertheless looks somewhat creepy.

Sonic Booms

Sonic booms are made as an aircraft breaks the sound barrier, at around 761 miles per hour. It creates a number of pressure waves in front and behind the aircraft, which themselves go in the speed of sound as an aircraft travels along. These pressure waves cannot go away from each other and fall into a tremendous shock wave, when the aircraft reaches the speed of sound. This in fact ends in two sonic booms – one at the very front of the aircraft, and one at the rear soon after. Both sonic booms could be heard plainly on the video above. The very first automobile to break the sound barrier, the ThrustSSC, created a similar double-sonic boom.


On a frozen lake, where the ice is fairly thick, interference in the ice, including the ice proceeding or freezing, create sounds that reverberate to make a sound that is very unique. By throwing rocks on a frozen lake, the sound can be made. In the video above, in case you turn your speakers up, you can hear this sound being generated (it’s very silent). From farther away, a lake that’s freezing will sound like it’s “singing”, as in this video.

Superb Lyrebird

The Superb Lyrebird is a songbird found in southeast Australia which impresses females not by creating its own birdsong that is remarkable, just like other fowl, but by precisely mimicking the songs of other birds. It may mimic the calls of over 20 other fowl, which are precise even the fowl it’s impersonating cannot identify the difference, and has an unbelievable vocal range. What’s made this fowl well-known, nevertheless, is how nicely it can mirror other sounds it hears, like chainsaws, car alarms, car engines beginning, drills, electric motors, and at times human voices. The sole other fowl is the considerably rarer Albert’s Lyrebird found in southeast Australia. Above is a renowned clip of a Superb Lyrebird from the David Attenborough documentary “The Life of Birds”.

Wow! Sign

I could not actually contain this in the main list, as it’s appeared in Yet Another 10 Unsolved Mysteries, but I thought folks might find it fascinating to hear what it seems like. Alien or not, it’s a creepy sound to listen to.

Listverse Staff

Listverse is a location for explorers. Collectively we seek out the rare and most fascinating stone of knowledge that is human. Three or more fact-packaged lists daily.

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