Microsoft Monday

I’m one that tends to turn off most of the system sounds on my computer. I’ve never really found them useful, and in fact, most of the time they annoy me. Last August when it was reported that Microsoft was not going to allow you to disable the startup sound in Vista, many people including myself were a little upset. Luckily they changed their minds, and I can now disable it.

If you enjoy all of the sounds in your operating system and you’re using Windows Vista, you’ll notice that many of them sound much different than those in XP.  One major difference besides the actual sounds is the difference that they were encoded.  XP Sounds were encoded at 352 kpbs while Vista sounds were encoded at 1,411 kbps.  Vista sounds are clearly better quality, but they also tend to be shorter than any of the sounds in XP as well.

A nice comparison of Vista Sounds versus XP sounds can be found here.

Customize System Sounds

I don’t know how many of you go explore the Sound menu found in the Control Panel, but there are different sounds that you can choose from to customize what you hear and when. There’s an entire drop-down list of sounds so that you can select a particular sound for a certain event. By clicking the “Test” button, you can hear what a sound sounds like before you select it. You can also click “browse” to select your own WAV file.



Convert Your Own Sounds to WAV

As mentioned above, you can browse to select your own sounds. That means you can search around the Internet looking for sounds clips to then be used for your system sounds. The only requirement is that the sounds must be converted to WAV before you’re able to use them.

If you find sounds that you like that are in any other format like MP3 or WMA, you can use a tool like dBpoweramp to convert it to WAV. It’s free, and simple to use.

Download dBpoweramp Music Converter

Here are three websites where you can find sound clips:

  1. Bravenet (you can filter by WAV sounds)

Create Your Own Sounds

Instead of going around looking for sounds around the web, why not create your own? Vista already comes with a Sound Recorder, so all you’ll need is a microphone.  Please note: It will record in WMA format, so once again you can use dBpoweramp Music Converter to convert the file to WAV.

Once you’re done recording your sounds and have selected which ones you’d like for different events, you can save it as a Sound Scheme by clicking “Save as.”


If you’re familiar with IconPackager, SoundPackager will do something similar.  It’s a project in the works over at Stardock, and it looks like a beta will be available in July.  On their website, they say: “It applies sets of sound effects to a host of common Windows actions. Stardock has teamed up with famed composer Mason Fischer to create a series of elegant replacement sounds on Windows.” This will probably end up being one of the easiest ways to modify your system’s sounds, but there hasn’t been any word on the cost.

The screenshot below gives us an idea of what it will look like when it becomes available:


Vista Startup Sound Facts

Just in case you’re interested in more than just how the startup sound sounds, here are a few interesting facts that the Windows Vista Blog posted a few months before Vista debuted regarding it:

  • The startup sounds is made of dual ascending “glassy” melodies played on top of a gentle fading Fripp ‘AERO’ Soundscape
  • Has two parallel melodies played in an international “Win-dows Vis-ta” rhythm
  • Consists of 4 chords, one for each color in the Windows flag
  • Is about 4 seconds long from start to finish
  • Is a collaboration between Robert Fripp, Tucker Martine and Steve Ball

The video below shows Robert Fripp recording some of the sounds. He was one of the individuals involved.

There you have it, more than you ever wanted to know about Vista sounds!