As a long time fan, I'm familiar with the tell tale sound effects that indicate when the beaming process is taking place. What do residents of the Star Trek universe witness from the ground when people beam back to or down from the ship?

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    Is there any reason to believe that the experience in-universe is different from out-of-universe? Sound, light, people or things appearing or disappearing, with slight modifications depending on whose transporter technology is used? Mar 27, 2016 at 9:07
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    Are you asking whether the transporter sound effect is diegetic?
    – Valorum
    Mar 27, 2016 at 10:07
  • I have a half-formed memory of there being examples where people have been transported without their knowledge, but I'm failing to think of where I might have seen them. There was the diabolical plan in Star Trek : Insurrection which involved deporting a number of people by securing them in a holoship without their knowledge, presumably by transporting them there. The original plan was never carried out, so we don't get to find out whether it involves transporters and whether the detainees have to be asleep, drugged or whatever.
    – Tom W
    Mar 27, 2016 at 19:19

1 Answer 1


The only tell-tale is the distinctive audio warble that accompanies both the materialization and de-materialization. Memory alpha has a lengthy entry on the transporter here. In addition there are several episode where the characters have a reaction shot when someone beams into their presence even when they are expecting their arrival.

There is also at least 2 examples of characters recognizing the sound of a transport in process and jumping into the beam with the intended target, i.e. the Romulan commander in "The Enterprise Incident" and Gillian in "The Voyage Home"

So, what you would witness is, 1) The sound of impending transport and then 2) The fade in (or out) of whoever or whatever is being transported. Just my opinion I tend to think of the sound as a sort of "heads up" that a transport is about to happen like the back up beeper that some cars and trucks are equipped with.

On a side note, the Klingon transporters shown in the episode "Day of the Dove" were completely silent.

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    There is also a visible effect, which is apparently the same one we see. From "A Piece of the Action" (TOS): KALO: Don't worry, Boss. They can't do nothing till they're through sparkling. Mar 27, 2016 at 20:22
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    Also of note, the first time we see the transporter effect from the point of view of the person being transported is in the TNG episode "Realm of Fear". Mar 27, 2016 at 20:24
  • In "Masterpiece Society", it is a plot point that the colonists don't know about transportation ahead of time. Then: (transporter sound) MARTIN: What is that? CONOR: It's them. Look at this, Martin. (Riker, Troi and La Forge appear) It is quite clear from the reacts and visual sequence that they hear the transporter before there's anything to see. Dec 13, 2021 at 16:51

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