This question asks what in-universe phenomena produces a sound when transportation occurs.

This is interesting, but it brings up another interesting question - what produces the sound, out-of-universe, for the transportation sequence? What did the foley artist use to create the sound?

To narrow it a bit, I'm looking at TOS, TNG, DS9, VOY, and ENT. All of the major televised Star Trek series, and specifically just the Federation's transporters, since as it was pointed out, some alien species have different transporter technology.

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    Are you asking what the Foley Artists used to create the sound effects? Commented May 5, 2014 at 13:50
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    @MajorStackings Yes.
    – Zibbobz
    Commented May 5, 2014 at 14:36
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    This question appears to be off-topic because it is about sound effects, not science fiction and fantasy.
    – user931
    Commented May 5, 2014 at 15:12
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    @SachinShekhar I don't think it's off-topic to ask about behind-the-scene information - In fact I just went through the help tour and it's listed as one of the things that are on-topic. Unless Foley is disincluded somehow, I don't see how this is off-topic.
    – Zibbobz
    Commented May 5, 2014 at 15:18
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    My Foley question about the Jeston's flying car was migrated to movies.se and remains there without a satisfactory answer. Commented May 5, 2014 at 19:31

1 Answer 1


There have obviously been multiple transporter sounds seen in the various Trek series. I've been able to find out details about two of them, TOS and the Reboot films from a series of interviews with Ben Burtt, Senior Sound Designer for the new Trek films;

2009 Trek

In the Bluray Extras for the 2009 Star Trek film, Ben Burtt – who devised the film's sound effects – used the upper frequencies of a set of studio chimes. "I was searching for a method by which they might have created the materialization tones in the original transporter. I wanted something like that," he related. "It was a magical sound but I don't know how they did it. I experimented with a lot of different things, and I found that if I started out with the very highest notes [of the chimes] [...] and I just did a [steady finger] roll [...] you got a really good approximation of something that sounded like dematerialization or materialization." ("Ben Burtt and the Sounds of Star Trek", Star Trek (Three disc Blu-ray) special features) Burtt also used a recording of props from the film Frankenstein (1931) he had acquired to go with the initial spark of electricity during a beam up.*

Original Series:

He later confirms that he's identified the source of the transporter sounds for the Original Series;

Interviewer: What about the transporter?

Ben Burtt: There are several different elements to it in the original version, including, once again, a rising oscillator tone as well as a “singing” ethereal tone. The transporter in the movie looks and functions a little bit differently than the one in the series, but I wanted to recreate the feeling of the original’s shimmering, ringing tone. So I came up with something that was reasonably close, using bar chimes and a lot of reverb.

And then promptly contradicts himself in another interview;

Case in point: the ever-present transporter, used to beam characters up and down from the U.S.S. Enterprise. Burtt explained that the current transporter sound has three elements. “There’s some chimes, which are heavily echoed, and they’re in the same pitch and register as what you might have heard in the original show,” he said.

And while researching the sounds from the classic series, Burtt discovered that they were created with a Hammond chord organ. “Going back and getting some organ recordings and playing with it, I was able to fashion some things very similar to the transporter, perhaps exactly the same way, so that’s in there,” he explained.

  • Well of course he doesn't want to give away the real (secret) method, as then any of us could create our own real (sounding) transporter beams in our own living rooms!
    – user11521
    Commented Mar 9, 2016 at 5:43
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    I don't see much of a contradiction here. In one interview, he says the original sound included a rising tone and and ethereal tone, and in the second he says the sound was produced by an electronic organ. And the new sound is created using chimes with heavy reverb/echo applied, with some organ sounds similar to the original added. Commented Mar 23, 2016 at 20:28
  • @JohnSensebe - An oscillator is not an organ. It's either one or the other. My personal guess is that it's both (or rather a combination of those and a third sound since he), but that's not quite what he says.
    – Valorum
    Commented Mar 23, 2016 at 20:46
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    @Richard, electronic organs contain oscillators. Commented Mar 23, 2016 at 21:01

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