Similar question here, but my question is much more specific and the in-universe answers given can't really apply to Star Trek. I am asking about why the warp drive makes a sound in space - anyone who's seen the opening titles of TNG will fondly remember the 'warp' sound (which definitely adds to the program, but doesn't seem to be quite accurate). Is this explained anywhere in-universe (I'm thinking there may be some explanation come up with because of the warp field created?) in any sources?

  • Are you addressing the good old "sounds in space" problem? I guess the scientific consultants were quite aware, that this sound cannot happen. How could they try to explain it?
    – Einer
    May 6, 2014 at 8:30
  • @Einer yes and no. Yes: I am addressing the 'sounds in space' problem, but no, I think that there may be the possibility for a semi-acceptable explanation of this with the complexities of warp theory May 6, 2014 at 8:36
  • 2
    This may help - The Physics of Star Trek May 6, 2014 at 9:05
  • I'm anxious to find out!
    – Einer
    May 6, 2014 at 9:14
  • Poorly potted transformers? groups.google.com/forum/#!topic/alt.home.repair/Z_gVjqg05Ik May 6, 2014 at 12:36

2 Answers 2


It doesn't.

When warp vessels are in pursuit, departing from a space station, or in any other way interacting with another warp-vessel on screen, and we hear someone on the bridge say "Captain, they're going into warp!", there is no accompanying sound from within the bridge. We never hear them go into warp when we're actually on a spaceship.

The only place where warp drives make a sound is in the area outside of the ships, and it is certainly possible that the 'sound' we hear is drowned out by a ship's own warp core, combined with shielding and hull protection that prevents us from hearing other ships move around in space.

But the simpler solution is that the sound simply does not exist, and is put there only to make it more exciting for us (unlike Star Wars sounds, which DO exist because pilots have audio feedback installed in their ships)

  • My thoughts exactly - has there been any situation where someone outside of a ship has "heard" the warp drive of that ship?
    – HorusKol
    May 7, 2014 at 0:01
  • "pilots have audio feedback installed in their ships" - is that anywhere in G-Canon? I don't have a recollection of that.
    – Malcolm
    Dec 13, 2016 at 10:08
  • @Malcolm I am recalling it in an interview but cannot remember where I heard it.
    – Zibbobz
    Dec 13, 2016 at 12:36

"Sound" as commonly defined does not travel through a vacuum. Period. However, it is conceivable that what we hear is not sound from the other ship's warp drive, but resonances in our own ship's hull caused by what the other ship does to local space. Energy certainly does travel through a vacuum, and the amount of energy expended by the now-long-gone ship has to go somewhere.

(unlikely this is mentioned anywhere, as it's the dull-and-boring bits they don't devote screen time to)

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