Twenty Thousand Hertz
Netflix's "ta-dum" audio logo has quickly become as recognizable a studio intro as MGM's Leo the Lion, Disney's fireworks over the castle, or Pixar's hopping lamp. But it wasn't quite clear what the sound actually was — until now.
In 2015, Netflix's VP of Product Todd Yellin was on the hunt for "something that screams Netflix," according to the latest episode of Twenty Thousand Hertz podcast released today, and, for a moment, that could have been the sound of a goat.
"I liked the sound of a goat. It was funny. It was quirky. It was our version of Leo the Lion," Yellin said on the podcast.
Thankfully, Netflix went with the now-iconic "ta-dum" sound, but it was a close call. On the 100th episode of the Dallas Tyler-hosted podcast, Yellin spoke about the process of coming up with the sound that plays before any Netflix original content you watch on the streamer today. Twenty Thousand Hertz, which has joined the TED family of podcasts, also brought on Oscar-winning sound designer Lon Bender, who worked with Yellin to create the right sound that would make viewers think “Wow, I’m about to get a treat," Yellin explained.
Bender admitted that the "ta-dum" comes from the sound of his wedding ring knocking on a wood cabinet. To add depth, Bender added a slowed-down anvil, muted hits, and an electric guitar sound reversed to complete what they coined "the blossoming" sound that transitions into the movie or TV show viewers are about to watch.
Bender's "ta-dum" was one of the 20 or 30 choices Yellin and Netflix Brand Design Lead Tanya Kumar had at their choosing. Yellin said he knew Netflix users had no patience for a long intro or one that sounded too much like they were logging onto Xbox or a Mac. So they wanted to choose something that consisted of short sound effects. Joining "ta-dum" in the top three, Yellin said, was the aforementioned sound of a goat and a bubbly sound "from the depths of the ocean."
Yellin felt the pressure to pick the right option. "This thing we know was going to get millions, hundreds of millions, billions of impressions!" Yellin said.
One day after work, Yellin played the sounds for his then 10-year-old daughter. For her, there was one clear option, and that's when Yellin's decision became a lot easier and the wedding ring "ta-dum" became the winner.
The "ta-dum" would go on to be the sound logo Netflix would use for its theatrical releases as well. Hans Zimmer, the renowned composer who worked with Netflix on The Crown, crafted the elongated "ta-dum" that plays before The Irishman and Marriage Story.
Listen to the full episode of Twenty Thousand Hertz above.