Siren sounds explained

If you think all police, fire, and EMS use the same siren sounds, you’d be wrong. First responders have several siren sounds choices at their disposal when they choose an electronic siren. Below, we will go over the five most popular siren types and descriptions of the sounds.


The most popular siren sound is the wail. The wailing sound is available on just about any siren you can buy on the market today. If you’ve ever seen an episode of Dragnet, you know exactly what the wail sounds like. It has a sharp pitch that rises and falls. When the wail siren sound was first created, the highs and lows were associated with the speed of a vehicle. Today, these sounds are recreated by an electronic siren.


The second most famous siren sound is the yelp. Like the wail, yelp sounds are offered on just about any siren on the market today. The yelp’s pitch changes rapidly. Many first responders opt to use the yelping sound because it conveys a message of urgency.


Hi-lo siren sounds aren’t as popular as the wail and yelp in the US but are still very effective. The hi-lo sound is European-inspired. Most sirens that offer hi-lo tones also intersperse whoops and other noises for the best effect.


If you’ve ever heard a first responder using a Phaser siren you probably wouldn’t forget it. Some retailers refer to the phaser as the piercer. The phaser sound has an intergalactic ring to it. Despite its odd sound, many first responders rely on the Phaser siren to move traffic because it is hard to ignore on the road.

Air Horn

First responders have used air horn sounds for generations. Today the air horn siren sounds created by electronic sirens are electronic reproductions of an actual air horn. Unlike the four siren sounds mentioned above, first responders don’t usually use the air horn siren sound while driving. Instead, this sound is normally reserved for getting the attention of someone in particular. For instance, a car that isn’t moving over for lights or a crowd that is blocking an ambulances’ path.

The IW3 100-Watt Siren from 911 Signal USA

The IW3 100-watt siren from 911 Signal USA can create all of the familiar siren sounds mentioned above and more. In addition to the wail, yelp, phaser, hi-lo, and electronic air horn sounds, the IW3 can create whoop, manual, and warble sounds.

Hear Electronic Siren Sounds in our Demo Video

Shop 911 Signal USA for LED lights and sirens. We specialize in equipment for first responders and offer every day low prices.

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