Why is noise noisy?

The forum for non-component-related silent pc discussions.

Moderators: NeilBlanchard, Ralf Hutter, sthayashi, Lawrence Lee

Post Reply
ake
Posts: 1
Joined: Fri Feb 18, 2005 8:29 am
Location: Marseille France
Contact:

Why is noise noisy?

Post by ake » Sat Feb 19, 2005 1:20 am

:?:

I am new to this forum. A friend recommended me to join in and air a non-orthodox idea about noise.

Noises are a natural part of our environment, there is no absolute salience. The issue is therefore to determine when noise becomes noisy. It is of coarse very individual but I believe there are some common denominators. Natural noises such as wind blowing through trees or waves coming ashore are perceived as calming by most. Monotone or predictable noises are disturbing. After having heard “I am dreaming about a white Christmas” some 50 times on one day I get irritated.

The idea is therefore not to avoid noise at all cost but to make it more tolerable. I believe this could be made with a simple fan control that slightly varies the fan speed in a non-predictable way and thus mimic natural more enjoyable noises.

Such a device could easily be integrated into a fan and it would not cost much either.

ake

Sam Williams
Posts: 158
Joined: Wed Oct 15, 2003 6:21 pm
Location: Great Britain

Post by Sam Williams » Sat Feb 19, 2005 1:49 am

Welcome to SPCR!

In my experience, the more constant the sound, the easier it is to ignore on a conscious level. Many SPCR regulars go to great lengths to prevent their PSUs from 'cycling' up and down, partly for this reason: a change in pitch 'announces' the presence of the device afresh. That said, even a constant noise has a psychological effect over time and it's often a huge relief when it's silenced. Some of the plotting/printing equipment where I work makes constant noise which really winds me up during the course of a long day.

In terms of mimicing more natural noises, I think you're onto something. A fan which put out perfectly random broad-spectrum white noise would be much less annoying to me than one with peaks at certain frequencies, and I think that's what a number of fan manufacturers are trying to achieve...

Playing recorded ocean sounds can be a great way to block out noises, too.

as530
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 175
Joined: Wed Aug 11, 2004 12:32 pm
Location: London, UK

Post by as530 » Sat Feb 19, 2005 8:22 am

i don't think that continuous monotone noises are necessarily of great disturbance; indeed, the human auditory cortex is supposed to periodically ignore such sounds - e.g. ringing noises/artefacts. Many other people i speak to say they don't notice their computer noise anymore because it's always there.

Personally, my aversion to computer noise is part of a general aversion to noise itself which I have been developing. A few weeks ago i posted in one of these SPCR forums some links to some free online articles in the US journal Environmental Health Perspectives about noise in the modern world and what was being done to combat it. Unfortunately nobody replied to the post which perhaps means that nobody was interested in the articles! I am becoming increasingly irritated by noise anywhere - for example, traffic noise, screeching brakes. Even in department stores, I nowadays find myself thinking "why are they playing this crappy music? it's so unnecessary."

It's not all pyschological hyperacusis though - i am convinced that the newer buses in London emit screeches when they brake in excess of 90-100dB at very high frequencies. Could such city noises be involved in age-related hearing decline? I now wear earphones around the city to take the edge off these noises.

Sorry for this irrelevant post. But, does anybody else feel the same way about noise in the non-computer world?

Green Shoes
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 477
Joined: Thu Feb 17, 2005 6:41 am
Location: Nashville, TN

Post by Green Shoes » Sat Feb 19, 2005 9:03 am

as530 wrote:i don't think that continuous monotone noises are necessarily of great disturbance; indeed, the human auditory cortex is supposed to periodically ignore such sounds - e.g. ringing noises/artefacts. Many other people i speak to say they don't notice their computer noise anymore because it's always there.
I think that this is true up to a certain point; at certain decibel levels all noises become fatiguing, no matter how pleasant they were to begin with. If you've ever been close to a waterfall or near a crevice that the wind is forcing itself through you know what I mean. It's probably true that a white noise is perceived to be less loud (pink noise is even better, but that's a different post) but any noise at a certain level will still cause the cilia in your ear to lay down flat :( The temporary threshold shift that this causes just makes us plain tired and much more irritable; the AC at the office is loud but pretty static....it just wears on you. I don't know if anyone's ever studied the psychological impact of threshold shift; it'd be an interesting thesis if anyone's interested :wink:

But you're right, on a lower level the heater in your house will bother you less than the bird periodically banging into your window in the mornings (true story).

ake, I'd love to see that implemented. I'd buy one.

davebell1
Posts: 13
Joined: Thu Feb 17, 2005 10:39 pm
Contact:

Post by davebell1 » Sat Feb 19, 2005 11:07 pm

as530 wrote:i don't think that continuous monotone noises are necessarily of great disturbance; indeed, the human auditory cortex is supposed to periodically ignore such sounds - e.g. ringing noises/artefacts. Many other people i speak to say they don't notice their computer noise anymore because it's always there.

Personally, my aversion to computer noise is part of a general aversion to noise itself which I have been developing. A few weeks ago i posted in one of these SPCR forums some links to some free online articles in the US journal Environmental Health Perspectives about noise in the modern world and what was being done to combat it. Unfortunately nobody replied to the post which perhaps means that nobody was interested in the articles! I am becoming increasingly irritated by noise anywhere - for example, traffic noise, screeching brakes. Even in department stores, I nowadays find myself thinking "why are they playing this crappy music? it's so unnecessary."

It's not all pyschological hyperacusis though - i am convinced that the newer buses in London emit screeches when they brake in excess of 90-100dB at very high frequencies. Could such city noises be involved in age-related hearing decline? I now wear earphones around the city to take the edge off these noises.

Sorry for this irrelevant post. But, does anybody else feel the same way about noise in the non-computer world?
I feel precisly the same. Bass speakers in cars out to be outlawed around the world. Crappy music in any store the same. I love SPCR. Noise is way too stress producing. I live in a "postcard" type of town and I am absolutely dreading the coming of "landscaping season." Chain saws and leaf blowers are too much to take. I will DEFINITELY be getting a pair of BOSE top of the line noise cancelling headphones very soon.

My vote for best new product goes to Antec PHANTOM, for sure :))) Thank you Antec.

Sorryfor the rant, Dave

akio
Posts: 19
Joined: Fri Dec 17, 2004 5:47 am
Location: Japan

Post by akio » Sun Feb 20, 2005 7:57 am

People tend to be oversensitive to what they found irritating. Have been obsessed with pc noises, I would want to eradicate them. But point is what made me run into this situation. I guess the noises of fast and small rotators(fans/HDs) include particular frequency that bugs human unlike natural noises.
It might made diffrence if I've had such a fan control implemented in my pc beforehand.

Jordan
Posts: 557
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2004 8:21 pm
Location: Scotland, UK

Post by Jordan » Sun Feb 20, 2005 9:00 am

as530 wrote:A few weeks ago i posted in one of these SPCR forums some links to some free online articles in the US journal Environmental Health Perspectives about noise in the modern world and what was being done to combat it. Unfortunately nobody replied to the post which perhaps means that nobody was interested in the articles!
I would be interested in that. Could you post a link to your thread please. I'll be interested in reading but I don't think I'd have much to add to the topic. Maybe others found the same.

On this topic I have to add that my flatmates think I have some kind of super hearing. Personally I think it's more to do with the fact that I'm very easily distracted which seemes to be down to the fact that I'm always very aware of my surroundings. They can be watching TV and tuned into it but I'll always pick up in noises in other rooms and cars passing by outside etc. I'll heear one of their mobile phones beep when it gets a text message in the other room and all of them would have been completely oblivious to it. Combine this with the fact I'm naturally very irretable (one of my flatmates has a slight clicking sound from her jaw when she eats, I have to leave the room after a short while!) and I think that's why I'm obsessed with silencing my PC.

Being easily distracted means I find it hard to study and work so I can't have the PC I'm working on irritating me. I do sometimes listen to a game soundtrack though (Panzer Dragon Saga soundtrack), it's completely instrumental so I find I can listen to it when I'm designing or doing other practical work but usually not when I'm doing something like writing as essay.

MikeC
Site Admin
Posts: 12283
Joined: Sun Aug 11, 2002 3:26 pm
Location: Vancouver, BC, Canada
Contact:

Post by MikeC » Sun Feb 20, 2005 10:33 am

The points already made about even natural noise being intrusive and annoying are right on. While natural noises are easier to take, beyond a certain level, they can be just as invasive as lawn mower buzz. There's no question that things like those little self-contained water fountains that make a wee bit of flowing bubbling noise or DVDs that play a cracking fire can be quite soothing, but it's also very volume dependent.

There's a post I stickied in the "Off Topic" forum ages ago, and forgot about, but I just moved it here, as it really is front and center of what we're about, not off topic at all. It's about Adbuster's take on noise.

Chris`I
Posts: 27
Joined: Wed Jan 05, 2005 6:00 am

Post by Chris`I » Sun Feb 20, 2005 11:22 am

Jordan wrote: On this topic I have to add that my flatmates think I have some kind of super hearing. Personally I think it's more to do with the fact that I'm very easily distracted which seemes to be down to the fact that I'm always very aware of my surroundings. They can be watching TV and tuned into it but I'll always pick up in noises in other rooms and cars passing by outside etc. I'll heear one of their mobile phones beep when it gets a text message in the other room and all of them would have been completely oblivious to it. Combine this with the fact I'm naturally very irretable (one of my flatmates has a slight clicking sound from her jaw when she eats, I have to leave the room after a short while!) and I think that's why I'm obsessed with silencing my PC.
Im exactly the same. I have very sensitive hearing. Things, like you say, like the buzzer of our oven going when everyone is in teh living room watching tv. They never hear it, but I find it very clear and distingushable. It is quite strange how some ppls hearing can be so much better than others. Again, like yourself, I find myself very aware of everything going on around me. This makes me very irratable by my PC making noise!

Jordan
Posts: 557
Joined: Wed Apr 28, 2004 8:21 pm
Location: Scotland, UK

Post by Jordan » Sun Feb 20, 2005 12:17 pm

If you read my post closely you'll see what I don't really agree that I have sensitive hearing. I tend to think I'm more alert to what's going on around me and I tend to let things affect me.

For example, my sister had a resonably quiet PC after I gave her a hand to quieten it as the noise was bugging her, it being in the living room and all.

Got her a new Antec BQE case, Mobile XP CPU, Thermaltake SilentBoost @5V etc. She was very happy with it but I said I still couldn't live with it. When she asked why I pointed out the inconsistant whine of the WD Cav SE. She listened for it and now it bugs her too :) So she can still hear this noise clearly, it just took me to point it out.

Green Shoes
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 477
Joined: Thu Feb 17, 2005 6:41 am
Location: Nashville, TN

Post by Green Shoes » Sun Feb 20, 2005 1:09 pm

davebell1 wrote: I will DEFINITELY be getting a pair of BOSE top of the line noise cancelling headphones very soon.
You will LOVE them. They have made long plane trips and sessions with lots of trumpet players bearable again. Although mine have a low-level hiss that we normally associate with dirty power(only noticeable w/o music)....I don't know how to run a battery through a power conditioner, though. :mrgreen:

BTW, I found a guy on ebay who was selling brand-new still-wrapped pair with all the extras for $260 after shipping, much better than the $300 + tax that they normally go for. He had quite a few.

davebell1
Posts: 13
Joined: Thu Feb 17, 2005 10:39 pm
Contact:

Post by davebell1 » Sun Feb 20, 2005 10:00 pm

Thanks Green Shoes, I think I will be going to Ebay to check that out. I know I am getting a pair, just been procrastinating.

Dave

as530
*Lifetime Patron*
Posts: 175
Joined: Wed Aug 11, 2004 12:32 pm
Location: London, UK

Post by as530 » Mon Feb 21, 2005 2:04 am

Jordan (& others)

here was my post:

http://forums.silentpcreview.com/viewtopic.php?t=18196

i found the articles very interesting.

Post Reply