Noise generators for masking other noise sources

To: quiet-list@igc.org
From: Ron Pellegrino <ronpell@microweb.com>
Subject: White Noise
Date: 4/7/98

>=== Quiet-List message from Sorrento95 ===

>Does anybody know anything about "white
>noise" generators as a means of drowning
>out disruptive sounds which wake people up
>from sleep?

>I hear one can be purchased at Radio Shack
>for $35.00. I wonder what the annual sales are
>for these gadgets. That would tell us something
>about how many people are suffering from noise
>pollution.

>Michael Wright

RP - White noise generators put out random frequencies at random amplitudes over the audio bandwidth - 20 Hz to 20 kHz. Depending upon the overall output level of the white noise generator, frequencies from other sources with equal or lower amplitude levels will be masked (covered or drowned out). Colored noise is weighted white noise, that is, one or more frequency bands of varying widths and center frequencies may have higher overall amplitude levels relative to other frequency bands. On a synthesizer, the frequency bands, their bandwidths, and their center frequencies can be programmed to simulate a natural state. To some people these noise generators create sound similar to ocean breakers, wind, waterfalls, and the like; those people don't have very discriminating ears.

Electronic devices are widely available on the market today that use digital recordings (samples) of natural noise generating phenomena. On a number of DSS channels I see advertised units that incorporate 6 to 8 different natural noise generators such as rain, wind, waterfalls, rain forest insects, ocean breakers, etc. that are sold to people as relaxation aids and as a means of masking the sounds of the house and the world at their bedtime. The devices include programmable timers to switch them off after you've fallen asleep. The devices are intended to mask the sounds of sources inside the house, those that are often responsible for most of the noise at bedtime especially if others are moving around in the house. Refrigerators, dishwashers, clothes washers and driers, heating and cooling systems, vent fans, blenders, plumbing and showers, doors and windows opening and closing, televisions, radios, sound systems, multimedia computers, telephones, people talking - any one of those normal house sounds in the 1990s could make it difficult for many to fall asleep; the electronic masking devices are targeted at those people. For most people boom cars at bedtime are an exceptional experience.

Ron Pellegrino


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