Why silence or near silence is a must, not an ANC system

Sometimes active noise cancelling may help, a little, because they can reduce background noise, just like that help a bit with sound engines reduction in airplanes. But these mostly work by detecting cycles of sound. So, by design they will work better with aviation engine sounds that are inherent cyclic, but not so much with conversation noises or other essentially non linear noises. Also, for this to work you need to know precisely the location of the sound, so while it is fine at the entrance of the ear canal, anywhere else forget it, trajectories are too unpredictable to be cancelled at all. You may very well in fact end up with more noise. Besides, adding sound and music in order to dissimulate noise, globally is a very bad idea. If a human needs a peaceful and silent environment to enjoy himself or be performant, then this is what he needs. Not another fancy ANC system and not one more headset. Period. Do you want to convince yourself of that? Go to a palace, anywhere in the world, it is not cultural, intuitively, unconsciously, if someone can afford it he will go for a quiet sound environment.

Why are better soundscapes desirable?

Let’s go back to the bush for a second. Back then, you were immersed in an ultra peaceful 360° soundscape. Most of the noises around were soothing sounds: wind in the leaves of high trees, a river nearby, small streams or friendly grass eating animals munching in the near vicinity, relax and safe in the knowledge that since you had some mouthfuls of berries not long ago they were not in the immediate danger of you hitting them with a large rock. You got the idea, your soundscapes back then were quiet and mostly harmless, most of the time. This by the way is possibly the exact reason why almost any self aid, religious or self development book at hand will suggest, recommend or even urge you to save time for walks in the forest as much as you possibly can.

Why is sound so important for our well-being?

Your ears are on 24/7. Once your eyes are closed, all the processing power dedicated to the vision is reassigned to sound. You then hear the soundscape much better, in more details …

Our thinking part, the mind, can hope to make us believe that strong, annoying, persistent sounds or bad acoustics have no influence on us. In fact, the impact takes place anyway, it has even happened before any choice from “our behalf” can be made.

To give you an idea of the processing speeds of different parts of our brain: the thoughts you have, the decisions or ideas generated, all this happens in a window of a few hundred milliseconds. It’s very slow compared to other instinctive or intuitive processes in some of your brain regions that work in milliseconds. So keep in mind that even if your mind thinks itself as fast, a very old process, a little simplistic, is already proving faster: You are ready to run away, to stress or fight, your reptilian brain has managed the whole process, you hardly realize what is going on, but the game is already played …

Why better understanding and treating our soundscapes contributes to creating a better world for us to live in.

Although today we like to see ourselves as 21st century urban beings, we are still mostly hunter-gatherers. Our body anyway. In fact, just 10 000 years ago, we roamed the countryside in tribes. Almost yesterday, then, the greatest danger we could face was being hunted by a large furry animal. For this, we are still staffed by an effective internal security officer, who has obvious advantages in being quick, especially when we are hunted by large animals. So part of us is incredibly fast and makes decisions that go far beyond our personal “will”, but which nevertheless greatly affect our well-being. These decisions are often based on sound cues and the part of us in charge is our automatic brain / reptilian … it conveys its once live saving requests via hormones such as cortisol, the stress hormone …



Out of the box

I used to partly own a recording studio. A real one, with tape machines, large console, large Schroeder resonators and leasings costs slightly larger than the GDP of a small developing country. Despite all the attention and energy we gave to this place, including a Tom Hidley built control room, drums always sounded crap.

Well, coming in one fine morning I heard this gigantic drum sound going from the control room. It was beautiful, it was huge and it was a first. So that day I skipped the coffee machine stopover altogether and rushed to the drum room where the customer, the drummer and sound guys were, all watching in owe the kit in question surrounded by a grand total of two microphones, one close, one distant. That was it.

When I enquired about this absolute miracle, the guys said they came in early and were just having fun. Then right away, as if nothing ever happened, they unplugged the two condensers mics and started a “proper” miking set-up of the thing, complete with overheads, mics on everything, upper and lower snare mics, noise gates, compressors, tube preamps, the whole usual shebang, Approximately one hour and a half later, I heard the studio’s signature, the usual feeble sounding asthmatic drum, along with the proper sentential ”this is how everybody does it, the is how we always done it, so this is how it must be done” statement. Oh well those were the 90’s…

Noisy Apple AirPods

If you thought your shiny white earbuds were offering you a private & relaxing commuting experience, think again… they don’t. People in the same carriage can witness your inclination for a morning Deadmau5.

Not only Apple, but everyone knows what and when you are listening, … Because these things let out all the high frequency content, while they let in much of the ambiant sounds too, this forces you to use extra high sound pressure to cover the background noise. Not good, for you, at all.

If you fancy respecting yourself, or the commute times of your fellow passengers, or both, you might want to play stuff with fewer hi frequency & transients content, or even better, buy a real quality headset with proper noise cancellation. (B&O, Sony, Bose, 1More)

#airpods #earbuds #noisecancellation #soundquality #deadmau5 #edm #londontube #a-jays #jbl #bose #sennheiser

Yamaha SDC Conference – Paris

Invited by Yamaha Pro Audio to speak about sound, human and sensations at the System Designers Conference at Euro Disney Paris. The Interview:

So you thought Alexa & Echo were nosy…

Buy an Apple HomePod and enjoy!
HomePod can snoop a lot more, it has a “sonar”: 24 microphones ready to gather quietly. With these, further to following you around when you speak, HomePod can also steer the sound where sound is needed. This is nice, Apple calls this Spatial Awareness.

Using this amazing technology, HomePod may possibly map the space around it as well as, potentially, the rough contours & dimensions of moving objects or static furniture populating your LR too.
Then, If a “four legged moving thing” is sensed, I wouldn’t be so surprised if you’d get advertisements for pet food.
Or, if your living room sounds a bit too lively, indicating there is a potential lack of stuff in it, it wouldn’t be too much of a surprise to me either if you’d get Ikea spams until your room acoustics improves… *

HomePod can also cooperate in flocks, how many do you need in your home?

*I just see possibilities here, that is my job. But if I can, my bet is that some brilliant minds at Infinite Loop can too.

Mixage Fou Jury Member

Mixage Fou, Paris – member of jury, with Merging Technologies. Exciting experience. Would multichannel immersive sound be essential, see urgent? For broadcasting, creation, content AND for live shows too.

Mixage fou 2019

And you, are you equipped? familiar? Interested? Visit us: more on superdiff

Zoe sounds cool, self assured, friendly

Other electric cars are silent, thus dangerous.
Renault had it right. Inside and out. When you hear a Zoe slowly driving past, it makes a pleased sound. It serves the safety purpose but does a lot more too: it conveys a sense of utter peacefulness and self assurance that is almost sexy. Sound is generated on purpose, via internal and external loudspeakers, and the content is a mix of sounds from voices, synthesisers and whispers, evolving with the speed of the car. Great job Renault!
Did you hear one drive by lately? Where you amazed by the sound too?