Wherever we may be, we’re always hearing all sorts of noises don’t we? Sometimes it can also be hard to get some true peace and quiet, even in the comfort of your own home. Well, if you are constantly bothered by this phenomenon in your daily life, then its probably high time you find out more about what is Ambient Noise!
Don’t worry about having to understand “rocket science” principles, as today’s article is really going to be short and sweet. After all, we are only going to cover the basics in understanding what ambient noise is all about, and how it is described in various disciplines. Also, budding audio engineers will definitely find this information valuable!
Ambient Noise – Unwanted Noise?
In audio, or to be more specific, in the acoustical engineering discipline, ambient noise (also known as background noise) is any sound other than the sound being monitored (primary sound). Background noise is actually considered to be a type of noise pollution or interference.
In fact, background noise have always been such an important subject in many industries, that there are actually “noise regulations” (guidelines relating to sound transmission) established by various national, state or provincial levels of government. A noise regulation basically restricts the level, duration and source of noise. There may also be restrictions for different times of the day.
Types of Noises
There are many different types of background noises and they can be easily identified in our environment. Some examples include noises caused by waves from the beach, traffic noise, alarms, people having conversations, bioacoustic noise from birds (or other animals) and mechanical noise from machinery or appliances such as refrigerators, power supplies or motors.
In the field of “active noise control”, the prevention or reduction of background noise is a primary subject of research. It is also an issue that is heavily deliberated over, especially when it comes to applications such as ultrasound (e.g. for medical diagnosis or imaging), sonar, and sound reproduction.
Background noise can be really destructive when it is present in any recording situation. Various soundproofing methods can be applied to a recording room in order to reduce noise interference from the environment. Home recording enthusiasts typically employ more affordable methods which may include using acoustic isolating strips or acoustic curtains.
For high-end professional recording studios, more advanced acoustical methods such as “room within a room” or using air chambers (known as honeycombs) are often employed. There are also special isolation cabinets or recording booths that can be used for recording vocals and instrument amplifiers. These can either be “home-made” or bought from various manufacturers.
Background noise is a concept that can be found in various other disciplines as well. Just in case you are curious to know more, here are some examples:
- Astronomy – Background noise or cosmic background radiation is electromagnetic radiation from the sky with no discernible source.
- Information architecture – Irrelevant, duplicate or incorrect information may be called background noise.
- Physics and Telecommunication – Background signal noise can be detrimental or in some cases beneficial. The study of avoiding, reducing or using signal noise is known as information theory.
- Telephony – Artificial comfort noise is used as a substitute for natural background noise, to fill in artificial silence created by discontinuous transmission systems using voice activity detection. Background noise can also affect concentration.
That’s about all I have to share with you folks. Learnt something new today? Well, I hope you now have a better understanding of your noise problems!
Let me know your thoughts down below, and do share this article with your friends!