Saturday, November 9, 2019

What color is your noise?

Back in the late ’70, when I first started making enough money to have disposable income, I went out and bought a component stereo system. It’s was the thing to do because, you know, there weren’t personal computers or 48-inch flat panel TVs yet. The proper stereo system had a receiver, pre-amplifier, amplifier, turntable, reel-to-reel tape deck, speakers and, what I thought was the coolest part, a multi-band graphic equalizer.

It was while equalizer shopping that I first encountered the term “pink noise.” I had heard of white noise, but what was pink noise? According to the sales literature, white noise is random levels of all frequencies. It’s a snowy hissing sound. Pink noise is specific levels of all frequencies and is used to calibrate audio equipment. It’s like a deeper version of white noise. Then there are also red noise and brown noise, which are even deeper.

There are studies that say listening to white/pink/red/brown noise helps us concentrate and even sleep better. Cool. But what does that have to do with living in a van?

Today I moved to a different part of Quartzite, because I was getting antsy, yet didn’t want to go far away. My new location features background sounds from I-10. Gray noise, if you will. Surprisingly, it’s sort of relaxing. Most of the time. Almost like waves on a beach. Mmmm, the beach.


  1. Yes! I also think highway noise sounds like waves on a beach. I have never minded staying near a freeway but you are the first person I've know to agree with that comparison. Thanks for the validation.

  2. Bang and Olufsen and Harman Kardon were the preferred choice of my college roommate; that kid was a musical savant.

  3. My old house was by a railroad track. My bedroom was within 60 ft. Oddly, the blaring of the train and the house shaking actually comforted me, when I was awake enough to notice.

  4. I have pretty annoying tinnitus noise with high pitched frequency. Having background noise helps to make it less noticeable. Not from listening to music that was too loud, it was from working in the factory at Boeing. Also from working on remodels where I used air gun nailers. Air nailers can be very damaging to hearing, much more so than loud live music at a bar or concert.

  5. Sounds of a running creek followed by ocean waves.

    My first music system was quadrophonic— on sale because people quickly lost interest in quadrophonic. One of its built ins was an 8 track player. Another reason it was
    deeply marked down.