posted april 1 2022 by Jord
The sound of silence
Sound is everywhere these days, even though there seems to be an increasing need for silence. However, real silence is unattainable, and would be intolerable. But by learning to appreciate sound, you can come closer to silence than you'd think.
Surrounded by noise
Silence. You don't hear it: you rather notice it. Silence is thus often described as the absence of noise. But we are always surrounded by noise. Noises from radios, television, and electronical devices to cars rushing by, road work, and noisy neighbors. It seems as if it is never truly silent, while this is what we crave most from time to time in our ever-moving society.
During the pandemic we came close to that silence. Fewer cars and planes, empty streets, no social events. Some regions even dealt with a night-time curfew, meaning that everyone had to stay indoors during a certain period of the day, or night. Only those with a valid reason were allowed outside. But for the majority of people time seemed to stand still, literally and figuratively. Now that we are slowly returning to our normal lives, the noise around is are also back to its pre-pandemic level.
Back to lockdown
Even though it is great that we are leaving the pandemic behind us, many of us sometimes catch ourselves reminiscing over the lockdown. Yes, the world was at crisis. But besides the daily number of cases, for the majority of us our biggest worry was whether we could succesfully share our screen at home, or which route we would take on our daily walk. Other than that, we were literally locked down, surrounded by a strangely silent world. But nowadays we are back to spending our commute in overcrowded trains, longing for just a little bit of silence.
Quietest place on earth
The so-called anechoic chamber is the quitest place on earth. This room is so silent, that the background noises are reduced to -9,4 dBA. This silence is achieved by the materials it is built with. Deep, fiberglass wedges, a double wall of insulated steel, and foot-thick concrete. Sound waves must travel an excessive long distance and 'melt' in the process because of the many reflections.
And yet, you won't experience true silence in this room. When background noises are eliminated, your ears will adapt. The result? You will hear things you have never heard before. Your heartbeat, the blood flowing through your veins, the ringing of your ears. Basically every sound your body produces.
In the quietest place on earth, the noise of your own body will drive you crazy. Someone who enters the room will quickly feel the need to scream something. Just for the sake of hearing a sound. But the massive walls would swallow the cry for help, causing it to dissolve into nothing. People soon become desoriented and start to hallucinate. Especially since the room is completely dark, and your body relies on sound to orientate and navigate when your vision is disregarded.
And so it seems that true silence does not exist. But the rustling of trees in the wind, a babbling brook, a whistling blackbird: we often regard this as silence. In that case, the definition of silence – the absence of noise – should be revisited. Silence would then be viewed as the absence of disturbing noise, and is therefore associated with appreciation of sound. This appreciation of sound extends the tone itself, and is linked with the producer and the environment. For instance, the sound of cars rushing by is less appreciated than the melodious singing of birds during spring.
Listen to the silence
We are lucky that we have the power to adjust the way our environment sounds. Renovating neighbors, crying kids, beeping cars... Flee to a quiet place, to a nature reserve, and listen to the silence of the rustling trees. Or stick to the comfort of your own home, your own room. Listen to the Pink Faun 2.16 ultra.. A high quality listening experience: you'll never crave real silence ever again.
Return here to the blogs