Noise has been a part of the environment forever. Perhaps this is why we enjoy a little noise in our listening environment. Many people find Pink Noise takes the edge off of jarring sounds in their environment It helps them concentrate or relax. This is known as sound masking or auditory masking.
In the early 20th century, the telecommunication industry coined the term Pink Noise and other noise colors. They used the light spectrum as a comparison to the audio frequency spectrum of 20hertz to 20,000hz. Red represents low frequencies and violet representing high frequencies.
The broadcast noise colors by definition are pink, white, red (aka brown), blue, violet, grey and black. You may guess that black is silent representing no colors.
White noise, in this analogy, is equal energy noise across the human listening spectrum of 20hertz to 20,00 hertz. Red Noise emphasizes low frequencies. Violet Noise emphasizes high frequencies, and so forth.
Pink Noise has extra energy in the low frequencies–a bit more red–thus, it is called Pink. Pink is occasionally referred to as Flicker Noise, but less so in recent years. This low frequency boost makes Pink Noise sound uniform across the human listening spectrum. Pink is equal energy per octave rather than equal energy across the entire spectrum.
Although created electronically, Pink Noise sounds reminiscent of natural sounds like ocean waves, waterfalls or heavy rain. Another common comparison is to an old television set on a blank channel with a little more bass.
Noise of many uses
Listeners use Pink Noise for masking other noise in their listening environment while studying, concentrating, at work, meditating or relaxing overnight. In offices it can mask distracting sounds of office equipment, voices, and phones. In the home, it can mask roommates, neighbors or environmental sounds like cars and sirens.
Even at a low listening level, noise has a masking effect over louder disruptive sounds. Listening evolved to help us identify danger in the environment. Disruptive sounds, like a dish breaking, a shout or a door slamming, attract our attention and distract the task at hand.
Listeners comment Pink noise has a calming effect and use it while resting, concentrating or to help them get to sleep. However, a few listeners comment it is unsettling. Just like music, people have their favorite songs and genres and it widely varies person to person.
While noise is not a music genre, it certainly has increased in listening popularity thanks to web streaming. Music is not the only thing we listen to in the 21st century. Ambience like nature, man’s environmental sounds, tones, voices and ASMR, and of course podcasts are listened to regularly across the world.
Uses in the audio industry
Pink Noise is used by audio engineers for speaker testing and troubleshooting signal flow in equipment. The output signal is measured for degradation using a frequency spectrum analyzer for comparison to the input signal. Pink Noise can be heard at music venues while the sound system is being setup or milling about a recording facility while preforming diagnostics.
I have to admit, headphone burning was not on my mind when I made the Ten Hours of Pink Noise. I had heard of the concept. A few manufacturers mention the technique. Headphones are meant to be used out of the box, there are listening enthusiasts who feel a worn in set of headphones sound better. By playing full spectrum pink noise for an extended period, the burn-in procedure is theoretically more even than playing back music. Comments indicate there are believers and non-believers of headphone burn in. I say, what can it hurt? Burn away. There is also a Headphone Burn-In creation on the channel specifically created for the task.
That’s Pink Noise and why it is so popular.
What is your listening experience with Pink Noise?