The world is full of fake sounds

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64 Responses to “The world is full of fake sounds”

  1. adamnvillani says:

    The laws that are being drafted to ‘protect’ pedestrians are being introduced by people who have likely never seen or heard a real electric car.

    There may not be many fully electric cars on the road, but hybrid electric cars are quite common here in Los Angeles. You would have to be a complete shut-in to have never seen nor heard one here. I work for the City of L.A., and most of the motor pool cars are hybrids; I just rode in one today and was struck by how quiet it sounds when idling or moving at a slow speed — the types of speeds that would be common in parking lots or near most crosswalks.

    The sounds are not being added to identify an electric car moving at highway speeds. They are being added to identify electric cars moving at slow speeds, which are very quiet (and can still injure pedestrians).

  2. Jesse M. says:

    I’m glad they’re introducing artificial engine sounds into electric vehicles, silent ones would probably kill more pedestrians. Also glad there’ll be options for non-realistic sounds like Star Wars podracers…I hope there’ll be an option to make your car sound like a Jetsons car!

    • max_supernova says:

      I disagree. Imagine what downtown will sound like when every twit can set hit car sound to what he wants?

      I’d love a silent downtown.

      It will simply take a slight change in culture, like watching out for trolley cars on your horse.

      • bzishi says:

        I’d love a silent downtown.

        It will simply take a slight change in culture, like watching out for trolley cars on your horse.

        Looking out for trolleys and cars is easy if you can see. A silent downtown is death to the blind.

        • Ambiguity says:

          A silent downtown is death to the blind.

          I question if this is true.

          Most street lighting actually makes things less safe (by increasing glare and visual clutter — and there are many data and studies to show this) and only increase the appearance of safety (more security theater?). In the same way, I don’t think one can just assume that volume doesn’t just contribute to aural clutter in the environment. After all, we’re not speaking about absolute silence here, so it’s entire possible that reducing the background of noise could make things safer, by making it easier to hear the important noises.

          I’m not saying that this is the case; I’m just saying that, lacking data, your assumption is just an assumption.

          On the other hand, there are data that show that quiet electric cars — when placed in a normal, loud environment — present some level of danger. But this is a different issue.

    • JonStewartMill says:

      I like the idea of choosing what you want your vehicle to sound like, and I would probably be happy with a Jetson-sounding car, but I worry that some others, maybe the same ones who ride open-exhaust Harleys, would make their car sound like a Star Wars TIE fighter.

    • Anonymous says:

      I’m glad they’re introducing artificial engine sounds into electric vehicles, silent ones would probably kill more pedestrians

      Only the inattentive ones. And most of them are wandering around with headphones in their ears, with all their attention on their phone. You could drive a *tank* over them, and they’d not see it coming…

  3. emmdeeaych says:

    There is one brand of ATM which sounds like it could be R2-D2′s great great uncle. It’s as catchy as the tetris music.

  4. macouno says:

    Speaking of ATM machine noise, this one’s a bit nicer than the “whrrrrr”: http://t.co/C9yNXjn

  5. Anonymous says:

    atM Machine? DESTROY!

  6. cinemajay says:

    The light rail in downtown MPLS has a fake bell sound to warn pedestrians. I kinda wish they’d cycle through other sounds just to mix it up.

    • Maggie Koerth-Baker says:

      Agreed. My vote would be for a “Who Framed Roger Rabbit?” style, “AAAaooooooOOOOgah!”

  7. Snig says:

    The staplegun’s satisfying k-chunk is real and honest though.

  8. Daemon says:

    That’s not really a sound, it just sounds like one.

  9. Rider says:

    Several people who work on ATM’s have pointed out the ATM claims in this article are totally false.

  10. Anonymous says:

    Coinstar machines don’t involve any artificial delay or noise, at least not the ones I’ve seen. An inclined turntable inside a hopper feeds each individual coin into the same coinslot mechanism that a vending machine uses. There’s a delay at the end because the last few coins are bouncing around the empty hopper – I guess in a perfect world the turntable would slow down to grab them.

  11. dculberson says:

    I would argue that a car door noise is no more fake than any noise that’s shaped due to preference i.e. human voices, musical instruments, etc. The door is going to make a noise regardless, they just “tune” it, which doesn’t make it fake, just more well thought out.

    Another example: The Segway gears are cut and sized so that the sounds they make, which would ordinarily be a cacophony of discordant gear whine, are instead exactly two octaves apart. Not that I mind dissonant gear box whine, but that’s pretty slick.

    • MarkM says:

      > I would argue that a car door noise is no more fake than any noise
      > that’s shaped due to preference i.e. human voices, musical
      > instruments, etc. The door is going to make a noise regardless,
      > they just “tune” it, which doesn’t make it fake, just more well
      > thought out.

      Sure, there’s no speaker inside the door creating that
      solid “ker-thunk” sound effect as one slams it (yet). But there
      is a substantial difference between the sound a car door would
      natively make (absent this “tuning”), and the car door sound we
      are all familiar with.

      The “tuning” may itself involve very small refinements to the
      resonances of the “car door instrument”, but the effect is large:
      it goes from a meek click (that we remember in 1970s Japanese
      compacts) to the roar of That Big American Car.

      Same goes for the red in ketchup. The red in the ketchup is a
      “tweak” that doesn’t change the taste of the product but is
      nevertheless a substantial, gratuitous modification for marketing
      purposes.

      We’ve been trained by marketers to expect a certain sound,
      such that now, if we _don’t_ hear the ker-thunk, we think
      our car is lacking in quality.

      I just don’t think “fake” is too strong a word.

      PS, Now that I think about it, ever notice how when people
      slam your door, they usually do it too hard?
      It can close securely with a small amount of force, but I
      notice that people tend to slam it– because they expect that
      ker-thunk. They need to ker-thunk!

  12. Nadreck says:

    I once worked on a system that gave out information over the telephone. We had to put the sound of the phone ringing and then a ka-chunk as the “phone” was picked up at the start of every out-going message.

  13. MollyMaguire says:

    I know a guy who said that he bought the car he did – I don’t remember what make it was now – because he liked the sound the door made.

  14. TharkLord says:

    What about the new slot machines that don’t take coins but still make that coin payout noise? Seeing people playing on those and hearing that sound but with nothing coming out is really creepy to me.

  15. salsaman says:

    The fake shutter release sounds that are turned on by default bug me to no end. At a wedding last week, the fake shutters and beeps from guests’ cameras and phones interrupted every tender, solemn quiet moment.

    • KanedaJones says:

      well blame the artificial shutter noise from cameras on the overwhelming morale panic that some stranger is going to steal your image and either fap to it or worse, use it to make money without giving you a cut!

      try being a nature photographer with it -_-

  16. jl says:

    The IBM 3180 mainframe terminal had a rather neat feature buried inside the keyboard. A solenoid threw a little weight around with every key press. It was a lovely fake for the mechanism inside a 2741 Selectric console typewriter or an 029 keypunch.

  17. Anonymous says:

    “some US sports teams use artificial crowd noise to unsettle the opposition”

    Was I the only one that didn’t know this? Seems like it would be a technical foul.

  18. Sethum says:

    I’m surprised the article brings up artificial electric motor sounds as well as car door tuning without mentioning standard gas motors. I’m sure half the cars on the road would sound like lawn mowers if their rumble wasn’t tuned. And on the car door tuning debated, I’d like to offer the point that nearly as much tuning probably goes into the key stroke sounds popular computer keyboards make…and I wouldn’t consider those sounds fake.

    • Anonymous says:

      Harley Davidson has put massive amounts of research into their motorcycle sounds. They even patented the Harley sound! I have to admit I kind of love it, even though it’s ridiculously loud and annoying, especially when your neighbors host biker parties…

      Also, a friend of mine recently got a ’69 Plymouth, and the first thing I did when I saw it was open and close the door so I could hear it! A very satisfying clunk, indeed.

    • scionofgrace says:

      Not sure of the “tuning” of a motor is wholly aesthetic. I mean, yeah, people buy certain mufflers to get certain noises out of them. But my brother modifies cars as a hobby (he does autocross), and the sound of the motor is one way he diagnoses problems. Maybe the tuning is such that if your car’s out of tune, you know you need to check it?

      When my parents got a Lexus years back, my mom told me how much she loved the sound of the doors shutting. They’d always had cheap cars.

      Fake camera noises are obnoxious. Can’t I just have a light click?

      I love the idea of mechanical sounds being tuned, though. It makes the world more musical.

      • archmagetrexasaurus says:

        All sorts of things affect how an engine sounds, and anything unusual can indicate something unusual happening (things like lose timing chains and misfires and whatnot can all have characteristic sounds depending on the vehicle), but cars are generally designed to minimize the possibility of engine noise causing other parts to resonate with the engine and make it vrooom desirably as well.

        Since perceived pitch changes relative to RPM, I probably wouldn’t call an engine in tune or out of tune, although folks do tune engines to get them to sound nice, as well as detune them to make them sound like ass gerbils (as in the case of those damn kids in my apartment’s parking lot).

  19. ackpht says:

    There are electric model airplanes with speakers built in to mimic “big airplane engine” sound.

  20. Anonymous says:

    This is a bit of a derail….

    Hasn’t anyone got the impression that that post, and the entire H.I. site, is nothing more than an one massive advertisement for a certain electronics company?

    Not that Cracked methodology to article writing isn’t mimic-worthy, however to go out on a limb – it seems we’re all talking about the equivalent of a television commercial as if it were the nightly local news.

  21. moosehunter says:

    the atm claim is false. The “whirr” noise is made by the bill transport motor, which,in most units hangs directly below the transport bill guide rollers. the “thunk” sound that just precedes the wirr, is the port door, a peice of armour which interlocks with the interior face armor. the port door is operated by a cam lever (lifter by a cam ring on the transport motor shaft) that also triggers a sensor to notify the atm computer that the port is open, and then as the bill moves through the release sensor notifies the computer that the bills have been delivered.

    what you dont hear, is the takeup mechanisim,and the vault counter that physically moves the bills from the vault hopper through the shear counter (which images the bill’s serial #) and deposts the bills into the bill transport mechanism, those make all sorts to bangs squeaks flaps and bangs, as the bills move through the various armour port doors, I would make your a recording, but I would have to kill you aftewrwards

  22. adamnvillani says:

    And now they want to make nearly-silent electric vehicles sound just like the crude, noisy ones we’ve had to cope with for over a century. What a sad world it is we live in,

    This is for safety reasons, dude. Legitimate safety reasons. Pedestrians and bicyclists, even the ones who aren’t blind, rely on multiple senses to sense oncoming vehicles. An electric car doesn’t have the weight of a feather; it’s still 3,000 pounds of bone-crushing metal, and should make an appropriate noise to alert people of its presence.

  23. Deidzoeb says:

    Just before they crank out the cash, most ATMs seem to make the tones of a mechanical trumpet charge. I swear.

    • Gyrofrog says:

      I don’t know about “most” but I know what you mean: “SCORE! Here comes my money!” Didn’t “Electronic Football” make that sound?

  24. nic says:

    Actual electric cars make about the same amount of noise as petrol engined cars when in motion. Most of the noise that an automobile produces (electric or not) is due to the chatter of tyres on the road surface.

    The laws that are being drafted to ‘protect’ pedestrians are being introduced by people who have likely never seen or heard a real electric car. All they will do is end up increasing noise pollution from traffic.

    Here is a demonstration of the lack of difference in road noise between road electric and petrol vehicles: http://youtu.be/bMtNkB8iFyI?t=9m

    • Ambiguity says:

      Actual electric cars make about the same amount of noise as petrol engined cars when in motion. Most of the noise that an automobile produces (electric or not) is due to the chatter of tyres on the road surface.

      In my experience, this is a function of speed. At cruising speed cars sound pretty similar. But my neighbor (whom shares part of a driveway with me) has a hybrid, and when she’s slowly pulling into her house I’ve walked in front of her car once or twice: something I’ve never done with an internal combustion car.

    • valdis says:

      “Here is a demonstration of the lack of difference in road noise between road electric and petrol vehicles: http://youtu.be/bMtNkB8iFyI?t=9m

      Note that tire noise goes up on the order of the *fourth* power of the velocity. Those cars were moving along at a good rate of speed.

      Now go back and tape both cars, moving at 10-12 miles per hour (as they would be if they just started up from a stop sign and are about to hit a pedestrian).

  25. Ugly Canuck says:

    I kinda like all of the un-satisfying sounds cars can make, too.

    Here’s a webpage with a whole selection of them available for your listening pleasure:

    http://www.cartalk.com/content/features/Noises/

    The world is not only full of fake sounds, but full of sounds – period.

    And so it is that the internet is full of sounds too, and here’s a webpage which helps you find them all:

    http://www.findsounds.com/types.html

    And now back to listening to that nice warm buzzing of my fluorescent tube lights – they sound like angels humming!

  26. Thorzdad says:

    That solid, loud, hard-wood THOCK! a pinball machine makes when you’ve scored a free game. That’s the sound of accomplishment, my friends.

    • Anonymous says:

      Best sound ever. My friend built a MAME digital pinball table, with real flipper buttons and a plunger and everything, but I told him it’s not complete until he adds a solenoid that hits the side of the cabinet when you get a free game!

  27. Anonymous says:

    As I was reading that, I couldn’t help thinking of Kornbluth’s The Marching Morons – the car with the shifting seat and wind blasting from the instrument panel vents, to make the masses think they’re going faster than they really are.

    Come to that, it wasn’t so long ago that US car speedometers were routinely calibrated high.

    And now they want to make nearly-silent electric vehicles sound just like the crude, noisy ones we’ve had to cope with for over a century. What a sad world it is we live in, that people need constant reassurance that nothing has changed.

  28. bcsizemo says:

    I have a hard time believing car manufactures took the time to tune doors in old cars from the 50′s-early 70′s. Hell my parents 77 Caprice Classic made a solid sound when you shut the door. It had to. I bet that door weighted as much as all 4 doors on my Corolla. There was no casual little push to shut the door when you got it, you had to put some arm into it. I suppose it felt nice, but that was really just an extension that you had a big heavy door.

    I can believe some time and effort is put into the high end luxury cars to make them feel and sound a certain way, but I doubt Toyota took much time to make the door of a Corolla sound the way it does when I shut it. As long as it doesn’t rattle it’s good enough for me.

    And the sound of a big block engine is not “artificial”. It might be tuned to have a certain rumble, but that sound is all motor.

    • petsounds says:

      Oh god, don’t remind me of the Caprice Classic. My grandparents had a ’75 coupe when I was a kid (when the Caprices were still as big as boats) and my cousin slammed the door on my fingers. I still can’t believe the door didn’t take them off. Fingernails, yes… :/

      As far as car sounds, automotive designers for luxury models do “design” the sound of modern models. The exhaust sound…it’s “note” and burble is also carefully crafted to evoke that model’s personality.

  29. Anonymous says:

    Talking about the door closing sound of cars.
    Did anyone notice how much more of a “THUMP”
    it makes when the car is inside a car dealers
    show room? I mentioned it to a car dealer
    when i tried the door sound of a very small
    Nissan. Amazing how it differs from the
    outdoor-sound. I think the show room has
    a speziel accoustic to improve the door sound.

  30. emo hex says:

    My favorite is the noise made after the AT&T customer support android says “You said customer support, let me look that up.” and then there’s this tickety tickety sound like something is really happening.

    Those AT&T people should be ashamed of themselves.

    By the way, did I mention it’s AT&T!

    • Thorzdad says:

      The Comcast support droid makes a similar sound after each input. It’s a sort of electro-marimba doink-doink-doink-doinkdoinkdoink-doink thing that’s certainly meant to imply a machine searching for/thinking about something.

  31. ackpht says:

    Aftermarket low-restriction mufflers are very definitely sold on the basis of how they make the car sound. I have a car so equipped that routinely gets compliments (from fellow gearheads) on the sound it makes.

    Modern cars are too darn quiet.

  32. beerwhisperer says:

    Oh, and your childhood is a lie too.

  33. penguinchris says:

    I love listening to everyday sounds. Most aren’t particularly pleasant, but many are. And it definitely adds a touch of class when something is designed to have a nice, satisfying sound.

    I do hate, hate, hate fake camera shutter sounds. You can almost always disable them, though. Cell phones often make it difficult, but it’s trivial on Android phones with various volume manager apps – adjust the “system” volume.

    I don’t know if they still do it, but some Canon P&S cameras a few years ago let you select from various shutter sounds (or just turn it off), including a cute bird tweet. It might get annoying after a while, but it sure beats fake shutter sounds.

    Speaking of shutter sounds, cameras with real shutters are tuned to sound nice too. Cheap DSLRs and the like often sound harsh and grating, but more expensive cameras have really nice shutter sounds.

  34. Inductor says:

    vehicular noise-reduction strategies I believe as worthy of mention.

    Europe is ahead in purpose-designed quieter highway tires. They are big (bigger) re: environmental noise reduction is (high) higher on the to-do list in the EU.

    How about smart mufflers? Noise-canceling, headset technology as modulating a magnetostrictivly-active muffler-wall. Or a more familiar voice-coil driven muffler wall. 180 deg. nicely out-of-phase (inverted) with respect to the monitored, incoming waveforms associated with combustion.

    Similarly: noise-canceling gearboxes. Think stealth helicopters
    : )

    I prefer the sound of real birds over the sounds of an only too real diesel dump truck carrying a full-load of dirt from the construction site – next door. : )

  35. Space Toast says:

    Call me pedantic, but I’d like to hear more about these automatic teller machine machines. What’s the proper sound for an automatic teller machine machine? Did the original automatic teller machine machines sound different from modern automatic teller machine machines? What will automatic teller machine machines sound like in the future? What do we want automatic teller machine machines to sound like?

    Perhaps I should just go curl up with some Detective Comics comics.

    • Antinous / Moderator says:

      Perhaps I should just go curl up with some Detective Comics comics.

      If you’ve driven all the live humans away by correcting their usage, I guess that you should do whatever it takes to entertain yourself.

  36. Anonymous says:

    I know for sure that a lot of modern cars have a completely artificial “click” for the blinkers going on and off (it still works even if the light is broken, and it doesn’t if some of the internal systems are broken but the lights aren’t!)

    But yeah, the minimum sound requirement on cars is primarily for the blind and for motorcyclists/bikers – that is, people who can’t tell a car is coming, or at least coming up behind them, if it’s silent. As well as pedestrians who just aren’t paying proper attention and forgot to look. Given that it’s a safety thing, I’m sure there will be restrictions on WHAT sounds they make – you *might* get pod-racer wooshy noises, but it will likely have to be something that suggests “moving vehicle” rather than just any random noise.

    Article says something about the coin counter machines having an artificial delay – I don’t know why they made it so long, I just had coins counted the other day and the wait was so long (AFTER all the coins had fallen) I was starting to think it was busted and had eaten my $28something.

  37. CastanhasDoPara says:

    My ideas,

    Old burbling jalopy sound for a car.

    Baseball cards in the spokes for a bike.

    But what’s annoying is the fake key clicks on virtual keyboards and the fake shutter sound on digital cameras. They just sound fake and it bugs me. Thankfully they are easily silenced.

    Also f#@& a bunch of motorcycle racket, especially harleys. It’s not the sound so much as it is the sheer eardrum-popping volume. Seriously, have some consideration for other people within a ten block radius. Much of this applies to jackass kids with glass-packs on their cars as well.

  38. Jack says:

    Oh I know one as well: The Apple Mighty mouse. The wired one with the scroll “nub.” It makes a very, very faint “clicking” noise when you roll it, but the mechanism itself makes no noise. Waaay too small. There is a very tiny speaker on the PC board in the mouse that is charged solely with making that “clicking” sound.

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