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I would like to be able to play something in a pair of headphones that works to drown out the background chatter of, for instance, sitting in a cafe.

Is there a type of sound, or genre of music with a certain frequency space that plays to the nature of human hearing for this purpose?

I'm not looking for silence, but rather using sound to affect my concentration.

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If you are using decent in-ears, then the genre really shouldn't matter. A decent set of in-ears will drop the noise level by about 20 to 30db and at that point any music played at a comfortable level should drown out the noise entirely (even if you are on a jet it should come close to drowning it out).

If you are using ear-buds rather than in-ears I would suggest switching to in-ears otherwise you'll be overpowering the noise (which could potentially be bad for your hearing) rather than removing it and replacing it with something less distracting.

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While I think that the question isn't really the exact cup of tea for this stack exchange, I will try to on the other answer.

Assumption is that the noise in the cafe makes it difficult for you to work because of two factors:

  1. It has human conversation
  2. It has random but reasonably loud noises.

Both these factors cause your brain to take notice of the noise rather than concentrating on your work.

With that in mind, the music must not only drown out the noise, but also should not introduce its own level of distraction. This can disqualify not only the music with quiet or changing volume, but also with vocal part that "makes sense".

But it is difficult to suggest a genre of music without knowing your preferences. For example early punk is loud enough and vocal part is difficult to make out, but you can find this very music distracting, but tibetan monk chants can calm your mind enough for you to become sleepy.

So perhaps you want to share something about your general music preferences, and then somebody can provide specific examples of what you want.

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Electronic Dance Music does a good job of masking because it is usually loud. Classical music would be a bad choice because it has a wide dynamic range (and thus sections of the music will be quiet and inaudible).

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If you want noise instead of music, try this - http://www.rainymood.com/

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I use instrumental jazz from pandora, for my office headphones. It is not repetitive and has pretty consistent dynamic range. I can seem to work fine with this to mask the top 40 music or conversations that others play around me.

  • Hi hank, Fellow Stranger asked specifically for a sound not music. This is a sound design site. – Arnoud Traa May 22 '14 at 11:02
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Perhaps you should try the noise cancelling headphones. Acoustic NC works better for removing chatters than active NC models.

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