Low-Frequency Noise Is Pervasive. Does That Matter?

Lambert here: Nothing to lose sleep over. Or not?

By Lourdes Medrano, a journalist based in Southern Arizona, and a senior contributor at Undark. Originally published in Undark.

For two years, Erica Walker routinely wore ear plugs to dampen the sound of stomping footsteps penetrating her basement apartment ceiling. Still, the noise from her upstairs neighbors, undetected by sound level meters, rumbled in her chest day and night.

“The funny thing about it was that the noise wasn’t loud,” she said. But it bothered her, this unwelcome sensation she couldn’t control.

The pleasant and unpalatable sounds that envelop daily life travel through the air in different frequencies perceived as pitch. In bustling cities, the high-pitched sounds of chirping birds, and emergency sirens mix with the low-pitched thrum of traffic and hum of fans in the still of night.

Low-frequency, or low-pitched noise, like what Walker experienced, is among the most elusive: Traditional measurement tools don’t capture it well, and it’s mostly absent from official consideration outside occupational contexts. Unlike high-frequency sounds, low frequency waves can penetrate walls more easily and carry farther distances, which is why a neighbor might only hear the heavy bass from a party down the street.

But even sounds that aren’t audible to everyone have inspired complaints of headaches, anxiety, heart palpitations, and sleep troubles. And some question whether such symptoms are physiological or psychological. One thing is clear: Low-frequency noise is less studied and less understood than other sounds. And exactly what effects it may — or may not — have on humans is far from settled.

“We’re not at the point yet where we can make causal inferences about how it’s impacted our health,” said Walker, whose experience with her neighbors— which she said contributed to stress, increased blood pressure, and stomach problems — helped inspire her to research noise, now as an assistant professor of epidemiology and founder of the Community Noise Lab at Brown University. But, she added, scientists need to learn how to measure it and “look at its associations with individual and community health.”

Most cities and towns have ordinances that regulate noise under nuisance standards focusing on time-of-day violations, such as the blasting music from a neighbor’s late-night party. In instances when noise is measured, a challenge lies with the most common standard used, which fails to fully capture the low-frequency noise that the World Health Organization has identified as an environmental problem.

In fact, much of the noise that people encounter in their everyday world is concentrated in the lower pitched frequencies, said René Gifford, a professor of hearing and speech sciences at the Vanderbilt School of Medicine in Nashville, Tennessee. If lower frequency noise is negatively affecting a critical mass of people, said Walker, then it is worth deciphering its complexities.

Meanwhile, “by definition, noise is called unwanted sound,” Walker said. “And so that unwanted definition in sound is very much subjective.” While low-frequency noise may bother some people, the same sound can lull others to sleep.

“It just depends on the individual,” she said. “But I know that there are communities that are inundated with low-frequency sound, and it’s something that we as a country haven’t really grappled with yet.”

Sound ripples from its source like a wave, and its effect depends on various factors: frequency, duration, the environment in which the sound is heard, and the human ear’s subjective perception of its intensity.

Frequency refers to how many times that wave of sound repeats itself over a particular time, and it “gives you the character of the sound that is a little bit different than how loud it is,” Walker said. “So low frequency and high frequency noises can be very loud or they can be very quiet.” (Decibels, meanwhile, measure loudness; most city noise ordinances are based on decibels.)

Low-frequency noise is typically perceived as a low-throbbing or deep rumble. When a freight train moves, for example, it produces vibrations that travel through the ground, moving long distances until they are perceived as both a shaking sensation and low pitch. And then there is infrasound, which is usually set below the human hearing threshold.

In those lower frequencies, the normal variations in human hearing mean that this type of noise can be perceived as vibrations. “The vibratory effects can still impact various physiologic systems within our body,” Gifford said. “It’s just that we’re not processing them through our hearing mechanism.”

The deep rumbling sound of thunder from a distant lightning bolt, for example, can cause vibrations in the chest and throughout the body as the frequency changes from high to low while traveling. “That would be a combination of the feeling that you feel, and you also have the auditory stimulation,” she said.

Infrasound generally doesn’t even audibly register. For example, some of the sound produced by natural events, such as earthquakes, avalanches, and tsunamis, along with human inventions such as distant aircraft and machinery, can be below the human hearing threshold. But some evidence suggests that those extremely low pitches can still be felt in the body.

“Prior to an earthquake, there tends to be infrasound that some research has shown some people can actually feel it or start feeling a little strange, off balance, maybe even nauseated,” Gifford said.

David Woolworth, an acoustic engineer in Oxford, Mississippi, hears a lot of complaints about booming music, often emitting from cars. The advent of inexpensive, low-frequency amplification has changed the sound of music that spills into the environment since The Beatles first performed in 1960s New York, Woolworth said. “They had a tiny little system,” he said of the legendary English rock band. “The people were louder than the band.” Since then, “low frequency amplification became much more efficient, and the amplifiers became lighter and smaller. And now you can have cars driving around that shake a whole neighborhood.”

And while barriers can filter out middle and higher frequencies, those in the lower ranges in general have “thresholds at which windows, walls, and floor ceiling assemblies start to vibrate,” he said.

Meanwhile, the standard way to measure for environmental noise is through a system known as the A-weighted decibel metric, which de-emphasizes low frequencies over higher frequencies, making it harder to measure. Other variables also can interfere in the lower frequencies, both audible and inaudible. “The sound waves propagate further, penetrate building envelopes more easily, and other factors such as topography, wind, location and the sensor you are using can come into play,” Woolworth said.

Various studies, some using animals as subjects, suggest a link between frequencies at the lower end of the spectrum and a negative impact on health. But many of those studies include a limited number of participants. And after many years, much of the research on how and to what extent harm can occur continues. “It’s just that the magnitude of the effects is quite varied across studies,” Gifford said.

Research on the health impact of noise, mostly focused on occupational exposure, dates to the early 20th century. But it wasn’t until the 1970s and 1980s that scientists trained their collective lens on the health impact of environmental noise; low-frequency noise didn’t emerge as a focal point until the ’90s and early aughts, when a number of studies emerged on its impact on quality of sleep. Later research focused exclusively on low-frequency noise have linked it to discomfort, stress, sleep disorders, high blood pressure, and cardiovascular diseases.

In one of Walker’s early experiments, for example, ten healthy men were exposed to short-term, low-frequency and high-frequency noise in an acoustics laboratory and then had their acute cardiovascular and stress responses measured. The results showed decreases in heart rate variability, the variation in time intervals between beats, with exposure to low-frequency rate, in particular. A lowered heart rate variability is associated with the body’s reduced ability to cope with stress.

One of the most notorious sources of low-frequency noise that stirs health-related complaints are electricity-generating wind farms. Researchers have investigated whether exposure to the giant, three-pronged turbine blades rotating contributes to sleep disturbances, dizziness, high blood pressure, and chronic health conditions, such as heart disease. And even though wind farms and their potential connection to health harm are among the most studied in the field, results are inconclusive.

Wind turbines produce a combination of some audible noise and infrasound that some people may be more sensitive to than others, Gifford said. “That’s probably why — and again, this is speculation because we just don’t know why — some people are experiencing issues and reported problems and others don’t,” she said.

Indeed, some studies point to an association between wind turbine noise that puts people who live nearby at higher risk for ill health, like insomnia and nausea. One couple in France even sued for — and won — more than 100,000 euros for symptoms they said were caused by living near a windfarm. But such claims are contentious, and other research suggests that there is no connection.

Robert McCunney, a physician and environmental health expert in Boston, is among those who have concluded that the evidence doesn’t support claims that the low-frequency noise component of wind farms cause direct health effects. He is the main author of a 2014 review of scientific literature on wind turbines and health that found low-frequency noise was more related to annoyance than unique health risks. “As far as I’m aware, the conclusions we drew in that paper are applicable today,” said McCunney, who teaches at Harvard Medical School.

McCunney’s findings were echoed in another study that the Canadian government published in 2014 on the safety of wind farms. The research, which involved residents living in more than 1,000 dwellings near turbines, found that noise exposure annoyed people but was not associated with sleep disruption, stress, and self-reported health effects.

Gas-powered leaf blowers — which operate at a lower frequency than their electrical counterparts — are another common nuisance. In several communities, their sound has become so undesirable that their use is being restricted or outright banned. In a 2017 analysis of leaf blowers, Walker found that the noise the lawn equipment produces can persist at high intensity levels up to 800 feet away.

“The thing about low-frequency noise is that it travels very long distances, it’s hard to abate, and it can penetrate through walls and structures,” she said. “So not only is it ubiquitous, it is insidious.”

However, controversy persists over the sources of low-frequency sounds and whether they actually harm health. A 2022 review of the literature found that some people who are chronically exposed to low-frequency noise can develop significant health conditions. Research on chronic exposure, including in aircraft technicians, has found effects such as changes in the inner ear, depression, mental health disfunction, cellular and tissue damage, and numerous health complications linked to the circulatory system.

In other studies, exposure to low-frequency noise from different sources has shown some effects on the health of both animals and humans. In a 2017 study, researchers put nearly 100 rats into chambers where some were exposed to short sessions of low-frequency sound for 13 weeks below 250 hertz and sound pressure levels of up to 150 decibels. Its findings suggested that low frequency noise “may have possible mutagenic effects and cause massive cell death.”

Meanwhile, a 2014 study involving humans exposed 21 volunteers with normal hearing to 90 seconds of deep, vibrating sound of about 30 hertz in a sound booth. Afterward, fluctuations that recordings captured from the faint sounds flowing from their healthy ears — known as otoacoustic emissions — suggested that the very low frequency sound could be damaging, but reversible, in the short term. It did not show evidence of permanent damage.

A more recent systematic review of studies published in January explored low-frequency noise exposure and cognitive function, which allows thinking, learning, and remembering, found no evidence that low frequency noise affected memory or attention levels. However, the findings suggested that it may reduce “higher-order cognitive functions” such as logical reasoning and mathematical calculations.

Despite the lack of scientific consensus, complaints about low-frequency noises persist. And the most contested of such sounds might be what’s known commonly as the “Worldwide Hum”: For decades, people from North America to Europe and Australia have heard a mysterious, low-pitched noise they describe as a hum, low rumble, or vibration that can annoy them, keep them up at night or induce ill feelings.

In Taos, New Mexico, low-frequency noise has frustrated a small part of the population for years. Theories about the origin of the hum range from industrial equipment to seismic activity and even outer space phenomena. But some speculate that the answer lies within the complexity of the human hearing system. A 2022 study that builds on previous research linked the hum to tinnitus, a condition that fills the ears with ringing, roaring, or buzzing sounds heard only by the sufferer.

Glen MacPherson, a high school science teacher who said he first heard the hum in the spring of 2012 while living in the British Columbia coast of Canada, doesn’t buy the study’s findings. “I’ve got a big problem with that,” he said.

MacPherson, who was the only member of his family to hear the hum, created the World Hum Map and Database Project to document the phenomenon. He has tracked numerous reports from people who are able to hear it — an estimated 2 to 4 percent of the world population. Among them are those with tinnitus who also hear the hum, he wrote in an article, and they have described both as distinct sounds.

While the impact of low-frequency noise from various sources need further exploration, it’s long been well known that prolonged exposure to certain noises, such as leaf blowers, can be hazardous to health, said Jamie Banks, the president of the nonprofit advocacy Quiet Communities.

“There’s a level at which noise can become excessive and harmful, and that’s what we’re concerned with,” Banks said. “We’re concerned with noise at the point where it becomes harmful to health.”

Noise pollution, particularly low-frequency noise, has long received far less attention than air or water pollution. The task of regulating environmental noise is largely left to states and local governments, which set limits that often go unenforced.

A growing movement against the ever-increasing noise of all types in daily life is pushing for the federal government to declare it a public health problem. In June 2023, Quiet Communities filed suit against the Environmental Protection Agency in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C., over the lack of noise pollution regulation.

Banks said communities are overwhelmed by low-frequency noise and noise in general. The job of ensuring noise stays within healthy levels belongs to the EPA, she said.

“The EPA has basically turned its back on an entire set of public health problems,” she said. “There are people suffering from noise. Noise is a public health problem and it’s an environmental problem.”

And while it’s known that low-frequency noise may affect health, she said, it’s vital that its long-term implications be fully explored. “It’s chronic noise that can affect non-auditory health.”

Woolworth, the acoustic engineer, said it also would take resources — and time — for communities to incorporate additional metrics that capture a wider range of frequencies. The current technique downplays low-frequency sounds over higher frequencies.

People who are affected by low-frequency noise may not so easily dismiss those unwanted sounds. Even noise-induced annoyance is a factor that “can and does” set up a stress reaction known as the “fight-or-flight” response, Walker said. “If that stress response is constantly being stimulated, can we honestly say it doesn’t cause harm to health?”

And without regulation, Walker said communities are left to handle noise and raise awareness about how people can shield themselves from the impact of low-frequency noise. Her own experience living with the incessant muffled sounds from her upstairs neighbors and finding few resources to deal with the situation, was the catalyst that changed her career path. Now, through her work, she helps communities find ways to manage noise that is affecting their lives.

“As a researcher, if somebody tells me that noise is bothering them, I’m not going to take it lightly,” she said. “That is information that needs to be investigated.”

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About Lambert Strether

Readers, I have had a correspondent characterize my views as realistic cynical. Let me briefly explain them. I believe in universal programs that provide concrete material benefits, especially to the working class. Medicare for All is the prime example, but tuition-free college and a Post Office Bank also fall under this heading. So do a Jobs Guarantee and a Debt Jubilee. Clearly, neither liberal Democrats nor conservative Republicans can deliver on such programs, because the two are different flavors of neoliberalism (“Because markets”). I don’t much care about the “ism” that delivers the benefits, although whichever one does have to put common humanity first, as opposed to markets. Could be a second FDR saving capitalism, democratic socialism leashing and collaring it, or communism razing it. I don’t much care, as long as the benefits are delivered. To me, the key issue — and this is why Medicare for All is always first with me — is the tens of thousands of excess “deaths from despair,” as described by the Case-Deaton study, and other recent studies. That enormous body count makes Medicare for All, at the very least, a moral and strategic imperative. And that level of suffering and organic damage makes the concerns of identity politics — even the worthy fight to help the refugees Bush, Obama, and Clinton’s wars created — bright shiny objects by comparison. Hence my frustration with the news flow — currently in my view the swirling intersection of two, separate Shock Doctrine campaigns, one by the Administration, and the other by out-of-power liberals and their allies in the State and in the press — a news flow that constantly forces me to focus on matters that I regard as of secondary importance to the excess deaths. What kind of political economy is it that halts or even reverses the increases in life expectancy that civilized societies have achieved? I am also very hopeful that the continuing destruction of both party establishments will open the space for voices supporting programs similar to those I have listed; let’s call such voices “the left.” Volatility creates opportunity, especially if the Democrat establishment, which puts markets first and opposes all such programs, isn’t allowed to get back into the saddle. Eyes on the prize! I love the tactical level, and secretly love even the horse race, since I’ve been blogging about it daily for fourteen years, but everything I write has this perspective at the back of it.


  1. Bugs

    Thanks for posting this. In my little hamlet, there is a house with a heat pump that puts out a low frequency hum that actually makes me feel nauseated. The weird thing about the noise is that it seems to be the same intensity when you’re close to it as when you’re a few hundred meters away. It took me years to figure out what it was, btw.

    1. gk

      While low-frequency noise may bother some people, the same sound can lull others to sleep.

      I had a good example of this about 20 years go. In the middle of the night we had a national-wide power failure, I think because of a line being broken in Switzerland. The interesting thing was that the complete silence (street lamps, I think) actually woke me up.

    2. Tom B.

      If you have a decent stereo and speakers, you can play a test tone (loud) at various frequencies, slowly sweeping from low to high pitch to check for room resonances and get an idea of what you can hear. The first tone generator to come up on a DDG search looks alright: https://www.szynalski.com/tone-generator/

      Picture frames, door panels, and windows frequently buzz at
      certain frequencies. HiFi buffs check this routinely after decor changes. Caution – excessive volume at very low or high frequencies (less audible) can damage your speakers. Some buzzing might be due to speaker overload at high volume for small crappy speakers. Be careful!

  2. El Slobbo

    Aircraft flying overhead also produce low frequency noise. In my city they recently started allowing flight paths over my neighborhood. Sometimes several ascending aircraft pass overhead at about 3500 meters. These are destroying my ability to concentrate. Long story short, this was going to be where I retire, but now I’m moving.
    I’ve already bought a place, now renovating it, from where one can hear ocean waves, which can also be fairly low frequency but for some reason I find those relaxing, not irritating.

    1. IECG

      This is an important point. Why are some low-frequency noises annoying and harmful and others not? I imagine that nature sounds, in general, fall into the second category.

      1. LifelongLib

        I read someplace that most natural loud sounds are low frequency and that our hearing can handle that, but loud high-pitched sounds can cause hearing damage. Maybe artificial low frequency sounds have a different quality from natural ones though?

    2. Reply

      Helicopters are my pet peeve. That opening scene in Apocalypse Now captured some of the evil. At least there was an end to that movie, instead of the random overflights that subject people to those low frequencies. Sometimes the choppers even set off car alarms.

  3. Patrick Donnelly

    Electromagnetism is variation in aetheric pressure.
    Sound of a sufficient energy level generates electromagnetism. Sonoluminescence.

    Detection is surely possible, but cui bono?

        1. Captain Obvious

          Sound are mechanical vibrations that we can hear. People with hearing impairment can not hear the sound, but can put hands on a loudspeaker and feel the vibrations.

          Mechanical vibrations spread around by mechanical contact wherever they can. In a vacuum of space no one can hear you scream.

          SInce we can not see sound, we compare it with something similar that we can see, like waves in the water. Same apply to electromagnetic waves.

          “Sound is a field effect” should be rephrased a bit. It is similar to electromagnetic field in some ways, and different in others.

          As far as ancient building technology goes, I have no idea how they did things. I do know that we are not smarter than our ancestors. We just have technology that makes us think that we are. Some wisdom does get lost in time, like a Greek fire.

  4. chuck roast

    And then there is the famed ‘Taos Hum.’ This is a real enough annoyance to have sent many people around the bend, and forced many others to leave Northern New Mexico. A number of attempts have been made over the years to identify and measure the ‘hum.’ All have failed.

    I found a book a few years ago by Mabel Dodge Luhan. She began a successful artist colony in Taos back in the 1920’s. I believe the book was Winter in Taos. Anyway, during the first half of the book she writes about discovering and moving to this fabulous place. At one point she writes that it is so wonderful it actually has a ‘hum.’

  5. Quentin

    I’ve been bothered for about four years by a sound I hear inside but NOT outside my apartment. From this contrast I conclude the sound is not tinnitus and not ‘in my head’, a phantom sensation. My understanding of low frequency sound is that it is transmitted through the cranium, not the ears, and is thus not possible to block with earplugs, though they help somewhat. The intensity of the sound varies during the day, being especially distressing in the deep of the night. During the day my activities and the surrounding sounds of traffic, passersby, enz. work as distractions. I live on the third floor of a late 19th century apartment near the center of Amsterdam, Netherlands, which offers little insulation against sound. Before the lockdown I was in touch with others in the vicinity who had the same problem. But since then the woman who organised the contacts has drooped off my rader. I could go on and on about my attempts to identify the possible source, all in vain. This country is full of water pumps of all sorts, of course. The one right across the street remains one of my suspects. To make it short: on YouTube there is a clip about a couple who live out in the countryside not so far from a wind turbine; the woman is deeply bothered by the sound, her husband not and they sleep in the same bed. I met firsthand a man who was in married man in a comparable situation. Take it from me, low frequency sound is a serious health hazard, if only because of the disturbance it can cause to sleeping patterns.

    1. Namreh

      Dear Quentin, I sympathize, I know this by my own experience. Both I and my wife have known this for quite some years. So we have been able to discuss it and compare our experience, we have studied it using simple techniques like infrasound detector apps on our phones. We have used our travels to study it in different places and countries. We are both scientists, most of my working life I dealt with environmental measurements and monitoring, unfortunately nothing to do with sound though. These are our results from our observations, based on simple measurements, discussions, thought experiments and comparisons of our experience:
      The hum is modern, produced by modernity and probably technology.
      The hum is local, it varies from area to area. The areas are relatively large, up to a number of 100 km. It is not a world-wide hum, it is a local din, likely with many combined technological sources.
      The original source of the hum is in the environment, it may be a component of the lower frequency noise you can easily measure.
      Your body, hearing and brain tune into this low-level noise. You tune into it, you embellish it, you improve the signal to noise ratio until it is loud and clear. The final sound you hear is as much a product of your physiology or your brain as of the environment.
      You can hear it in any environment, inside or outside, if it is quiet enough.
      The more you can prevent yourself from hearing it, the less you are inclined to hear it and tune into it. For some reason, hearing the hum is an adaptation to the sound stimulus.
      There may be deep seated evolutionary reasons for this, that some people in a group hear low rumblings that indicate real dangers from nature: avalanches, floods, tsunamis, stampedes, big animals, earthquakes and are able to tune into them.
      The sound can be modulated somewhat with earplugs, that are tight enough to create underpressure in you ear, but mostly effect of earplugs is temporary, although it can last for some weeks or months.
      Our best solution is an air blower with a sound that is high enough to drown out our experience of the hum, the sound is irregular enough to be nonagressive and almost pleasant.
      Additionally, I have normal tinnitus too, this phenomenon is fundamentally different.
      Please excuse the lengthy reply.

  6. Otto Reply

    re: “cars driving around that shake a whole neighborhood” & negative health consequences. I’m so glad this was included as a source of low frequency noise. Biking around town yesterday, stopped at a stoplight, a car pulls up with speakers turned up to “11” and the bass so muffled it rattles like a fuzztone guitar. I can hear clearly and the occupants seem oblivious (perhaps that cloud of smoke wafting from the open windows provides a clue – it was, after all, 4/20) but when I find myself wondering what kind of long term health consequences they might suffer, I focus on hearing damage (perhaps because I spent too many years of my youth at loud clubs standing next to the speaker stack.) This piece suggests there are other, more subtle, but definitely palpable health consequences and I find it troubling; especially since there seems to be no escaping it.

    1. redleg

      Bass player here:
      When playing bass in a rock band, you can’t hear the bass when you are standing next to the bass amp even if you feel the air moving from the speaker cabinet. You need to move back from it several meters to hear it. The wavelengths of the bass (30-500hz) are long enough that they go right by you. You’ll hear a pulsing interference with higher pitched sound instead of the bass, until you get far enough from the speaker to get a more substantial part of the wave. This is why people can sit in a car with 200 dB subwoofers and not experience notable ill effects.

  7. old ghost

    I have recently discovered “new age” music for healing. Apparently, it has been around for a while (1970’s at least), and goes by many different names (ambient, folk, world, spiritual, relaxation, easy, space, etc.etc.).

    My brother calls it “elevator music”. But the stuff I listen to is a lot different from anything I have ever heard in an elevator. He also has a hearing problem, something I do not have.

    Human variation is also at work here. Some of the sleep CD’s that I listen to work so well, that I can never stay awake long enough to hear the end. But others are not so effective.

    On youtube there are a lot of these musical examples. They also appear on Roku as Sacred Sounds.

    1. yep

      Elevator music is derogatory term for any easy listening music, because it is/was used as background music in elevators. Another derogatory term is Muzak, after a company name.

      Your brother is just telling you that he doesn’t like your taste in music, as brothers do.

      1. Antagonist Muscles

        The greatest and most influential pioneer of ambient music is, of course, Brian Eno. Other musicians I like: Erik Wøllo, Steven Halpern, Paul Speer, Robert Rich, Solar Fields, Carbon Based Lifeforms. The latter two are ambient electronic musicians. As for album recommendations, try:

        1. Eno’s Music for Airports
        2. Wøllo’s Wind Journey
        3. Halpern’s Inner Peace
        4. Speer’s Wonders
        5. Rich’s Ici Et Maintenant: Live In Paris
        6. Solar Field’s Extended
        7. Carbon Based Lifeforms’s Twenty-three

        Mixed results? Is your purpose to fall asleep? I enjoy listening to ambient music in the hour or two before I go to bed—not when I am actively trying to fall asleep. I also like ambient music when I am deeply concentrating on reading or writing, especially at night.

        Wikipedia’s article on New-age music has some choice quotes from the musicians themselves.

        Harold Budd:

        I don’t think of myself as making music that is only supposed to be in the background. It’s embarrassing to inadvertently be associated with something that you know in your guts is vacuous.

        David Lanz:

        [I] finally figured out that the main reason people don’t like the term new age is because it’s the only musical category that isn’t a musical term.

        Music from Budd and Lanz is also pretty good. I tend to use the term ambient music because new-age does seem derogatory and, as Lanz notes, the term gives no indication of what the music sounds like. In contrast, if I say, “I like jazz or blues,” most people have an idea of what that sounds like. Nevertheless, I do not listen to my ambient music recommendations as “background music.” I deliberately chose this style of music to sharpen my mental acuity or to relax before I get in bed.

      2. Lena

        I would suggest R. Carlos Nakai’s Native American flute music for relaxation. It was recommended to me by a friend who is a music therapist.

        1. Lena

          I especially like Nakai’s albums with pianist Peter Kater. Their blending of flute with piano is so soothing.

      3. old ghost

        Reply to Playon. For falling asleep, anything by Steve Halperin is good, and Jeffrey Thompson (Delta Sleep System). Sound Sleep by Kelly Howell, Ambient Music For Sleep by The Relaxation Company, and many others. Even some of the Classical Music is good: The Four Seasons by Vivaldi, and Gregorian Chants by the Chorale of Eglise Querin.

        The Relaxation Company has a lot of titles. And their sleep CD’s work really well for me. I also like their “Healing” CD’s.

        Keep in mind, what works for me may not work for someone else, and vice-versa. You can sample the types of music at Youtube, or Roku. On Roku there is a lot of music under “Sacred Sounds” and “Youtube”.

        I see others here have experienced CD’s I had not heard of. I will have to check them out.

        I like listening to music on Roku, because it goes to the TV set, and not through the computer. Less chance that way for hackers to work their mischief.

  8. LY

    One of the largest sources of noise is cars. Cities aren’t loud, but traffic is. Engines, tire noise, and wind noise. Tires can be moderated with special pavement. Wind noise dealt with by lower speed limits. Engine noise with better engineering and/or going electric.

    Of course, one big obstacle is freedumb.

  9. JD

    The main issue for me is irregular low noise, such as footsteps, doors, cars or trains, all of which disrupt my sleep. Earplugs and white noise are useless to stop it, but a low frequency brown noise can mask it. I’ve never experienced any issues with steady brown noise, but a key aspect is that I control it. That’s important because a wide spectrum of brown noise will pick up all sorts of resonances, from furniture to the room to inside your own ear, so it’s essential to be able to modify it, if only by moving the source around, to minimize these elusive and irregular resonances. Brown noise also destroys speakers after a while, but that at least is just money.

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