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Saturday, April 2, 2011

Julian Treasure: The 4 ways sound affects us

Julian Treasure: The 4 ways sound affects us | Video on (video, 6 min)
Julian Treasure offers a mindful view at the different sounds that surround us. Among the highlights:
People's productivity in noisy, open plan offices is 3-fold lower than in quiet rooms. 
You can counteract this by wearing headphones with a soothing sound.
Some sounds such as bird song or surf are almost universally relaxing or reassuring.
I tried this, and agree entirely. I also suggest the sounds of a stream, a river or rain. Try these alone or in combination with bird song. Non-invasive nature sounds usually work better then any music for counteracting the effects of noise. This is because even the most neutral music carries an emotional charge, which can be distracting. You can find such nature sounds on many albums, for example:
Echoes of Nature: Morning Songbirds
Echoes of Nature: The Natural Sounds Of The Wilderness (disk 4 of 5)
I also found that good noise canceling headphones are quite helpful. I tried different brands, and found that the only ones that really work in noisy offices are expensive over-the-ear models. I like Bose QC-2, but other high-end headphones will probably work too. I used them for years until they finally have worn out (literally). Bose now makes QC-15, which I have not tried yet. A good pair of headphones plus the right sound together can nicely suppress distracting office noises, and allow you to work with relaxed concentration.


  1. Great post! I tried out listening to bird song during concentrated coding. I used my iPhone with the built-in speaker on low volume just placing it flat on the desk. This, of course, only works in a noise-free environment. I found it a very pleasant experience and will try it out some more. I used an App called Ambiance. It seems to use a lot of sound files from The Free Sound Project. I especially like near river Sado, which has bird song and subdued aquatic sounds.

  2. Thank you, Timo! I checked out The Free Sound Project - a great collection indeed.