Tips and techniques for reducing noise in your daily life, from simple but clever ideas to specialized products you might not have heard of.
Below you'll find assorted ideas and products for dealing with various kinds of everyday noise. Each one addresses a specific noise problem, ranging from dangerous decibel levels to tiny but irritating repetitive noises. If you have a noise problem from one of these sources, you might be able to use one of these noise control products or tips to specifically target and eliminate your problem, or at least help in reducing the noise to a more tolerable level. Don't hesitate to use every tool at your disposal for reducing noise, reducing stress, and regaining peace in your life.
iPod volume limiter. Recent iPod models have a
maximum volume limit feature
built in. Check the website of your portable digital player's manufacturer to see what hardware or software options are available. Or you can use a
volume limit cable
that restricts the volume to a fixed percentage of the maximum capability.
Noise-reducing or noise-cancelling headphones to cancel out background noise. With less competing sound, your natural comfortable listening level will be at a lower volume.
Noise-isolating earphones to block out external sound, allowing you to hear high-fidelity music at a safe and pleasing volume.
If you're annoyed by television commercials that suddenly blare out at high volume, there are gadgets that can help. A
TV volume limiter
will regulate the TV volume or prevent it from exceeding the maximum level that you set.
Other People's Electronics
Universal TV on/off remote, such as the
This gizmo can turn off almost any television set, if you are within sight and range of it. It won't work on your neighbor's TV through the apartment wall, but it will work in public places such as laundromats, bars, and airports. It goes without saying that before using it, it is courteous to make sure no one around you wants to watch the TV!
TV headset, such as Sennheiser's extraordinarily popular wireless RF headphones or the
TV Ears wireless headset system.
If you have a family member or next-door neighbor who is a bit hard of hearing and likes to listen to the TV at booming volumes, a headset lets the person listen privately at the volume needed while not bothering anyone else. Give the TV watcher a gift of electronics, and give yourself the gift of peace.
Cell phone jammer. Yes, you can buy a cell phone jammer (or build one yourself), to stop that annoying person on the bus or in the theater from talking on his or her mobile phone. However, their use is
illegal in many countries,
including the US, the UK, Canada, and Australia.
Quiet pet tags. If the incessant jangling of your pet's tags gets on your nerves even a little bit, silent pet tags are for you.
Barking dogs. The sound of dogs barking ranks very high on the list of most annoying noises.
If the dog is your neighbor's, negotiating with your neighbor is often the best thing to try first. Another strategy that helps in some situations is to use an
ultrasonic bark control device.
This responds to the sound of a dog barking by emitting an ultrasonic signal that is unpleasant for the dog, but inaudible to most humans.
There are a number of interesting approaches for reducing noise from crowds, depending on the situation:
In a controlled environment such as a classroom, you can use a sound monitor, such as the
to give a visual or audible alert signal when the noise reaches certain levels. This reminds the group to soften their voices, and trains them to be aware of acceptable and unacceptable noise levels.
To dispel crowds, or deter them from gathering, there are sonic deterrents, the most well-known one being the Mosquito, designed to dispel loitering teens. It emits an irritating high-frequency tone that is inaudible to most people over age 25 (because at this age they have already suffered a degree of hearing loss). A low-tech and more subtle version of this approach is to select and play music of a style known to be distasteful to most members of the group you are trying to repel.
How about crowds in a movie theater? Does the sound of popcorn being munched irritate you to the point where it's impossible to enjoy the movie? Here's an idea: Request headphones for the hard of hearing. These assistive listening devices are available for free use at most theaters, and you don't have to be hard of hearing to use them. They can help in reducing the noise you hear from the crowd around you. Check the movie theaters in your location to see which ones publicize listening devices as one of the features they offer.
Residents of one neighborhood were continually being annoyed by the noise of spirited crowds as they left the bars and poured into the streets at closing hour. How to reduce the noise? They hit upon an innovative and inexpensive solution: They provided lollipops to the local businesses to hand out to their clientele as they left the bars. And ... it worked!
White lithium grease.
This is the heavy-duty counterpart to WD-40, reducing noise by eliminating squeaks and groans in the moving parts of your vehicle.
Auto sound insulation.
If you're already using quiet tires and have corrected any misalignments that cause extra wind noise, adding soundproofing to your car will help in further reducing noise inside your vehicle, making your ride whisper-quiet.
Not only are car alarms a perennial annoyance for you and your neighbors, they
aren't even effective
at reducing car theft! Here are some quieter alternatives:
Remote alarms. When a disturbance is detected, rather than blaring a siren, the detector sends a signal to the owner's remote unit or cell phone. This Silent Mode feature is offered by several Viper alarm system models.
Simple solutions for the myriad little noises that you hear around the house. You may "get used to" them, but wouldn't life be just a little nicer if you didn't have to hear those noises on a daily basis?
Rugs. Rugs work miraculously in reducing noise of many kinds, from footsteps to furniture being dragged around.
Soft chair gliders. These are durable cushioned protectors that fit on the feet of chairs or other furniture, so that they can be moved soundlessly across bare floors. They are also wonderful for classrooms and other group facilities, greatly reducing the noise when chairs and tables need to be rearranged.
Do your cupboard doors slam shut with a rude bang? Glue thin slices of cork on the inside edges of the cupboard doors to cushion the blow, reducing the noise.
Soft close cabinet hardware. For an even quieter solution to slamming kitchen doors and drawers, install soft-closing hinges or
Quiet toilet seats. Eliminate toilet seat slam with a
soft-closing toilet seat,
which has slow-action hinges. Or get a similar quieting effect with a cushioned plastic seat.
for washers and dryers. If your appliances shake and "walk," Sorbothane pads will quiet the thumping and keep the machines in place.
Lubricant. Use it for reducing noise from squeaky hinges anywhere in the house.
is the most renowned squeak treatment, but a
is more effective and longer-lasting.
Squeak eliminators, such as the
Squeeeeek No More kit.
These are designed for reducing the noise of squeaky floors.
Quiet dishes. Use dishes made of wood or plastic, for less clatter!
This seemingly trivial addition to your sink will reduce the noise from dishes.
Low-noise packing tape. If it's moving time, your ears will thank you if you use a packing tape that's specially designed to produce less noise. Quiet packing tape is also useful for sealing packages to be shipped.
Quite a few instruments can be played or practiced electronically and heard through headphones. These include not only the usual keyboard, electric guitar, and bass, but also orchestral stringed instruments, brass, and drums. These allow a musician to play at full strength while maintaining the volume at a comfortable level, and also avoid disturbing others with the sound.
For a group of musicians playing together, a JamHub Silent Rehearsal Studio system is an ideal solution. It allows each musician to hear a customized mix through headphones, while the band remains silent to anyone else nearby.
Do you share a bed or bedroom with a snorer? Trying to sleep with a snorer can be a truly frustrating experience. If ear plugs and white noise aren't enough, try addressing the root of the problem, and help the snorer stop snoring. While long-term lifestyle changes are most effective, there are other measures that work well for some snorers, such as sleep position techniques,
specially designed pillows,nasal strips, oral appliances, and minor surgery. A sleep apnea test can help you determine whether the snoring is caused by sleep apnea, a breathing disorder for which your doctor can prescribe effective treatment.
Standard noise protection ear plugs are the first line of defense against noise when you're trying to sleep. If ear plugs aren't enough to block out the noise, it's often helpful to mask the unwanted sounds with white noise, nature sounds, or music. Not only do these cover over unpleasant sounds that would snag your attention and keep you awake; peaceful and predictable sound has a calming effect of its own and is one of the most effective ways to fall asleep naturally.
Is the loud, jarring noise of a screaming alarm or blaring radio really the first thing you want to experience as you start your day? As a gentler alternative to an alarm clock, here are some wake-up clocks to consider:
A combination wake-up clock, such as the Peaceful Progression, which uses a gradual succession of light, scent, and sounds.
Vibrating wake-up clock, such as the
travelTim vibrating portable travel alarm.
Depending on the model, the vibrating unit might be clipped to your pillow, placed under your mattress, or worn on your wrist. (Note: The vibration mode of your cell phone or smartphone might work just as well!)
Vibrating watch, such as the
which use vibrations to alert you at the times you set. There is also the innovative Mutewatch from Sweden, with a touchscreen interface, which automatically adjusts the strength of the vibration according to your level of activity.
Sleep phase watch, such as the
This instrument monitors your sleep phases by tracking your body movements, and awakens you with a vibration when you are in a shallow sleep phase (within the time window that you set).
Alarm clock with a bed shaker unit, such as
Sound Clarity's Global 360 clock.
In addition to a loud alarm (which can be set to Off), it sends strong pulse vibrations to the attached bed shaker disc.
Clocks which use light, vibration, or scent to wake you are an especially good idea if you go to sleep using ear plugs or headphones, as these might keep you from hearing the sound of an alarm clock.
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