Sleepers find tranquility in pockets of silence

May 9, 1997

Sound scientists at Southampton University are working on an ingenious solution to the problem of neighbours with a taste for loud dance music. A team at the university's Institute of Sound Vibration Research believes it is possible to create "pockets of silence" within rooms by using noise to cancel out noise. In theory mini-speakers could be placed in chair headrests or bed headboards to create these pockets using counter-frequencies.

Steve Elliott, one of three working on the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council-funded project, said that modern dance music, with its repetitive bass, produces relatively stable and predictable frequencies. It is therefore theoretically possible to generate a counter frequency where the sound wave peaks and troughs interfere with and cancel those from the annoying source.

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