99% Noise

This episode of 99% Invisible is all about acoustic design, the city soundscape, and how to make listening in shared spaces pleasant (or at the very least, possible). It features an interview with Dennis Paoletti from Shen Milsom & Wilke.

My Sound: A human whisper ( I was just kidding with the “people are annoying” line.)

My Noise: Toothbrushing (you’ll see the irony of this in ep #4). That horrible Kit Kat commercial with the fake foley sounds. Ringing phone. Metal rake on concrete.

Comments (5)


  1. Hey, just found your show and have to say that I’m loving it so much I had to go back to the very first episode!

    My Sound: My wonderful bird singing and chirping. I could be totally engulfed in a movie, and just to hear him chirping away makes it that much better. :)

    My Noise: I have to agree, especially in the summer it’s the constant lawn mowing! I’m watching a tv show or trying to get work done and one of my neighbors (up to a block away) decides to mow their lawn. Or the lawn mowing service starts their route. So by the time one mower gets done there’s 5 minutes of peace until the next starts up.This goes on for literally 3-6 hours depending on the weather!

  2. Cathi

    My Sound: Also bird song; we have 2 cockatiels and one alexandrine parrot in the house, and the “happy song” of each brings me joy.

    My Noise: Sirens – primarily Police, but also Ambulance. Living in the outer suburbs of a city of only 1.6million, it seems they are increasing in frequency all the time, and though I know they can also be saving lives, I cannot help that sense of impending doom and disquiet when they blaringly pass by.

  3. josh

    My Sound is the railroad crossing about a mile and a half away from my house on a quiet, still night. Despite the suburban sprawl between my home and the crossing, on those still, quiet nights I can hear the horn and feel the rumble of the trainloads of aggregate passing in the dark.

    My Noise is the booming base in the car stereos that invade every frequency of my peace and quiet at all hours of the day and night.

  4. My sound – footsteps, on any hard surface. I have always loved this sound and it’s been comforting. Carpet makes me sad.
    My noise – cars. The engines, the horns, the wind noise they cause. Especially trash trucks early in the morning on weekends with the banging of trash collecting. Necessary I know but so, so jarring on an early weekend morning.

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