Colours of noise

From the Wikipedia, (the free encyclopedia) comes a discussion on the Colours of noise (and a great name for a band).

What prompted this was an article that I read ( and I can’t remember where… it was a dead tree version) about mobile phones and the fact that people get nervous if there is no noise in the background of a phone call. No hiss equals no line.

So nervous in fact that some of the major phone companies are get ready to put “faint noise” into the background of their high end phones. Now this impresses me because we have engineering for users winning over engineering for technical excellence otherwise known as “just because we can”. I also really love the irony, the more expensive the phone, the noisy it gets. Yet another mobile phone reverse “mines bigger than yours” competition. Mines noisier than yours… beam me up Scotty.

So now for the dreary technical stuff. Noise isn’t just noise, it has colours and when you hang around audio circles for a while, the tems “white noise” and “pink noise” will eventually raise their head. So to stop you looking like a total newby have a look at the wiki, it’s not just all dry technical chat, they have examples of hiss too. A quick look will do, this isn’t stuff you can have fun discussions about, like “My Shure SM58 is better than your AKG D330” or “New Fenders aren’t as good as old Fenders. You know the stuff, the usual fun filled, half informed hours of opionated bantering while waiting for the bass player to show up. (Slagging the bass player is usually only good for a few minutes as a topic) or use at a dinner party..

Really Short Version:
White noise and pink noise are well defined and known.
White noise is so named because it is analogous to white light in that it contains all audible frequencies distributed uniformly throughout the spectrum. Passing white light through a prism (a form of filtering) breaks it down into a range of colors. Examination shows that red light is characterized by the longer wavelengths of light, i.e., the lower frequency region. Similarly, “pink noise” has higher energy in the low frequencies, hence the somewhat tongue-in-cheek term.
Noise that is not white is called colored noise and will have more energy at some frequencies than others, analogous to colored light.

Got that? No? Go read the wiki for the long version.

Well thats the topic of noise dealt with now onto something easy like world peace or a cure for stupidity.


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