This Week in Sound: Cars, Visuals, Space, Home

A lightly annotated clipping service.

It’s nearly February, and until today I’d yet to produce an edition of this newsletter in 2015. I took a few weeks off at the end of 2014, and the system I’d gotten into fell off track. I realize why, clearly. The benefit (to me) of this newsletter is it gives me a process, a routine, to funnel lots of material I come across in research and in general reading. When I take a break, the system breaks down. One of the issues I have with prolific link-sharing — beyond the weird ahistoricity that has things circulating repeatedly in cycles, with no natural conclusion to their distribution — is sorting out what is and isn’t already on other people’s radar. I try not to, in general, simply link to things, but to layer in some context, to provide some frame, to add to the shared material. In any case, producing this newsletter provides me a system that helps me process the sound-related information I come across daily, weekly. I’m hopeful that getting started again, having cleared the cache of my RSS reader and my Pinboard and my Twitter favorites, will mean this thing will be regular as 2015 gets proceeds.

  • Four Wheels Loud: The overarching automotive-sound story for several years has been about addressing the perceived near silence of hybrids and electric vehicles. But the street, as William Gibson told us, has its own use for things, and the makers of traditional automobiles are making use of the same artificial soundtracks. “Fake engine noise has become one of the auto industry’s dirty little secrets, with automakers from BMW to Volkswagen turning to a sound-boosting bag of tricks. Without them, today’s more fuel-efficient engines would sound far quieter and, automakers worry, seemingly less powerful, potentially pushing buyers away,” writers Drew Harwell of the Washington Post:

  • Visual Noise: Sound art need not make a peep, and sound branding needn’t either. Bruce Mau Design created the new logo for Sonos audio consumer product company, which pulses naturally, as the result of an optical illusion, such as when scrolling up and down a web page:

  • Space Sounds: It seems every week now that the sounds of space are reworking our conception of space as a vacuum. Among the latest is word that the Venus Express spacecraft emitted one last, loud signal before its end of life. Mika McKinnon of explains the sound “was picked up by the European Space Agency monitoring the unmodulated X-band carrier signal on January 19th”:

  • Always Listening: The New York Times managed to publish a cautionary piece about risks from the “smart home” technology that is on the rise, without once mentioning the microphones embedded in some smart-home technology. The story, by Molly Wood, focuses instead on images and data security, and introduces something called the Bitdefender, which is sort of like a virus protector for your home.

This first appeared in the January 27, 2015, edition of the free Disquiet email newsletter:

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *