This Week in Sound: Fake Birds, Fake Radio, Early Chimes

A lightly annotated clipping service

These sound-studies highlights of the week are lightly adapted from the January 10, 2022, issue of the free weekly email newsletter This Week in Sound (

As always, if you find sonic news of interest, please share it with me, and (except with the most widespread of news items) I’ll credit you should I mention it here.

This New York Times story by Anthony Ham about the rediscovery of the Australian ghost bird includes the tantalizing statement that the person who did so has been charging in the past with having “faked audio recordings of the birds.” And people thought the big concern about deepfakes was in politics.

Great piece by Louis Chude-Sokei, a professor of English at Boston University, on using your ears when you travel: “I’ve been in cities and towns in Africa where a brutal, deafening din seemed to have no impact on the residents at all and in seaside locales in the Caribbean where the lull of water made people endlessly irritated.”
(Via Rob Walker’s Art of Noticing email newsletter)

“At a crucial moment during 2020’s racial justice protests, Seattle police exchanged a detailed series of fake radio transmissions about a nonexistent group of menacing right-wing extremists,” reports Daniel Beekman.
(Via subtopes)

The Ring line of residential products now has a sensor that can alert you if it recognizes the sound of breaking glass. Cue the Nick Lowe.

“Much ‘early chime development’was done in California.” The chimes refered to in this piece by Tessa McLean are doorbells. She’s quoting expert Tim Wetzel on the subject of longbells. “I think there is sort of a zen to ringing the doorbell and hearing a nice door chime on the inside,” says Robert Dobrin, founder of the company ElectraChime, “because it bridges the inside with the outside and invites the visitor into your home.”
(Thanks, Lowell Goss!)

KQED has sonification of the data of snowfall in California’s Donner Pass for the past half century:
(Thanks, Mara Wildfeuer!)

The company Eargo has made a name for itself with hearing aids that are barely visible. Now, writes J. Trew, they’re getting more sophisticated: “the company claims its proprietary algorithm can automatically sense your surroundings and the hearing aids will automatically optimize themselves to give you the best settings for it.”

“You’ll also no longer be able to change your Speaker Group volume using your phone’s physical volume button.” Such is one of the results of a ruling in favor of Sonos in a patent lawsuit against Google, per Lauren Goode: “The lawsuit is especially fraught considering that Sonos and Google are still partners in technology: Sonos’ newer smart speakers can be controlled by Google’s voice assistant, something Sonos was compelled to integrate after it found itself years behind in developing its own AI-powered voice assistant.”

“Our improved understanding of underwater sounds on coral reefs might help scientists keep track of how these ecosystems are faring,” writes Iain Barber, Deputy Dean, School of Animal, Rural & Environmental Sciences, Nottingham Trent University.

“The Cradle 1.0 listening blocker prevents your smartphone from hearing your conversations and those annoying times it accidentally activates when it’s not supposed to. Whether it’s on your nightstand, your desk at work, or in the living room while watching TV, rest assured your smartphone won’t hear a thing.”

The Clubhouse app (first on iOS, then Android) now works in browsers. Filipe Espósito thinks this may be too little, too late: “While this is definitely important in helping the platform become more popular, it may be too late for Clubhouse as it has been losing ground to competitors like Twitter Spaces – which has been available on iOS, Android, and the web for a while now.”

A new, pandemic-era mask can protect you and “amplify your voice by 60 decibels up to one meter away,” writes I. Bonifacic. The mask comes from the company Razer, most associated with video game equipment, as the mask’s design shows.

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