Most people have heard of white noise – a static-like sound produced when an old-fashioned television was on the fritz. But, did you know there are other color sounds?
What is white noise?
White noise (or broadband noise) is one of the best known of all color noises and the sound is produced by equally hearing all of the audible sound frequencies smushed into one. The reason why it is called white is because of how light works. The white light that we see is made up of all combined wavelengths of light, which is a similar concept to white noise. This accumulation of noise creates an intense, high-pitched sound.
Interestingly, due to white noise being made up of many frequencies, it can be helpful to drown out other sounds and is used to help some people sleep. This is because of an interesting quirk of our brain. If you are in a room with two people talking, you can normally identify both conversations. However, have you ever tried this with a room full of a hundred people all mumbling about the weather and other larks? It is incredibly difficult. This is essentially what white noise does. It creates that 100-voice feeling, so any other sounds out there trying to destroy your sleep are just added to this mumble.
What is pink noise?
Pink noise focuses on the lower end of the sound spectrum, and therefore it has a lower pitch than white noise. It uses a consistent pitch or frequency that helps create a flat sound. To some, this is a very pleasant noise and is similar to rustling in trees, steady rain, or waves on a beach. Compared to white noise, pink is often considered more relaxing.
What is brown noise?
Brown noise (also called red noise) is not like the infamous urban myth "brown note", which apparently made people defecate themselves, but is a deep, base-like rumbling tone that is thought to relax people (not your bowels).
Whereas white noise has an equal distribution across all of the sound frequencies, brown noise is almost a sliding scale. As the frequency decreases, it gains more power and momentum. This means that people think that it is more similar to a rumbling or steady wind.
Are there any other color noises?
Yes, there actually are. There is blue (a shriller version of pink and white), violet (a high-pitched noise that is the opposite of brown), and gray (a more balanced white noise, where noise is at higher and lower frequencies but not the middle).
Research on different color noises is limited, but there is some evidence that suggests different colors could help with sleep, focus, or concentration.
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