Noise is not the same as noise – and even a quiet environment does not have the same effect as white noise. With a background of continuous white noise, hearing pure sounds becomes even more precise, says a new study.
White noise is a combination of different sound frequencies, which makes a seemingly random soothing sound that can help cover up other noises.
For the study, published in the journal Cell Reports, researchers investigated the neuronal foundation of sound perception and sound discrimination in a challenging sound environment.
“We found that less overlap occurred between populations of neurons during two separate tone representations, as a result, the overall reduction in neuronal activity produced a more distinct tone representation,” said study researcher Tania Rinaldi Barkat from the University of Basel in Switzerland.
The focus was on research into the auditory cortex – the “auditory brain,” that is, the area of the brain that processes acoustic stimuli. The resulting activity patterns stem from measurements in a mouse brain.
As is well known, the distinction between sounds becomes more difficult the closer they are in the frequency spectrum.
Initially, the researchers assumed that additional noise could make such a hearing task even more difficult.
However, the opposite was observed: The team was able to demonstrate that the brain’s ability to distinguish subtle tone differences improved when white noise was added to the background.
Compared to a quiet environment, the noise thus facilitated auditory perception.
The data of the research group showed that white noise significantly inhibited the activity of the nerve cells in the auditory cortex.
Paradoxically, this suppression of the neuronal excitation led to a more precise perception of the pure tones.
To confirm that the auditory cortex and not another area of the brain was responsible for the change in sound perception, the researchers used the light-controlled technique optogenetic.
Their findings could possibly be used to improve auditory perception in situations where sounds are difficult to distinguish.
According to Barkat, it is conceivable that cochlear implants could be stimulated with an effect similar to white noise in order to improve the frequency resolution and thus the hearing result of their users. (IANS)
Wireless Bluetooth earphones have come a long way, apart from Apple AirPods Pro but sound quality and surrounding noise have kept audiophiles a bit wary of those to date.
Apple has introduced significant improvements in newly-launched AirPods Pro where active noise cancellation and immersive sound technologies will turn serious listeners back to the world of true wireless audio experience.
If you are on AirPods, the next-generation AirPods Pro are completely going to change the way you listen to music or make calls.
At Rs 24,900 with an all-new lightweight, in-ear design, the device helps make phone calls, enjoy TV shows and movies, play games and interact with Siri.
Let’s wear these and see how it fares.
What makes AirPods Pro outstanding is the active noise cancellation technology that uses two microphones combined with advanced software to continuously adapt to each individual ear and headphone fit.
You cannot hear anything around in the background (not even the doorbell, mind you) when the feature is turned on, leaving you to focus on what you’re listening to.
There is marvellous engineering behind this experience.
The first microphone is outward-facing and detects external sound to analyse environmental noise.
AirPods Pro then create an equivalent anti-noise that cancels out background noise before it reaches the listener’s ear.
A second inward-facing microphone listens toward the ear, and AirPods Pro cancel remaining noise detected by the microphone.
Noise cancellation continuously adapts the sound signal 200 times per second, says the company.
In case you are travelling in Delhi Metro, switching to Transparency mode will help you simultaneously listen to music while still hear the announcement about the upcoming station.
Transparency mode ensures that your own voice sounds natural while audio continues to play perfectly.
Switching between Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency modes is simple and can be done directly on AirPods Pro tapping on a force sensor on the stem.
The force sensor also makes it easy to play, pause or skip tracks, and answer or hang up phone calls.
The next big improvement is superior sound-quality with “Adaptive EQ” technology.
It automatically tunes the low- and mid-frequencies of the music to the shape of an individual’s ear — resulting in a rich, immersive listening experience.
A custom high-dynamic range amplifier produces pure, incredibly clear sound while also extending battery life, and powers a custom high-excursion, low-distortion speaker driver designed to optimise audio quality and remove background noise.
After placing AirPods Pro in each ear, advanced algorithms work together with the microphones in each AirPod to measure the sound level in the ear and compare it to what is coming from the speaker driver.
In seconds, the algorithm detects whether the ear tip is the right size and has a good fit, or should be adjusted to create a better seal (each device comes bundled with 3 ear tips for you to choose from).
Apple has also created the “Ear Tip Fit Test” so that you can test the quality of ear tip seal and identify the best ear tip size.
To start the test, place AirPods in both ears, go to Settings > Bluetooth > AirPods > Ear Tip Fit Test.
The setup experience that customers love with AirPods extends to AirPods Pro. Just open the charging case near an iOS or iPadOS device and give it a simple tap.
Press force sensor once to play, pause, or answer a call, press twice to skip forward, press three times to skip back.
Press and hold to switch between Active Noise Cancellation and Transparency mode.
On the battery front, AirPods Pro features the same great battery life as AirPods.
In Active Noise Cancellation mode, AirPods Pro delivered more than five hours of listening time. The talk-time is up to three and a half hours on a single charge.
Through additional charges from the Wireless Charging Case, AirPods Pro deliver over 24 hours of listening time or over 18 hours of talk time.
You can order the standalone wireless charging case for Rs 7,500.
With audio sharing, you can listen to the same song or watch the same movie with a friend or a family member by simply bringing a second pair of AirPods close to iPhone or iPad.
Conclusion: It is an obvious choice over plenty of other options like Echo Buds or Samsung Galaxy Buds (no noise-cancelling here).