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Definition

white noise

White noise is a sound that contains every frequency within the range of human hearing (generally from 20 hertz to 20 kHz) in equal amounts. Most people perceive this sound as having more high-frequency content than low, but this is not the case. This perception occurs because each successive octave has twice as many frequencies as the one preceding it. For example, from 100 Hz to 200 Hz, there are one hundred discrete frequencies. In the next octave (from 200 Hz to 400 Hz), there are two hundred frequencies.

White noise can be generated on a sound synthesizer. Sound designers can use this sound, with some processing and filtering, to create a multitude of effects such as wind, surf, space whooshes, and rumbles.

Pink noise is a variant of white noise. Pink noise is white noise that has been filtered to reduce the volume at each octave. This is done to compensate for the increase in the number of frequencies per octave. Each octave is reduced by 6 decibels, resulting in a noise sound wave that has equal energy at every octave.

This was last updated in April 2006

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