Posted by: kaleidophonic | October 12, 2011

Making a quieter car

‘sup y’all. I’m pretty tired tonight, having spent a great deal of time over the last few days staring at microfilm. Ow, my retinas.

Despite my headache, I’m going to pick up on something I asked a few weeks ago, when I was musing upon historical sounds:

Traffic sounds are omnipresent in our urban soundscapes, a background hum that many of us have learned to tune out. But it might be interesting to imagine a city soundscape without traffic noise. What other noises might be made more prominent if the white noise of traffic were to disappear? Might we notice birdsong more? Or overhear more of the conversations of passers-by? What would a world without gasoline-powered engines sound like?

Well it turns out that a recent episode of Q on CBC radio tackled just this issue. CBC, you are the best.

Wednesday Oct. 12th’s show included an interview with Wall Street Journal automobile journalist Mike Ramsay on “making the electric car safer through sonics”. During the interview several clips of electric car sounds were played, including one from The Jetsons. Fun!  Ramsay talks about how electric cars are very quiet – which can be hazardous for visually impaired people who navigate the world through sound rather than sight. Towards the end of the interview he predicts that the streets of the future will be very much quieter than the ones we have now.

You can listen to the full episode of Q here (Oct. 12 2011, the interview is towards the end of the show, at about the 01.01.21 mark)

You can read Ramsay’s article on the sonics of electric automobiles here.

That’s it for tonight. I’m off to put my aching eyeballs to bed.

– KJ


  1. I personally plug in to headphones ONLY to block out traffic sound. And today walking home I noticed a bush packed with birds and their songs. They WOULD be loud…

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