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The Sounds of Study

"Music is the movement of sound to reach the soul for the education of its virtue" - Pluto

 
 

Introduction

The pivoting of pages, clicking of calculators, pushing of pencils, and rearranging of rulers. These four noises are all too familiar with the ears of students the world over, but are abrasive, uninviting, and tough on the ears. Or are they? For most people, maybe so, but not necessarily for everyone. It's advertised that people work in silence better: in classes you're told to be quiet for reading time, in libraries you're consistently shushed, and silence is often mandatory during examinations. Though, who's to say it would apply to everyone? Frequently, we're asked to undergo stressful tasks with constant noise, such as: driving, shopping, crossing the street, or choosing a song to share with your friends. Whether you prefer the list of quieter atmospheres, louder atmospheres, or constant noise at the very least, there exist audio utensils for you. Now without further ado, here is the Project Uni sounds of study guide!

 

1. The Quiet

Shhhh! The first category is "The Quiet". These are the people who excel at studying in quiet, often secluded, and neutral spaces. This could be the type (or lack) of sound someone needs for a plethora of reasons; being unable to multitask, being distracted easily, having sensitive ears, wanting to focus solely on their work, etc. Whatever the reason, be sympathetic and understand where they might be coming from, and be sure not to disturb them (especially around midterms and finals). There is a diverse spectrum of excellent tools and resources out there if you're one of these people, and swaths of headphones which can aid you; hear (pun intended) is a short compilation of these resources which can help you:


Note: Project Uni is neither affiliated with nor sponsored by any of the following companies, brands, products, etc.


Online Tools:

  • Nature space: Immersive, 3-D ambient noise and audio not just for students but anyone. On the go, the app allows you to escape the hustle and bustle of life around you. Best in class for audio quality.


  • My Noise: "mynoise.net" or the myNoise app contains numerous constant tones to help zone out from the world around and zone in on your work. Several binaural beats, single tones, or just simple white noise exist with adjustable noise levels all exist and more. Best in class depth, detail, and variety. Note: mynoise.net and mynoise.com are different; mynoise.net is the actual website mentioned.


  • YouTube: While basic, and well-known, it should be noted that YouTube still remains one of (if not) the single largest database for video/audio recordings; wide varieties of different kinds of noises exist to varying degrees of success. Best in class abstract and accessibility.



Hardware:

  • Noise cancelling headphones/earbuds: Noise cancelling headphones and earbuds are heads down the most versatile hardware that people in need of quiet can find. Being portable and allowing for personal customization, they offer the user as much as they can offer themselves. However, they are often "noise-isolating" and require another audio input to truly begin toning out the world. This is the preferred choice for the big-picture and on-the-go person.

Mpow noise cancelling headphones

  • Noise cancelling machines: Noise cancelling machines are often bulky but highly effective. The most common settings are peaceful backdrops, calm noises, or simple white noise. With their sound and volume down to a science, they can be cranked up a lot and really zone out the outside world without sacrificing quality. This is the preferred choice for the especially noise sensitive and stationary listener.

Noise cancelling machine

  • Acoustic foam and similar padding: Acoustics serve to dampen the reverberation and echoing of sound waves within the space its space. Not only does this lower the sound within the room, it heightens the quality of your sound when speaking through a microphone. Examples include the aforementioned acoustic foam, sound pads, heavy curtains, blankets, fluffy furniture, etc. This is the preferred choice for the physically isolated, but noise-surrounded person.

Close up on acoustic foam

 

2. The Loud

Now, we have the second category of people, "The Loud". This is the crowd that excels at working amidst the chaos, often in public, packed, noisy spaces. The reason for their tendencies can be just as diverse as "The Quiet". They either need some extra stimuli because their work isn't engaging enough, they dislike silence, or they can't just focus on one thing at a time. The latter can be understood by imagining a bucket; while the activity adds to their mental bucket, it doesn't fill it up, or satisfy it, so they need something extra. For those of you sound junkies out there, we hear you (pun intended) and we feel for you. For you guys, there is an even larger database of relevant tools to enhance your hearing experience.


Note: Project Uni is neither affiliated with nor sponsored by any of the following companies, brands, products, etc.

Music Heads:

  • Spotify: Spotify is known by almost every teenager across the world, and for good reason. With thousands upon thousands of artists, albums, playlists, tracks, and personal mixes, you can get lost forever in their large collection. However, their Achille's heel are the intrusive ads that play every so often, but if you can overlook that, you can go a long ay with them. Best in class overall.


  • Soundcloud: Sound cloud is the ultimate underground artist musical collection. Thousands of new tracks are added every day, from artists and music ranging from Europe(an), to South America(n), to North America(n), to Oceania(n), etc. However, while there are diamonds in the rough, not every song or artist drops bangers. Best in class diversity and singularity.


  • Amazon Music: Amazon Music is ad-free and best for those who already have an affiliation with Amazon; whether a Prime subscription, echo, fire, etc. "Amazon Music Unlimited" and "Amazon Prime Music" sound very similar, but are quite different; AMU offers 60+ million tracks and is its own standalone app, whereas APM is bundled in a Prime subscription and offers 2+ million songs. Best in class overall, conditionally.


  • Headphones and Earbuds: Audio output devices are almost a necessity when it comes to enjoying music and sound. While outward speakers may be easier to play louder, the sound quality degrades due to reverberation and echo. Headphones/earbuds allow you to stream your music straight to your ears, minimizing the amount of sound lost. Wireless devices are better for those who move around a lot, and wired devices are better for those who are either stationary, or listen for extended periods of time. So what's the catch? These devices can be ultra expensive, but the more you put in, the more you get out.


General Noises:

  • My Noise: This has already been listed before, but the sheer quality and effort put into this service cannot be understated. An unbelievable level of variety, depth, audio quality, and accessibility makes this (the subjectively) best choice for anyone looking for any soundscape. With adjustable dials and noises ranging from offices, to exam rooms, to beaches, to an Irish coast, to a medieval village, to a B-17 and even more. On top of this, a one time payment gives you access to even more soundscapes, forever. As well, there are never any ads. Best in class overall. Note: mynoise.net and mynoise.com are different; mynoise.net is the actual website mentioned.


  • A Soft Murmur: While not nearly as in-depth as the previous entry, " A Soft Murmur" allows you to choose from a range of different sounds and overlap them to create your perfect, immersive soundscape. Options include waves, rain, thunder, crickets, a café, fire, etc. Best in class singularity.


  • Speakers: Despite the point made in the previous section, headphones/earbuds may not be the ideal choice for general noises/white noise folk. Speakers (especially the surround sound variety) offer heightened immersion and realism, at the cost of sound quality. In addition, speakers allow for much louder sound and physically encases you in noise. Wired speakers are for stationary listeners who listen for extended periods of time, and wireless speakers are for people who work on the go or want to change the location where the sound is coming from. Examples of quality speakers include the JBL Boombox 2/Flip 5 and Bose Companion.

JBL Boombox 2 and Bose Companion 2 speakers

 

Conclusion

Learning how you study the best is paramount this year, especially during this isolating pandemic. Noise means something different for everyone; self reflection and taking the time to understand these principle about yourself is no easy task, but a rewarding one. So, the next time you sit down to work on that vector addition problem, consider your surroundings and the noise around you. Sound is only 20% of your senses, but comprises almost 100% of the world around you.

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