FM 89.5 Sound Masking for Road and Expressway

Originally broadcast for the Experimental Sound Studio, Outer Ear Festival of Sound 2000. The receiver wire was strung thoughout the ESS director's apartment picking up the live power line buzz and fluctuations. Below is the description for the festival. Photos show the ELF receiver and the aluminum sticker which was distributed throughout Chicago


Sound Masking

Sound masking is the use of one noise to prevent the audibility of another.

Radio Broadcast

Considering that automobiles dominate a city’s acoustical environment, custom sound masking tracks have been created to match and blanket these tonal and noise levels. These tracks are being broadcast 24 hours a day over FM 89.5 for the month of June. The area of radio reception surrounds the TBA Exhibition Space by several miles in all directions.

There are six different masking tracks, each one responding to common conditions encountered during the time of transmission. For example, early morning (2am-6am) is less dense and quieter than rush hour (6am-9am, 3pm-6pm). An interval signal will be broadcast at the beginning of every hour. In addition to this broadcast schedule, a special masking track for weather will be transmitted during rainstorms. A limited edition CD of this project is available.

The Booth
The transmitting equipment is stationed in the booth that is positioned in the gallery space. This booth has been designed to be lightweight, portable, and modular. It is a prototype for fiberglass construction, using one mold to cast all four sections. Cable is running from the booth to an antenna, which is mounted on the roof.

Technical Assistance:
Thank you: Bill Milosz for the radio transmitting equipment and technical know-how. Ernst Long for helping to create the masking tracks. Robb Drinkwater with Splinter Group Audio.

Broadcast Schedule:
  • morning: 2am-6am
  • am rush hour: 6am-9am
  • mid-day: 9am-3pm
  • pm rush hour: 3pm-6pm
  • evening: 6pm-10pm
  • night: 10pm-2am

Audio Sample:

© brennan mcgaffey