Sounds of the City: this is New York

26 Apr '2017 Life

Knops’ founder Arjen de Jong lets you experience the sounds of the world’s most beautiful cities. Today one of the loudest cities in the world: New York. As you travel to this metropolis you can almost hear the song in your head, right? ‘Start spreadin’ the news, I’m leavin’ today…. I want to be a part of it, New York, New York!’

Besides this Sinatra song constantly echoing in your mind, the sound of New York can be described as… loud. Energetic, yes, booming, yes, but still: loud. Lots of urban sounds; honking car horns, people bustling about, air conditioning units pumping heat out of buildings or steam pipes pumping it in. That’s the sound of NYC.

The city that never sleeps (neither did I)

I lived in lower Manhattan for a year, which was super cool. However, the building I lived in was across a fire station… Fortunately, the trucks mostly put on the sirens at the end of the block. But when traffic somehow blocked them driving out of the street, they put on the extra loud horn to blow away the blocking cars. Yeah, bye bye good night sleep…

Nevertheless that couldn’t spoil the fun for me. I loved to hang out in the billions of coffee bars and restaurants, packed with people. Many New Yorkers work freelance from coffee shops or co-working spaces spread across the city. So did I. Those places are great to connect with others, but when you really need some work done, you might want to tune the noise down a bit. People are chatting, cups are jingling and the old brownstone buildings create a fishbowl-like reflection of sound for the ears.

So at the time I was developing Knops, I decided to test it in one of those coffee shops for a day. They appeared perfect for isolating me at setting 4 when I needed to focus, and I could easily open them up while getting a coffee or when somebody started a conversation.

Tuning down traffic noise

Also during the day I kept using Knops. For example, New York’s subway system is old and acoustically you can feel that. The noise is loud with carts coming in, people’s voices reflecting off the tunnel walls and other underground rumbles. I tuned my prototype Knops down to step 3 to protect my hearing and stay a little bit zen whilst traveling trough this crowded city. Oh, except when there was a nice musician playing. Then I turned up the volume a little of course.

Even when I was cycling trough the city, Knops appeared to be very useful. In New York they have this bike system, where you can pick up and drop off bikes at stations spread across the city. Cycling through the villages I opened up Knops all the way, when cycling across the steel bridges into Brooklyn I tuned down to step 3 and when cycling in mid-town at rush hour I used setting 2 to make sure I could hear everyone, while still getting a little bit more inner zen. Speaking about zen. Central park puts all the rumbles of NYC in the distance. If you’re ever in New York without Knops, and your ears need some rest: flee to the park.

The orchestra within: the sounds of your body

The living machine that is our body, produces the low humming symphony of our lives. And - thank goodness! - we can only hear just the bare minimum of it. In the city of Minneapolis, in the American state of Minnesota you’ll find a little room that holds an interesting Guinness World record. This bunker-like place is surrounded by layers of steel, concrete and filled with absorbing buffers. All protects it from something that is very hard to keep out: sound. The most quiet place in the world. But anyone who is looking to find silence in there: think again. Huffing and puffing