Noises We Wish We Could Control

At Wiltech Acoustics we’re all about controlling noise for the benefit of everyone. From saving workers’ eardrums in large-scale industrial plants to external barriers that protect residents from rooftop plant noise, our solutions can be found in many areas of urban development

Sadly, it’s just not practical to install industrial noise control solutions everywhere. Inevitably there are some sounds you can’t drown out, no matter how much you wish you could. In this article, having conducted a straw poll of our team, we rank five of the absolute worst. If these noises don’t grind your gears, nothing will…


It’s no secret that getting enough sleep is important in allowing our bodies and minds to recover from our daily exertions. But catching some Zs isn’t easy if you’re lying next to someone who sounds like a diesel-powered generator while they snooze.

That’s partly because snoring can be loud, sometimes reaching up to 90 decibels, which is the level of noise a chainsaw produces. The sound is also unpredictable, ranging from high-pitched rasping to walrus-like growls or groans. So it’s not like rhythmic white noise, which you can usually zone out of.

What adds to the frustration is that snoring is difficult to treat as it can be caused by a number of different factors, from carrying a little too much weight, to intoxication, allergies, or sometimes a combination. Another common cause is obstructive sleep apnoea. Sadly, there are few remedies guaranteed to make a difference.

Of course, there are always earplugs. Or, in extreme circumstances, going to sleep in another room. And some might argue that you’ve earned the right to take the duvet with you.

Fidgeting Or Foot Tapping

Picture the scene: you’re quietly working away in an office or library when you notice someone clicking their pen, tapping their foot or drumming on the table. It may not be the loudest noise in the world, but as soon as you become aware of it your blood starts to boil.

If this sounds familiar, you could be suffering from a condition called ‘misophonia’ (which literally means ’hatred of sound’) where certain trigger sounds cause stress, anger, irritation — or, in extreme cases, more violent reactions.

Of course, it may also be that the noise is just plain annoying. In any case, the best advice would be to take a deep breath, try to remain calm and politely ask the perpetrator to stop.

Loud chewing

In 2021, a study found that British people found loud chewing to be the most irritating noise of all. Let’s be honest, Brits probably aren’t alone in this. But why is it so annoying?

Trevor Cox, a professor in acoustic engineering, told the Huffington Post our aversion could be down to a ‘disgust’ reaction.

“We learn to keep away from things like other peoples’ bodily fluids that might cause disease,” he explains. “When I ran a study into the worst sound in the world, where people listened and scored sounds for unpleasantness, the top one was someone vomiting. It isn’t characteristics of the noise that are driving the response, it is the association with something unpleasant.”

Bad music

The problem with bad music is that you can’t un-hear it. Once the sound enters your ears, that song could be etched into your brain for days. Sometimes, you don’t even need to hear the music — the mere mention of one or two key lyrics is all it takes.

Barbie Girl. Who Let The Dogs Out. Achey Breakey Heart. See?

Mobile phone ringtones

Nothing cuts into the flow of your day like the unnatural, disconcerting sound of a mobile phone going off. Admittedly, the point of them is to attract attention and make people stop what they’re doing and answer the phone. But do they have to be so annoying?

Apple’s default xylophone tones, the Nokia theme, and The Crazy Frog doing Axel F are three of the all-time worst. And when you think about it, it’s a wonder more people haven’t been injured by phones that have been angrily thrown from windows.

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