Posts Tagged ‘Paris’

The voice of transportation

Ever since the New York City Subway started broadcasting automated voice announcements a few months ago, people have noticed a striking but hard-to-place familiarity in the voice behind the announcements.  If you couldn’t put your finger on it, the New York Times has interviewed Carolyn Hopkins, the voice artist behind not only the subway announcements, but also those at all three NYC airports (LaGuardia, JFK, and Newark).  Not to mention subway systems in Chicago, Washington, and Paris, and many other subways and major airports in the US and worldwide!

Despite the ubiquity of her voice here, Ms. Hopkins does not live in New York City, and though she visits occasionally has not used the subway here since 1957.  She works from her home studio in Maine, recording the announcements in “a windowless room in her house with sound-absorbing material on the wall — a tapestry, hung like a painting but covering foam.”  Even improvised absorptive treatments like these can go a long way toward improving audio quality in basic studios and recording booths—and the benefits are are no less in any room with so much as a speakerphone.

Of course, some might not be surprised that Ms. Hopkins provides the voice of the subway from the Maine countryside.  No one that had to use the subway regularly could be so calm and composed when delivering your wait for the next train!

Noise is killing Paris nightlife

A recent article in the New York Times highlights the mounting conflict between Parisian revelers and “ever less mirthful” residents that “increasingly demand peace and quiet”.

The contributing causes—high urban density, gentrification that has more than doubled real estate values in recent years, and a 2008 tobacco ban that has sent patrons spilling out onto the sidewalks—closely parallel similar factors in New York City, where noise continues to be the #1 quality-of-life complaint. In response, the 2007 overhaul of the New York City Noise Control Code tightened limits on noise from bars, clubs, and restaurants.

In Paris, such conflicts (and the stepped up regulation that they precipitate) are forcing more and more bars and concert venues out of business, which has in turn lured musicians and DJs to other, more bohemian capitals (such as Berlin). To quote the article — “Paris may soon be dead at night.”

Thankfully, similar circumstances do not seem to have led to such dire consequences here in New York, which continues to enjoy a thriving nightlife—though not always without conflict.  Where a noise problem does occur, an acoustical consultant can help resolve it, either though improved acoustic separation, adjustment of sound systems, or both.  Many bar and restaurant operators, having faced noise issues in the past, work with an acoustical consultant in the design of any new space, to prevent these problems before they happen.