Sound design: the power of sounds

Nov. 16, 2016


Sound design: the power of sounds

Sounds are the key to our emotions and the advertising industry uses this exact phenomenon to link products to positive attributes, make us want to buy things, and establish a connection to a brand. Sound design has become a key element of product development – especially in the automotive industry. But also hearing aid manufacturers are tinkering away to find the perfect sound because for people with hearing loss sound quality and good hearing plays an even more essential role.

The way we perceive certain sounds is often subjective. This is because we associate what we hear with our own experiences and feelings. Sounds, for instance, can trigger completely different emotions such as joy, grief, fear, passion, security, and vitality.

Consciously influencing the subconscious
The advertising world has known about the influence of sound on our feelings for a long time now. More and more companies, for example, are using audio logos as an acoustic “trademark” and audio branding agencies are working to convey company values such as security, dynamism, and fairness through melodies that are as distinctive as possible. These are intended to make customers recognize brands and they also trigger their buying impulses.

When it comes to consciously using sound design, you can’t overlook the automotive industry. Carmakers employ hundreds of people to find the perfect sound. High-class, sporty, safe, cool – this is what cars are designed to sound like.

The sound makes the car
The perfect sound is often down to the aero-acousticians.  They ensure that annoying noises such as whistles, hisses, or hums are quietened and eliminated. Sound design, however, highlights the positive sounds: the engine, the indicators, the window winders, the car doors – no detail is left to chance. This is because the sound signals the pleasure of driving a high-quality machine and thus makes the customer more likely to part with their cash. A market study has revealed that, although visual perception was the biggest influencing factor at just under 80%, sounds also proved quite relevant at 44%.

Electric cars – from soundless to audible
The current trends linking electromobility with sound are also exciting. Sound designers are continuously trying to engineer the ideal electric engine sound – one that is quiet, but not so quiet that pedestrians don’t hear it coming. The intention is to ensure that we can continue to rely on an important job that our sense of hearing does when we’re out on the road – warning us of dangers.

Sound design for  a natural hearing experience with hearing aids
In earlier times, a hearing aid’s major function was to deliver sounds to the ears as loudly as possible and with a lot of power. This doesn’t have much to do with natural hearing. And if you consider how much sounds influence our emotions, it becomes clear why developing modern hearing aids that provide a natural sound experience is so important. Hearing aid users should be able to experience their environment the same way as people with normal hearing do. To do this, the hearing aids need to automatically cover, amplify, and transmit a large bandwidth of low to high sounds appropriately to the ears.

Development work focuses particularly on providing the most natural listening experience possible and eliminating distortions that would disturb the hearing experience during amplification. So if you still think of hearing aids as beige, whistling bananas, remember that these are as outdated as the good old-fashioned telephone with a rotary dial. 


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