Re: HUM_FORUM: New to the Group
- Hi Tom,
Thanks for reply and comments. You have got me thinking about many aspects of the Hum. On the idea of recording the Hum--a tough challenge due to its low volume over background noise. I actually tried to record it once early this spring and got no signal over background. I used the standard workhorse microphone of the touring band--the Shure Beta 58A (frequency response 50 to 16,000 Hz with a cardiod curve)--but it's going to take a bit more sophistication than this to get a good recording, perhaps a fine condenser or ribbon microphone but one with a bi-directional or omnidirectional pattern like a Neumann or, supposedly as good and a lot cheaper, a Peluso. Also it will need to have a low frequency response (flat to 20Hz)...wouldn't you agree? I have digital recording systems from M-Audio and Apple Logic Express (E-Magic Logic on PC) and an old Mackie 1608 sound board (but it still has really great mic pre-amps), but when I tried to record the Hum previously, I used only the Beta 58A into an M-Audio Fast Track Pro into Logic Express WITHOUT mic pre-amps...it didn't work. Next time I'll use my Mackie pre-amps (but I wish I had a better mic).
This brings me to the question, if the Hum is represented by a true sound wave with measurable SPL (sound pressure level), what is so unique about it that it cannot be sensed by 90-99% of the population? I wonder about this percentage spread...I realize that the data just may not be available, but the idea that so few people can actually hear the Hum is puzzling. How could a definitive study be designed and executed to test this? In my own experience, unfortunately most of the people who I have corralled and asked if they could hear the Hum were somewhat under the influence of alcohol (I do not drink alcohol, much) and one of the first senses to be affected by drinking alcohol is HEARING (that's why while playing in two-bit rock & roll bands for 35+ years, we'd yell to the crowd...the more you drink, the better we sound!).
I would definitely be interested to know more about your seismic detector--how do you think you could filter out the background (or is that not your goal)? I have my old band gear for my sound system at home: 2-JBL MR935 (each with 12-in horn, 7-in tweeter, 15-in midrange) & 2- JBL MR918 (each with 18" subwoofer) each powered by one half side of 2-Crown CE2000...running stereo 1000 watts a side and crossed over at 100 Hz...your recording came through loud and clear!
I look forward to further discussion on your recording projects,
I know that I should do my homework first and read through this treasure trove of information--I will, but I am a bit excited to have finally found, well, bird's of a feather. Have any surveys been performed on Hearers?
> ... Shure SM58A... bars... and one of the first senses to be affectedby drinking alcohol...
I, too, mostly recall my days in the music business (many years
recording and live mixing, many weekends with a house blues band, many
dawns). I was never a big drinker, but my old friends told me that pot
also affects hearing, temporarily and dramatically reducing sensitivity
to the low-end. One can hear the resulting effect, e.g. in raggae
recordings, where the recordist has unwittingly compensated and produced
a bass-heavy mix. [Actually, this might be medicinally therapeutic to
some - by selectively reducing the sensitivity to low frequencies
chemically - if the signal path of The Hum is the same as that of sound.]
I think an SM58 would not do well trying to capture very low frequency
sounds (although in a pinch I've used it or a 57 in a kick drum and as a
hammer, of course), but it's worth trying if you have a quiet preamp
with a flat low-end. FWIW, while I think it is necessary to go through
the exercise, most believe The Hum is not an acoustic phenomenon and
cannot be (or has not been successfully) recorded with conventional
airborne-sound recording technologies.
I built a coaxial vibration sensor that floats on a magnetic bearing,
and have half-built the extension of that, a fully-levitated
differential seismic sensor. I hope it is ultimately sensitive to only
modulation of gravity, the direction of my thrust. In the archive, I
think I've left links to the design and photos of the early version that
produced the MP3 of the previous post.
I'm leaning toward the notion that we are able to perceive something
other than sound with our human sound apparatus. Perhaps the cochlea
can sense rapid gravity change, even of very small magnitude, and we
have become aware of the resulting "sound" caused by that, in the inner
ear. If the signal path is shared with acoustic sound, external sounds
can mix and mask the Hum sensation, and our AGC-like variable
sensitivity can modulate it, I believe. I can find a location where the
Hum level is similar to voices in another room, for example; each spoken
sound rides above the Hum and reduces or mutes it for the duration of
the word, just like a compressed radio announcer's voice will "duck" the
music bed under him.
Although I read that The Hum for some is deafening, mine is not so
pronounced. I needed a while to decide that I really did hear something
unusual - and that my wife did not, or could not. Perhaps it is
possible that one needs to be trained to hear The Hum. My wife has
listened to music all her life, for instance, but only recently is she
able to separate and identify different cymbals, as I've pointed them
out to her; she can now better separate a kick drum from a bass guitar,
which were, previously, somehow the same sound to her ear. Maybe she
can hear The Hum, after all, but cannot yet separate it from other
We look forward to your discoveries, Chip.
- Hi Chip,I have read that the Hum sounds louder in close proximity to a lake.It is usually louder indoors.I started hearing it louder again September 21st. Which coincidentally ?, is the autumnal equinox. I have also noticed the hum is louder after about 2:00 AM, with the loudest being after 4:00 AM.I have also noticed the hum is louder after a soaking rain. We had about 6 inches of rain here in Marietta ,GA last week, and the next day after the rain the hum was much louder. Since I have noticed for years this repeatable fact. I surmise the increased Hum after a soaking rain is due to either, the ground being saturated, or more denser air due to higher humidity levels of the rain evaporating. Additionally, the ground will be more electrically conductive. Also I have done some reading on sound refraction. Sound refraction can occur over a lake, with the more denser air over a lake causes the sound wave to refract lower (in height) closer to the surface of a lake. Also a more dense cooler air , not necessarily located over a lake, will cause a sound wave to refract lower (in height).Thisl ed me to think that this is a sound wave, and the sound wave usually travels higher, but can refract lower to the ground in the wee hours of the day due to the more dense and cooler are closer to the ground. Look up refraction of sound waves and you can see what I mean.The theory that I think is more plausible is that this is a barely audible low frequency sound wave. There is also an EMF theory which might be possible.I think the undulations of the wave is due to varying pressure gradients in the atmosphere.You have a very good description of what I hear.Also I have noticed that after a soaking rain, the Hum last longer into the day, and is quite loud even after 10:00 AM. Usually, the Hum will tend to dissapate after 8:00 AM.Perhaps this information will help you formulate an hypothesis of the oprigen and cause of this Hum. Or at least, keep this in the back of your mind for future reference. Thanks
- Hi John,
Thanks for your comments and ideas. I have noted in general that a lot of the Hum complaints come from around bodies of water (except most confusingly, Taos, NM). I am situated on a peninsula and for a while, I was wondering if small piece of bedrock like this could act as a tine on a fork and vibrate even more. Especially when I walk no more than half mile down my road and visit a friend whose cabin is on the same lake, but situated on a bluff--I don't hear anything at his cabin. But after reading so much today, I'm really leaning toward the gravity theory...of course I'm relatively new to this and I'm likely to be jumping from camp to camp until I am convinced one way or the other. But while I'm giving it my best attempt to record the Hum, perhaps I'll try aiming my mic toward the lake on a couple of takes (thanks for the idea!).
It rained here all day and the Hum was quite prominent all day as I was pacing through the database. It's good to hear from someone who has had years of experience, as again, I'm just getting my feet wet...
- Ah yes...Bob Marley...really heavy on the bottom end (now I understand!)
I know exactly what your talking about picking out individual sounds from a mix...that's the key to a good sound engineer and it does take practice and a bit of ear training. Some have a natural or innate ability while others have to work at it. We are all very different with respect to our abilities to sense timbre and pitch as well. My brother had perfect pitch, so he could pull an A=440 Hz out of his pocket whenever needed. For me, I could usually get pretty close for the individual notes on guitar, but only with years of practice. My mother could hold a tune in a bucket--it all has to do with our ears, so it doesn't entirely surprise me that there is a population that doesn't hear the Hum, but I bet there are more than 10% that could, given good listening environments and a bit of coaching.
As you may have read in earlier posts today, I am very much leaning toward the idea of a gravitational wave. At our threshold of hearing (0 dB or 10^-12Weber/M^2--the rustling of leaves is a whole order of magnitude higher), just very small levels of intensity changes can be detected, and our hearing apparatus is so incredibly sensitive that it seems plausible that a gravitational wave could be responsible. I have a good friend who is an otolaryngologist in St. Paul (I can't believe he was a my cabin this summer and I didn't even bring up the topic of the Hum)...perhaps he'd be a good source for some info.
Anyway, let me know if you have any specific physiological questions that I may be able to relay to him and keep us informed of the progress of your detector--fascinating stuff!
- Hi Chip,
Your description is excellent. My hum is in my left ear no matter which way I turn.
The pitch meanders around low A and feels electromagnetic in nature like something
messing with my brainwaves. The overtones often resemble a dominant 9th chord
and if I concentrate I can even make them go up and down a half step. I've trained myself
to block it out of my consciousness but sometimes like tonight it's just too darn loud.
Thank god for music and ipods. You are not alone. Like Arne I've been hearing this a long
time... since 2003. When it becomes very intense I have a physical sensation of vibration
which is really annoying.
--- In email@example.com, Chip Johnson <chip@...> wrote:
> Hello to all,
> My name is Chip and I thought I'd take this opportunity to introduce myself, reveal a bit
about my background and my experience with the hum. First, as I've seen many have
voiced, I am exceedingly grateful to have finally found others that can hear or perceive this
sound. I am a researcher by training (molecular biology) and I am therefore a bit
embarrassed that it took me about 8-months to finally have hit "pay dirt" and find direct
information on "the hum". I think it took me so long because I was convinced that it must
surely be originating from my electric utility company and in most all of my web search
terms included a somewhat misleading term 60-cycle, which I now know is not quite
accurate. I am also a musician, for better or worse, and have studied a bit of acoustics
and electronics on the side. The hum has interfered when working on original
compositions. It has recently given me a headache over my left eye and it often
> my right ear. I've come to believe that it is here to stay, and that's downright
depressing--but at least now that I've found that so many others are aware of it...perhaps
there is hope of finding the root cause and stopping it.
> I realize that I tend to ramble, but if I still have your attention thus far (before getting
into my story) I am wondering if any body else hears more than one tone at a time (or any
time), or do you hear just "the hum". As explained in detail two paragraphs down, in my
experience the sounds change often during the day or night. Also, have there been any
large meetings or conferences where hearers have met with one another? Anyway, this is
> I have a cabin next to a lake in north central Minnesota (Ten Mile Lake near Hackensack,
MN) where I have spent many of my summer days all my 54 years of life. Last year was
the first that I stayed at the cabin for the entire year through the winter. I was really
looking forward to some absolute peace and quiet and just listen to the sound of
snowflakes hitting the earth and slowly stacking up. As the summer vacationers left with
their motor boats, jet skis and vehicles, I soon was left with just the sound of the weather
and last loons before they too set on their annual migratory path, except for what I
thought was an ever present 60-cycle hum of my electric utility--now that I was about
the only person for miles left on the lake, this hum was becoming the loudest sound--a
sound that I thought was familiar and yet seemed to take on peculiar characteristics and
persisted day and night. I became disappointed that I'd have to put up with this constant
> hum when I just wanted to hear "the sounds of silence". My disappointment turned to
anger one day and I decided to turn off the main circuit breaker so that I could, at least for
a while, listen to the sounds of nature. Much to my surprise and chagrin, the hum did not
go away when I turned off the power to the cabin. For a while, I left the power off and
went outside to see if I could detect the hum outside close to the poles that carried my
power lines. Sure enough, although much more faintly, I could still hear the hum! It was
confusing to me because I reasoned that if I were to break the flow of electricity into my
cabin, I should not hear it in the cabin--but the sound remain constant, always very low
in volume, but ALWAYS there. Then I theorized that my cabin must acting like a
resonating chamber and that its wood frame somehow, whether through the ground, air
or actual wired connection, conducted and amplified a 60-cycle hum that is
> characteristic of electric transmission in the U.S.. I finally had a chance to test this idea
when in March, high winds blew over a large spruce tree and broke the electric line that
led to my cabin--the hum PERSISTED!! I was bent on the idea that the hum must surely
be electrical in origin. This was enough for me to inquire with the power company. Being
cautious not to be perceived as a ânut caseâ, I called to power company during
regular business hours, identified myself as a customer and simply asked if they had ever
received any calls reporting a constant and audible hum from their lines. I knew I was
already âin troubleâ when the receptionist said âHmmm...thatâs a new one!â
She proceeded to place me on hold while she checked with others about my question.
When she came back on line, she told me that no one had reported this previously, but she
would send someone out to investigate. At the time, I told her they really did not
> have to go to such lengths and I was just curious to see if others had called about the
same occurrence. But she was insistent, almost as if it were company policy to investigate
any, and all concerns. So, the next day or so, two trucks and three men came down to our
point to investigate. It was a bright, cool and slightly windy day, but I could clearly hear
the sound in all of our buildings: 3-cabins, a shed, a pump house and a sauna. They
turned off their trucks and got out to listen. I could hear the sound as I stood with them
in our driveway, but of course, I am well tuned to them. None of them could hear what I
was hearing--it was very subtle, but constant and yet ever changing in character (pitches,
pulsing, oscillations and somewhat in volume, but always fairly quiet and subtle). I
suggested that they come to the sauna which has the best insulation contained in the
walls out of all of the structures. One of the older men followed me
> inside the sauna and I shut the door; we stood in silence. There, I could hear it quite
clearly without any other ambient sound--but the rep from the electric company said he
could not hear a thing...then he said, âbut Iâm probably the worst of the three of us
because I have poor hearingâ...OH GREAT! The three of them got back in their trucks
and said what ever it was, it was not from them--they smiled and headed down the road,
probably talking about me being âoff my rockerâ.
> My description of what I hear is the following. First of all the sound is constant,
persistent--there is always a very low volume and low frequency basal ârumbleâ
centered on Dâ¯1/Eâ1 in the contra-octave (Helmholtz name) or ~39 Hz (I say â
rumbleâ because this tone seems to be made up of a broader band than a pure 39 Hz
wave--it seems as though it consists of enharmonic tones clustered around 39 Hz, which
gives it a moving or slightly pulsing character, liken to a diesel engine in the far distance).
But then I hear other slightly louder tones superposed or interleaved on this basal tone.
Often the full feature is represented by a 1st position Eâmajor triad of Eâ1 (39 Hz), G1
(49 Hz) & Bâ1 (58 Hz) with increasing volume with increasing pitch, however the middle
tone (G1 at 49 Hz) is often missing. I have heard (albeit rarely), or perceived the G1 to
sound closer to Gâ1 (46 Hz). In general, detection of this sound (collectively) or
> hum is best when ambient sound is nil (no wind, rain, traffic, refrigerator, voices, etc.).
> There also seems to be a spatial characteristic as well (and I have seen another
reference to this phenomenon) in that the lower frequency tones seem to be presented to
my right ear most of the time (but actually, as I listen at this moment, it seems I'm
experiencing sound pressure at both of my ears). For me, the Bâ1 (58.27 Hz â' closest
to the old â60-cycle humâ) sounds like it is coming from behind me, slightly above
and to my left. This is true no matter what my cardinal point is--the sound(s) seem to be
omni-directional, and yet organized when presented to my senses. They seem louder
when I am in a building structure, presumably amplified by harmonic resonance, but I hear
them faintly outside of the structures and a long way up my road (only when the weather
is quiet). I have not detected them in town (about 7-miles away), but I have not yet
thoroughly explored this area. I have not heard them in a friendâs house just outside
> I believe that the spatial perception must have to do with the transmission of auditory
signals and how our nerves, neurotransmitters and brain interact. Somewhere along this
thought too must lie the key as to why only a small percentage of the population can
actually sense the hum--this must be due to genetic variation, perhaps in polymorphic or
mutant neuropetides. Or perhaps somewhat larger structural differences--but surely the
difference between hearers vs. non-hearers must be genetic. Are there any family studies
> I have also wondered if the audible sounds could be caused by harmonics of a
fundamental wave that is below the threshold of human hearing i.e. below 10 Hzâ' but
this really begs the question, why? or what? For what would such a wave be used? Why is
it constant and for so many years? How much energy has been expended and what is the
source? Maybe a natural force causes it but if so, shouldn't it be cause for some serious
research? Many seem to point to ELF from the U.S. Navy, in which case I think the problem
would be difficult to mitigate.
> For the last week or so I have kept a random log (time) of the various frequencies and
weather conditions (temperature, barometric pressure, wind velocity)--I only have 9-days
of these data and no trend has leaped out at me as of yet--time will tell if I have the
tenacity to continue this log.
> I look forward to contributing in any way I can to this forum in hopes of abolishing the