Space & Innovation

How Atomic Physics Makes Your Headphones Hiss

You know that hissing noise you get in your headphones when there's no music playing? WTF is that?

Heads up, audiophiles: We have good news and bad news in regard to that annoying hiss you hear on headphones and speakers. The good news is that the noise can be reduced. The bad news is that it can never be fully suppressed.

In today's edition of DNews, Trace Dominguez looks into the root causes of audio hiss, an investigation that takes him all the way down to the subatomic level. It turns out that the hiss you hear in headphones and speakers is, quite literally, the amplified sound of electrons moving around on the nano scale. The phenomenon is present in all electronics, actually. So the real question is: Does it really make sense to buy expensive and high-end audio equipment? Tune in and find out.

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Read More:

Northwestern University: What's Electron Flow?

Physics.org: How do speakers work?

PC Mag: Signal-to-noise ratio