The quietest moment in your city?


Years ago, when I was at university, I did an experiment/exercise whereby I recorded the same street corner for 5 minutes every hour on the hour for 24 hours. The initial idea was to string a minute of each recording together into a 24 minute sound scape of a city over a 24 period. Around 3am, I started to notice a dramatic change in the sonic landscape of the city. I eventually discovered, at 4am that the quietest moment in my area of the city was around 4am. The silence only broken subtlely by the hum of the city under the roads, the buzz of electrical wires etc. It was soon broken about 10 minutes later by the chirping of birds. But it was amazing to experience, what I believe, to be the quietest moment in my town.

What about your areas? Have any of you fellow SSD's ever experienced such a phenomenon? Please share.


Posted 2011-05-24T06:23:09.127

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Very cool idea.

In my west LA/Santa Monica neighborhood, I think it's around 3 a.m, as earlybirds seem to begin getting up and driving to work between 4 and 5. It's serene before then, though -- little but the very distant rush of freeway traffic and perhaps a bird every twenty minutes or so.

(Btw, the first thing I thought of upon reading your post was returning to my apartment -- back then, about 10 minutes from LAX -- on the morning of 9/11. The lack of the usually-constant air traffic made for an eerie relative silence.)


Posted 2011-05-24T06:23:09.127

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About 15 years ago in NYC it snowed about 20 inches. Manhattan literally shut down. No one was driving. Very few people were outside. As I recall the subway was closed. On top of that the snow acted like a giant sound blanket, restricting all the normal sound reflections. It was like an audio dream sequence. Very beautiful.

1 day later all the snow was brown and the city was back to normal mostly.


David Rovin

Posted 2011-05-24T06:23:09.127

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2-3 am sunday morning is by far the quietest in Denmark where I live. But it becomes extreme when there's snow. Showing at 2-3 am sunday morning? I've never heard so much nothing.

David Larsen

Posted 2011-05-24T06:23:09.127

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Nice. I love this idea, It's around the same time where I am, but even though I live about 2 and half miles from the Houses of Parliament, every hour (and half hour?) I can still hear Big Ben.

What town are you in?


Posted 2011-05-24T06:23:09.127

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Well, I now live in Johannesburg but I did this experiment in Montreal Canada. – oinkaudio – 2011-05-24T07:56:52.533


My quietest moments are around 4 - 5 AM, although because I live next to a church that chimes EVERY 15 minutes, it really isn't. Audio examples of the church to folllow ASAP

Kurt Human

Posted 2011-05-24T06:23:09.127

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I live in Copenhagen, Denmark, and here it's around 3-4 AM, a couple of hours later in the weekends, as most clubs close at 5 AM, so the partygoers won't be quiet until around 6 AM.

In the summertime there are a lot of outdoor concerts in the evenings, which are quite loud, and they carry on until midnight, so right after midnight the city gets a lot quieter.

Morten Green

Posted 2011-05-24T06:23:09.127

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I live in Helsinki. Although I'm not sure about the quietest moment of any given day, I am pretty sure that the quietest day of the year is summer solstice. Practically everyone goes out to their summer cabin or a friend's summer cabin and the entire city turns into a very, very quiet and deserted post-apocalyptic ghost town.


Posted 2011-05-24T06:23:09.127

Reputation: 93

@api - I also live in Helsinki and was about to write exactly the same thing, you beat me to it :) – RedSonic01 – 2011-05-26T05:10:17.517


What a coincidence that I bumped into this thread. I am planning to write a small program which will monitor the traffic noise in front of my house for a week. I'm not sure how many samples I will take every hour, but the reaction on your own experiment makes me enthusiastic.

I think it can be an interesting experience to hear the city waking up and go to sleep again for 7 days in a row compressed into a relatively short soundscape

Tjerk Stoop

Posted 2011-05-24T06:23:09.127

Reputation: 11

Wonderful. It is amazing how we take things for granted and just assume that what is around is normal without considering the beauty of its dynamics. The city is an amazing platform since it is made up of layers and layers of sound that make it what it us. And throughout the world, each city has its own character based on infrastructure, culture, size, economics etc. Wouldn't it be wonderful to do this 24 hour experiment in a variety of different locations throughout the world? – oinkaudio – 2011-05-25T06:47:44.767


The night I came to view the apartment I live in now for the first time. It was dead quiet, found a parking spot right in front of the building, the previous tenant showing it to me had all of the windows open. My wife and I were commenting on how quiet it was for being so close to Queens boulevard. We handed over the first months rent on the spot! Well, that must have been a freak accident or something because since moving in I haven't slept a single night without earplugs in. Haven't found decent parking space since either. :P

The blackout of 2003 was another good one. I can remember riding bikes around Brooklyn in the pitch dark, with celebratory frozen margaritas of course. We were the loudest things for 10 miles.

This year we had a pretty powerful tornado rip right through my neighborhood in Queens, which is just weird on its own. Things were eerily quiet before and after that.

And to echo David Rovin's comment about winter. This past one was pretty brutal and my whole neighborhood was pretty much encased in ice for two months straight. It was SUPER quiet, not even the sound of a single snowplow. < If you lived here you'd appreciate that dig at Bloomberg and the city government. :)


Posted 2011-05-24T06:23:09.127

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This was the only winter i've spent in new york, but even without comparison terms, yeah, it was pretty brutal! It was awesome outside during the blizzard though! And likewise my neighborhood was really quiet to. – Filipe Chagas – 2011-06-12T01:12:10.030


I live in Paris, which can be a very noisy city. But Sundays really are the day of rest here, so the city becomes very quiet. The quietest time is early Sunday morning. What also helps in this city are the tall buildings which often act as sound barriers. Just to show what I mean, this recording was taken about 100 meters from a very busy main road (Boulevard Richard Lenoir in the 11th arrondissement), yet the traffic can barely be heard.


Colin Hunter

Posted 2011-05-24T06:23:09.127

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put a little twist on the nighttime idea: London can be surprisingly quiet at 6pm on a Friday, the further away you are from a pub. (now why you'd want to do that is a whole other topic in itself).


Posted 2011-05-24T06:23:09.127

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I had such a moment once when i was in hurry for an early train, about 6 a.m. I walked almost 10 minutes in total silence: there were no cars or people, just traffic lights met me on my way.

Serge Eybog

Posted 2011-05-24T06:23:09.127

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