Audiophiles

Have you noticed how the way a space feels really depends on how it sounds? Take the California Academy of Sciences for example. With all the hundreds of visitors running around you’d think it would be crazy loud. But the voices aren’t overwhelming at all. 

That’s because a San Francisco company designed the sound in here. Yes – designed the sound! There’s people who do this everywhere. They’re called sound architects. At engineering firm ARUP’s SoundLab they can listen to the sound of buildings before they’re even built. 

Photo by Julie Caine

This story is part of The Audiophiles series, our award-winning series of conversations with the most creative people working with sound around the Bay.

In this episode of Crosscurrents, we go on a sonic tour of sounds from everyday life, led by bioacoustician and soundscape ecologist Bernie Krause.

Part I.

Bernie Krause says if we really listen, we’ll hear an animal orchestra out there and we need to protect it.

“Fully 50 percent of the habitats I’ve recorded are now quiet. It tells us about so many things about ourselves and how we’re doing in relationship to the rest of the living world around us,” says Krause.

Zoe Keating's unique style of music has gotten her to the top of the iTunes classical and electronic music charts, and all the while she's remained an independent artist. KALW's Martina Castro went to talk with her at her home studio about how she experiments with the sound of her instrument.

All the music in this story was performed live during this interview. And it was all performed by just one woman, her cello, and her laptop.

Zoe Keating is walking me around her house. We're looking for woodpeckers.

Oona Stern

Antarctica is officially the coldest, windiest, and driest continent on Earth. At almost one and a half times the size of the United States, 98% of it is covered with thick sheets of ice. With a landscape like that, it seems like it would be a pretty quiet, lifeless place, right? Well it’s not.

So far in KALW News’ series of conversations about sound, we’ve taken you to the planetarium of the California Academy of Sciences, and to the unique San Francisco sound theater called Audium.

For this segment of “Audiophiles,“ where we talk with the most creative minds working in sound, we want you to close your eyes and imagine you've walked into a diner…

MARTINA CASTRO: You go up to the jukebox, throw in your quarter and pick a random song. It sounds like a pretty cool song, but listen closely…

Photo courtesy of http://www.wnyc.org/press/radiolab-peabody/

Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich are hosts of the popular NPR science program RadioLab. They’re two of the most innovative, daring, and brilliant storytellers on the radio today.

Awhile back, we took you deep into outer space:

CHRISTOPHER HEDGE: You’re always going to have a whoosh sound when you go through something in a planetarium, so I was thinking, “Well what if those whooshes were made with the real signatures of what you’re going through?”