Modern Living: Other Voices, Other Rooms

The Joneses wake up every morning at 7 to the sound of a helicopter pilot telling his friends in Radioland about the newborn traffic snarls on the turnpikes leading into town. The Joneses would much prefer waking up at 8, but they cannot turn off the radio: it is in the Smiths' apartment next door. Down the hall in 17-F live the Browns, who loathe Handel. Yet their living room is knee-deep in Water Music every night —high-decibel seepage from the Greens' stereo set in 17-G.

Why does the electronic voice penetrate plaster when human voices don't? Sound engineers offer several reasons....

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