Modern Living: Louder, Please

With noise pollution under attack across the U.S., it hardly seems a propitious time to produce noisemakers. Yet a few manufacturers are doing just that. Silence, they say, is often a bigger nuisance than noise. Too much of it creates uneasiness, is distracting and reduces work output.

The most widely used of the noisemakers produce a mild form of radio static called "white noise" by engineers. Turned down to a discreet volume, the static masks distracting outside noises and disturbing interior echoes. The white noise has its limitations. "It's very tricky," says...

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