Loud City

Monday, January 11, 2010

According to a new study by Hear the World, the number one noisiest place in New York City is the F, V, B, D subway platform at Bryant Park. Dr. Craig Kasper, chief audiology officer of Audio Help Associates of Manhattan, discusses the noise in the city and an often overlooked health issue: hearing loss.

What do you think is the loudest place in the city? Comment below!

Check out the Map of Your Loudest Places in NYC and Add Your Own!


Craig Kasper

Comments [48]

Daniel from Manhattan

Jake from Manhattan, it turns out that Brian is one of the few who actually pronounces the word decibel correctly. The "bel" in this word comes from Alexander Graham Bell. There is no "bull" in decibel; the last syllable is pronounced "bell." [And the emphasis is on the first syllable, Brian is correct in that as well.]

Jan. 11 2010 11:14 PM
Eugenia Renskoff from Brooklyn

The Havemeyer and Broadway subway in Williamsburgh is horrible. When will they get rid of the screeching noise?

Jan. 11 2010 02:22 PM
Carole from Manhattan

The worst part for me is the so-called Emergency Doors that selfish people use for themselves to exit a little bit quicker than the rest of us who stand there listing to the deafening alarm in their wake. I have written to the NYC Transit president many times, with many "polite" responses, but a complete refusal to admit that these alarms -- while originally meant to alert personnel to an emergency -- serve absolutely no such purpose at this point. All they do is hurt our ears -- and destroy children's, whose parents are forced to subject them to it when there is no other way to get out. This warrants a whole show, showing the constant use of the alarms, the response of perps when well-intentioned people like myself ask them to please not do that (you should hear the vile responses), and the inane responses of the NYC bureaucracy. Two examples: southbound 1 at Penn Station (33rd St. exit) and E/V station on NE corner of 53rd and Madison. Interesting but infuriating note: Although the decibel level is higher than NYC code permits, NYC Transit president wrote to me that the code does not apply to these doors -- because the code doesn't apply in "an emergency!!" (yeah, an emergency for a purpose sipping his coffee to get off the platform before the rest of us)

Jan. 11 2010 12:01 PM
Carola from bed-stuy, brooklyn

The worst for me are trucks and emergency vehicle sirens, which are everywhere. Can't something be done about truck engines, and do the sirens really have to be _that_ loud?

Jan. 11 2010 11:52 AM
Jamison from Ft Green

Douse the pitch of the loud nose affected us differently?
Bass sounds good loud but the 6 train coming in to 14th st...

Jan. 11 2010 11:47 AM
Rich from Staten Island

Various sports arenas in NYC are really loud. It appears the sound engineers at Madison Square Garden and Yankee Stadium have to have the sound at maximum level. It appears they won't allow one moment when you can actually talk to the person next you at a normal sound level. It's a real turn off to attending these events.

Jan. 11 2010 11:46 AM
chhunny from Astoria

The Ditmars/ Astoria stop off the N, W trains. When the brakes come on at the outdoor platform, the squelch is so painful that covering your ears is not optional.

Jan. 11 2010 11:46 AM
hjs from 11211

what about the new polic sirens even louder then they were

Jan. 11 2010 11:44 AM
mc from Brooklyn

To all the kids who use "mosquito" ring tones: If you don't start regulating the volume of sound you are exposed to you will lose the advantage.

Jan. 11 2010 11:44 AM
Barbara Cohen from upper east side

I am going crazy with the Beep Beep Beep sound of trucks backing up, buses using hydrollic lifts, SUV's with door opened etc!!!

Jan. 11 2010 11:44 AM
easynow from brooklyn

I think the noisiest feeling spot I've ever experienced is definitely west 112th street btn broadway and amsterdam every night when the men come to take the trash out from the elderly people's home. That really does seem to make an extraordinary amount of noise.

Jan. 11 2010 11:43 AM
Jeff from NYC

What about the levels of movie previews?

Jan. 11 2010 11:43 AM
robert from long island

- what are noise-canceling ear phones
- what is the effect of a TV in the bedroom, for the "sleeping" partner ?

Jan. 11 2010 11:42 AM
annaf from nyc

did you address the LOUD MUSIC IN RESTAURANTS?

Jan. 11 2010 11:42 AM
Will Knapp from brooklyn


Does this organization measure sound levels of particular frequencies? I feel the most painful sound levels in the city are on the 2 and 3 trains passing through downtown where they scream through the slow turns. I feel my ability to tune my guitar has diminished after moving to brooklyn!

Jan. 11 2010 11:42 AM
CC from NYC

Which iPhone app does your guest find accurate for measuring decibel levels? There are 25 in the App Store.


Jan. 11 2010 11:42 AM
mc from Brooklyn

The jewelry departments sometimes have special burglar alarm equipment that emits a very high-pitched whine. Most people can't even hear it.

Jan. 11 2010 11:42 AM
Cesar from nyc

any laws enforcing sound limits in music clubs and concerts???
if there is a smoke ban there should also be a control on the sound limits being blasted on some venues!!

Jan. 11 2010 11:42 AM
hjs from 11211

brian, how do u know what's too loud?

if I can hear your music, it’s too loud.

if I know what song it is IT'S WAY TOO LOUD!

Jan. 11 2010 11:42 AM
Jon P. from The Garden State

Please ask are noise canceling head phones dangerous to use in a busy city like NYC (hard to hear emergency vehicles or hard to hear the car, bus or truck horn that’s from the vehicle thats about to hit you as you j-walk cross the street)?

Jan. 11 2010 11:41 AM
jul from BKLYN

I have to argue about the type of earphones...

If your earphones are letting in ambient noise, you are more likely to turn the volume up. So if the earphones cut the ambient noise, the volumn does not have to compete so they can be used at lower volumn. So, earbuds stink and yes full cover, ambient noise reducers are infact better for you.

A little logic here...

Jan. 11 2010 11:41 AM
Ann Hall Every from Forest Hills

I've been saying/thinking for years now, that it would be a good bet to buy stock in hearing aid companies as whole generation or two will have some sort of damage to their hearing - especially people on the subway or bus who wear headphones etc. the closeness of head phones with music blaring so loud it can be heard by others at the other end of a subway that's loud!

Can't help but be cautious about this guest who works (volunteers) for a hearing aid company...ahem...when he says that it's not necessary to wear ear plugs on a daily basis - what about people whose jobs have them exposed to high decibels of sound all day workers, etc.

Jan. 11 2010 11:40 AM
Will Knapp from brooklyn

Has this organization considered sound levels of particular frequencies? I feel the sound levels ON the trains in the high end are very painful. Many trains, particularly passing through downtown make an extremely painful scream through the slow turns. I feel my ability to tune my guitar has diminished after I moved to Brooklyn!

Jan. 11 2010 11:40 AM
Karen from South Harlem

Brian I would love for you to dedicate a lot more time to the topic of noise and noise pollution. I ahve heard enough about the decibel issue in this city. I have a suspicion that that's because it's what's the City measures when it takes noise measurements. Much MUCH more troubling to most people for more of the time (at work, on the street, at home) are
- low-level and low-frequency noises
- steady-state 60-cycle hum

What does your speaker have to say about those?


Jan. 11 2010 11:40 AM
monica from small town NJ

The fire alarms in schools and my burglar alarm in my home, It's high pitched schrieking tech noise,
What about a parent speaking loudly with an infant in their arms.?

Jan. 11 2010 11:40 AM
Michael Z from Manhattan

At Manhattan's intersection at West 79th Street and Riverside Drive when the M-79 MTA Bus starts hitting brakes at West End Avenue on its way downhill to Riverside Drive.

Stand by the bus stop at the 70 Riverside Co-op apartment address and you'll put your hands over both ears.

YIKES, it's loud!

Jan. 11 2010 11:39 AM

ok....the guest just missed a golden opportunity.

headphones like the ones from etymotic function both as hi fi headphones AND earplugs that block out the ambient you can listen quietly AND hear the music perfectly while blocking out the screeching noise from the subway.

i use this strategy daily.

Jan. 11 2010 11:39 AM
lucy corrigan

inside many stores meant for young people, ie Abercrombie and Fitch, American Eagle, the music is insanely loud. Those poor young workers.

Jan. 11 2010 11:39 AM
Sherman from Manhattan from New York, NY

14th Street and Avenue C.

Not only do we have Con Edison which runs all sorts of machines without having baffles but we have the constant traffic of their trucks as well as the 14th street buses and the Ave. C bus. This sometimes goes on 24 hours a day.

Jan. 11 2010 11:39 AM

My company plays "white noise" all day long to drown out office conversation. Is this bad?

Jan. 11 2010 11:39 AM
Jon P. from The Garden State

Please ask how does the Walkman hearing lose of the 80’s compare to the Ipod hearing loss of today? More or less today?

Jan. 11 2010 11:37 AM
jason from Manhattan

What about the deafening pneumatic sound city buses make when lowering at stops? It gets me every time. Also, the jackhammers during summer construction are terrible. I wear noise cancelling earplug headphones on the train to enjoy music and always plug my ears with my fingers when trains roll in the station. I always carry a set of earplugs so I'm prepared for bars, concerts, or sudden unplanned noise exposure.

Jan. 11 2010 11:37 AM from UWS

Is it harmful to listen to radio (say WNYC) all day ?

Jan. 11 2010 11:37 AM
Cynthia from long island

What about people who live near Firehouses?

Jan. 11 2010 11:36 AM
Rebecca from Brooklyn

Union Square Lexington Avenue Subway station. I wrote a haiku for the New York Times city section years ago which read:

Union Square Six train
Screeching, high-pitched wheels, I cringe
Fingers in my ears

It still applies

Jan. 11 2010 11:36 AM
judy from NYC

Noise canceling head phones are great. I never leave home without them. They make a huge difference.

Jan. 11 2010 11:35 AM
Jake from Manhattan

Brian, please stop pronouncing the word "deci-BELLS'."

You sound like WNYC's robot underwriter announcement lady.

Jan. 11 2010 11:35 AM
Pim from jersey city

You forgot the Union Square 4,5,6 platform. It is borderline pain-inducing.

And at one point, the R,W uptown train at Rector St while *inside* the train! The screeching was unbelievable.

Jan. 11 2010 11:35 AM
emmet mc gowan from brooklyn

do the police, fire brigade etc sirens NEED to be so loud?

Jan. 11 2010 11:34 AM
Connie from NJ

Can your hearing get more sensitive as you get older? Loud sounds like truck brakes bother me a lot more now than they used to.

Jan. 11 2010 11:34 AM
mc from Brooklyn

Actually, that clip that you played is not a subway pulling in but pulling out, i.e. speeding up. I live at the end of a line. One of the worst is the air break or whatever it is that they engage when the train is at the end of its line. Absolutely deafening.

Jan. 11 2010 11:34 AM

The subway sound you played sounds like the first 3 notes of "There's A Place For Us" from West Side Story.

Jan. 11 2010 11:34 AM
Jamal from Manhattan

What about children? Is 93 decibels too much for a child, even if it isn't for an adult?

Jan. 11 2010 11:34 AM
David from Queens

The Old style E trains with shreiking brakes are the loudest- louder then the newer trains on the F or the 170s on the E line. They are painful to the ear with their metallic brakes.

Jan. 11 2010 11:34 AM
Margaret from Jersey City

The screeching brakes on the 4,5,6 platform at Union Square!!!

Jan. 11 2010 11:33 AM
antonio from the republic of park slope..

I know this off topic, but has your guest checked out what was the decibel level used to torture enemy combatants?

Jan. 11 2010 11:33 AM
bernard joseph from brooklyn

what about using headphones every day?

Jan. 11 2010 11:33 AM
andy from manhattan



Jan. 11 2010 11:30 AM

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