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Tech by VICE

What Every Habitat on Earth Sounds Like

It's days like today that we should all be deeply indebted to ambient crowdsourcing projects like Nature Soundmap, a new interactive global library of habitat noises.

by Brian Anderson
Feb 3 2014, 7:15pm
Image: Centroclinal/Wikimedia Commons

The snow is coming down wet and heavy here in Brooklyn. If I could just get away for a minute to someplace warm and quiet, save for the lulling drone of an insect symphony, then maybe, just maybe, I could stop fixating on my cold, damp socks.

I can. And so can you. It's days like today that we should all feel deeply indebted to ambient crowdsourcing projects like Nature Soundmap, a new interactive global library of habitat noises.

The growing collection of high-quality field recordings and satellite imagery features the patient work of over 30 contributors scattered around the world, and features in stereo recordings made with a pair of mics so as to capture and deliver 360-degree sound direct to your noise-cancelling headphones (go ahead, put yours on now.) These binaural soundscapes "most accurately imitate the natural experience you would hear with your own two ears and provides a realistic representation of all of the sounds in a particular habitat or location," according to the project's About page.

The idea here is to catch the overall vibe of any given pocket of nature. Zone out to the sounds of the coastal rainforest of Ujung Kulon National Park in Java, Indonesia, where the jungle meets the sea and you'll get the idea. But that doesnt mean the Nature Soundmap doesn't give way to species-specific recordings, like these American green tree frogs taped in Monroe Country, Indiana:

Or this Icterine Warbler's morning song at a lake in Lithuania:

I could spend days exploring this thing, and I probably will. Together with the Aporee soundmap, a similar worldwide audio project that's cataloguing what every cityscape on Earth sounds like, I might never have to actually be here ever again. The slush might still be falling down, but I'm miles and miles away.