Where’s that Sound Coming From?

Stop the Noise. Don't really stop the noise, I usually like it, but nonetheless I like this photo too.

Sound Thinking

Where's that sound coming from?
An app inside my box?
Is it ITunes on the desktop
Or YouTube in the 'Fox?

A Skyper shouting at me?
Or Pandora playing faves?
Media Player come to life?
Hmmm ... Real with recent saves?

A podcast I'm preparing?
A vidcast made for nerds?
Nope, it seems to be this picture,
It says a thousand words!

Huh?

I started writing the first four lines of this post when I realised I was writing a “poem”, so I just kept going even though I’m clearly no “poet”.

Anyway, my point is:

  • People multitask, running ten or more browser and desktop apps at the same time.
  • Sound is arising a lot inside the browser these days, and I’m not talking about Axel F midis running in an off-colour GeoCities page. YouTube and wannabees, Flash telephony like JaJah, Podcasts being played by publishers as well as aggregators, Flash and Ajax games. Hopefully we’ll see more Ajax developers introduce Richer Plugins to include sound, because good sound effects make interaction more productive and more fun.
  • So I’d like to see an app that locates the visual source of the sound, which 95% of the time, can indeed be traced back to a particular window or browser tab. And if there is such an app, it should be baked into the OS. For instance, you could use an Alt-Tab-like sequence to isolate each sound as you rotate through the various sources. Nothing more annoying than having twenty browser tabs open and not knowing where the sound is coming from.

Update Feb 26, 2012: And finally Chrome introduces it. Available now on Canary channel.

9 thoughts on Where’s that Sound Coming From?

  1. Amen! Amen! Amen, brother! I’ve been googling variations on “where’s that sound coming from” for several months now. This shit drives me crazy! The solution SHOULD be built into the Windows OS, but I’m certainly not sitting on my hands waiting for that to happen. So if you’ve gotten any word on an app that addresses this problem, PLEASE let me know.

    Thanks a million!

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  3. I never comment positively on a post that someone has used a 4 letter word in.

    BUT.

    I totally agree with Dave Rosenblatt’s comment from 2007

    Robert Orlando

    “Amen! Amen! Amen, brother! I’ve been googling variations on “where’s that sound coming from” for several months now. This shit drives me crazy! The solution SHOULD be built into the Windows OS, but I’m certainly not sitting on my hands waiting for that to happen. So if you’ve gotten any word on an app that addresses this problem, PLEASE let me know.

    Thanks a million!”

  4. This post is from over 4 years ago (as of 2010), is there STILL o solution for this? I have a Mac, and I encounter the same problem. I keep a lot of tabs open, and sometimes audio starts playing and I have no idea where it’s coming from and how to stop it. When you have over 100 tabs open it’s no so easy to just quickly check and close one. Is there really still no app to deal with this?

  5. Is anyone having a specific problem with animal sounds? A few months I had this incessant barrage of ribbit (frog) sounds and chittering like tropical birds. Today I turn on the browser and I get a very distinctive (and insanity inducing) crows caw and mournful soft wailing that is a bit lower in pitch than wind whistling through cracks in a window frame. Does anyone know what causes these?

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  7. Hi,

    I am building a Chrome extension called MuteTab (http://www.mutetab.com/) that tries to solve this problem for browser tabs. (On the OS level the mixer should handle this for recent versions of Windows and I have heard that Audio Hijack does it for Macs; no integration between the browser and OS for managing this quite yet.)

    My extension basically compiles a list of all possible sound sources and shows them most recent to least recent. (Unfortunately, it can’t always show you exactly which tab is making a sound (Flash would need to be updated or Chrome would have to launch a separate Flash process per tab), but the situation should be a lot better than before.)

    Feedback appreciated.

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