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Twenty Thousand Hertz

104 EpisodesProduced by TEDWebsite

A lovingly crafted podcast that reveals the stories behind the world's most recognizable and interesting sounds.

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#1 | Siri

November 1st, 2016

16:10

When Siri launched in 2011, she permanently changed the way people interacted with their technology. What was it like to be the voice behind that …

#2 | NBC Chimes

November 15th, 2016

16:51

NBC’s three little chimes didn’t just define a television network, they defined a generation. Where did they come from and what is the surprising impact they have had on current and future media? Featuring the last …

#3 | 8-bit

November 29th, 2016

16:51

Primitive, yet iconic, 8-bit audio defined a generation through video game sounds and music. Discover the history and innovation behind those audio marvels that still fascinate today. Featuring Microsoft Sound Designer,

#4 | Mystery Hum

December 13th, 2016

14:51

There's this place right at the border between Detroit, MI, and Windsor, ON where there's this hum… It rattles dishes, makes people sick, it's even making people move away. And the government does not want you to know …

#5 | Sound of Extinction

December 27th, 2016

18:10

When was the last time you heard a dial-up modem? A dot matrix printer? A CD dropping into its plastic tray? Did you know it would be the last time? …

#6 | From Analog to Digital

January 10th, 2017

18:07

Did we lose anything when we transitioned from analog to digital? Learn about the Jedi skills old radio DJs had to have to spin vinyl on the radio, …

#7 | Movie Soundtrack

January 24th, 2017

19:16

When you think of a movie soundtrack, you probably think music. And sure, that’s one of the many, many things going on there. What else goes into making a scene sound “natural”? It isn’t what you’d think. Meet a major …

#8 | Audio Descriptions

February 7th, 2017

17:56

Did you know there might be a track of audio on your favorite movies and television shows that describe all of the actions on screen? This technology …

#9 | Cars

February 21st, 2017

18:49

Some car sounds are more obvious like the horn or engine... but what about the not-obvious-until-you-point-them-out sounds like the hollow thud of a …

#10 | Dolls That Talk... And Some That Listen

March 7th, 2017

19:12

Talking dolls have been around for over a century, but the fascination with making inanimate objects seem human reaches back into our early history. …

#11 | Space

March 21st, 2017

23:16

When we think about sound, our only reference is what it’s like here on Earth. What happens when we leave this thin blanket of atmosphere, and what …

#12 | Foley

April 4th, 2017

18:23

When you listen to a movie, everything the actor touches sounds crisp and clean. However, none of it was recorded on the movie set. Go behind the scenes with some of the unsung heroes of our movie experience. Featuring …

#13 | The Good, the Bad & the Irritating

April 18th, 2017

22:06

Some sounds are like rug burn for your ears, while others are pleasant and soothing. We explore these sounds and get to the bottom of why we might interpret them as “good” or “bad”. Featuring Tommy Edison and David …

#14 | Hearing Loss

May 2nd, 2017

21:32

Our ears are sensitive, but we often don’t treat them that way. We are born with the ability to hear up to 20,000 Hz. As we age, our hearing range diminishes. On top of that, the more exposure we have to loud sounds, …

#15 | Voice Acting

May 16th, 2017

20:55

We hear disembodied voices all the time, in everything from cartoons and anime to commercials and trailers. It seems easy, but it's actually an …

#16 | The Wilhelm Scream

May 30th, 2017

21:34

When it comes to movie screams, what’s the first one you think of? Is it a scream that evokes a sense of fear, pain, or maybe even… humor? Perhaps you immediately think about a famous “Scream Queen” or a specific scene …

#17 | Forensic Audio

June 13th, 2017

19:41

You might not realize it, but audio can be just as crucial to solving a case than video or eyewitness testimony. But understanding how to interpret …

#18 | Evolution of Accents

June 27th, 2017

27:19

When you describe yourself to others you might mention your height, hairstyle, or maybe your build. But one of the most telling things about you is something you can’t even see, yet it defines you more than you realize. …

#19 | 20,000 dBs Under the Sea

July 11th, 2017

25:35

71% of the Earth is covered by water. And most of us imagine it to be a serene, almost silent world. But why should we have all the fun up here? …

#20 | Noise Pollution

July 25th, 2017

21:13

Noise pollution is something we’ve all experienced. Road construction, motorcycles, passing aircraft - the list goes on and on. Other than being just …

#21 | Sound Firsts

August 8th, 2017

30:42

What is the oldest recorded sound in history? For over 100 years researchers thought they knew until a mind-blowing discovery by historians found …

#22 | Fight or Flight

August 22nd, 2017

28:07

Are you afraid to fly? Does even the thought of boarding an airplane make you anxious? You’re not alone. Millions of Americans suffer from clinical aviophobia. While some manage to distract themselves long enough to …

#23 | Sonic Seasoning

September 5th, 2017

20:25

Taste is one of our most subjective of the five senses. A flavor that elicits delight in one individual may evoke strong disgust in another. And while we all have a basic understanding of flavor, we rarely think about …

#24 | Watergate

September 19th, 2017

27:21

Watergate might be the most widely-referenced scandal in our nation’s history. The actual word itself has been appropriated in order to name many later scandals. But for a new generation of Americans, the word Watergate …

#25 | Level Up

October 3rd, 2017

20:22

Video games are a growing industry and every play-controlled experience is defined by its harmony of music, sound effects, and voice acting. In this …

#26 | Acoustical Umbilical Cord

October 17th, 2017

24:02

Many animals, humans included, are natural-born criers. It’s the most basic form of communication from right when we come into the world. But us humans are unique: we keep on crying until the day we die. What was born …

#27 | Spooky Sounds

October 30th, 2017

27:16

We uncover how scary sound effects are created in horror films as well as dissect how sound triggers the fear mechanisms in humans. Featuring Formosa Group Senior Sound Editor/Sound Designer Trevor Gates and Dan …

#28 | Disney Parks

November 13th, 2017

24:02

Theme parks have a way of transporting us to magical places, and sound is crucial in maintaining the illusion. From the most action-packed attractions to the background music playing between park areas, theme park sound …

#29 | Let It Beep

November 27th, 2017

20:05

For over two decades, every time you turned on a Mac, you were greeted by a familiar sound. It’s appeared as a punchline in The Simpsons, and in movies like WALL•E. It’s a sound some of us tried to hide from our parents …

#30 | The Bleeps, the Sweeps, and the Creeps!

December 11th, 2017

26:01

There are sounds we interact with every single day and never give a second thought. Our phones, computers, cars, and other devices are constantly communicating with us through user interface sounds and it’s their job to …

#31 | The Gift

December 25th, 2017

22:38

The science behind sound reproduction has been studied for centuries. But what will research uncover in the centuries to come? One man made it his life’s mission to find out, and a gift he made to the world will …

#32 | 3149146093

January 8th, 2018

26:39

A mysterious Tweet from one of the most famous people on Earth: A single phone number, zero context. What does it mean? Why was it posted? Would you …

#33 | Six O'Clock Soundtrack

January 22nd, 2018

27:48

Ever wonder how the music on your favorite news stations is created? Dive in with news music appreciator + journalist Victor Vlam; Composer Matthew Kajcienski, Composer Irad Eshel, Composer Adarsh Thottetodi, Composer

#34 | Muzak

February 5th, 2018

20:15

“Elevator music” was once the sound of restaurants, offices, and elevators in mid-20th century America. But ironically these bland, string-driven instrumental tracks are never heard in elevators anymore. In this …

#35 | Emergency Alert System

February 19th, 2018

27:44

When people in Hawaii were falsely alerted of a Ballistic Missile threat, the first thing they heard was the sound of an emergency alert. For decades, this tone has alerted us to local weather emergencies and other …

#36 | Hamilton

March 5th, 2018

31:12

Broadway’s award-winning, record-breaking, smash hit, Hamilton, is a musical unlike any other. Get the story from people in the room where it happens of how sound helps tell the musical’s story eight times a week. We …

#37 | Seizure Sonification

March 19th, 2018

30:11

Brant Guichard has heard "The Music" for as long as he can remember. Brant has a particular type of epilepsy where he hears what are called "musical …

#38 | The Music in Speech

April 2nd, 2018

19:44

The way you speak has rhythm, timbre, and pitch. It’s more like music than you might think. We chat with The Allusionist host Helen Zaltzman, Martin …

#39 | Live Theater

April 16th, 2018

24:20

Amazing concerts, Broadway musicals, Cirque du Soliel performances, and other live shows live and die on their sound design. This is the story of how …

#40 | ASMR

April 30th, 2018

25:48

Do certain sounds give you the head tingles? If yes, this episode is full of ear candy for you! In this episode, we learn all about the phenomenon …

#41 | Ultrasonic Tracking

May 14th, 2018

25:34

Did you know your phone is a really good listener? Apps on your phone might be sending and receiving data over ultrasound. Ultrasonic communication …

#42 | Amen Break

May 29th, 2018

26:01

There’s a sample of music that’s been heard in over 2,000 songs. Odds are you’ve heard it many times and didn’t even realize you were listening to the same breakbeat. The amen break might be the most sampled piece of …

#43 | THX Deep Note, Part 1

June 11th, 2018

27:53

Since 1983 one of the most memorable parts of going to the movies has been the THX certification played during the previews. The accompanying sound logo called “The Deep Note” has fascinated, terrified, and mystified …

#44 | THX Deep Note, Part 2

June 25th, 2018

29:19

Whether you're 6 years old, or 96 years old, one of the most memorable parts of going to the movies for the last three decades has been the THX "Deep …

#45 | Misophonia

July 9th, 2018

20:26

The way our brains process sound affects the way we respond to sound. This episode is about why that happens in those who suffer from misophonia, the …

#46 | Slot Machines

July 23rd, 2018

20:14

What do you hear when you walk into a Casino? It can feel like chaos, but each sound is carefully curated to draw you in and make you stay. One …

#47 | Loop Groups

August 6th, 2018

29:53

Invisible actors create worlds of sound in everything you watch - from Jaws to The Wire. With special guests, Carl Gottlieb, screenwriter and author of "The Jaws Log"; Dann Fink, loop group director and co-owner of

#48 | Sonic Branding

August 20th, 2018

28:34

We are constantly exposed to sonic branding in television, radio, and web commercials. We deconstruct some of the most impactful audio logos in …

#49 | Jingles

September 4th, 2018

32:18

Odds are if we asked you sing your favorite advertising jingle from when you were a kid, you’d be able to recall every single lyric. Yet we don’t hear many advertising jingles these days. Why is that? This is the story …

#50 | Twenty Thousand Hertz

September 17th, 2018

34:57

50 episodes! When we launched this podcast two years ago, we never imagined our passion project would come this far. To mark the occasion, we’re …

#51 | Classic Cartoon Sound Effects!

October 1st, 2018

30:37

Cartoon sound effects are some of the most iconic sounds ever made. Even modern cartoons continue to use the same sound effects from decades ago. How were these legendary sounds made and how have they stood the test of …

#52 | The Theremin

October 15th, 2018

29:16

If you've ever watched an old sci-fi or horror film, you've probably heard the hair-tingling, alien sounds of the Theremin. It's a spooky, strange …

#53 | Theater for the Mind

October 29th, 2018

33:30

The "golden age of radio drama" may have been a stellar period for storytelling -- but the stories weren't all golden bright. Sci-fi and horror radio …

#54 | Xbox Startup Sound

November 12th, 2018

25:38

The Xbox startup sound is an audio logo that’s become synonymous with the game console. But its origins are rooted in solving a logistical problem; …

#55 | Being George Clooney

November 26th, 2018

33:56

Hollywood films are huge internationally. But how are these films adapted for foreign languages? We delve into the not so talked about process of …

#56 | Boots 'n Cats

December 10th, 2018

25:32

Beatboxing began as an imitation of a drum machine, but over the decades it has evolved as a means to emulate any number of percussive sounds. Now …

#57 | Space Remix

December 26th, 2018

22:48

What happens when we leave Earth's thin blanket of atmosphere, and what do other planets sound like? In this special episode, we have completely remixed one of our favorite shows! It's been re-written, re-edited, …

#58 | Silence

January 14th, 2019

25:18

Our world is filled with sound. It exists in even the quietest corners of the planet. But what happens when all that sound is taken away? What is silence? There are very few places on Earth where silence actually …

#59 | BLUE! 42!

January 28th, 2019

27:01

For decades, NFL strategy slowly evolved from each team running a dozen different plays, to rigid schemes with coaches sending in orders through …

#60 | Do Not Disturb

February 11th, 2019

28:23

Alarm sounds have been around almost as long as humans themselves. But as our world has transformed, so have they. Today’s alarms are having an unexpected effect on our minds and bodies, and can even be putting our …

#61 | Dining on Decibels

February 25th, 2019

25:12

Have you noticed how loud it gets in restaurants these days? Have you found yourselves shouting just to keep a conversation going? Architecture critic Kate Wagner explains how changing design trends have led to dining …

#62 | The Booj

March 11th, 2019

26:21

Movie trailers have undergone a huge evolution. They’ve gone from those cheesy voice-of-God narrators in the ‘80s and ‘90s, to boojes and bwaas. …

#63 | Phone Tones

March 25th, 2019

25:53

We unpack how touch tone dialing changed communication forever. Join us on a deep, quirky dive into telephone history. We’ll also deconstruct these sounds and reveal their hidden brilliance. Featuring author Annabel Dodd

#64 | Birdsong

April 8th, 2019

28:37

When was the last time you stopped and really listened to birdsong? Ever wonder what they’re singing about? We chat to Kenn Kaufman and Dr. Irene Pepperberg about the extraordinary complexity to the avian arias, how …

#65 | Voyager Golden Record

April 22nd, 2019

36:13

In the late '70s, NASA launched Voyagers 1 & 2 to explore the furthest reaches of our solar system and beyond. But something amazing was included …

#66 | Sound Escapes

May 6th, 2019

32:00

Over his long career, Gordon Hempton has mastered the art of truly listening. He’s known as the Sound Tracker. Some people call him an acoustic …

#67 | Mother of Dragons(ounds)

May 20th, 2019

23:26

Game of Thrones is a global phenomenon that has redefined the fantasy genre. Viewers from around the world gather every week to anxiously watch what will happen next. The actors, writers, directors, and visual artists …

#68 | Sonic Illusions

June 3rd, 2019

24:39

What we hear is incredibly personal and we all hear things differently. Sometimes our ears can even play tricks on us. Sonic illusions put a spotlight on the unique function of our hearing and how our backgrounds and …

#69 | Plants that Sing

June 17th, 2019

24:02

Have you ever wondered what your dog or cat would say to you if they could talk? How about your plant? In this episode we explore the world of …

#70 | Deaf Gain

July 1st, 2019

26:01

The last few decades have seen amazing improvements in cochlear implant technology. Professor Michael Dorman reveals what they really sound like, and …

#71 | Soundmarks®

July 15th, 2019

30:22

Companies spend a lot of time and effort perfecting the look of their brands. But now what a brand sounds like matters just as much. We trace the …

#72 | 808

July 29th, 2019

28:11

The 808 is arguably the most iconic drum machine ever made. Even if you’ve never heard of it, you’ve definitely heard it. It’s in dozens of hit songs -- from Usher to Marvin Gaye, Talking Heads to The Beastie Boys -- …

#73 I Stradivarius

August 12th, 2019

26:01

Stradivarius violins are reputed to have an exquisite sound that cannot be replicated or explained. Why is that? And what, exactly, is a Stradivarius …

#74 I Hear Here!

August 26th, 2019

23:11

Humans have been fascinated with acoustics since our earliest ancestors. From Roman amphitheaters to modern symphony halls, we’ve designed our spaces with sound in mind. But the relationship between acousticians and …

#75 I Speak Easy

September 9th, 2019

23:10

We rarely think about the way we speak. For most of us, it just happens. In this episode, we catch up with two professional voice artists and chat about their rituals and techniques that help them communicate. Featuring …

#76 I You've Got Mail!

September 16th, 2019

23:54

How a simple soundbite on America Online became one of the most recognizable sounds of the internet age, plus the creation of a whole new musical …

#77 | The [COMPRESSED] History of Mastering

September 23rd, 2019

31:43

Join us on a musical journey from the Golden Age of analog mastering to the digital methods of today. We’ll find out why the music industry became …

#78 | The Loudness Wars

October 7th, 2019

36:02

In part 2 of the story of mastering, we explore the consequences of the Loudness War and call out some of the worst offenders. We’ll also hear about the artists and mastering engineers who have been fighting back, and …

#79 I The Price is Right (Yeah, Yeah!)

October 14th, 2019

23:23

As a young composer, Edd Kalehoff was looking for his break. In the early 70s he struck gold, writing the theme song and music cues for The Price Is …

#80 I Virtual Choir

October 21st, 2019

29:37

Singing with others is a powerful form of expression. That's why the composer Eric Whitacre started the Virtual Choir; an experiment that connects …

#81 I Baby Shark

November 4th, 2019

40:01

Baby Shark is a mega viral YouTube video, an unstoppable earworm, a top 40 hit, a Eurodance smash, a decades old campfire song, and the center of an …

#82 | Vroom Vroom

November 18th, 2019

30:35

When was the last time you turned off your radio and just listened to your car? What’s really going on under the hood? We chat with our own Nick …

#83 | Historically Speaking

December 2nd, 2019

30:34

Language is a uniquely human gift. We have shaped it to our individual and cultural needs, and it has shaped us in return. Professor Lera Boroditsky

#84 | Sonic Wonderland

December 16th, 2019

23:05

There’s a reason we call tourists “sightseers”. As a society, we’re totally obsessed with the way things look. But our world is full of beautiful, …

#85 | Seinfeld

January 8th, 2020

29:14

No bass for you!! In 1987, TV composer Jonathan Wolff was still trying to make a name for himself in Hollywood. Then one day, he got a call from …

#86 | 4′33″

January 22nd, 2020

36:04

John Cage was a respected composer when, in 1952, he created his “silent piece”, 4’33’’ - a piece that would have the music world scratching their …

#87 | Good Vibes

February 5th, 2020

29:54

We know that music has the power to affect our moods, but you might be surprised by just how deep the rabbit hole goes. Music can affect our brains …

#88 | Noise "R" Us

February 19th, 2020

29:25

From See ‘n Say to Speak & Spell, and beyond, toys provide the soundtrack of our childhoods. Huge advancements in computer technology in recent …

#89 | Satanic Panic!

March 4th, 2020

32:57

From the sixties to the nineties parents worried messages hidden in rock albums would make their children do drugs and worship the devil. The truth …

#90 | Cremona

March 18th, 2020

27:36

There’s a town in northern Italy that’s home to the most famous violin makers in history. The museum there holds some of the most unique and prized …

#91 | Twenty Parts Per Thousand

April 1st, 2020

26:24

The stories behind the world's most recognizable and interesting smells.


Throughout history, humans have gone to great lengths to indulge their sense …

#92 | Ehh... What's Up, Doc?

April 15th, 2020

28:25

Bugs Bunny, Barney Rubble, Daffy Duck, Porky Pig, Tweety Bird, and many more were all voiced by one man, Mel Blanc. Discover the incredible life and talent that helped to elevate the animation industry into big …

#93 | That's All Folks!

April 29th, 2020

24:13

Mel Blanc is a legendary voice actor who voiced more than 400 distinct characters. But in 1961, Mel was involved in a potentially fatal car accident. …

#94 | Pew Pew

May 13th, 2020

33:49

When you think about Star Wars, what’s the first thing that comes to mind? Lightsabers? Spaceships? Alien creatures? What about all of the sounds that go with those things? How were those sounds made, and what makes …

#95 | Makin' Whoopee!

May 27th, 2020

30:44

Farts have been funny to humans for thousands of years. This basic bodily function has countless nicknames around the world, but our fascination with farts is probably best illustrated by the simple whoopee cushion. In …

#96 | Copyrights & Wrongs

June 10th, 2020

29:12

Most western music is built on the same 12 notes. Sometimes the arrangement of those notes sounds similar, which raises the question: Theft or Inspiration? We listen to some famous copyright disputes and try to decode …

#97 | Stop... Collaborate & Listen

June 24th, 2020

28:00

Can you steal from yourself? Can you copyright a mood? We look back on some important copyright cases that could have an impact on the entire future …

#98 | Hamilton Remix

July 8th, 2020

31:58

Broadway’s award-winning, record-breaking, smash hit, Hamilton, is a musical unlike any other. In this special episode, we have re-voiced, remixed, and remastered one of our shows about our favorite broadway musical! …

#99 | McElroys, Mysteries and Me

July 22nd, 2020

45:51

Join Dallas and the McElroy brothers (hosts of My Brother, My Brother and Me) as they compete to see which brother has the best ear. We dust off our …

Introducing Twenty Thousand Hertz

August 1st, 2020

2:42

The stories behind the world's most recognizable and interesting sounds. Subscribe now.

Learn more about your ad choices. Visit megaphone.fm/adchoices

#100 | Ta-dum! It's Netflix

August 5th, 2020

26:28

The Netflix ta-dum sound has quickly become one of the most iconic sound logos of our generation. I bet you can hear it in your head right now. This sound is heard countless times, every single day, all over the world. …

#101 | The City That Never Sleeps

August 19th, 2020

27:52

When writer Paige Towers moved to one of the loudest cities in the world, she found herself overcome with anxiety and depression. She came to realize that the noise of the city itself, and the inability to escape from …

#102 | Deepfake Dallas

September 2nd, 2020

25:27

Using artificial intelligence, someone can make an algorithm that sounds just like you. And then they can say... whatever they want you to say. We're entering a brand new era: One where you can no longer trust your …

#103 | Vocal Discords

September 16th, 2020

26:12

Musicians like Justin Timberlake, Adele, Björk and Rod Stewart have all had surgery to treat vocal nodes. Nodes are so widely discussed, they've almost become a boogeyman in the singing community. But is this condition …

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