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July 16, 2014

The Most Annoying Sound

Filed under: Main — admin @ 12:01 am

As a computer nerd, I can be quite critical of the portrayal of electronics and technology in film and video. Still, I give most goofs a pass, just for the sake of drama. One thing I cannot forgive, however, is the mouse click sound effect.

Mouse clicks aren’t the most annoying technology-in-film sound.

The most annoying sound made by a computer in a movie is the “sound” made when text is displayed on a screen. As any computer user knows, text is silent. It makes no noise.

The noise harkens back to the teletype era, when computer output most definitely made a racket. But on a monitor, the text appears with nary a whisper. And it appears a lot faster.

Once upon a time, I wrote a filter that displayed a bloopy sound when text was displayed — just like in the movies. It was so annoying I turned it off and never used it again!

But the most unforgivable sound as far as I’m concerned is the mouse click.

When you hear a mouse click — especially in a TV ad — it doesn’t sound a darn thing like a real computer mouse. No, it sounds like a stapler, or someone pushing in on a tin of biscuits.

Below is a sound file I stole from the Internet while doing a “Mouse Click Sound” search. It’s typical of the non-mouse-sounding audio you’ll find:

Is that a mouse click or is someone turning off a lamp?

Maybe the creative directors at the ad agencies want something more than the soft, delicate, real-life mouse click? They want a sound that’s affirmative and strong, something that absolutely doesn’t sound like a mouse click at all!

I’m sitting here at my computer clicking the mouse and it sounds nothing like that audio clip. Even when I put my ear right up next to the mouse, all I hear is a teeny, plastic ticking sound. It’s a tiny snip, and not the sound of industrial scissors slicing through sheet metal.

Did the original Macintosh mouse have an obnoxious click? How about that Microsoft mouse? I seriously don’t remember hearing anything loud and clumsy. In fact, I remember how the early IBM PC keyboards made a racket. Keyboard manufacturers since then have worked diligently to create quiet keyboards.

No, for the future, the mouse click in real life will always be a pleasant, nearly inaudible tick. But on TV and the movies, preserved for posterity, the mouse click will rival text on the screen for what I consider the most annoying sound.

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