Equalizers On HDTVs Can Quieten Vuvuzela Noise

If you’ve tune in to watch the FIFA World Cup 2010 on your HDTV over the last couple of weeks, one constant feature of the football matches — apart from players (even the most skillful ones) skying the new Jabulani ball when trying to shoot long-range on goal — is the incessant droning background noise caused by thousands of fans inside the stadium blowing their vuvuzela horns.

Sounding this plastic trumpet is to South Africans what singing chants is to British football fans. However, even though the vuvuzela does bring a distinctive flavour to this year’s World Cup, its pitch (akin to a large swarm of bees droning) and loudness (it can go up to 131 decibels which is almost as loud as a gunshot) have drawn a number of complaints from those who are unaccustomed to the sound. Broadcasters have criticised the vuvuzelas for drowning out commentaries; television viewers have accused the horn sound of giving them headaches and destroying the normally festive football atmosphere; whereas players like Patrick Evra of France, Lionel Messi of Argentina and Christiano Ronaldo of Portugal have blamed the instrument for hindering on-pitch communication and/or distracting them.

Broadcasters have asked for the vuvuzelas to be banned from the stadiums, but to their (and many TV viewers’) dismay, their requests have not been entertained by FIFA nor the local organising committee who are both adamant that the vuvuzela is a symbol of the South African culture which should be accepted by football fans worldwide.

Short of muting the TV volume and turning on the subtitles, what can exasperated TV viewers do? Well, if you own a HDTV equipped with an adjustable equalizer (EQ) in the sound menu, it may be possible to muffle the offending frequencies of the vuvuzelas. The vuvuzela’s standard tone is a B flat, equating to a fundamental frequency of 233Hz with harmonic overtones at 466Hz, 932Hz, and 1864Hz. Since the latter two frequencies are weaker, toning down the frequencies nearest to 233Hz and 466Hz on a HDTV’s sound EQ can potentially filter out the sound of vuvuzela droning.

On a Samsung HDTV, you can try dialing down the 300Hz channel (and/or boosting the adjacent bands):

Sound Equalizer on Samsung HDTV
Sound equalizer on a Samsung HDTV

On a 2010 Panasonic HD TV, tinkering with the 200(Hz) and 500(Hz) channels may yield the desirable result:

Sound Equalizer on Panasonic HDTV
Sound equalizer on a 2010 Panasonic HDTV

Your mileage may vary depending on your listening environment and individual sensitivity, but there’s no harm experimenting with your HDTV’s EQ (if present) to see if you can quieten the vuvuzelas somewhat. Of course, a newer digital amplifier or receiver which offers more precise access to those specific frequency bands within its equalizer should allow for a more effective reduction in vuvuzela noise.