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Can you hear “The Hum”?

By Cabin12 - 22 June 2011 72

Myself and my partner moved to Canberra from Sydney nearly two years ago. Whilst living in the inner west, around 2008, we both became aware of a low-pitched humming noise, a little like the hum sometimes omitted by old stereo speakers that are on the way out. It sounded decidedly electrical in nature, and the sound seemed to oscillate between a low constant bass note and a note about an octave about it. It was most noticeable between 2am and 4am, but also at other times, and had us completely baffled. We ruled out all possible causes that we could think of (faulty electrical equipment, primarily), but the sound continued.

Thinking we might be free of it in Canberra, it was not to be – we can also hear it here in the capital. If you search the internet for hum phenomenon, you’ll find that there are various known hums around the world (Taos, USA; Bristol, UK, Auckland, NZ; Bondi, AU), which various “experts” all seem to be at odds to explain adequately. My own feeling is that it is some sort of auditory response to the microwave radiation that we are all bombarded with constantly these days, which some people pick up on and others don’t.

As the hum in our part of Canberra, not too far from Mt Stromlo, was particularly bad around 1am this morning, I’m curious to know whether anyone else in our fair city can hear it too. And please, no “you’re a nutter” comments – this phenomenon is very real (to some of us, at least).

What’s Your opinion?

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72 Responses to
Can you hear “The Hum”?
Jivrashia 1:08 pm 22 Jun 11

Rusalka said :

Thank god someone else has heard it too! so I went outside and it was even louder,

Wow, this is starting to sound as good as an X-Files episode!
*grabs popcorns*

Rusalka said :

but I couldn’t really pin point a direction

I’ll have a stab at this – it could be resonance, which means you may have multiple sources converging at some point (your neighbourhood).

So.. first off OP, can you distinguish whether the source of the hum is inside or outside your home?

chewy14 1:06 pm 22 Jun 11

Reptoid drilling.
Now you’re on to them, watch out.

Wily_Bear 12:53 pm 22 Jun 11

I’m not sure my experience is relevent to you, given that you have been bothered by this noise in two distinct locations, however I too have puzzled over a similar noise, and it turned out to have a simple explanation, and nothing nearly so exciting as picking up microwave vibes or whatever 🙂
Sometime ago, I was regularly woken by a noise almost exactly as you described. I began to wonder if I was developing Tinnitus or similar, especially as noone else ever heard it, although workplace hearing tests have indicated I have unusually acute hearing. Anyhow, this noise drove me crazy for a while, until I finally walked slowly along my street at 2am one morning to try and locate the source. It was clearly comng from my immediate neighbours house, seemingly from the windows. Noting that the noise was appeared sinchronised to distinctive flashes of tv light, I realised my neighbour had a subwoofer and the low notes were reverberating on the window glass. Subsequent discussions with the neighbour revealed he often watched action movies late into the night. He was being considerate by not doing it loudly, but even at low level, the sub was making this strange vibration. I’m no expert on noise, but I am pretty savvy at neighbourly relations, so a gift of a good pair of wireless headphones has solved the problem, and he was kind enough to accept (and use) them. It’s not definitive proof, however I have never been bothered by the noise since. Could anything similar be happening around your place ?

PBO 12:52 pm 22 Jun 11

Have you tried learning or reciting the words? That usually makes humming stop.

But seriously, when this event occurs it is usually at night, in the dead of night. This could be explained by the lack of audible noise pollution (very common in the day) and the amount of cold/moist air in the night.

In conjunction with the fact that noise travels extremely well at night and even better through water, if the water was in small particles it could affect the way sound bounces off and through it.

With enough moisture particles in the air, the noise of the wind could create a semi reverberation effect which would be amplified and warped by the amount of precipitation in the area, this could travel great distances and have the illusion of a hum.

Rusalka 12:50 pm 22 Jun 11

Thank god someone else has heard it too!

The first time I heard it I got up and turned off all the electrical appliances. I could still hear it so I went outside and it was even louder, but I couldn’t really pin point a direction, it seemed like it was every where. I thought I was going crazy.

But I have since woken up to it a few times, as has my partner. It’s quite loud and every time between 1-3am.

We’re in Weston Creek too but under Mt Taylor, not Mt Stromlo. I’d love to know what it is.

bitzermaloney 12:44 pm 22 Jun 11

Stay where you are. They no where you live and will be around shortly with the paddy wagon.

JessP 12:40 pm 22 Jun 11

Its probably your partner, making the noise to make you freak out.
Clearly its working.

Peptis 12:35 pm 22 Jun 11
Classified 12:34 pm 22 Jun 11

What you’re hearing is the Lefty Anger Ray Gun. Although aimed directly at the inner north, it is located out your way.

howeph 12:31 pm 22 Jun 11

Any High Voltage power transmission lines near by? Corona discharge, particularly in damp conditions, can cause an audible noise.(

Very very unlikely that it is from normal, modern world microwave radiation – or any electromagnetic radiation for that matter. How could it cause audible compression waves in the air?

dpm 12:27 pm 22 Jun 11

Hmmm, considering it travelled with you, perhaps it could be something electrical of yours?

An old clock radio in our bedroom used to give off a hum from it’s transformer. I got rid of it as it was driving me nuts at night. Of course, you could only hear it in the dead of night when there was no background noise.

Innovation 12:20 pm 22 Jun 11

Simultaneous tinnitus? Seriously though, it must be incredibly annoying for you.

Keijidosha 12:18 pm 22 Jun 11


buzz819 12:03 pm 22 Jun 11

No, you’re a nutter, so is your husband.

Now that I have that out of the way. I have nothing else to add.

fgzk 12:02 pm 22 Jun 11

Plant and machinery from the Cotter Dam or the sewerage plant.

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