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This Guy Is On A Mission To Find The Best Acoustics Anywhere On Earth
March 17, 2014
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The Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon in Iceland, one of Trevor Cox's acoustic wonders of the world. (Photo: Wikimedia Commons)

What's the best place in the world to hear unique sounds? The whispering gallery in St. Paul's Cathedral? The droning sand dunes of the Mojave desert? The Alaskan seaside? That's the question Trevor Cox has made it his mission to answer. 

Cox is a radio broadcaster and a professor of acoustic engineering at the University of Salford in Manchester, England. He's also the author of The Sound Book, a new catalogue of his journeys to find the greatest acoustics and most unique sounds in the world. 

"They're places that you want to visit not for the more typical reason, that they've got beautiful views, but because they've got beautiful sounds," he told Smithsonian.com.

For example, there's the Great Stalacpipe Organ in Louray, Virgina. The organ was built in the 1950s by Lelan Spinkle, an engineer who realized that the stalactites in a local cave could be used to play music.

Or there's the Jökulsárlón glacier lagoon in Iceland, where visitors can experience almost complete silence (except for the occasional creaking of glaciers). 

Or the abandoned spy station at Teufelsberg in Berlin, where the empty domes let visitors play with sound by ricocheting whispers and voices from curved wall to curved wall. 

"As I wrote the book, I became more and more aware of interesting sounds during the everyday," Cox says. "I now find myself listening more and more as I walk around. At the moment, spring is on its way, so I hear the animals coming alive. Even above the rumble of the traffic, I notice bird song coming back after a long winter."

Along with the book, Cox's website chronicles his journey, complete with a "sound map" that marks places sonic tourists should visit if they ever get the chance. Alas, there are currently no Canadian locations on Cox's map. If you know of any amazing soundscapes anywhere in the Great White North, share them out with the hashtag #SoundMapCanada.

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