Starbucks Music Mask - 600 seconds - Copyright (c) 2010 David Ocker

Read about Starbucks Music Mask here.

How to download and use Starbucks Music Mask

1. DOWNLOAD -- Download the file by rightclicking on THIS LINK and choosing "Save Link As..." to save it to your computer. Transfer it to your mp3 player. It should appear with these tags:
  • title "Starbucks Music Mask"
  • album "White Noise"
  • genre "White Noise"
2. SETTINGS -- Set your player for continuous repetition of a single track. On an iPod go to Settings and set "Repeat" to "one". Set the volume to about one third.

A NOTE ABOUT LOOPING: It might help to make sure the file is set for "gapless" playback. (In iTunes this is on the Options menu of the track's Info.) You might also want to check "skip when shuffling" if you shuffle lots.

(I tried to make this file into a gapless loop so it can repeat without glitch. This turned out to be harder than I thought. This file plays just fine without a gap in iTunes on my computer but on my iPod there's a distinct, if short, interruption. Drat! Any suggestions on how to fix this will be gratefully received.)
3. FIND A LOCATION -- Get comfortable in the noisy environment which you would like to mask. Starbucks is usually a good place to find too-loud music or shrill conversations but I've used this file in plenty of other locations. It gives an other worldly feel to supermarkets. Although listening while driving is not recommended, I've found that it works well in locations with lots of traffic noise.
4. START PLAY AT LOW VOLUME -- Find Starbucks Music Mask on your player and hit play. If you have the opportunity, the best time to start playback is during a silence between songs. That way you won't know what song you're masking. It's harder to mask familiar music.
5. SLOWLY INCREASE VOLUME -- Listen for a moment at the initial volume. Can you still hear the music or conversation clearly over Starbucks Music Mask? Probably you will. If so, increase the volume a bit and listen for another moment. Repeat this process until you no longer recognize the music or understand the conversations around you. It's okay if you still can hear bits of the music or talk. You want a level where you can't readily identify exactly what is being played or spoken.
5. PROPER VOLUME It's important not to set the volume too high. I've found that only the noisiest environments require more than two-thirds volume on my iPod. Some loud environments featuring aggressive familiar music or high-energy talkers who are facing directly at you may not mask well without a very high volume setting. Too high volume is undesirable. Save your ears. There are many factors which will affect the setting of proper volume, not the least of which is the type of earphones you use.
6. VERIFY VOLUME SETTING -- Once you have a level that seems right, go about your business. Read your book or surf your web. Wait at least five minutes because by then there should be a new song playing and you should have no idea what it is. Listen carefully again. Can you identify the music or conversations around you? If you can, a louder volume might be needed. If you hear no trace of the music or conversation at all you may have the volume too high. Try backing it off a little bit. Repeat this step periodically as you use Starbucks Music Mask. Sonic environments change.
7. THE TEST -- Once you have a good volume level, there's nothing more to do except possibly to count how many other people are listening to mp3 players and wonder what they're listening to. After a long while (or just before you're ready to leave) try this test: abruptly remove the earphones from your ears. If Starbucks Music Mask is working correctly you should be completely surprised by what you hear.
7. REPORT BACK -- If you're the sort of person who would read all this and then actually use Starbucks Music Mask then you must be the sort of person with enough time to tell me about your experience. Please leave a comment on the original Mixed Meters post. Suggestions and praise are always welcome. Complaints and insults are generally less appreciated unless they are highly amusing.