Digital Black

The other day I encountered the phrase “digital black”1 — something audio engineers use to describe the silence on a cell phone. It’s not just the absence of sound, of signal itself, but also the absence of noise too.

Unlike conventional analog phones which transmit unchanged audio signals from one location to another, digital black results from the complex array of audio processing happening on digital devices to remove noise that we’re otherwise attuned to filter out biologically. And therefore we end up with this sense of nothingness — what you might picture in your mind as an absence of everything.

The effect on us is to continuously ask “are you still there?” or “can you hear me?”

Footnotes

  1. The New Analog by Damon Krukowski, 2017 The New Press, p 58.