Here’s why hold music always sounds so awful

Ever wondered why hold music sounds so terrible?

Liam Neeson holding a cell phone in Taken. He has a set of skills. A particular set of skills. He hates being on hold. And also wants his family back.
December 17, 2017

Most people know all too well the pain of horrible, low-quality, endlessly-looping hold music, especially when you’re trying to deal with a telecom company who’s being swamped with customers trying to get a sweet deal. Why though, in an era in which we can get pristine audio in everything from our Bluetooth speakers to our dogs’ collars, does the 400th go-round of Hilary Duff’s “Santa Claus Lane” sound like it’s being beamed through a tin can?

As cleared up by Notebooks , the reason is simple: telephone speakers are only produced to replicate the frequencies made by the human voice, and as a result an analog phone will generally lose frequencies above 4000Hz. Of course, we can hear a far wider range than that, so that tinniness is the result of the fully-produced music’s lost freqs above that range. Then there’s the fact that music isn’t optimized for the hold system, and powerful frequencies can “overload” the system, which causes the crackles and washing out often experienced by most on-hold veterans.

Just be glad that most places at least beat E-ZPass when it comes to their hold music, which admittedly isn’t a very high bar to clear:

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