The nation’s best and worst sounds revealed


Car alarms, snoring and nails down a blackboard are the noises that most annoy us, a survey by Specsavers has revealed, whereas hearing our favourite sounds, such as music and birdsong, is one of life’s greatest pleasures say 85% of people.

The research also reveals how much our hearing means to us – three-quarters of us (71%) say losing it would seriously affect our enjoyment of life, while two thirds (63%) fear losing our hearing as we get older.

With recent research from the University of Manchester showing that hearing loss can be one of the after-effects of Covid-19, Specsavers is keen to ensure we do all that we can to protect one of our most precious senses.

The study shows that it is the simple things in life that we appreciate hearing the most. Almost half of the people (48%) say that their most loved sound is their favourite music, closely followed by waves crashing on the shore and birdsong (both 41%). A third also enjoy hearing a babbling river (34%) and rain falling on the window (33%), with 30% liking the sounds of a crackling fire and children’s laughter.

Sound also plays a big role in our day-to-day feelings and emotions – 91% of us say that hearing a sound we like puts us in a good mood, while conversely 62% of people say that they can’t enjoy themselves if they are hearing a noise they find irritating. As well as car alarms that won’t turn off, other annoying noises include chewing and people clicking their joints!

Specsavers chief audiologist Gordon Harrison says: ‘As our research shows, hearing plays such an important role in our lives – we get pleasure in hearing the sounds we love and it enables us to communicate with friends and family – so we shouldn’t take it for granted – something which 69% of people think is easily done.

‘That is why it is so important we do all we can to protect our hearing, yet on average it takes someone 10 years to get their hearing checked. You should seek the advice of an audiologist as soon as you notice any changes, such as conversation becoming more muffled, or if you notice the volume on the TV is starting to creep up.

‘If you have been affected by Covid-19 you may also have experienced changes to your hearing, such as deterioration or tinnitus. While hearing loss cannot be reversed there are lots of things which can be done to help, so if you notice any changes at all, make sure you book an appointment to see your audiologist.’

Specsavers is open for audiology appointments throughout the UK. Customers will need to request an appointment online ( or call their local store first for advice and to be assessed on the level of care that they might need. In the first instance, care and support will be provided remotely, if possible, using its RemoteCare video and telephone consultation service.

For more information or to request an appointment, visit

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