Can Techies Muzzle the Vuvuzela?

Flickr user <a href="">Island Chic</a>

When vuvuzelas, those slender, ubiquitous, South African plastic trumpets took over the airwaves last week with the kickoff of the World Cup they quite literally began to annoy an entire planet. Luckily we humans are an industrious lot: When the world complains, entrepreneurs listen. Now broadcasters can buy, for example, buzz-cancelling technology from Tennessee, “a combination of dynamic broadband noise suppression and notch filtering are utilized to create the Vuvuzela noise reduction processing chain,” for $2,900. This type of filtering basically works to remove the low frequency drone, (they buzz in B-flat, apparently) from the broadcast. And, for the fans, there’s the “anti-vuvuzela filter” for roundabout $5 per half of play. The filter is the brainchild of 29-year-old Clemence Schlieweis, a German engineer with time and sound-mixing apparati on his hands. Using a different method, the filter creates an “inverse” sound wave with the same amplitude as the vuvuzela sound, but with the peaks and troughs of the wave reversed. Take a mountain, add a valley, create a level pitch.

In theory these techy methods work, so long as the vuvuzelas are uniform in sound and pitch, but with hundreds of thousands blaring at once the cacophony might be hard to match in real time. A professor of acoustics tells the UK Telegraph: “My advice is to football fans is to be Zen about it; accept vuvuzelas as part of the World Cup soundscape and pour another beer.”

Still, if you want to try a free app and you have a Mac check out VuvuX, and you can follow the latest in filtering apps at


The more we thought about how MoJo's journalism can have the most impact heading into the 2020 election, the more we realized that so many of today's stories come down to corruption: democracy and the rule of law being undermined by the wealthy and powerful for their own gain.

So we're launching a new Mother Jones Corruption Project to do deep, time-intensive reporting on systemic corruption. We aim to hire, build a team, and give them the time and space needed to understand how we got here and how we might get out. We'll publish what we find as a major series in the summer of 2020, including a special issue of our magazine, a dedicated online portal, and video and podcast series so it doesn't get lost in the daily deluge of breaking news.

It's unlike anything we've done before and we've got seed funding to get started, but we're asking readers to help crowdfund this new beat with an additional $500,000 so we can go even bigger. You can read why we're taking this approach and what we want to accomplish in "Corruption Isn't Just Another Scandal. It's the Rot Beneath All of Them," and if you like how it sounds, please help fund it with a tax-deductible donation today.

We Recommend


Sign up for our newsletters

Subscribe and we'll send Mother Jones straight to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.


Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.