Project: Selling Sound

This project aimed to understand how the standardization of consumer products has contributed to the hidden integration of Europe by examining the history and current practice of sound design in the European car industry.


Research team: Prof. Dr. Karin Bijsterveld, Drs. Eefje Cleophas, Dr. Stefan Krebs, Dr. Gijs Mom (TU-Eindhoven), Prof.Dr. Wiebe Bijker, Dr. Tineke Egyedi (TU-Delft).
Type of project: NWO Open Competition.
Time frame: 2007 – 2011.


Books and Book Chapters:

sound and safeSound and Safe: A History of Listening Behind the Wheel, by Karin Bijsterveld, Eefje Cleophas, Stefan Krebs and Gijs Mom. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2013.

For more information, including a preview of the book, see here.




ohssThe Oxford Handbook of Sound Studies, edited by Trevor Pinch and Karin Bijsterveld. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2012.

For more information, including a preview of the book, see here. Also see the companion website, which collects sound files, videos and images for many of the chapters.

The following chapters are particularly relevant for the Selling Sound project:

  • Stefan Krebs, “‘Sobbing, whining, rumbling’: Listening to Automobiles as Social Practice”, pp. 79-101.
  • Eefje Cleophas and Karin Bijsterveld, “Selling Sound: Testing, Designing, and Marketing Sound in the European Car Industry”, pp.102-124.


SIDSonic Interaction Design, edited by Karmen Franinović and Stefania Serafin. Cambridge: MIT Press, 2013.

For more information, including a preview of the book, see here.

The following chapter is related to the Selling Sound project:

  • Karin Bijsterveld and Stefan Krebs, “Listening to the Sounding Objects of the Past: The Case of the Car”, pp.3-38.



Karin Bijsterveld (2007). “Weg van geluid: hoe de auto een plaats werd om tot rust te komen“. Oratie, Maastricht University, 2007. Inaugural lecture, translated as:

Karin Bijsterveld (2010). “Driving Away from Noise: On How the Car Became a Place to Unwind.” In: Karin Bijsterveld (ed.), Science and Technology Studies at Maastricht University: An Anthology
of Inaugural Lectures, Maastricht: University Press Maastricht (Limited Edition, ISBN 978 90 5278 992 7), pp. 123-146.

Karin Bijsterveld (2010). “Acoustic Cocooning: How the Car became a Place to Unwind”, in The Senses & Society, vol. 5:2, pp. 189-211.

Stefan Krebs (2011). “The French Quest for the Silent Car Body”, in Transfers: Interdisciplinary Journal of Mobility Studies, pp. 64-89

Stefan Krebs (2012). “Standardizing Car Sound – Integrating Europe? International Traffic Noise Abatement and the Emergence of a European Car Identity, 1950-1975”, in History and Technology, vol 28:1, pp. 25-47.

Stefan Krebs (2012). “Notschrei eines Automobilisten oder die Herausbildung des Kfz-Handwerks in Deutschland”, in Technikgeschichte 79:3, pp. 185-206.


In the Media:

Warna Oosterbaan (2014), ‘Route du Silence’, NRC Lux, July 26, 2014.

A short, accessible article inspired by the research of the Selling Sound project, and in particular the book Sound & Safe, published in NRC Lux (an insert to the Saturday edition of the Dutch daily newspaper NRC Handelsblad) in July 2014. Download the original article, the illustration on the front-page, and an English translation (courtesy of Ton Brouwers).