The sound to that point had been a subconscious irritant—by the time I noticed it, I could never say how long it had been going for. But after that exchange, and the sanity-questioning it entailed, roughly half my brain was looking out for the sound’s return. When it did finally reemerge, I burst without knocking into my roommate’s room. “That,” I said. “Oh,” he replied. “The radiator?”

It was, in fact, the radiator. He hadn’t noticed it.

This is all to say that, when we are speaking about sounds, “annoying” is a subjective criteria. But there must be, one figures, some consensus on the subject. For this week’s Giz Asks we reached out to a number of sound-experts to find out what that might be.