Comfort noise (or comfort tone) is synthetic background noise used in radio and wireless communications to fill the artificial silence in a transmission resulting from voice activity detection or from the audio clarity of modern digital lines.
Some modern telephone systems (such as wireless and VoIP) use voice activity detection (VAD), a form of squelching where low volume levels are ignored by the transmitting device. In digital audio transmissions, this saves bandwidth of the communications channel by transmitting nothing when the source volume is under a certain threshold, leaving only louder sounds (such as the speaker's voice) to be sent. However, improvements in background noise reduction technologies can occasionally result in the complete removal of all noise. Although maximizing call quality is of primary importance, exhaustive removal of noise may not properly simulate the typical behavior of terminals on the PSTN system.
The result of receiving total silence, especially for a prolonged period, has a number of unwanted effects on the listener, including the following: