Resistance to planned wind projects is frequently associated with expressions of noise concern. Based on two complementary studies, we investigate the underlying drivers of noise concerns. Combining a large national stated preference survey (N = 1217) with an in-depth analysis of revealed preference data resulting from a public consultation process in Switzerland, we find no clear relationship between subjective noise concerns and prospective noise impacts based on residents’ proximity to a planned wind project. With the exception of a high-resolution analysis of residents in the immediate surroundings (<1 km) of a planned wind project, both studies seem to suggest that noise concerns travel much farther than what sound propagation models would predict. Rather than the law of physics, (lack of) familiarity with wind energy and issues related to procedural and distributional justice appear to provide a better explanation for the geographical spread of noise concerns. Given the critical importance of social acceptance in the planning phase of wind energy projects, our studies offer important insights for policymakers. Bridging the gap between expected and actual impacts, as well as addressing misconceptions about noise among residents with low familiarity, is key. Neighboring municipalities can play a crucial role and host jurisdictions should consider appropriate measures to manage perceived justice.