Anthropogenic noise has become a major global pollutant and studies have shown that noise can affect animals. However, such single studies cannot provide holistic quantitative assessments on the potential effects of noise across species. Using a multi-level phylogenetically controlled meta-analysis, we provide the first holistic quantitative analysis on the effects of anthropogenic noise. We found that noise affects many species of amphibians, arthropods, birds, fish mammals, molluscs and reptilians. Interestingly, phylogeny contributes only little to the variation in response to noise. Thus, the effects of anthropogenic noise can be explained by the majority of species responding to noise rather than a few species being particularly sensitive to noise. Consequently, anthropogenic noise must be considered as a serious form of environmental change and pollution as it affects both aquatic and terrestrial species. Our analyses provide the quantitative evidence necessary for legislative bodies to regulate this environmental stressor more effectively.