Our marketing department likes to say that tires are like shoes. This is a good analogy as winter tires are like boots and Extreme Performance Summer tires are like running shoes. While this analogy works well in explaining traction, it doesn't exactly apply to tire noise.
In advising drivers, we often find that the root cause of their excessive tire noise is heel-to-toe wear. What is heel-to-toe wear? Taking a look at my running shoes can help explain.
Notice how the back of each "tread block" is worn more than the front? If your noisy tires have a similar wear pattern, you've got heel-to-toe wear.
How do your tires develop heel-to-toe wear? As your tires roll, the front of each tread block gets compressed, and the back of each tread block wears faster. If you simply rotate front-to-back, this will not help - you need to change the direction on travel by crossing when you rotate.
Obviously, tire engineers are aware of this issue and try to stabilize individual blocks as they design the tread. If your current tires have heel-to-toe wear, it's best to pick a non-directional tire as your replacement choice. Your installer can cross-rotate non-directional tires without having to dismount them. So, if your heel-to-toe wear noise is driving you crazy, look for a non-directional tire and rotate them every 5,000 miles.