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Acoustics

Acoustics

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Published by: Joseph Alcoran on Nov 08, 2011
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Acoustics is the interdisciplinary science that deals with the study of sound, ultrasound and infrasound (all mechanical

waves in gases, liquids, and solids). A scientist who works in the field of acoustics is an acoustician. The application of acoustics in technology is called acoustical engineering. There is often much overlap and interaction between the interests of acousticians and acoustical engineers. Hearing is one of the most crucial means of survival in the animal world, and speech is one of the most distinctive characteristics of human development and culture. So it is no surprise that the science of acoustics spreads across so many facets of our society - music, medicine, architecture, industrial production, warfare and more. Art, craft, science and technology have provoked one another to advance the whole, as in many other fields of knowledge. The word "acoustic" is derived from the Greek word ακουστικός (akoustikos), meaning "of or for hearing, ready to hear"[1] and that from ακουστός (akoustos), "heard, audible"[2], which in turn derives from the verb ακούω (akouo), "I hear"[3]. The Latin synonym is "sonic". After acousticians had extended their studies to frequencies above and below the audible range, it became conventional to identify these frequency ranges as "ultrasonic" and "infrasonic" respectively, while letting the word "acoustic" refer to the entire frequency range without limit

1. (used with a sing. verb) The scientific study of sound, especially of its 2.
generation, transmission, and reception. (used with a pl. verb) The total effect of sound, especially as produced in an enclosed space: "Such annoyances are frequently caused by flaws in the acoustics rather than the performers" (Mel Gussow).

The science of sound and hearing. The study of the acoustics of buildings is immensely complicated because of the variety of ways in which sound is conveyed, reflected, diffused, absorbed etc. The design of buildings for performances has to take account of such matters as the smooth and even representation of sound at all pitches in all parts of the building, the balance of clarity and blend and the directions in which reflected sound may impinge upon the audience. The use of particular materials (especially wood and artificial acoustical substances) and the breaking-up of surfaces, to avoid certain types of reflection of sound, play a part in the design of concert halls, which however remains an uncertain art in which experimentation and ‘tuning’ (by shifting surfaces, by adding resonators etc) is often necessary. Science of production, control, transmission, reception, and effects of sound. Its principal branches are architectural, environmental, musical, and engineering acoustics, and ultrasonics. Environmental acoustics focuses on controlling noise produced by aircraft engines, factories, construction machinery, and general traffic. Musical acoustics deals with the design and use of musical instruments and how musical sounds affect listeners. Engineering acoustics concerns sound recording and reproduction systems. Ultrasonics deals with ultrasonic waves, which have frequencies above the audible range, and their applications in industry and medicine. (civil engineering) The science of planning and building a structure to ensure the most advantageous flow of sound to all listeners.

and arrival time of sounds. See also Psychoacoustics. This usually involves raising the source of sound on an elevated stage. The separation between the two leaves or surfaces of the wall must be maintained as completely as possible for this to occur. Intruding noises from the exterior or from adjoining rooms can be reduced by using walls. the persistence of an initial syllable will cover up or mask the one that follows it. Noise control Acoustical planning concepts for buildings include placing noisy activities away from activities that require relative quiet and locating noise-sensitive activities away from major sources of noise. windows. It includes studies conducted in laboratories and in actual listening rooms of how people react to the level. and other . the room surfaces that contribute to these qualities. There are three major branches of architectural acoustics.” If there is too much reverberation in a room. while providing enough reverberant sound energy that sounds are heard as “full” and “live. ceilings. Several important design concepts are used to provide good listening conditions in rooms for speech and music. making it difficult to understand what is being said. Second is to limit the background noise level in the room so that people can hear the sound they want to hear above the level of the ambient sound. Mechanical rooms in buildings that house air handling units. Buffer spaces such as corridors or storage spaces are often used to separate two rooms that require acoustical privacy such as music rehearsal rooms in a school. (3) Sound reinforcement and enhancement systems use electronic equipment to improve the quality of sounds heard in rooms. First is to provide good access to the direct sound for all people in the room. A compound or double wall assembly can be used to reach a relatively high transmission loss with low mass per unit wall area. pumps. altar. (2) Noise control or noise management involves the reduction and control of noise between a potentially disturbing sound source and a listener. (1) Room acoustics involves the design of the interior of buildings to project properly diffused sound at appropriate levels and with appropriate esthetic qualities for music and adequate intelligibility for speech. frequency content. These studies have established a set of relationships among the acoustical qualities that have been found to be important in the perception of sound. and the physical components of the sound field in a room that contribute to these properties. The location of air-conditioning plants on a site should be chosen so as to reduce propagation of noise to neighbors. direction. or podium at the front of the room and sloping the floor surface to elevate the ears of people above the heads of those seated in front of them. Room acoustics One essential component of room acoustics is an understanding of psychoacoustics and the qualitative evaluation of sounds heard by people in rooms. Third is to limit the reverberation time in the room so that sounds are heard clearly and fully. It is essential to control noise from building services. The width and depth of the room should also be limited so that the natural direct sound can project from the speaker or instruments at the front of the room to the listeners.Architectural Acoustics The science of sound as it pertains to buildings. Psychoacoustics is the study of the psychology of sounds. and doors with appropriate transmission losses.

including music venues like bars. echoes. It can also add reverberation and other special acoustic effects to create a virtual acoustic space. and external noise. Architectural acoustics includes room acoustics. A sound reinforcement system amplifies the natural acoustic sounds in a room that is too large for people to hear with just “natural” room acoustics.g. • Architectural Acoustics . Sound reinforcement Sound reinforcement systems. canopies. sound absorption of the finish materials. designing air ducts to operate with air velocities that will not create turbulent flow noise. acoustic shadows.equipment should be located away from noise-sensitive rooms. texture. and pipes to equipment. home theaters. orchestral shells. noise suppression is critical in the design of multi-unit dwellings and business premises that generate significant noise. conduits. and installing silencers or attenuators in the ducts to reduce noise produced by fans from traveling through the duct work.. providing flexible connections between ducts. The more mundane design of workplaces has implications for noise health effects. Architectural modifications (e. sound intimacy. Vibration isolation. The first application of architectural acoustics was in the design of opera houses and then concert halls. and undulating or angled ceilings and walls) may act as focusing elements to improve sound quality.Definition and Overview . A sound amplification system makes all sounds played in a space louder. of particular concern in the design of concert halls and auditoriums. and listening rooms for media playback. It is usually not designed to supplement the natural room acoustics or to provide subtle virtual room effects to the amplified sounds. See also Mechanical vibration. These systems usually have a network of loudspeakers located throughout a room and connected to a microprocessor. Architectural acoustics is the science of noise control within buildings. the design of recording and broadcast studios. The microprocessor can delay the signals to arrive at times corresponding to reflected sounds from the virtual room surfaces. Relationship between sound produced in a space and its listeners. electronic enhancement systems. increasing their apparent loudness with a series of loudspeakers. This type of system reinforces the natural sounds that come from the room. and blend. In an electronic enhancement system. Good acoustic design takes into account such issues as reverberation time. and sound amplification systems are used in many buildings. More widely. loudspeakers act as virtual room surfaces to create the perception that sounds are reflected from these surfaces at the proper times and with the proper loudness. Noise control treatments in the air-conditioning system include providing vibration isolators for equipment.

2. door and penetrations. windows. ACMV Noise control in Buildings . 3. walls. windows. ducting and other penetrations.the science of limiting and/or controlling noise transmission from building exterior to interior and vice versa. Architectural acoustics is the science of controlling quality of sound The main concerns of architectural acoustics are: 1. The main noise paths are roofs. ceiling panels. doors.the science of control noise produced by ACMV (air conditioning and mechanical ventilation) systems in buildings. ACMV Noise control in Buildings (also HVAC (Heating.the sciece of controlling and/or tuning room (chamber.in buildings. eaves. Air Conditioning)) 1. Inadequate control may lead to high and annoying background noise levels within the space Building skin envelope This science analyzes noise transmission from building exterior envelope to interior and vice versa.the science of limiting and/or controlling noise transmission from one building space to another to ensure space functionality and speech privacy. Inter-space noise control . eaves. Building's Internal Acoustics . halls etc) reverberation time and echo to ensure speech intelligibility. Inter-space noise control The science of limiting and/or controlling noise transmission from one building space to another to ensure space functionality and speech privacy. flanking. or under the flight path of a major airport. An example would be providing suitable party wall design in an apartment complex to minimise the mutual disturbance due to noise by residents in adjacent apartments. An example would be providing a suitable design for a home which is to be constructed close to a high volume roadway. windows. The main noise paths are roofs. Building's Noise Insulation Envelope 2. acoustic ceiling panels (such as wood dropped ceiling panels). doors and penetrations. 4. The main noise paths are room partitions. ducting and other penetrations. Sufficient control ensures space functionality. Building's Internal Acoustics 4. Sufficient control ensures space functionality and is often required based on building use and local municipal codes. Ventilation. windows. walls. trunking. The typical sound paths are room partitions. Building's Noise Insulation Envelope . or of the airport itself. . doors. Inter-space noise control 3. Inadquate control leads to deterioration of the sound quality within the space.

. On-site wall panels can be constructed to accommodate door frames. A = Absorb (usually via ceiling tile) B = Block (via workstation panels. To illustrate this concept consider the difference between a modern large office meeting room or lecture theater and a traditional classroom with all hard surfaces. Excessive reverberation time. greater than 50 square feet) can be created on walls and ceilings with this method. wood or acoustical tile. or Micore. Large panels (generally. There are three ways to improve workplace acoustics and solve workplace sound problems – the ABC’s. Fabric covered panels are one way to heighten acoustical absorption. or any other intrusion. Prefabricated panels are limited to the size of the substrate ranging from 2'x 4' to 4' x 10'. Finish materials often consist of fabric. Wood finishes can consist of punched or routed slots and provide a natural look to the interior space. Sound reflections create standing waves that produces natural resonances that can be heard as a pleasant sensation or an annoying one. Mineral fiber board. Finish material is used to cover over the acoustical substrate. Ideal acoustical panels are those without a face or finish material that interferes with the acoustical infill or substrate. which can be calculated. infilling the acoustical substrate and then stretching and tucking the fabric into the perimeter frame system.Interior space acoustics This is the science of controlling a room's surfaces based on sound absorbing and reflecting properties. can lead to poor speech intelligibility. Fabric retained in a wall-mounted perimeter track system. Mechanical equipment noise Building services noise control is the science of controlling noise produced by: • • • • ACMV (air conditioning and mechanical ventilation) systems in buildings. termed HVAC in North America Elevators Electrical generators positioned within or attached to a building Any other building service infrastructure component that emits sound. C = Cover-up by increasing background sound produces the most dramatic improvement in speech privacy –– with the least disruption and typically the lowest cost. wall placement and workspace layout) C = Cover-up (via electronic sound masking) While all three of these are recommended to achieve optimal results. Fabric can be wrapped around substrates to create what is referred to as a "pre-fabricated panel" and often provides the good noise absorption if laid onto a wall. baseboard. although acoustical absorption may not be great. is a commonly used acoustical substrate. Interior building surfaces can be constructed of many different materials and finishes. is referred to as "on-site acoustical wall panels" This is constructed by framing the perimeter track into shape.[1] Reflective surfaces can be angled and coordinated to provide good coverage of sound for a listener in a concert hall or music recital space.

see Sound. however.Inadequate control may lead to elevated sound levels within the space which can be annoying and reduce speech intelligibility. It is more commonly used for the special branch of that science. made some pertinent observations on the subject and some astute guesses concerning reverberation and interference. The Roman architect Marcus Pollio. sounds that are unfamiliar seem unnatural. term sometimes used for the science of sound in general. II I Materi a l s For modifying the reverberations. The time required for a sound to diminish to one millionth of its original intensity is called reverberation time. II Problems of Design Acoustical design must take into consideration that in addition to physiological peculiarities of the ear. a loud sound should still be barely audible for one to two seconds after the sound has stopped in an auditorium. that deals with the construction of enclosed areas so as to enhance the hearing of speech or music. and floors. For example. hearing is complicated by psychological peculiarities. who lived during the 1st century BC. Sound produced in an ordinary room is somewhat modified by reverberations due to reflections from walls and furniture. Typical improvements are vibration isolation of mechanical equipment. were first thoroughly treated by the American physicist Joseph Henry in 1856 and more fully developed by the American physicist Wallace Sabine in 1900. Soft materials such as cork and felt absorb most of the sound that strikes them. without echoing certain frequencies unnaturally. without introducing excessive reverberation at any frequency. and without producing undesirable interference effects or distortion. Hard materials such as stone . for this reason. especially for music. An appreciable reverberation time improves acoustical effect. the architect has two types of materials. Sound masking can also be created by adjusting HVAC noise to a predetermined level I Introduc tio n Acoustics (Greek akouein. For the treatment of acoustics as a branch of the pure science of physics. architectural acoustics. walls. The scientific aspects of this subject. In a private home a shorter but still discernible reverberation time is desirable. a broadcasting studio should have a normal degree of reverberation to ensure natural reproduction of sound. soundabsorbent and sound-reflecting. The acoustics of buildings was an undeveloped aspect of the study of sound until comparatively recent times. and sound traps in ductwork. “to hear”). rooms are designed to produce sufficient reflections for naturalness. For best acoustic qualities. to coat the surfaces of ceilings. although they may reflect some of the low-frequency sounds.

and by building several unconnected walls separated by dead spaces. To evaluate the acoustical properties of rooms and materials. the acoustics of a room will be satisfactory if a proper balance between sound-absorbing and sound-reflecting materials is created. When perceived sound intensity is doubled. which depend upon the judgment of the listener. and expresses the result in decibels (dB). whereas an audience absorbs sound. its power level increases by 10 times. which is related to the loudness of a sound. Loudness levels.and metals reflect most of the sound that strikes them. a logarithmic unit. in which certain ranges of frequency are canceled out. the ergonomic aspect: the measure of how much of a function the lighting plays. The sound intensity of an air-raid siren could reach about 150 dB. even though the overall absorption is sufficient. or 10 dB. either by illuminating vacant spaces unnecessarily or by providing more light than needed for the aesthetics or the task. hospitality. sound may be focused at a particular point. The acoustics of a large auditorium may be very different when it is full from when it is empty. Similarly. An ordinary conversation would increase the sound-level reading to about 70 dB. Thirdly is the energy efficiency issue to assure that light is not wasted by over-illumination. monumental structures. Reproduction of sound picked up by microphones also requires the elimination of echoes and interference. I V Insulat io n Another important aspect of room acoustics is insulation from unwanted sound. by using massive walls. including academic/institutional. in such cases. The first is the aesthetic appeal of a building. A sound-level meter measures sound intensity. the rate of flow of sound energy. making the acoustics bad at that point in the room. Troublesome echoes may frequently occur in a room that otherwise has a proper overall reverberation time if the ceiling or a wall is concave in shape and is highly reflecting. Concept of lighting design Architectural lighting design focuses on three fundamental aspects of the illumination of buildings or spaces. Architectural lighting design is a field within architecture and architectural engineering that concerns itself primarily with the illumination of architecture. an aspect particularly important in the illumination of retail environments. Attention must also be given to the elimination of interference. a jet-airplane noise. empty seats reflect sound. residential. The anechoic chamber is a room free from echoes and reverberations in which all sound is absorbed by glass-fiber wedges placed on the surfaces of the walls. the acoustical scientist uses tools such as anechoic chambers and sound-level meters. In a quiet residence the sound-level meter would read about 38 dB. are measured in sones and phons. retail/entertainment and site/facade lighting projects. . Secondly. In most cases. corporate. around 120 dB. Such interference arises from the difference in the distances traversed by the direct and the reflected sound and produces so-called dead spots. a narrow corridor between parallel reflecting walls may trap sound by repeated reflection and cause troublesome echoes. This is obtained by carefully sealing even the smallest openings that can leak sound.

. colour confusion etc. the lighting designer attempts to raise the general attractiveness of the design. measure whether it should be subtly blended into the background or whether it should stand out. the impact of daylight on the project and safety issues (glare. In aesthetic appeal. While creative spirit is demanded of a designer. but also by day). rather a mixture of both. a qualified professional architectural lighting designer will generally have a good understanding of the properties of light from a scientific standpoint and of the functioning of a light fitting (known as a "luminaire" in field terminology). and assess what kind of emotions the lighting should evoke.Each of these three aspects is looked at in considerable detail when the lighting designer is at work.). Architectural lighting design. The functional aspects of the project can encompass the need for the project to be visible (by night mostly. qualifies as being neither an art nor a science. much like architecture itself.

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