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Qualification of anechoic and hemi-anechoic chambers is
intended to demonstrate that a chamber adequately supports
free-field conditions for a given test sample. However, the
common practice of measuring widely spaced points along a
traverse line is an inadequate measure of inverse square law
performance, particularly for frequencies at and above 1000
Hz. On the other hand, continuous traverses yield a more com-
plete picture of the capabilities and limitations of an anechoic
space. A new qualification measurement system has been de-
veloped at Georgia Tech to allow for easily repeatable, auto-
mated continuous traverse measurements. The highly portable
system makes use of Labview™ and MATLAB™ tools to per-
form, control and analyze a complete traverse test, giving real-
time access to the data and immediate processing and analy-
sis of the results. This article will describe the new system,
present data taken for an anechoic chamber and demonstrate
the benefits of this system over current methods.
Anechoi c chambers are a common feature i n many l aborato-
ries of industry, academia and government. Of critical concern
to those who have acqui red these faci l i ti es i s the i ni ti al qual i -
fi cati on of thei r free-fi el d performance, whi ch i denti fi es the
regi on of the i nteri or vol ume of the chamber that yi el ds free-
fi el d behavi or. Measurements made to qual i fy a chamber are
often tedi ous to perform and di ffi cul t to repeat. The qual i fi ca-
ti on methods prescri bed by ANSI S12.35 and ISO 3745 stan-
dards are fundamental l y the same and can be summed up as
fol l ows: A mi crophone i s moved conti nuousl y al ong radi al
paths (traverses) from a sound source and the sound pressure
l evel s are recorded. These measured l evel s are compared wi th
those predi cted by the i nverse square l aw; pass/fai l determi -
nation is based upon the permissible differences between them,
as a functi on of frequency.
The test system descri bed i n thi s arti cl e was devel oped
through attempts to qual i fy a newl y constructed anechoi c
chamber at the Georgi a Insti tute of Technol ogy. Ini ti al tests
were made usi ng di screte measurement poi nts, manual l y set-
ti ng one or more mi crophones at one foot i nterval s al ong a
traverse, as is common practice. The resulting data were wildly
i nconsi stent and unrepeatabl e. The cause of the i nconsi sten-
cies was found to be the inability to produce repeatable micro-
phone and source posi ti ons. The conti nuous traverse system
was then devel oped i n pursui t of a repeatabl e test method. In
the spi ri t of thi s goal , the system was al so desi gned to al l ow
for real-time assessment of a free-field space to aid in the quick
eval uati on of changes i n the test fi el d, i n the test sources, etc.,
where such changes are frequentl y performed i n the conduct
of a chamber qual i fi cati on effort.
As both the ANSI S12.35 and ISO 3745 standards are readily
available, this article will concentrate only on those procedural
details directly relevant to the measurement system. The quali-
fication data presented here were measured in accordance with
the procedures and tol erances defi ned by these standards.
Discrete vs. Continuous Spatial Sampling. ANSI S12.35 and
ISO 3745 both cal l for a conti nuousl y movi ng mi crophone. A
continuous traverse is obtained when one continuously moves
a mi crophone al ong a radi al path, whi l e conti nuousl y record-
i ng data. A conti nuous traverse general l y yi el ds pressure mea-
surements that represent a very fine or continuous spatial reso-
l uti on al ong the traverse. In contrast, a di screte traverse i s
obtained when one moves a microphone in discrete steps along
a radi al , wi th the mi crophone moti onl ess duri ng data acqui si -
ti on at each mi crophone l ocati on.
As of this writing, the accepted practice is to employ discrete
traverses for qualification purposes, generally with much lower
spati al resol uti on as compared to a conti nuous traverse. Much
of the qual i fi cati on data presented i n the l i terature have been
based on di screte traverses.
The di screte traverse method
generally uses measurements at 0.5 to 1 ft spacing. Even though
some more recent discrete traverses have employed finer spac-
they sti l l represent a coarse sampl i ng of the test sound
fi el d.
Onl y a l i mi ted number of publ i cati ons have documented
continuous traverses.
In contrast to discrete traverse meth-
ods, continuous traverses show a great deal more structure and
compl exi ty i n the sound fi el d generated by the test source. In-
deed, i n exami ni ng the publ i shed conti nuous data, i t i s not
di ffi cul t to real i ze that di screte traverse methods wi l l mi ss
much of the structure of the sound fi el d, parti cul arl y at hi gher
frequenci es. Further, a di screte traverse coul d easi l y mi ss re-
gi ons where the chamber’s free-fi el d performance i s unaccept-
abl e. Thi s observati on was rei nforced through the theoreti cal
model i ng of Duda
and the experi mental observati ons of
and will be demonstrated once more in the traverse
data presented i n thi s paper.
One common argument i n favor of di screte traverse tests i s
the ease of performi ng such a test usi ng common l aboratory
equi pment. Thi s arti cl e demonstrates that a conti nuous
traverse test may be performed wi th greater ease and i n a
shorter amount of ti me, whi l e yi el di ng more meani ngful and
repeatabl e resul ts. The sel f-contai ned system presented here
i s hi ghl y speci al i zed, portabl e and may be easi l y adapted to
the qual i fi cati on of any chamber. Wi th the excepti on of the
motor and moti on control components (descri bed i n a l ater
secti on), thi s system can al so be repl i cated usi ng common
acousti cal l aboratory equi pment.
Qualification Analysis. There are several methods for com-
puti ng the devi ati on of measured radi al decay from theoreti -
cal free-fi el d performance. Two such methods are di scussed
and uti l i zed here: the fi xed and opti mal reference methods.
The devi ati on from the i nverse square l aw i s determi ned by
where L
is the sound pressure level at each traverse measure-
ment position, and L
) is the sound pressure level at distance
esti mated by the i nverse square l aw.
The most common method for eval uati ng the devi ati on uses
the measured sound pressure l evel at a gi ven reference posi -
ti on from the source (typi cal l y 3 ft i n the U.S.) and appl i es the
i nverse square l aw to compute l evel s at other di stances. For
l abel i ng purposes, thi s approach i s termed the fi xed reference
method. In the fi xed reference method, the theoreti cal sound
pressure l evel s al ong a traverse are computed by:
where L
) i s the sound pressure l evel at a sel ected refer-
ence or normal i zati on di stance r
The second method, the optimal reference method, estimates
a source strength and source center offset l ocati on that yi el ds
a theoretical decay to optimally match the observed decay. The
opti mal reference method i s based on the fact that the true
acousti c center of a sound source may not coi nci de wi th a vi -
sual l y i denti fi abl e poi nt on or near the source. For the opti mal
A Test System for Free-Field
Qualification of Anechoic Chambers
Van B. Biesel and Kenneth A. Cunefare, Georgia Institute of Technology, Atlanta, Georgia
∆L L L r
pi pi p i
· − ( )
L r L r
p i p ref
( ) ( ) log · −


r N r
r q N r q
i i


· ·
· · ·
∑ ∑
∑ ∑ ∑
1 1 1
reference method, the theoreti cal free-fi el d decay i s computed
where a represents the apparent strength of the sound source
and r
i s an offset di stance between the physi cal l ocati on of
the source and i ts apparent acousti c center. The a and r
rameters are computed from the measured sound pressure l ev-
el s al ong a traverse as
In Equati ons 4 and 5, N i s the number of measurements al ong
the traverse, and the L
and r
are as defi ned above.
The opti mal reference method requi res that data be eval u-
ated over a specified range of distance. The maximum distance
from the source i s typi cal l y constrai ned by the geometry and
confi gurati on of the chamber under test. The nearest poi nt on
the traverse to the test source shoul d be i n the far-fi el d of the
source, where 1/r spreading is obtained. The current standards
do not defi ne the mi ni mum di stance between the traverse mi -
crophone and the sound source. However, the current draft for
revi si on of ISO 3745 defi nes thi s mi ni mum di stance as 0.5 m
for 100 Hz or more and
for frequenci es f l ess than 100 Hz. The deri vati on of Equati on
7 shows that (kr)
>3. The ISO 3745 draft further stipulates that
computed val ues of r
greater than twi ce the maxi mum source
di mensi on ‘fai l ’ the qual i fi cati on.
Continuous Measurement System
A measurement system was devel oped to perform conti nu-
ous qual i fi cati on traverses, compri sed of a sound source, ref-
erence mi crophone, mi crophone traverse system and data ac-
qui si ti on system. Each of these four major components i s de-
scri bed bel ow.
Sound Sources and Excitation System. As thi s arti cl e does
not report advancement i n thi s component, sources are onl y
briefly described here. For this study, three sound sources were
used to cover the designed frequency range of the chamber, 80-
10,000 Hz. Sources are shown i n Fi gure 1. The sources were
constructed i n accordance wi th the recommendati ons i n ISO
3745 and mounted near the chamber center. The sources were
exci ted wi th pure tones usi ng a functi on generator and ampl i -
fi er.
Reference Microphone. In order to moni tor the stabi l i ty of
the source si gnal as a qual i ty measure of the traverse data, a
random i nci dence mi crophone (1/2 i n. Larson-Davi s, model
2560) was pl aced i n an arbi trary, stati onary posi ti on i n the
chamber. Thi s mi crophone was used by the qual i fi cati on sys-
tem to record acousti c pressure over the course of each test.
The use of such a reference microphone is not stipulated in the
current standards. A reference mi crophone can be seen wi th
other system components i n Fi gure 2.
Traverse Microphone System. Measuring the inverse square
l aw devi ati on requi res accurate knowl edge of the separati on
di stance between the test source and the traverse mi crophone.
Therefore, the objecti ve of the mi crophone traverse system i s
to move a microphone in a continuous, repeatable manner. This
system i s compri sed of a traverse l i ne, a mi crophone carri age,
a take-up l i ne, a system of pul l eys and a take-up spool .
The traverse l i ne i s a 1.6 mm brai ded steel cabl e, chosen as
a bal ance between strength and smal l acousti c profi l e. The
traverse l i ne i s anchored to opposi te faces of the chamber and
made taut using a turnbuckle at one end of the line. A random-
i nci dence mi crophone (1/2 i n. Larson-Davi s, model 2560) i s
connected to the traverse l i ne by a wi re carri age as depi cted i n
Fi gure 3. Pl asti c sl eeves on the carri age al l ow i t to move
smoothl y and qui etl y al ong the traverse l i ne. The mi crophone
carri age i s pul l ed up the traverse l i ne by a take-up l i ne. The
take-up l i ne i s routed to the exteri or of the chamber through a
pul l ey system to a take-up spool mounted on a moti on control
To avoid slipping on the traverse line and to ensure constant
traverse vel oci ty, the mi crophone carri age i s al ways pul l ed up
the traverse line against gravity, either toward or away from the
L r
r r
p i
i o
( ) log ·


r r q r q
r q N r q
i i
i i
· −

· · · ·
· · ·
∑ ∑ ∑ ∑
∑ ∑
1 1
1 1
1 1 11



005 .
r f · 95/
Figure 1. Sound sources used for qualification test.
Figure 2. Traverse line and microphone, source and stationary refer-
ence microphone (located above source).
sound source, dependi ng on the test ori entati on. The traverse
di recti on i s accounted for i n the post-processi ng of the mea-
surement system.
The take-up l i ne i s fused Kevl ar fi shi ng l i ne (“Fi re Li ne” 20
lb. test). This 0.13 mm diameter line was chosen to ensure that
there woul d be negl i gi bl e change i n the take-up spool ’s di am-
eter as l i ne col l ected on i t. Al so, the take-up l i ne exhi bi ted no
measurabl e stretch for thi s appl i cati on and therefore resul ted
i n hi ghl y stabl e and repeatabl e movement and posi ti oni ng of
the mi crophone (a take-up-l i ne that can stretch l eads to jerky,
errati c moti on of the mi crophone carri age as i t ‘sti ck-sl i ps’
al ong the traverse wi re).
The pul l ey system routes the take-up l i ne outsi de the cham-
ber vi a a cabl e-pass-through pi pe, whi ch penetrates the cham-
ber wal l from outsi de to i nsi de. Addi ti onal pul l eys on the out-
si de of the chamber gui de the l i ne onto the take-up spool .
Lightweight Harken marine-grade compact ball-bearing pulleys
are used throughout, as ordi nary pul l eys produced squeaks
whi l e i n moti on, contami nati ng the test data.
To ensure mi crophone moti on al ong the traverse l i ne at a
constant velocity from one known position to another, the take-
up spool rotates through a known total angl e at constant angu-
l ar speed. In thi s manner, the traverse system meets the desi gn
objecti ve of accurate separati on di stance data.
Motion and measurement system. Moti on control of the
traverse mi crophone system and data acqui si ti on are handl ed
si mul taneousl y usi ng a PC equi pped wi th a Nati onal Instru-
ments moti on control board and a Nati onal Instruments data
acqui si ti on board. The system i s control l ed usi ng a si ngl e
Labview Virtual Instrument (VI). The VI was designed to allow
for moti on control and data acqui si ti on, i ndependentl y and/
or simultaneously. In this fashion, the VI is able to step through
and control all phases of qualification: traverse motion, acous-
ti c l evel measurement, qual i fi cati on measurement and qual i -
fi cati on post-processi ng. Components of the moti on and mea-
surement system are shown i n Fi gure 4.
Moti on control of the mi crophone traverse system i s accom-
pl i shed by mounti ng the take-up spool to a rotary tabl e dri ven
by a stepper motor (Superi or El ectri c Sl o-Syn Motor, Model
M062-L809). The stepper motor is controlled using the National
Instruments Flexmotion PCI board, which is in turn controlled
by the VI. The stepper motor i s l ocated outsi de the chamber i n
order to el i mi nate motor noi se from the measurement data.
Acousti c l evel measurement i s performed usi ng two i nput
channel s of a Nati onal Instruments data acqui si ti on PCI board
(Model 4552) wi th octave band anal ysi s capabi l i ti es. Band
anal ysi s of ful l , 1/3 or 1/12 octave measurements may be se-
l ected by the user. A free-run capabi l i ty usi ng exponenti al
averagi ng has been i mpl emented i n the VI to al l ow the user to
set source l evel s above the ambi ent room l evel as necessary.
In contrast to free-run measurements, acousti c l evel measure-
ment duri ng the conti nuous traverse requi res separate averag-
i ng for each sampl e. Because the mi crophone moves wi thout
i nterrupti on, ti me averagi ng al so means spati al averagi ng.
Therefore, separate (no overlap) and sequential linear averages
are made over the traverse durati on, such that each l i near av-
erage i s made for a di screte segment of the traverse. Each seg-
ment i s constrai ned to be smal l compared to the wavel ength
of the test frequenci es bei ng exci ted, to ensure that al l i nfor-
mati on about the traverse i s preserved i n the measurement. A
spatial resolution of 100 samples per wavelength is a good sam-
pling of the traverse field and is utilized by the VI to setup each
traverse. The ti me requi red for each l i nearl y averaged sampl e
al ong the traverse i s al so dependent on test frequency. For an
adequatel y averaged band l evel measurement at each sampl e,
a time sample with a duration of at least 100 periods of the low-
est exci tati on frequency i s recorded and averaged for each
sampl e al ong the traverse (1000 or more peri ods are requi red
for random noi se exci tati on). The requi red mi ni mum durati on
of each traverse measurement is the product of these two quan-
ti ti es: the ti me sampl e of each l i near average ti mes the num-
ber of averaged sampl es al ong the traverse l ength. Al l of these
test parameters are computed and uti l i zed by the VI, based on
the i nput parameters of traverse l ength and test frequency i n-
Qualification measurements are made once source levels are
set and the traverse mi crophone i s pl aced i n i ts starti ng l oca-
tion. At that point, the motion and measurement system is trig-
gered to simultaneously set the traverse microphone in motion,
pul l i ng the mi crophone up the traverse l i ne, whi l e acqui ri ng
and averagi ng the mi crophone band l evel data (usi ng the pro-
cess descri bed above). The VI di spl ay i s updated i n real ti me
wi th each sampl e al ong the traverse and i ts devi ati on from the
inverse square law (based on the reference method). This gives
the user i nstantaneous access to the detai l ed structure of the
acousti c fi el d and pass/fai l feedback for the measurement.
Each conti nuous traverse measurement i s taken i n a si ngl e
stage of data col l ecti on, l asti ng approxi matel y 2-4 mi nutes per
traverse. By contrast, data taken at di screte spati al i nterval s
typically requires manual repositioning of the microphone be-
tween each i ndi vi dual measurement poi nt, resul ti ng i n a l ong
and tedi ous measurement process.
As a fi nal stage of the traverse measurement, the data are
stored to disk and post-processed using a MATLAB session run-
ning within Labview. All information for post-processing is in-
put to the Labvi ew VI and stored wi th the data. Any source
offset from the traverse l i ne i s corrected i n the di stance-vector
usi ng a cosi ne correcti on. When the confi gurati on of the
traverse l i ne requi res the mi crophone to be pul l ed toward the
source, the di stance-vector and l evel data are reversed, yi el d-
ing data as if the microphone had moved away from the source.
The data are fit according to the optimal reference method out-
l i ned previ ousl y for defi ni ti ve pass/fai l based on standard cri -
teri on.
Qualification Data
The purpose of thi s arti cl e i s to i ntroduce the measurement
system and not to eval uate a parti cul ar chamber. Therefore,
traverse data are presented as an exampl e of test system out-
put, for one case only, into a lower corner of the tested anechoic
Figure 3. Traverse microphone and carriage.
Figure 4. Motion and measurement system.
chamber. Room corners typi cal l y generate a more compl ex
acousti c fi el d, so a corner measurement was chosen to hi gh-
l i ght the capabi l i ti es of the measurement system. Resul ts from
pure tone tests are presented here for si mi l ar demonstrati ve
A screen capture of the Labview VI is shown in Figure 5. The
VI i s desi gned to step the user through the basi c stages of a
qual i fi cati on test and provi de the user wi th real ti me i nforma-
ti on regardi ng the qual i ty of the test data and the performance
of the acousti c fi el d of the test room.
The user i s gui ded through the qual i fi cati on test stages by
uti l i zi ng the sequenti al control s al ong the l eft edge of the VI
wi ndow seen i n Fi gure 5. Stages 1-3 al l ow the user to com-
pl etel y control the traverse mi crophone moti on. Stages 4-5
setup and perform octave band measurement of the two micro-
phones. The qual i fi cati on test i s performed i n Stage 6, where
the test system i s tri ggered for si mul taneous moti on and data
acquisition over the traverse span. Additional information and
notes about the qualification test are entered in Stage 7. Finally,
qual i fi cati on data are stored and post-processed i n Stages 8-9.
Four pl ot di spl ays are shown i n the VI wi ndow. The two
lower plots display the instantaneous octave band levels of the
two mi crophones. The upper pl ot di spl ays the mi crophone
l evel s recorded for each sampl e al ong the traverse, updated i n
real ti me as the traverse mi crophone i s pul l ed al ong. Thi s i s
i l l ustrated i n Fi gure 5, as the screen capture occurred when
the traverse measurement was approxi matel y 3/4 compl ete.
The traverse mi crophone had been pul l ed 80 i n. toward the
source and 589 of 755 data sampl es had been recorded. The
traverse pl ots were i n the process of di spl ayi ng real ti me data
as the mi crophone moved toward the source (from ri ght to l eft
on the display). The middle plot shows the resulting deviation
from the i nverse square l aw, based on the fi xed reference
method. Thi s pl ot i s al so updated i n real ti me, gi vi ng the user
i mmedi ate i nsi ght i nto the free-fi el d behavi or of the acousti c
fi el d whi l e the mi crophone was sti l l i n moti on.
Sound l evel data for the reference mi crophone are shown i n
both upper pl ots of Fi gure 5. The reference mi crophone si gnal
i s a di rect measure of source stabi l i ty at the test frequenci es.
In the case of an unstabl e source, the traverse data may be cor-
rected by subtracti ng the reference si gnal . However, because
qual i fi cati on measurements can be repeated very qui ckl y us-
i ng thi s system and an unstabl e source si gnal may i ndi cate
damage to the source, i t may be more prudent to correct any
exci tati on system i ssues and repeat the test.
Fi gure 6 presents a compl ete traverse qual i fi cati on data set,
obtained using the test system and processed using the MATLAB
code. Devi ati on from free-fi el d performance i s pl otted versus
di stance from the source, over the desi gned frequency range
of the tested chamber. The frequency labels along the right ver-
Figure 5. Screen capture of the Labview Virtual Instrument for traverse
qualification measurement.
Fi gure 6. Qual i fi cati on data for an anechoi c chamber, conti nuous
traverse into lower corner opposite room door. Discrete data points are
estimated for an equivalent measurement set, with data taken at 1 ft
ti cal axi s defi ne the posi ti on of the 0 dB devi ati on for that fre-
quency; the dashed lines above and below the 0 dB line are the
permi ssi bl e vari ati ons from free-fi el d performance as defi ned
by ISO 3745. The discrete data points shown in the figure were
obtai ned by sampl i ng and processi ng the traverse data at di s-
crete i nterval s of 1 ft. Thi s exampl e shows how the di screte
spaci ng fai l s to capture the compl exi ty of the free-fi el d devi a-
tion over the traverse span at frequencies as low as 500 Hz, and
especi al l y at frequenci es above 1 kHz.
The anechoi c qual i fi cati on measurement system presented
here was developed to make continuous traverse measurements
feasi bl e, effi ci ent and strai ghtforward. The test system devel -
oped at the Georgia Institute of Technology, which utilizes mo-
ti on control and data acqui si ti on components suppl i ed by Na-
ti onal Instruments and the processi ng capabi l i ty of MATLAB,
achi eved both of these goal s wi th great success. Resul ts ob-
tai ned usi ng thi s system are hi ghl y repeatabl e and yi el d de-
tai l ed i nformati on about the free-fi el d behavi or of the acous-
ti c fi el d. The test method has advantages over the current
common test method, whi ch makes di screte measurements at
one ft intervals. Additionally, the continuous traverse test was
a si mpl er and faster test to perform. Thi s state-of-the-art test
system shoul d be an extremel y useful tool i n the qual i fi cati on
of anechoi c rooms, especi al l y as such faci l i ti es become more
common i n l aboratori es around the worl d.
1. ANSI, ANSI S12.35-1990. Preci si on Methods for the Determi nati on
of Sound Power Level s of Noi se Sources i n Anechoi c and Hemi -
Anechoi c Rooms, Standards Secretari at, Acousti cal Soci ety of
Ameri ca, Mel vi l l e, NY, 1996.
2. ISO, ISO 3745. Acousti cs – Determi nati on of Sound Power Level s
of Noi se Sources – Preci si on Methods for Anechoi c and Semi -
Anechoi c Rooms, Internati onal Organi zati on for Standardi zati on,
Geneva, Swi tzerl and, 1977.
3. F. J. Babi neau, and B. D. Ti ni anov, “Research Into Qual i ty Assess-
ment Methods for Anechoic Chambers,” in CD-ROM Proceedings of
Noi se-Con 2000, Newport Beach, CA, 2000, paper 1pNSb6, avai l -
abl e from Insti tute of Noi se Control Engi neeri ng, Saddl e Ri ver, NJ.
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5. H. F. Ol son, “Acousti c Laboratory i n the New RCA Laboratori es,” J.
Acoust. Soc. Am., 15(2), pp. 96-102, 1943.
6. H. P. Sl eeper, Jr., E. E. Moots, and L. L. Beranek, “The Harvard
Anechoi c Chamber,” CIR-51, El ectro-Acousti c Laboratory, Harvard
Distance from Source, ft


9 8 7 6 5 4 3

Uni versi ty, 1945.
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of Anechoi c Sound Chambers,” J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 18(1), pp. 140-
150, 1946.
8. P. J. Mi l l s, “Constructi on and Desi gn of Parml y Sound Laboratory
and Anechoi c Chamber,” J. Acoust. Soc. Am., 19(6), pp. 988-992,
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Anechoi c Room of the Parml y Sound Laboratory,” J. Acoust. Soc.
Am., 19(6), pp. 992-995, 1947.
10. W. Koidan, and G. R. Hruska, “Acoustical Properties of the National
Bureau of Standards Anechoic Chamber,” J. Acoust Soc. Am., 64(2),
pp. 508-516, 1978.
11. M. Pancholy, A. F. Chapgar, and V. Mohanan, “Design And Construc-
ti on Of An Anechoi c Chamber At The Nati onal Physi cal Laboratory
Of Indi a,” Applied Acoustics, 14, pp. 101-111, 1981.
12. G. C. Mal i ng, Jr., R. E. Wi se, and M. A. Nobi l e, “Draw-Away Testi ng
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The authors can be contacted at: esel