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Rese arch Paper RP2058

Volume 44, Ja nuary 1950

U. S. Department of Commerce
National Bureau of Standards

Part of the Journal of Research of the National Bureau of Standards

Transmission of Reverberant Sound Through
Double Walls
By Albert London
The transmission of reverberant so u nd through a double wall, which consbts of two
identicaL single walls coupled by an airspace, is investigated both theoretically and experimenta ll y . A t heory is developed, wh ich gives good agreement with expe rime nt. In order
to compute the transmission loss of a double ,,"all, it is necessary t.o knoll" t he impedance Z ..
of the single wall. Zw was det.ermined frolll experim e nts conducted on the single wall and
in clude. t he effects of mass, dis ipatio n, a nd fl ex ural motion. The treatment sho \l's that it
is impossible to get a large imp ro vement in t ran mission loss [or a double wa ll relative to a
~ ingl e wall under reve rbe"a nt-sound fi eld conditions if the single wall is co nsidered to have
onl y mass reactance. In add itio n, t he cu to mary normal incidence theory is totall y inadequate in exp la ining the behavi or of a double wall in a reverberant-sound fi eld .
For double walls having air co upling o nl y, ver .\' shallow a irspace can produce appreciable in creases in transmissio n los o ver a si Il gle \mll. An absorbe nt material, when inserted
in the airspace, produces la rge improvements only when t he mass of the walls is relath"e ly
light and has but little e ffect for heavy walls. Honeycomb or other Jl onabso rbe nt celluLa r
. structure ' having no cell walls in a direction normaL to t he wall faces do not result in an
increase in transmission loss. Air-co upled waiLs having no soli d sound- co ndu cting paths
between individual septa are extremely e ffe ctive so und insulators as compared to conventional do uble-wa ll constructions. The theory indicates that a large improvemellt ill the transmission LORS of a double wall can be obtained b)' using as components single " 'a lls \\"ith hi gh
internal dissipation.

I. Introduction
In a previous paper 1 the transmission of reverberant sound tlu'ough homogeneous single
walls was investigated theoretically and experimentally. The attenuation of an obliquely incident plane sound wave upon transmission through
a single wall was computed, and using the customary reverberant sound field statistics the attenuation was integrated over all angles of incidence
to give the average transmission loss. A similar
technique is employed in this paper in studying
the transmission of sound through a double wall
consisting of two identical single walls . The
materials comprising the double walls are the
same as were used in the single walls, i. e., aluminum, plywood, and plasterboard. From the exI

A. London , Transmission of reverberant sound tbrougb single walls, J"
N BS 42, 605 (1949) RP1998.

R ~sed rcb

Sound Transmission Throu<;1h Double WaIls

perimental results obtained in RP1998, an expression for the wall impedance, Z w, for each
material was determined, this ex'})res ion containing terms that include the effects of the mass, dissipation or resistance, and flexural motion of the
wall. This value of Zwis used in the double wall
theory to compute the transmission loss for a
double wall.

II. Transmission Through Double WaIls
1. Attenuation of a n O bliquely Incident Wave

In figure 1, an oblique plane wave is incident
at an angle 0 on the first partition. As a result
there exist 'in the three airspaces formed by the
infinite double partition: an incident and reflected wave in space (1 ) i a standing wave in
space (2), consisting of a wave moving to the right

77

constant phase. The justification for such an
assumption has b een given previously in section
2 of RP1998, t itled Basic Assumptions.
The ratio PI/P i will b e computed for the sam e
value of y , so tha t t his coordinate will not appear
in th e calculation. Thus, since the particle
v elocity is proportional t o the pressure gradient,
there results from the continuity of the x-componen t of particle velocity at x = O

2

(2)

and at x= d

x=d
)(=0
1. Geometrical ?'elation between in cident and
refl ected wave in space (1 ); standing wave in airs pace of
double wall , space (2); and tmnsmitted wave in space (3).

F IGU R E

and one moving to the left ; and a transmitted
wa ve in space (3) . It is d esired to know the ratio
of the transmitted pressure wave amplitud e P t to
the incident pressure wave amplitude P i, where
the pressures in each airspace are given by eq 1.
PI = P ieiwt-ik(X cos O+v sin 0)

P reiwt-ik( -

.1:

+

cos O+v sin 0)

x::S O

P2= P +eiwt-ik(x COs o+v Sill 0)+

(1 )

P _eiwt-ik (-X cos O+v sin 0)
x?; d

wher e

If PIO and P20 are the pressures acting on the
left and right side, r esp ectively, of the panel at
x= o, P2!l, and P3d the pressures acting on the left
and right side of the panel at x = d , the equations
of motion for each panel are
(4)

and
(5)

wher e Z w is the m echanical impedance per unit
area of the two identical walls, and iJ is the
v elocity of the wall in the x-direction. Furthermore, since the wall v elocity must b e the same as
the x-component of p article velocity of the air at
the wall, there results

. =i (OPl) = cos () (P

7] x~ O:>.

PW

.

_ i

7] x~d - --

PW

w= 27r X frequen cy

k = 27r/}..= w/C, }.. b eing the wavelength, C the velocity of sound in ail'.
The four ratios Pr/P i , P+/P i , P _/P i , and P t/P ;
may b e d etermined from the two boundary condi tions, the continuity of the x-compon ent of
velocity at x = O, and x = d , and the two equa tions
of mo tion, one for each partit ion. In deriving
t h e equ ations of motion it is only n ecessary to
consider a small area of th e panel upon which th e
projection of th e wave fron t h as practically

78

v X

x ~O

(OP3)
-

OX x~d

pC

_ P ) iwt-ikll Bin 0
ire,

_ cos
()p tei w t-ik(d
-

-

COB

0+11

Bi n

0)

pC

(6)

(7)

Substituting eq 1 and 6 into 4 causes th e latter
equation to reduce t o
(8)

and similarly eq 5 becomes

P _e
iR" - P te - i{J -- Z w cos ~ P te -i{J
P +e-iR+
"
pC

(9)
'

wher e
{3 = kcl cos ().

(10)

Journal of Research

Letting (J= Oo, r educes eq 16 to

Let
/' =

Z w cos (J
2pc

(11)

,

I A I ~, m= 1 +

4a 2 (cos b- a sin

W,

(1 7)

where

then solution of the four simultaneous equations
(2,3, S, and 9) results in the following expressions:

A=i= l +2/, + /,2(1-e- 2i /i) ,

(12)

and eq 17 is identical with the expresslOn gIven
by Schoch 2.

(13)

From eq 15 all of the incident energy will be
transmitted when

and also

It is of interest to observe that eq 13 is precisely
the expression for the ratio of incidcnt to transmitted amplitude for a single wall given by eq 1.1)
of RP 1995, inasmuch as the boundary condition&,
i. e., the existence of an incident, r eflectcd, and
transmitted wave, are the sam e as that for a
single wall.
Equation 12, which is of primary interest to this
development, can be tested for agreement with
the solution, eq 13, for the attenuation of a single
septum. Thus, if el = O, the double wall becomes
a single wall having an impedance 2Zw ' Of
course, this is strictly a mathematical experiment,
inasmuch as was shown in the previous paper (see
footnote 1), the resistive and r eactive components
of Zw are not twice as great when a single wall's
thickness is doubled . Setting el= O in cq 12
r esults in
. 2Z w') cos (J ,
A d = O-- 1+ 2/' -- 1 +
~pC

(14)

in agreement with eq 13.
Also, it is possible to compare eq 12 with the
results obtained by previous investigators 2 for'
the special case when the wave is incident normally,
i. e., (J = O°, and the wall impedance, Z w, is a pure
mass reactance only, given by eq 2.1 of RP199S or

where m is the mass of the wall p er unit area.
Now, from eq 12, if the wall acts as a mass
reactance only, it is r eadily shown that

IA I~. =I~iIt 2 _. = 1+4a2 cos2(J(cos ,8 -

a cos (Jsin{3)2,

Z W- llol m

(15)

where a = wm/2pc.

(16)

A. Schoch, Die physikalischen und tecbllischcn Grundlagcn der Schall·
dammullg irn Bauwesen. p. 86 (Hirzel, L eipzig, 193i ).
2

Sound Transmission Through Double Walls

(18)

(cos ,8 -a cos (J ,sin ,8) = 0,

(19)

tan {3 = l / (a cos (J).

(20)

or when
For cases where {3 is small (el«}..) tan ,8 may be
replaced by {3. Using eq 16, there results an
expre sion for the frequ ency le, for which a wave
incident at angle (J, will be perfectly transmitted
in the case where each wall acts as a pure mass.

10

1

271' cos (J

(2pC2

mel

)t.

(21)

The value of 10 for normal incidence is 10, the
characteristic frequency for the air-mass sandwich ,
1. e.
_ 1 (2pC2 )Q
(22)
10 - 271' mel .

10 is the frequen cy for normally incident waves
for which the mass r eactan ce of the panel is
exactly equal to the stiffness reactance of thc airspace. It is also the lowest frequency for which
the attenuation of the panel is zero. At frequencies above 10 there will be some angle of
incidence for which zero attenuation will occur.
Since in a r everberant sound field, energy is
incident from all directions, the attenuation
measured in a reverberant field will n ever reach
zero. For frequencies above 10 there will be some
waves that will be totally transmitted, con sequ ently resulting in a diminution of the transmission loss of the panel as compared to that
predicted by the normal incidence theory.
Since l /a decreases with increasing frequency,
at high enough frequencies eq 20 may be written
as
tan ,8 = 0,
and
,8= n7r, n = l, 2,3, - . "'

79

When R = O, 29 reduces to an equation analagous
to 15 with a replaced by p, i. e.,

which results in
d cos O=n"A/2, n = l , 2, 3,

. . "'

(23 )
I A I ~ _ o = l + 4p 2V2(COS bv-pv

as the expression for the frequencies , or wavelengths, at which higher-order minima occur.
Here too, for a reverberant field , considerations
similar to those discussed in connection with fo
apply.
Equation 12, which gives the attenuation, A,
for a double wall may readily be compared with
the attenuation, a, for a single wall given by eq
1.6 of RP199S or its identity eq 13. Since"y is
ordinarily much larger than unity, a~"y, and
(24)

The term containing a 2 , multiplied by a factor
(l-e-2i~) which is never greater than 2 in absolute
value and which depends on the spacing between
the two walls, therefore, represents the chief difference in attenuation caused by a double wall rela tive to that of a single wall .
As shown in RP199S the most general expression
for the wall impedance is given by

or
"y

Z,o2pc
cos

(1 -~ sin

o}
= R + . cos 8 (P.)
1 -r. sm 0 ,

Z w= c;: O+iwm
0

4

~a

4

(25)

IA I2= IA I%_o+ 4R(R + 1) {I +
[R (R + 1) + 2p 2V2] sin 2 bL'- PV sin 2bv },

+i { (RZ_p2V2) sin 2bv+ 2pv [1 + R(1 -cos 2bv)]} ,
(27)

where v=cos 0, b= kd, and
(28)

IA IZ= IA I71 _0+ 4R(R+ 1) {(cos be-pv sin bv)2+
[p2v2+ R(R+ 1)+ 1l sin z bv}.

(32)

Inasmuch as the second member on the righthand side of eq 32 is always positive, it will be
seen that the attenuation of a double wall , each
component of which has dissipation or resistance,
is always greater than for the case in which each
component is dissipationless.
2. Average Attenuation of a Double Wall in a
Reverberant Sound Field

In accordance with the reverberant sound field
statistics discussed in section 3 of RP199S, if Ta
is the ratio of the total energy transmitted by the
double wall to the total energy incident on the
wall, we get from eq 3.1 of RP199S and eq 29

1

dv
IA lz'

'1 V

0

(33)

wh ere v= cos o.
The integral in eq 33, unfortunately, is highly
intractable. It was not possible to evaluate it
other than by numerical integration. This has
been done for a number of different constructions
on which experimental r esults were obtained and
will be discussed in section II, 3. However, for
the special case where it is assumed that each
single wall has a mass reactan ce only, the integral
has been computed 3 for a wide range of values
in a systematic manner. For the mass r eactance
case we may set R = O and f Jjc= O, whence, 29
red L1 ces to 15 and 33 assumes the following form

(1
v dv
Td= 2 Jo 1 + 4a 2v2 (cos bv-av sin bV)2'

For IA I2 there results

(31 )

or an equivalent form is

Ta=2

A = 1+2R(1-pv sin 2bv)+(R Z- p2v2)(1 - cos 2b'v)

(3 0)

Utilizing 30, eq 29 may be r ewritten as

(26)

where R =r!pc , the resistance of the wall in pC
units, and f c= the critical frequency above which
flexural waves will appear in the wall. The
parameters Rand ic for different materials were
determined from the experimental observations
made in RP1998. Substituting eq 26 into 12
results in

sin bv)2.

(34)

(R =O,Jlf,=O)

IAI2= 1 + 4[R(R+ 1) + p 2V2 ]
+ 4 sin 2 bv ([R (R + 1) + p 2v2J2 _ p 'U 2 }
- 4pv si n2bv{ R (R + 1) + pV }.

80

(29)

'We are Indebted to G. Blancb and 1. Stegun of the National Bureau of
Btandards' Computation Laboratory for carrying out these integrations.
'riley used a combination of numerical integration and aualytic representations for different regions of a certain parameter to evaluate the integrals.

Journal of Re5earch

---- 1

It is convenient to introduce two nondimensional parameters into eq 34, namely,

60
I< =0.00 1

50

b pd
}J-= -2a =-=-m '

(35)

./

.0

",' 40

V

'"'3

and

x-i=~'

(36)

15

(:37)

u = 2av
and 34 becomes

30

/"

~ 20

<{

0::

.-

I-

10

"

( R ~ O.J/J, ~ O)

du
-u- .- -)"2
cos }J-u- 2 sm )lU
U

1 +u-

? (

(38)
It is of interest to compare the transmission
loss, 10 log (l!Td), computed from eq 38 with
that which one obtains for a single wall when it is
assumed that the wall has a mass reactance only.
An expression for the latter transmission loss is
given by eq 3.2 of RP 1998. If we replace a2 by
its equivalent expression in terms of X and )l, i. c.,
(39)
eq 3.2 of RP 1998 may b e written

(1)

X2)].

;\'2 - 1010g [ In ( 1+2)l
TL = 1010g -; = 1010g ~)l

(40)
In figure 2, the computed transmission loss for a
single and double wall, having mass reactance
only, i. e., 7,w= iwm, have been plotted for three
different values of the parameter}J-. It will b e
seen that on this basis the predicted improvement
of a double wall over a single wall is small and
in fact may actually b e n egative. This astonishing behavior results from the fact tllat for a double
wall there is some angle of in cid ence for which the
transmission is perfect and in the integrated
effect of all angles of in cidence, this minimum
Sound Transmission Through Double Walls

\

V

V

.-'-

"

o ~0.2

0.5

~ )- "
4'

l,.t<'

J;c-

,

// t/

.~ 1>--1<

" :-:.:1.--

/'

~

V--

V

)<' 0.01,

U)

,,"~

·0.1

/

"

,,"
1.0

2.0

5.0
x· f / f 0

10.0

20 .0

50.0

100.0

2. Comparison between theoretical tmnsmiss'i on
loss of a single wall to that of the corresponding double wall
in a reverbemnt sound field when wall is considered to be a
pure maSS reactance.

FIGURE

__ • Ri ngle

}J- J'x,(2f;,.
Td = X 2 0

/

"A

'"~

wherefo is defined by eq 22 . Thus,}J- is th e ratio
of the mass of air in the airspace to the mass of
one wall, wb ereas X is the ratio of the frequency
of the sound wave to the freq u ency fo], which a
wave, normally incident on a doubl<,; ,wall possessing mass reactance only, will be perfectly transmitted. In addition we let

"

l7 1,- /

'0

wan; ____ , double wall.

tran smission loss swamps out the effect at other
angles of incidence. In the case where a r esistive
term is includ ed in the impedance, there is no
angle for which the transmitted wave is not
attenuated. Hence, it is not sufftcient to treat
each component of the double wall as a pure mass.
With regard to figure 2, it is well to poin t ou t
tha t the small max ima and minima indicated in
the double wall curves are a resul t of the higher
order minima, which are approx imately given by
eq 23. Values of tllO integral (eq. 38) were computed for X = 0.2 , 0 .5, 1.0, 2.0, 5.0, ] 0.0, 20.0,
50.0, and 100.0 for )l = 0.1, 0.08, 0.06, 0.04 , 0.01,
0.006, 0.004, 0.002 , and 0.00] . Th is information
has not been reproduced he re btl t is available
upon r equ est.
3 . Comparison Between Experimental and
Computed Results

Fig1..ll'e 3 is a schematic drawing showing the
arrangement of the double wall in the ound t ransmitting opening. Each leaf of the double wall
was made separately, a pract.ical procedure inasmuch as the concrete walls of the test chamber
are isolated f rom each other by a 3-in. airspace
except for the common foundati.on of the walls.
Thus, there are no solid so und-co nducting bridges
b etween the two faces of the double wall , a circumstance that allows a close approximation t.o
the conditions set down in the theory. The experimental m ethod utilized in making the trans-

81

SINGLE PANELS OF
DOUBLE PARTITION

minimum is based on the assumption that the wall
has zero resistance. As a matter of fact, in this
particular case, the value of R is such that no
noticeable minimum occurs in the Ta integral calculations for cri tical values of v 01' (J corresponding
to eq 19. In particular, from eq 15, 19, and 32
we see that IA I2 for v or cos (J satisfying eq 19
becomes
IA I;,= 1+ 4R(R + 1) sin 2 (

~~) [~+R(R + 1)+ IJ
(4 1)

SOURCE
ROOM

RECEIVING
ROOM

CONCRETE WALLS
OF TEST ROOM S

FIG URE 3.

Arrangement of double wall in sound transmitting
opening.

mission loss measurem ents is that described as the
usual m ethod in NBS R esearch Paper RP1388 .4
The next figure, figure 4, shows the results
ob tained on a double wall consisting of single walls
of ?~4 -in . aluminum separated by a 3-in. airspace.
Here m = 0.12 g/cm 2 , and the mass and thickness
of the single wall are such that the critical flexural
frequency j e, is approximately 30,000 c/s. Thus,
j 1fc.~0, and no fl exural effects will be observed .
For reference purposes, the r esults obtained in the
single wall case are shown in the lower part of the
figure.
The best fit for the single wall case was obtained
when R = 2.16. The sam e value of R was used
for the double wall calculations, whi ch were carried
out by a nu;;:';erical integration of eq 33. It will
be noted that eq 33 as opposed to eq 38 predicts
a sizeable improvement in transmission loss of a
double wall over a single wall.
According to eq 22 there should be a minimum
in the transmission loss curve at jo = 279 c/s, corresponding to the frequency for which the mass
reactance of the wall is exactly equal to the stiffness reactance of the airspace . However, this
• A. London , J. R esearch

82

'---

~BS

36, 419 (1941 ) RPlo88.

Since IA I%_o= 1, p = a(i. e.j /fc= O) , and the critical
value of v, say vo, is given by v~= (ab) -1 from eq
20. From eq 3.5 a/b= 1/ (2!1-) and for this wall
!1- = .075 , so that a/ b= 6.66. Since R = 2.16 , we
get from eq 41
IAI; = 57.4.
Thus, th e minimum value is mu ch larger than 1,
which is the value that would result if R = O.
Furthermore, it will b e noted that eq 41 predi cts
this sam e minimum value of IAI2 independent of
frequency provided (J is such that eq 19 is satisfied.
This sam e minimum will occur at frequencies
above fo, thus tending to depress the natural increase in transmission loss resulting from ma ss
law behavior.
45
40

,

35
30

/"

.c
"0

- 25

0

20

Z

0

iii
If)

p

E?- V

~/

If)
If)

...J

,,

~

15

,

,,! '

"""\:):"- - '0

~

V

A

''0'

10
z<>: 30

If)

a:
....

25

./

20
15
10

,
'-

50

'"' , , ,

,

,
''Q''

100

200

~

- 500

~

8
1000

2000

5000

FREQUENCY. CIS

4. Comparison of computed and experimental
transmission losses of Ys. in. single and double alumin1l1n
wa!ls.

FIGU RE

A. Double wall; _ . computed; . . ..• experimental ; d=3 in.; 10=279 cis.
B, Single wall; _ , computed; ..... experimental; R = 2.16; m=O.12 g·cm-2•

Journal of Research

_I

55

l

50
.0

".45

L~

Ul
Ul

040

b.£~

v
/ [P V,....

...J

z

Q 35

~

Ul
Ul

*

t-

t:1/ If l/ .

z 30
«
~ 25

~~ -

20

~

~~ ~ ~~
v
~ P%
..............

v

--

p..~~~

"II

15

50

200

500
1000
FREQUENCY, CIS

2000

5000

5. E:Lperimental transmission loss results f01' a
series of double wall::: of }~ -in plywood with airspace
varying from % to 12 in .

F I G U RE

Dotted broken line is experimental transmission loss lor corresponding
sin~le

wall. Air space ' e , ~a in .; . , 1.5 in.; 0 .3 in. ; () , 6 in .; /:)., 9 in ; . 112 in .

With regard to th e reliability of the compu ted
yalues relative to the experimental values, it is
probable that they agree within the accuracy of
experimental observations for frequencies below
500 cis. Above that frequency, it is to b e noted
that the computed curve deviates from th e exp erimental curve in the sam e direction for both the
double and single walls. In fact, th ese two curves
intersect at about the same frequen cy for bo th th e
double and single walls . Thus, the discrepancy
between computed and experimen tal curves in the
double wall case is apparently due to the imperfect
fit obtained for single walls and, furthermore, th e
effect of this imperfect fit seems to b e magnified
for double walls.
Figure 5 shows the expcrimental results obtained
on a series of }~-in. plywood walls in which th e airspace was varied from % to 12 in. , together with
th e transmission loss obtained on the single wall.
Several pertinent observations may b e made concerning the general nature of these experimental
results. First, it will be seen that even for the
%-in . airspace there is a considerable range of frequencies for which there is a significant improvement of the double wall over the single wall.
Second, all of the curves have a minimum in the
vicinity of 2,000 cis. As was pointed ou t in
RP1998 , the minimum in the single wall TL,
which also occurs at this frequency, was due to a
flexure wave having an j,= 1,885 c/ . Consequently, the effect of flexure shows up in th e
dou ble wall case at th e same frequ ency. Third,
Sound Transmission Through Double WaIls

for large airspaces (6 to 12 in.) and for frequencies
in the range from 400 to 1,000 e/s th e transmission
loss of a double wall approachcs a value tha t is
twice that of the single wall, showing that th e
second wall is almost entirely decoupled from th e
single wall for this frequen cy range.
In attempting to compute t he transm ission loss
of th e double plywood walls, we chose the %-, 3-,
and 12-in. airspace cases for detailed analysis. As
was pointed out earlier, any error in fit between
computed and experimental r esults for the single
walls would result in much larger errors in the
double wall case. In figure 6 we r eproduce the
computed and experimental data for the single
wall . Using R = 8.3, results in a computed curvl'
that agrees well up to 1,500 ci s but gives larger
than experimental values above this frequency.
However, if R = 5 is used, the computed resu lt will
agree with the experimental at j = 2,048 cis, but
will still be too high at 4,096 cis. R = 1. 8 at
4,096 cis gives much b etter agreement, whereas
R = 1.0 is a pOI'fect fi t. These data indicate tha t
R decreases with increasing fr equency.
The n ecessity for using an accurate value of R
is illustrated best by figure 7. Here the tr ansmission loss of th e single and double 7~-in. plywood
wall h as been computed as a function of R for
j = 4,096 cis. A variation of R from 1.0 to 8.0
cause a change in loss of 7 db for the single wall,
wher eas in the double wall case a 20-db change
results. In fact, it would seem to be somewhat
easier to determine R from the double walll'esults
than from the single wall measurements. The
value of R = 1.8 used for further computations at
j = 4,096 cis was selected because it gave exact
agreem en t with experiment for a 3-in. airspace
.0

".
Ul
Ul

40
35

g
z

30

:ii

25

/

o

,
'0-

:il
~ 20
«
a:

I-

~:.x

~

~

--~ ~~

15

50

100

200

1000
500
FREQUENCY, CIS

2000

5000

FIG U RE 6. Effect oj varying R on computed transmission
loss fOl' a %-in. plywood single wall.
Dotted broken line corresponds to experimental t ransmission loss. 0 ,
Experimental; ~ , compu ted, R = 5; . , computed, R=1.8; at 4.096 CiS R=l.O,
computed, coincides with experimental point. _ , Computed R=8.3;
( ,= 1.885 CIS .

83

60

V

/

50

..-- -

~

/

<J>

§
2

v

040
iii
<J>

~

/

/

<J>
2

<:

II:

....

........

- - r-

--- --- --

--

30

'"
20

o

2

3

4

5

6

7

8

9

R

7. Val'iation of computed tmnsmission loss with
R /01' double and single wall of 7f-in. plywood at a frequency of 4,096 cis.

FIGURE

-

, Double wan 3·in. airspace; .... , single wall; / = 4,0% cis; j,= 1,885 cis.

double waIl. According to this treatment it should
be possible to obtain significant improvement in a
double wall by building into each of the single
walls a layer of attenuating material.
Figure 8 is a comparison between the computed
and experimental transmission losses using R =8 .3
for frequencies up to 1,024 cis, R = 5.0 at 2,048
cis, and R = 1.8 at 4,096 cis. The solid lines are
dr awn through the computed points, the dotted
through the experimental points. It is believed
that there is reasonably good agreement considering th e complexity of the problem and, in particul ar, the computations. For example, the
point at f = 4,096 cis for the 12-in. airspace case
represents the results of 40 pages of calcul at,ions.
In figure 9, the integrand of the Td integral, eq 33
for th is point, is plotted as a function of v. Very
sharp half wavelength maxima corresponding to
v=n7rlb and covering a range of variation of several orders of magnitude are evident. In addition, there is a less sharp peak due to flexure. If
one compares the area under the peaks, one finds
most of the area exists in the neighborhood of the
flexure angle thus showing the importance of this
effect.
Figure 10 is another representation of the data
shown in figure 9. Here, the Td integral, eq 33
instead of being integ),fl.ted from v=O to V= 1.0,
is integrated from a variable lower limit VI to
V= ] .0. The quantity 10 log (l /T') so clefined,

84

therefore gives the transmission loss that would
result, if, for some reason 01' other, waves incident
at angles greater th an 01 corresponding to VI were
not transmitted. Thus, for O<vl<vl=7rlb, grazing incident waves are first excluded, but the
angle, or VI, corresponding to the first maximum
nearest grazing incid ence, wou ld be allowed. It
will be seen that not until th e fifth maximum is
exceeded is there a change in loss. This is because the first five maxima do not contribute
anything to the integr al, since they are so sharp.
W'hen the flexure angle is excluded, however,
there is a large jump in loss because there is a
large transmission of sound energy resulting from
this cause. As we approach more closely to the
conditions where the angles of incidence are restricted to the neighborhood of normal incidence,
the transmission loss increases greatly.
At the lower frequencies fewer angles at which
maxim um transmission occm's are observed. At
the lowest freq uencies none may occur at all.
55

p.,

50

,,
,

t>- .....

45

~

40

~

~\

/v

35

\

~
p'

~p

-' V-

Q.

,../
A

30
.0
."

45

~~

-I:>:

.; 40

o

..J

z

;:;rcr

35

o

~30

~

:i
I/)
2

<{

25

I

II:

/J

V

v

I

B

""'d'

.... 20

, Q.

-'1=>-- -

I/)

45

40
35

-

,

~'

,P'

30

/

:f/

/ J

~ f--?--'

25
_ -0.... ... ...

20
100

50

,

,0

' 'tf
200

C

500

1000

2000

50 00

FREQUENCY . CI S
FIG URE

8.

Comparison between computed and experimental
l'esults for Yz-in. plywood double wlllls.

Solid line, compnted; broken dotted line, experimental. In the compn·
tations, R=8.3 for frequencies up to and inclnding 1,024 cis, R=5.0 for /=
2,048 cis, and R=1.8 for [=4,096 CiS. A, 12·in. airspace; B, 3·in. airspace; 0,
~'·in. air space.

Journal of Research

-

c-

cal'l'ied ou t , principally because of th e ted ious
natm e of such calculations.
Figures 12, 13, and 14 show the experimental
res ults obtained on double walls consisting of 7h
1-, and 2-in . plasterboar d single walls. For
comparison purposes th e experimental and computed r esults obtained on the corresponding single
walls a.r e also shown on the figures. In the H-ill.
plasterboard case it will b e seen that the double
wall exp eriments t end to confirm the selection of
j.= 4,096 cis as preferable to j c= 2,048 cis. T h e

ONSET OF
FLE XURE

3

4

110

I

100
.0
"0,

Transmi ssion Loss ~ 10 log ( I I T ' )

T~ 2fl~

90 r-----

(f)
(f)

g

Vi

80

z

Q
(f)
(f)

~

1Ad l2

~l~

~

70

r--

~
I L 7IT

(f)

z

b

~ 60

>-

50

IT

b

0. 2
78.5

F I G 1' R E

B

6

\

J

I
\II

\

\

0.0

0·2

o

b"

9.

0.4

0.6

~
b

4"

b

Ir b
0.4

;'ill

b"'l
0.6

J

L 6;

ONSET OF
.,/" FLEXURE
O.B

1.0

36.1

o

V,

lOx 10-9

FIG U RE

0.0
90

1IT
b

3 IT

b1

40

\

_L

2 rr

0.8

.21!
b

1.0

66.4
53.1
e" DEGREES

Anothel' l'e p l' e~erltotion oj cW've of fi gw 'e 9.

]0.

T he fi gure s hows the variation of 10 log ( l iT') with 0, where tbe integra tiou
occurs from a ya ria hle lower limit of integra tion, 0" to 0= 0° . As the wave
packets in the re\"erbcrant soundfield are con fin ed to a cone for which 0 , is
decreasing, a sudden in crease in transmission loss occurs when the angle of
in cidence correspondi ng to fl exure is excluded, showing t hat most of the
t ransmiss ion of sound occurs as the result of fl ex ural waves.

!JI.

100

b

v

P lot of vil A al 2 vs v JOT a }~ -in. pl ywood walt
f = 4.096 ci s.

JOI'

H ere v= cos e, where 0 is the an gle of incidence of t he sound waye. Very
sharp transmission maxima occur at v=n"lb or when d cos 0= nl\/2, wbere d
is airspace tbickness. In addition, a less sharp maximum occurs at the an gle
o( incidence corresponding to t he occurrence of fl exural waves in t be wall.
Double wall, 12"in. airspace, 7I\-io. plywood ; /= 4,096 cis; / , = 1,885 cis; R = 1.8.

y

90
.0
'0

BO

(f)"
(f)

g

z

,/

70

0

iii

(/)

~

60

z
«

...-?

f-

C

(f)

This is shown in figme 11 , which is a graph similar
to figm c 10, but indicates the valu e of the r'
integr al plotted in decibels for other frequen cies
for th e same 12-in. airspace double wall.
4 . Additional Experimental Results
In this section \\'e consider some additional
exp erimental r esult ob tained on double walls, for
which , however , no analytical compu tations were
Sound Transmission Through Double WaUs

a:: 50

----

40

D
A

30
0 .0

FIG u R E

0. \

/

p-

I-

V

-

3-

(f

- f--

0.2
0.3
0.4
0.5
0.6
0 .7
LOWER LIMIT OF INTEGRATION ,vQ

-

~

O.B

0 .9

11 . P lot of 10 lo g (l iT') , as in fi gure 10 ,Jor a ~-in.
plywood dotlble wall J OT val'ious jTequ encies.

A, 96 cis; B , 512 cis; C , 1,024 cis; D , 2,048 cis.

85

60

--- fl••,

55
50
.D
"0

45

'"0

40

z
9

35

of)

,

.

)f

tl .

of)
</)

<1

' I=>

25

~~

20

~~ P<

,

Z

ex:

.,

fC ' 4096~

'

" ' "CJ

30

f-

,

,P

.J

i</)

A

wall, v ery large transm ission losses result even ,
with r elatively ligh t weight walls. T hus, a 45-db
loss may be ob tained for a weigh t of only 4.2
Ib/ft2 . T h e sit uation rapidly worsens if solid
coupling between each componen t exists. Comparing the last four entries in the table it will b e
seen that all have approx imately the sam e weigh t .
T h e 2-in. air-coupled wall, however , is som e 20
db b etter than th e stud-coupled wall ; some 10 db
better wh en the st uds are stagger ed so that
couplin g exists onl'y due to a top and bottom

lP P-

fC ' 2048~

:;,-1<"

B

70
15
10
50

100

200

5CO

1000

2000

5000

FREQUENCY , C I S

12. Ex perimental tTansmission loss resllits on
single and dou ble wall of 7'2-in. plasterboard.

FIe UR E

Cl

0-- ••

60

,

dou ble wall TL drops off a~ 4,096 cis in a fashion
similar to that of t h e single wall. In t he I-in.
an d 2-in . TL measurem ents t h e single wall mini mum occurring in t he neighborhood of the critical
flexural frequency did not appear in the double wall
case. It is of interest (table 1) to compare the
average TL for th e nin e frequ encies in th e range
of 128 to 4,096 cis with th at of ordinar y plaster
and stud walls. s
It will be seen from th e data in table 1, t hat if
no mechanical ties or sound-conducting bridges
exist b etween th e two com ponents of a double

.

...J

~ 45
iii
<Il
~ 40

~

. ,(

_.0'

~

<Il

Z

,~~~~

<t

ex: 35

,,

f-

30
25

b.'x ~

V

B

20
. 50

100

200

1000

500

2000

FI GU R E

13. E x perimental trans11I1'ssion loss results on
single and dou ble wall of 1-i n . plasterboard.

'Wcigh t

I

- - - - - --- - ----------- - -I
~- i ll . plaster board double walL. _____ .. __________
I-in. p las terboard double walL. .. ____ __ __ __ ___ __ _
2-in . plaster board d ouble walL. ___ .. ____________ _
~·i n . gypsum plaster on w ood lath on 2 b y 4
studs.
%·in. gyps um plaster on metal lath on 2 by 4
staggered wood studs, 4-in. airspace__ ________
D ouble wall consisting of t wo 2·in . solid plas ter
single walls resting on l-in . corkpad , 3-in .
airspace .. _______________ .. _.......... _____ ....

db

lblfl '

45.2
55.5
59.6
3i .5

4.2
8.3
16.6
Ii. 1

7~

..a

".

•• p
,

f/)

55

Z
0

50

~

45

iii
</)
f/)

II:

54. 1

19.8

li .2

,f':

A

,

-~-- < --0- -

,/"

z

I-

8

60

0

~

,-fY

p-"

<Il

...J

<1
4~.

a

A , D ou ble wall 3-in . airspace; B , single wall; __ __, experimen tal; t heore t ical R ~ 1O . 5, f,~ 7 68 cis .

65
A \j.7,ge

5000

FREQUEN CY . CI S

1.

D escription

p--- --p

l=- I--

~

,

~~

70
T A BLE

p

,y

gJ 50

,

~
~

A

~,

..a
.., 55
<Il

A, Double wall 3-in. airspace; B , single wall; ____ • experimen tal; _
theoretical R ~I O .5.

-

~

65

,/

40

r/-'/
./

~~.J::.

35
30

V

~, ~

~V

... "C

.~

B

~

25
'For data of tbis kind see: Building M aterials and Structures R eport
B MS17 an d two supplemen ts, Sound insula tion of wall a nd floor constructions, available from the Superintendeut of D ocuments, Go\"ernme nt Prin ting Office, W ashiugton 25, D . C. at a to tal cost of 35¢; also T echnical R eport
on Build iug M aterials, T RB M-44, F ire resistan ce a nd sound-insulation
ratings for walls, partitious, and fl oors, free u pon request at X ation al B ureau
of Standards, 'Wash ington 25, D . C.

86

I
I

L_

50

100

200

~oo

1000

2000

5000

FREQUENCY . CIS

FIGU RE

14. Exp erimental transmission loss results on
single and double wall of 2-in. plasterboard.

a

A, Double wall 3-in. a irspace; B , single ...,-all ; ___ • experimental ; _ ,
theoretical R ~ 5.3, f,~5 1 2 cis.

Journal of Research

plate to which the staggered studs arc attached,
and some 5 db b etter when coupling is ~mly due
to a corle base.
'
The question often aJ·ises as to the effect of
placing an absorbent in the airspace. Accordingly, some measurements were taken ' with a
3-in. thick fiberglas blanket having a density of
about 1.0 Ib/ft2 inserted in the airspace. Table
2 gives the avera,ge improvement in transmission
loss for the frequency range of 128 to 4096 cis
over the untreated airspace double wall.
TABLE

2.

Description of doub le wall

Average improvement

---------------------- ----~2 ·i n . 1lI as lc r boa rd . ________ .__________________________
I -in. plas ter board _____ ____ _____ ___ ___ ___ __________ __ __
2-in. plas tcr board ______ .______________________________

db
9. 6
3. 0
3.5

In the previous paper (sec footnote 1) , the effcct
of placing this same fib erglas blanket in front of
and in juxtapos ition to a single wall was d iscussed .
The walls were }f-, 1-, and 2-in. plasterboard ingle
walls. In this case the average TL improvement
for the frequ ency range of 128 to 4,096 cis was 8.2
db and was approximately the same for all tJu'ee
walls. Thus, for the dOll ble wall having thc lightest wcight thc improvement us ing the absorbent
was equal to 01' better than that obtaincd for the
single wall. On the other hand , for thc h eavier
double walls, a relatively small effect is obscrvcd.
This fact has been observed many times in more
conventional construction using wood studs,
staggered, or otherwise. For light-weight construction significant increases in the TL a,r e
measured, whereas for heavy-weight constructions
only minor increases result. In conventional
construction this is in paTt due to the existence of
sound-conducting paths. This explanation, however, does not hold in these experimental double
walls, since the components of the double walls
were isolated from each other and the blanket
was arranged in the airspace so as not to touch
the walls. Evidently, the effect depends OIl the
ratio of the impedance of the airspace material to
the impedance of the walls. For the heavy walls
the material in the airspace can add little to the
ab:eady large impedance of thc walls.

Sound Transmission Through Double WaIls

~Ieyer 5 has considered the effect of the a irspace
absorbent material on reducing transversc modes
of sound in the au'space, that is, those modes in
which thc sound travels parallel to the wall S lll'faces. He pointed out that if these modes are
important, it should be possible to absorb them
by placing this material only on the boundaries of
the airspace. Accordingly, the boundaries of the
airspace shown in figure 3 were stuffed with
Fiberglas, early in the double wall experiments
sta,r ting with the double aluminum wall. No
significant difference due to the insertion of the
boundary absorbent occul'l'ed, so that it was concluded that the effect of the transverse modes
was negligible.
Additional confirmation of this \\'as obtained by
inserting the "stl'awcomb" hown in figure 11 of
RP1998 in the airspace of several double walls.
The term strawcomb refers to a honeycomb
s tructure that was made by cutting soda straws
into 2%-in. lengths. These were placed with
th eir long axis perpendicular to the wall surfaces.
Some 150,000 straws were used in the strawcomb
used in these experiments. Because of the large
number of cell walls that would b e intersected by
a transverse wave, it is hardly to be expected
lha t they would occur. The average TL increase, again for the H-, 1-, and 2-in. double
plasterboard walls, was only 0.7 db , showing that
the strawcomb had a negligible effect.

5 . Con clusions

A theory of air-coupled double walls has been
developed, which gives good agreement with
experim ental results. In order to apply the theory
it is necessary to know the wall impedance, Z w,
of the identical single wall components . This
quantity may be determined from the transmission loss results obtained on the single walls.
Inasmuch as it is theoretically possible to evaluate
the resistance, R, and flexural frequency, ie, from
mechanical impedance measurem ents on small
scale samples, we have here , in principle, a method
of computing double \vall transmission losses from
small scale experiments. The experimental results indicate that both normal incidence theory
and the mass-reactance assumption are entirely
inadequate for explaining the behavior of single
, E. M eyer, E lck.

~ac hr .

Tech 12, 393 (\935)

87

and double walls in a reverberant sound field.
The importance of including resistance and flexural
wave effects has been demonstrated.
For double walls having air-coupling only,
very shallow airspaces can produce appreciable
increases in transmission loss over a single wall.
An absorbent material, when inserted in the airspace, produce:;; large improvements only when the
mass of the walls is relatively light and has but
little effect for heavy walls. Honeycomb or other

88

nonabsorbent cellular structures having- no cell
walls in a direction normal to the wall faces do
not result in an increase in transmission loss.
The autror is indebted to S. Edelman and Henry
J. Leinbach, Jr .. for making many of the experimental observations; in addition, the latter carried out most of the required numerical integrations.
WASHINGTON,

July 26, 1949.

Journal of Research