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Introduction - Acoustics

Acoustics is the branch of physics that deals with the production, control, transmission,
reception, and effects of sound.
The science of sound acoustics can be broadly divided into two major areas:
a) The handling of wanted sound i.e. creation of most favorable conditions for listening to a
sound we want to hear. (room acoustics)
b) The handling of unwanted sound i.e. Noise
Hearing is most important communication
channel (second to vision)
Noise is the term used for unwanted
sound, thus
definition is subjective, one mans sound is another mans
Noise may also be defined as a disturbance in an elastic
medium which includes solid, liquid and gasses.
low density of rural areas
ensures greater distance
between source and listener.
In village areas, one knows
everyone else, sound originates
from known source.



Noise sources are

Industries, factories,
aircrafts, radio etc.
High density towns
Distances between sources
and listeners are much less.

Depending upon the position of source, sound can be broadly divided into two classes :
Airborne sound
An airborne sound is one which is transmitted through air and travels direct to the ear of the
This type of sound travels from one part of building to another or from outside of the
building to the inside through open doors, windows or other openings.

Impact sound/Structureborne sound

The sound which is first transmitted through structure is called impact sound.
The noise of footsteps, furniture movement, dropping of utensils.
Impact sounds are troublesome and are often very sharp.

Noise in Enclosed Space

Sound incident on the surface of a solid body is partly
reflected, partly absorbed and partly transmitted.
Absorption coefficient all the sound that is not reflected
(i.e. includes the part actually absorbed and transmitted)
Absorption coefficient is denoted by a
Absorption (A) = a X s
Where a = absorption coefficient
s = area of given surface

In an enclosed space, even from single source, there will

be a complex pattern of interreflected sound (referred as
reverberant sound)
At any point in room the total sound received will
consists of two parts:
-Direct Component
-The reverberant component
The magnitude of reverberant component depends on
the absorbent qualities of room surfaces.
Reflective surfaces are useful when they reinforce
desirable sounds by directing and distributing their
paths in a room.
The continued presence of reflected sounds, can also cause problems of echo,
flutter or reverberation.
Echoes: when a reflecting surface is so far away from the source that the sound is
reflected back as a distinct repetition of the direct sound, the reflected sound is
called an echo.
Echoes are produced, when the time interval between the direct and the reflected
sound waves is about 1/15th of a second.
Flutter: In smaller rooms, parallel reflective surfaces
can cause a rapid succession of echoes we call flutter.

Reverberation: when the sound waves get reflected, a part of sound energy is converted into
heat energy by friction and is absorbed by the walls.
Subsequently the reflected waves get inter reflected from one surface to another until they
gradually fade and become inaudible.
This phenomenon of undue prolongation of sound by successive reflections from surrounding
surfaces, after the source has ceased is termed as reverberation.
Reverberation: The persistence of a sound within a space, caused by multiple reflections of
the sound after its source has stopped.
While some music is enhanced by long reverberation times, speech can become muddled in
such an acoustic environment.
To ensure clarity of sound, it may be necessary to alter the shape and orientation of a rooms
surfaces or adjust the ratio of reflective and absorbent materials.
Reverberation Time: The reverberation period is the time taken for the sound energy to
decay by 60 db, after the sound source has stopped.
Formula for calculating reverberation time by Prof. Sabine
t = 0.16 V / a1s1 + a2s2 + a3s3 + ..
Where t= time of reverberation
V = Volume of room in m3
a1, a2,a3..= Coefficient of absorption
s1, s2, s3= area of absorbing surface

Sound Absorbents
Material having hard, rigid and non porous surface, provide the least absorption.
Flexible, soft , porous can vibrate and absorb more sound.
Classification of Absorbents:
Porous Absorbents:
When sound wave strike the surface of porous material, part of the wave get reflected while
part enters the pores and is thought to be dissipated into heat energy.
The efficiency depends upon thickness and porosity.
E.g. Slagwool, wood wool, faomed plastic, perforated fibreboards etc.
These are mainly selected to absorb sound having high frequency.
Resonant Absorbents:
The absorbent material is fixed on sound framing (usually Timber) with an air space left
between framing and the wall at the back.
Such arrangement works most efficient for absorbing low frequency sound waves.
The principle of sound absorption in this method is that sound waves cause vibrations in the
panel which act as a diaphragm. The absorption of sound takes place by virtue of the
dampening of vibration in the panel by means of the air space behind the panel.

Classification of Absorbents:
Cavity Absorbents :
Cavity resonators essentially consists of a chamber with a narrow opening in which
absorption takes place by resonance of the air in the chamber which gives loss of sound
Such an arrangement is effective over a single selected frequency.
Application of cavity resonator is normally restricted to absorption from individual machine
or in similar cases.
Composite type of Absorbents :
They consists of perforated panels mounted on battens so as to leave a cavity between
panels and wall at the back.
The panels may be of metal, wood hardboard etc.
The area of holes in the panel should vary between 10 to 20% of total area of the panel.
The effectiveness of this system can be increased by placing a porous material in the cavity.
This type is commonly used, as it is easy to install, economical and accommodate wide
range of frequencies.

Acoustical Definitions
Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC): NRC is a single-number rating representing and
overview of how much sound is absorbed by a material.
Example: gypsum board (drywall) on 2x4 studs has an NRC of 0.05.

Soft materials like acoustic foam, fibreglass, fabric, carpeting, etc. will have high NRCs;
harder materials like brick, tile and drywall will have lower NRCs.
A materials NRC is an average of its absorption coefficients at 250, 500, 1000 and 2000
In general, the higher the number, the better the absorption.
NRC is useful for a general comparison of materials. However, for materials with very
similar NRCs, it is more important to compare absorption coefficients.
Sound Absorption Coefficient (a)
The actual absorption coefficients of a material are frequency dependent and represent how
well sound is absorbed in a particular octave or one-third octave band.
Example: drywall on 2x4 studs has an absorption coefficient at 125 Hz of 0.29.

Sound Absorption Materials

1. Vans gypsum board (premium T206)
Noise reduction coefficient - 0.76
Light reflectance value - 93%
Fire resistance - very high
Humidity resistance - RH 96
Thermal conductivity - 0.45 W/mk
Hazardous emission - NIL
Impact resistance - high resistance to surface impact
Soil resistance - excellent resistance to stains and grease
Price - Rs. 350 per Sqft
2. Vans gypsum board (selects G956)
Noise reduction coefficient - upto 0.90
Light reflectance value - NA
Fire resistance - very high
Humidity resistance - RH 96
Thermal conductivity - 0.45 W/mk
Hazardous emission - NIL
Impact resistance - high resistance to surface impact
Soil resistance - excellent resistance to stains and grease
Price - Rs. 300 per Sqft

3. Studio Foam
The right studio foam soundproofing can make the
difference between a good recording and a great one.
Studio Foam is perfect for:
Recording studios, broadcast studios, theaters
Auditoriums, band rooms, gymnasiums
Homes, offices, conference rooms, equipment rooms
Price - Rs 1000 (6 x 3 ft)
4. Glass wool is an insulating material made from fibres of
glass arranged into a texture similar to wool. Glass wool is
produced in rolls or in slabs, with different thermal and
mechanical properties. Glass wool is a thermal
insulation that consists of intertwined and flexible glass
fibers, which causes it to "package" air, resulting in a
low density that can be varied through compression and
binder content. It can be a loose fill material, blown into
attics, or, together with an active binder sprayed on the
underside of structures, sheets and panels that can be used to
insulate flat surfaces such as cavity wall insulation, ceiling
tiles, curtain walls as well asducting. It is also used to
insulate piping and for soundproofing.
Price - Rs 5000 per kg