Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations

Sound Understanding Of Indoor Acoustics Could Make Hearing Easier

Date:
September 14, 2006
Source:
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
Summary:
An innovative technique that, for the first time, accurately measures exactly how sound behaves in "real-world" situations is now under development -- and could improve acoustics in buildings ranging from concert halls to railway stations.

A shot in the dark: testing acoustics 1960's style in the Royal Festival Hall.
Credit: Image courtesy of Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council

An innovative technique that, for the first time, accurately measures exactly how sound behaves in 'real-world' situations is now under development – and could improve acoustics in buildings ranging from concert halls to railway stations.

The potential impact of the technique, which could also assist in the development of more effective hearing aids, will be described at this year’s BA Festival of Science in Norwich.

The technique is designed to pinpoint precisely how indoor environments respond to music and speech while those areas are in everyday use. This opens up the prospect of basing acoustic design on more realistic information about the way sound behaves than has previously been possible. It may also contribute to the development of hearing aids that adapt the way they process sound according to the acoustic environment they are in, providing a much better listening experience for hearing aid users than is currently achievable.

The conventional way of measuring acoustics has been to make a short blast of noise (e.g. a gunshot), record it and analyse how it dies away (or ‘decays’). The noise has to be very loud so that the environment’s effect on it can be assessed across the full range of sound, from very loud to very quiet – only in this way can comprehensive information on an environment’s acoustic performance be obtained. However, gunshot noise poses a risk to hearing and is unpleasant to listen to. This means that measurements taken in unoccupied areas are the norm even though these do not accurately indicate ‘real’ acoustic performance - when people are present, moving and talking etc.

Now, engineers at the University of Salford are exploring whether music played at an average level of audibility, or even the conversation of people in the indoor environment being tested, could be used instead of the loud, short blast of noise. The work is being funded by the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC).

Exploiting the major advances in computing power and sophistication achieved in the IT sector in recent years, the team is developing groundbreaking computer programmes capable of isolating snippets or phrases from normal music or speech, analysing their decay and extrapolating this data so it provides an accurate indication of an environment’s effect on sound. Since loud test sounds are not required, this approach avoids the need to vacate the environment when testing takes place, enabling more realistic acoustic data to be gathered.

Trevor Cox, Professor of Acoustic Engineering at Salford University, is leading this pioneering research and will be discussing progress at the BA Festival on 8th September.

“Our work could deliver a step-change in understanding how rooms behave acoustically,” says Professor Cox. “It could help eliminate a lot of guesswork on the effect that actual usage of indoor environments will have on their acoustics.”

The research could lead to changes within around 5-10 years in the way that indoor environments are designed and constructed. In visual terms, most changes are unlikely to be obvious.

“The key differences could be in altering the way that building materials absorb or reflect sound by treating them prior to incorporation in a building,” says Professor Cox. “There’s a long way to go but the potential impact, in terms of improving quality of life for millions of people, is obvious.”


Story Source:

The above story is based on materials provided by Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. Note: Materials may be edited for content and length.


Cite This Page:

Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. "Sound Understanding Of Indoor Acoustics Could Make Hearing Easier." ScienceDaily. ScienceDaily, 14 September 2006. <www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060908193225.htm>.
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. (2006, September 14). Sound Understanding Of Indoor Acoustics Could Make Hearing Easier. ScienceDaily. Retrieved July 29, 2014 from www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060908193225.htm
Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council. "Sound Understanding Of Indoor Acoustics Could Make Hearing Easier." ScienceDaily. www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2006/09/060908193225.htm (accessed July 29, 2014).

Share This




More Matter & Energy News

Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Featured Research

from universities, journals, and other organizations


Featured Videos

from AP, Reuters, AFP, and other news services

Climate Change Could Cost Billions, According To White House

Climate Change Could Cost Billions, According To White House

Newsy (July 29, 2014) A report from the White House warns not curbing greenhouse gas emissions could cost the U.S. billions. Video provided by Newsy
Powered by NewsLook.com
Stranded Whale Watching Boat Returns to Boston

Stranded Whale Watching Boat Returns to Boston

Reuters - US Online Video (July 29, 2014) Passengers stuck overnight on a whale watching boat return safely to Boston. Linda So reports. Video provided by Reuters
Powered by NewsLook.com
Baluchistan Mining Eyes an Uncertain Future

Baluchistan Mining Eyes an Uncertain Future

AFP (July 29, 2014) Coal mining is one of the major industries in Baluchistan but a lack of infrastructure and frequent accidents mean that the area has yet to hit its potential. Duration: 01:58 Video provided by AFP
Powered by NewsLook.com
Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short

Easier Nuclear Construction Promises Fall Short

AP (July 29, 2014) The U.S. nuclear industry started building its first new plants using prefabricated Lego-like blocks meant to save time and prevent the cost overruns that crippled the sector decades ago. So far, it's not working. (July 29) Video provided by AP
Powered by NewsLook.com

Search ScienceDaily

Number of stories in archives: 140,361

Find with keyword(s):
Enter a keyword or phrase to search ScienceDaily for related topics and research stories.

Save/Print:
Share:

Breaking News:
from the past week

In Other News

... from NewsDaily.com

Science News

Health News

Environment News

Technology News



Save/Print:
Share:

Free Subscriptions


Get the latest science news with ScienceDaily's free email newsletters, updated daily and weekly. Or view hourly updated newsfeeds in your RSS reader:

Get Social & Mobile


Keep up to date with the latest news from ScienceDaily via social networks and mobile apps:

Have Feedback?


Tell us what you think of ScienceDaily -- we welcome both positive and negative comments. Have any problems using the site? Questions?
Mobile: iPhone Android Web
Follow: Facebook Twitter Google+
Subscribe: RSS Feeds Email Newsletters
Latest Headlines Health & Medicine Mind & Brain Space & Time Matter & Energy Computers & Math Plants & Animals Earth & Climate Fossils & Ruins