Building acoustics is the science of controlling noise in buildings, this includes the minimisation of noise transmission from one space to another and the control of the characteristics of sound within spaces themselves.
Building acoustics is an important consideration in the design, operation and construction of most buildings, and can have a significant impact on health and wellbeing, communication and productivity. They can be particularly significant in spaces such as concert halls, recording studios, lecture theatres, and so on, where the quality of sound and its intelligibility are very important.
Building acoustics can be influenced by:
Sound intensity is measured in Decibels (dB). This is a logarithmic scale in which an increase of 10 dB gives an apparent doubling of loudness.
Sound pitch is measured in Hertz (Hz), the standard unit for the measurement for frequency. The audible range of sound for humans is typically from 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz, although, through ageing and exposure to loud sounds the upper limit will generally decrease.
As well as intensity and frequency, sound also transmits information. For example, music or speech, transmit the information which people may perceive differently from other sounds.
The ‘reverberation time’ of space changes the way space ‘sounds’ and can affect the intelligibility acoustic information. High reverberation time can make a room sound muffled, loud and noisy. Rooms designed for speech typically have a low reverberation time, whereas a higher reverberation time can add depth, richness and warmth to the music.
The reverberation time of a room is defined as the time it takes for sound to decay by 60 dB after an abrupt termination. It is linked to the total quantity of soft treatments and the volume of the room.
Sound absorption is the loss of sound energy when sound waves come into contact with an absorbent material such as ceilings, walls, floors and other objects, as a result of which, the sound is not reflected back into space. Acoustic absorption can be used to reduce reverberation times.
Sound absorbers can be divided into three main categories:
See sound absorption for more information
Building acoustics can help to mitigate the effects of noise disturbance which can have negative effects on health, wellbeing and general quality of life.
Australian Government defines noise pollution as:
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