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Professor Alan Hedge, Cornell University


Acoustic Environment DEA3500 Human Factors: Ambient Environment Sound Nature and Measurement Sound Sound - pressure changes in an elastic medium capable of being detected by the ear. Sound waves - vibrating source emits pressure waves (compression and rarifaction of air molecules) that create stationary waves that we hear as sounds. For sounds of average loudness the pressure wave is about 1 millionth of the normal atmospheric pressure (15 psi). 2 million people talking could power a 50 watt light bulb. Sound Waves Sound is propagated as a standing wave of pressure changes. Sound intensity follows the inverse square law: I = 1/d2 Sound Waves Wavelength - length of one cycle (peak-to-peak) Frequency - the number of cycles per second (Hertz - Hz) Amplitude - the magnitude of pressure variation Phase - the degree of coincidence of two or more sound waves Multiple Sound Sources Sound waves are add when they are in phase. Complex Sounds Sound waves of different frequencies combine to create a complex wave in which both interference and amplification occur. Fundamentals and Harmonics Complex waveforms can be decomposed into their fundamental frequencies Sounds Sound frequency samples Sound Sources Point sources - single noise sources e.g. voice, equipment. Area sources - multiple, overlapping point sources in flat plane e.g. crowd of people talking.


Line sources - multiple moving point sources e.g. busy highway.


Sound Sources Point sources - Sound intensity follows inverse square law (6dB decrease every doubling of distance) Area sources - Sound intensity doesnt decrease with distance (in theory).

Professor Alan Hedge, Cornell University


Line sources Sound intensity decreases 3dB every doubling of distance)


Sound Directionality Many sources are directional sound emitters. When we speak we emit sound of greater intensity in certain directions i.e. the human voice is louder in front than behind the head, especially for the higher frequencies. Speed of Sound In air at 20C and sea-level pressure (14.7 psi, 1013.25 millibars, 101.325 Kpa) sound travels at ~1,125 f/s (~343 m/s, ~767 mph) In seawater sound travels at ~4,889 fps (~1,490 m/s, ~ 3,333 mph) Speed of sound depends upon multiple factors, such as the density, elasticity and temperature of the transmission medium. Speed of Sound Sound Measurement Units Sound intensity measured as a ratio of the sound pressure level to a reference level (I0 = 10-12 watts m-2 ~ 0.02 Pa ~ threshold of hearing) Sound intensity measured on a logarithmic scale (0 to 1012, i.e. one to one trillion times the energy) Bel units: SPL =log10(I1/I0) [1 Bel = 10 dB] Decibel (dB) units: SPL =10 log10(I1/I0) Weighted dB scales: dBA - weighted to mimic sensitivity of the human ear Octave bands - SPL measures at 1:1 or 1:1/3 octave band center frequencies. Decibel Levels 120 dB is 1012 more sound power than 0dB Decibel Addition For multiple sound sources, decibels can be added as follows (fractional dBs are omitted): Difference (dB) 0-1 2-3 4 - 10 > 10 dB added to Louder Noise 3 dB 2 dB 1 dB 0 dB


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e.g. 2 TV sets at 65 dB each will produce a combined sound level of 68 dB.


Decibels and Perception Subjectively, the ear does not respond in a linear manner to changes in decibel levels Change in Level (dB) Subjective Effect 3 just perceptible 5 clearly perceptible 10 twice as loud 1:1 Octave Bands


Professor Alan Hedge, Cornell University


One octave is a doubling of the frequency 1:1 Octave Bands (Internationally agreed) Center Frequency (Hz) Effective Band (Hz) 31.5 22 - 44 63 44 - 88 125 88 - 177 250 177 - 354 500 354 - 707 1000 707 - 1414 2000 1414 - 2828 4000 2828 - 5657 8000 5657 - 11314

1:1/3 Octave Bands 1:1/3 Octave bands have 30 center frequencies that are evaluated. Center Center Center Frequency (Hz) Frequency (Hz) Frequency (Hz) 10 100 1000 12.5 125 1250 16 160 1600 20 200 2000 25 250 2500 31.5 315 3150 40 400 4000 50 500 5000 63 630 6300 80 800 8000 Octave Band Analysis Octave band analysis allows the sound intensity to be measured at certain frequencies 1:1 and 1:1/3 octave band filters can be attached to sound level meters. Octave, Frequency and Wavelength Octave above or below middle C Frequency (Hz) Wavelength (ft) -2 (C2) 64 17.7 -1 (C1) 128 8.86 0 (C0) 256 4.43 1 (C1) 512 2.21 2 (C2) 1024 1.10 3 (C3) 2048 0.55 4 (C4) 4096 0.27 5 (C5) 8192 0.14




Colors of Noise White noise (Johnson noise) - combination of all audible frequencies with an equal energy per Hz. Commonly used as masking noise.

Professor Alan Hedge, Cornell University


Pink noise (1/f noise, flicker noise) - noise with an equal amount of energy per octave. Colors of Noise Brown noise - noise showing a random walk behavior as in Brownian motion. Grey noise - noise combination of an equal loudness contour so that it sounds equally loud at all frequencies. Black (silent) noise - effectively ultrasonic (>20KHz) white noise. Purple (violet) noise - noise with a power density proportional to f2. Power density increase 6dB per octave. Differentiated white noise. Blue noise - power density increases 3dB per octave and density is proportional to f. Green noise - like pink noise with a hump around 500Hz - used on relaxation tapes. Orange noise - quasi-stationary noise with a finite power spectrum and a finite number of small bands of zero energy dispersed throughout a continuous spectrum. Red noise - oceanic ambient noise described as red because of selective absorption of higher frequencies. Human Voice The sound spectrum for the human voice is more complex than for musical instruments. Gender and Voice Gender differences in the voice spectrum.