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What you need to know about Room Acoustics

In the Southeast Asia region especially, acoustic properties of residential buildings are often neglected by designers, developers, contractors, and even home buyers. Noises from both internal and external environments affects occupants’ daily lives, causing nuisance which can strongly deteriorate one’s living quality as a long-term effect. In this article, we will investigate building/room acoustics, and the actions that can be undertaken to improve the acoustical environment inside a building.

Room acoustics

In general, the acoustics of rooms can be divided into two groups: low frequency and high frequency. Sound in rooms can be highly affected by the reflective properties of the surfaces in the room. This is because multiple reflections may occur if the room surfaces are highly reflective, which then leads to a reverberant field in addition to the direct field from the source especially at higher frequency range. Therefore, at any point in the room, the overall sound pressure level is influenced by the energy contained in both the direct and reverberant fields (Crocker, 2007).

Sound transmissions in buildings

Sound can be transmitted within a building by transmitting through air in the spaces bounded by walls or roofs/ceilings, known as airborne transmission. Another way would be through structural transmission through the structural assemblies of the building, or impacts.

Airborne sound originates from a source that radiates sound waves into the air, which would then impinge on the building surfaces. A good example of airborne sound will be speech, or music from a television or loudspeaker. On the other hand, impact sound is being generated when an object strikes the surface of a building. The commonly heard impact sounds that we can hear in buildings are footsteps, furniture-dragging sounds, cleaning, and other equipment that is used directly on the floor surfaces. To overcome these noises, good sound isolation should be considered for all the possible paths for sound and the junctions between walls and floors, not just at the direct path through common wall or floor.

Sound insulation – airborne and impact

It is imperative to consider the control of airborne and impact sound transmission through the building elements like walls, ceilings, or floors, as stated above. In this case, sound insulation methods will be crucial. Different methods can be implemented for airborne, impact and flanking sounds (Crocker, 2007).

For airborne sound, insulation can be applied at any building element. This is because when sound hits on a surface, a very small fraction of the incident energy will be radiated from the other side. The sound transmission loss (TL), which is the ratio of the incident sound energy relative to the transmitted sound energy is typically measured. TL can be expressed in decibels (dB), and it is sometimes known as sound reduction index (R) in European and ISO standards. The elements to be used in buildings for sound insulation are measured in accordance with standards, where the commonly seen method would be the two-room method. A test specimen would be mounted between a reverberant source room, and a receiver room such that the only significant path for sound to transmit through is the specimen, and other possible transmission paths would be suppressed. As such, it will be useful to determine the TL of the building elements/materials so that one can estimate the airborne sound insulation performance inside the building space.

As for impact sound which typically radiates from a floor into rooms below or horizontally, insulation can be done via floor coverings or floor slabs. This is because the applications of these items can reduce the impact sound pressure levels that travels into the receiver room. The typical methods of insulation are adding soft floor coverings on concrete slab, increasing the thickness of concrete floors, or implementing floating floors.

Single number ratings

To know the acoustic information of an insulation element, the standard method would be to refer to the single number ratings of that element. These ratings would be assigned to building materials based on their sound transmission spectra by the means of reference curves or weighted summation procedures.

The most used single-number rating for airborne sound insulation is the Sound Transmission Class (STC), which is in accordance with the American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) E413. There is another equivalent number called the Weighted Sound Reduction Index (Rw), which is based on the International Organization for Standardization (ISO) standard ISO 717.

The figure above shows an example of STC contour fitted to a concrete slab’s data. The differences between data points below the contour line and the value of contour are called the “deficiencies”. According to ASTM E413, the sum of deficiency should not be greater than 32 dB, and each individual deficiency should not exceed 8 dB (also known as the 8-dB rule). The reference contour for ASTM covers the frequency range from 125 Hz to 4000 Hz. The Rw contour from the ISO 717 has the same shape, except that it covers a broader frequency range of 100 Hz to 3150 Hz. Also, there is no 8-dB rule in ISO 717. Comparing both standards, the numbers from both ratings are usually close. However, the weighted summation method developed in ISO 717 accounts for the higher importance of low frequencies in traffic noise and modern music systems. As such, this method allows corrections/spectrum adaptation terms to be produced that can be used in conjunction with the Rw rating.

As for impact sound insulation, the sound pressure levels are often collected using a standard tapping machine and normalised, which will then be used with a reference curve to calculate its rating, typically the Impact Insulation Class (IIC), or the weighted index Ln,w. In fact, these ratings are commonly used in building codes. Again, the rating curves are identical in each standard, but there are some differences among them still. For instance, the ASTM IIC method does not allow any unfavourable deviation to exceed 8 dB. An increasing IIC rating would indicate that the impact sound insulation improves. Conversely, the Ln,w rating would decrease as the impact sound insulation gets better. We can take the relationship between both ratings as follow (assuming that the 8-dB rule is not invoked):

However, there is debate regarding the usefulness of ISO tapping machine data obtained on different types of floors. Therefore, the latest version of ISO 717-2 proposed the use of C1, a spectrum adaptation term to consider low-frequency noise that is normally generated below a lightweight joist floor.  is the unweighted sum of energy in the one-third octave bands (50 or 100 Hz – 2500 Hz) minus 15 dB. According to the standard, this rating is expected to have a better correlation with the subjective evaluation of noise coming below floors, especially for low frequency ones.

The single rating numbers mentioned above are all useful when it comes to determining the level of acoustic insulation a material can provide. With the explanation above about room acoustics and the insulation measures that can be implemented, it will give a better idea on how one should tackle and handle the room acoustics in a building.


Crocker, M. J. (2007). Chapter 103: Room Acoustics. In C. H. Hansen, & M. J. Crocker (Ed.), Handbook of Noise and Vibration Control (pp. 1240-1246). Adelaide, South Australia, Australia: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. doi:ISBN 978-0-471-39599-7

Crocker, M. J. (2007). Chapter 105: Sound Insulation—Airborne and Impact. In A. C. Warnock, & M. J. Crocker (Ed.), Handbook of Noise and Vibration Control (pp. 1257-1266). Ottawa, Ontario, Canada: John Wiley & Sons, Inc. doi:ISBN 978-0-471-39599-7

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Noise caused by construction works at night in Netizen

A video she had filmed of the construction site shows the drone of the machinery could be heard reverberating along with the backup beeper of a truck at the site. This can go on up to 3 am as reported by the netizen.

Singapore — A member of the public has taken to Facebook after she realized that construction works were being carried out near her apartment even at night, causing a lot of noise in the area. 

She put up a post on the Facebook group “Complaint Singapore” to seek advice from other netizens who might have encountered a similar situation before.

In her post, a member of the public also included a video she had filmed of the construction site. In the video, the drone of the machinery could be heard reverberating along with the backup beeper of a truck at the site.

According to the caption of the post, this was not the first time that such an incident had occurred. The member of the public also mentions that the construction works had gone on until 3 AM on a previous occasion. As such, she asked other netizens for help on who to contact on the issue, since the sounds generated by the construction works can be quite loud and disruptive.

Other netizens shared their views on the matter and offered suggestions in the comments section. 

A few netizens chalked the nighttime construction down to urgency, saying that there might be an emergency that needs fixing quickly and promptly.

Some other netizens thought that carrying out construction work at night, would impede the flow of traffic less since there are fewer commuters during the night.

A few other netizens suggested that the poster bring the issue up to the relevant authorities such as the National Environment Agency (NEA), the Land Transport Authority (LTA), or the Singapore Police Force (SPF).

After contacting NEA, the poster replied that they were helpful in stopping the works at an earlier hour.

According to NEA, construction sites need to observe the noise level and exercise construction noise control with effect from 1 Oct 2007. 

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The power of trees can reduce noise.

The way most workers need to complete tasks have significantly changed the way companies use their spaces. Quiet spaces are needed for deep, focused work. Technology enabled meeting rooms and collaboration spaces are used for productive meetings. Ideally, an office is designed in such a way that it enables team members to do their best work.

Unfortunately, it can be difficult to make sure a design includes all these aspects. As a result, designers and architects still often have to leave space for cubicles and open office spaces, a big contributing factor to general noise levels.

Did you know? Planting trees in your home or office not only helps to cool the internal temperature, increase the oxygen in the air give a feeling of freshness, and help relax only. But plants can also HELP ABSORB NOISE!

One creative way to both combat office noise and bring biophilic elements to a design is to incorporate plants and greenery into a space. Studies have shown that both plants and living green walls are an effective way to absorb sound and noise pollution.

Beyond their sound absorbing qualities, plants and biophilic elements can help to improve a worker’s overall well-being. Access to natural elements like greenery, natural light, and organic textures have been found to both improve employee productivity and reduce absenteeism. Plants have been found to be a mood booster and a stress reliever for team members, which can in turn, help to improve an employer’s bottom line.

Do Plants Help to Absorb Sound?

There is quite a bit of research on the subject, but the short answer is yes. The flexible and porous nature of indoor house plants acts as natural sound reducers. There are three ways that house plants can reduce the sound in your home or office: deflection, absorption, and refraction.

Most people do not understand the sound absorption benefits of houseplants. However, they really do help with absorption sound.

How Plants Reduce Indoor Noise Levels?

As mentioned above, plants reduce noise levels through three different methods: deflection, absorption, and refraction.

  • Deflection – Sound waves tend to bounce around off hard surfaces. That is where all that added noise comes from. Walls are rigid and will amplify sound, while plants are flexible and help to deaden the sound by breaking up the sound waves into other forms of energy.
  • Absorption – Plants are great at absorbing sound because of the leaves, branches, and wood. Wood is a great sound absorber. Have you ever walked through a forest and been amazed at the silence? That is because the trees are absorption all the ambient noise.
  • Refraction – Refraction is taking away the echoes of the sound bouncing off the hard surfaces. Plants will help to refract this noise and eliminate the echoes which are responsible for much of the added noise in your home or office.

The indoor plants that work best at absorbing sound such as:

  • Ferns: have a lot of surface space to help reduce sound. Their wide leaves spread out and cover quite a bit of area.
  • Baby’s Tears: Baby’s Tears are a dense plant that looks almost like moss. The plant has a way of draping itself over the pot and makes a great sound reducer when elevated off the ground.
  • The Peace Lily: The Peace Lily can absorb some of the sounds with their leaves and do a great job of bouncing the sound to the other plants and is a great sound absorbing plant you can put in your home. Their true noise absorbing properties are in their thick, broad leaves.
  • The Rubber Plant: The beauty of this plant is just how big it can get. Rubber plants cover a large surface area which only serves to enhance their sound absorbing properties.
  • Fiddle Leaf Fig: The fiddle leaf fig is another plant with broad, thick leaves. They can grow tall, and the cupped shape to the leaves make for an effective sound absorber.

Reference :

พลังจากต้นไม้ ลดมลพิษทางเสียง

The Top Sound Absorbing Plants For The Workplace

Asia Noise News

Singapore to Ban Older Motorcycles

As motor vehicle emissions regulations tighten around the world, it should come as no surprise that Singapore is set to restrict motorcycles registered before July 1, 2003, and effectively ban them after June 30, 2028. The island city-state is under 800 km2 in area, yet is home to 5.7 million residents (denser than Hong Kong), and is known for its strict laws, cleanliness, and low crime rate.

The restrictions were introduced in 2018, and Singapore’s National Environment Agency (NEA) released new information and guidelines on the emissions regulations and standards in April of this year. The laws come into effect on April 26, 2023, after which time, qualifying motorcycles must meet tighter emissions standards of “4.5% Carbon Monoxide (CO) by Volume; and 7,800 ppm Hydrocarbons (HC) (for 2-stroke engine) or 2,000 ppm HC (for 4-stroke engine)”, as per the NEA documentation. After June 30, 2028, these motorcycles will either be banned, or the owner can apply to be given a temporary permit with usage stipulations, until such time as they are eligible for Classic Vehicle status, which in Singapore is 35 years or older.

The NEA estimates that most of the eligible motorcycles will be able to pass the required emissions standards with proper, regular maintenance. Owners can have their vehicles tested at an approved inspection station to ensure they pass the standards.

The new laws will apply equally to locally owned, as well as foreign motorcycles entering Singapore. Foreign motorcycles must also meet local noise regulations, and must not emit any smoke or visible vapor. Enforcement is planned via random emissions testing blitzes at land entry checkpoints.

For owners of older motorcycles, the NEA is offering an early de-registration incentive of up to $3,500, to encourage owners to get these bikes off the road. According to the NEA, almost 60% of the 27,000 eligible motorcycles have so far been de-registered via this program.


Noise and Vibration Product News

ListenEAR noise dosimeter, noise dosemeter OSHA, ISO9612

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Noisy exhaust eradication a joint effort in Malaysia

Illegally modified motorcycle exhausts, or the eradication thereof, should be a collective effort by all relevant Malaysian agencies, says Transport Minister Datuk Seri Wee Ka Siong. Speaking during the launch of the Diesel Multiple Unit train at Pasir Was, Kelantan, Wee said the import and sale of illegally modified motorcycles and components needed to be addressed, as reported in The Star.

“Some say loud exhausts should be banned but it may not come under the Transport Ministry’s jurisdiction as it could involve the Customs Department and such,” said Wee, responding to social media posts accusing several ministries of allowing the sale of modified motorcycle parts. “Some people questioned how these exhausts entered the market and accused the Domestic Trade and Consumer Affairs Ministry of not stopping the sale of such prohibited items,” he said.

Saying that the sale of modified parts for vehicle use does not fall under the jurisdiction of the Transport Ministry, Wee suggested the relevant ministries collaborate on finding a solution. “We don’t want to trouble the people but there are complaints that the loud sound from these exhausts is causing some to lose sleep,” said Wee.

Wee emphasized the Ministry of Transport is taking an advocacy approach to the issue of noisy motorcycles, with offenders being called up for interviews by JPJ under Article 114 of the Road Transport Act, instead of being issued a summons. Those found guilty of modifying their motorcycle exhaust face a maximum fine of RM2,000 or six months jail, with the seizure of the non-compliant motorcycle an option under Section 64 of the Road Transport Act 1987.

The issue of motorcycle exhaust noise came to the fore around mid-February this year, after police and JPJ took what was felt by some in the riding community to be excessive action. Riders were subject to roadblocks and checks, leading to allegations from the public a minority segment of the vehicle population in Malaysia was being unfairly targeted and persecuted.

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Acoustic Treatment in Schools

Several generations of students and teachers have battled the inherent problems caused by noise and poor acoustic design in educational settings. Despite the problem having been recognized for over 100 years, acoustics in classrooms remain under-addressed in older buildings and many newer built schools. A 2012 released study “Essex Study-Optimal classroom acoustics for all” defines the need and benefits of acoustically treating classrooms. The study looked at the impact of reducing reverberation time in a working classroom environment. The conclusion drawn after several measurements of acoustics and surveys with participants was a demonstrable clear benefit to all by improving the acoustic environment. Simply, uncontrolled reverberations in a classroom have a direct negative effect on health and performance, for both students and teachers.

Reverberation is the echo of sound reflecting from hard surface to hard surface causing noise to build up and creating a confusing, unintelligible mass of sound. The hard surfaces such as windows, blackboards, concrete blocks and gypsum walls found in most classrooms do not absorb sound energy and as a result, the sound reflects back into the room, arriving at the ear many times at intervals that are milliseconds apart. This creates a sound that is smeared and the brain has difficulty distinguishing the primary information and disseminating it from the reverberation. This problem is exacerbated when hearing assist devices and cochlear implants are used. Excess reverberation also affects students with auditory processing issues, ADHD, and other learning challenges. In fact, all students benefit from lowering the reverberation and improving intelligibility.

Reverberation is measured in relation to time. The measurement (RT60) is the time it takes for sound to decay by 60dB in a particular space. The greater the reverberation time, the more “echo” in a room, and the greater the listening challenges become. The reverberation time of a room will depend on variables such as the size of the classroom, the reflective surfaces, and how other absorbent or reflective features in the room may increase the effect.

The Effect on Students and Teachers
Most learning occurs from the verbal communication of information and ideas. Traditionally, classrooms have not been designed with attention to how the room sounds or how it may affect the students and teachers that are using it. It is well known that proximity to the teacher increases student engagement and the comprehension of the material being taught. As most classes have 30 or more students in it, it is impossible for every student to be close to the teacher. For students at the rear of the class, the volume level reaching the students will be reduced by as much as 20dB compared to when it is created. The brain then has to differentiate whether the sound being received is the source material or the sound bouncing off the walls. When one factors in the natural reverberation in the room, the delay in sound reaching the ear, along with distractions such as HVAC noise, the classroom base-level sound and noise seeping in from outside the doors and windows, it is not surprising to find that many children are simply not hearing the material they are being taught.
And this is only the beginning. As the ambient sound level in the classroom increases, the teacher naturally increases his or her voice level. The ‘classroom chatter’ naturally increases to compensate and the problem exacerbates to the point where the teacher and students begin to lose concentration.

Children do not Listen Like Adults
When you consider the acoustic problems described, studies suggest that as many as 30% of students may actually be challenged in understanding their teacher’s message. Poor intelligibility due to proximity to the teacher, excessive reverberation and noise result in a lack of comprehension of the material being taught.
Most adults would not notice these challenges as life experience allows us to “fill in the missing words”.

The solution is to acoustically treat the classroom
Right from the early days of radio, broadcasters came to the conclusion that unless the source broadcast was clear and concise, the message would get lost. To address the problem, absorptive acoustic panels were mounted on the broadcast studio wall surfaces to suppress the reflections and improve intelligibility for the listener. This practice continues to this day and the same rules apply whether you are teaching in a classroom, delivering a message in a house of worship or broadcasting a distance learning class over the internet.

A popular solution is to suspend the panels from the ceiling. The added benefit of the airspace created behind the panel when suspended increases the panel’s absorptive surface area. This is particularly effective in noisy cafeterias. For classrooms with T-bar ceilings, there are acoustic tiles that can replace the original non-absorptive compressed fiber tile. Actual panel placement is not as critical as one may think. It is more about using available space to your best advantage by evenly distributing the panels around the room.
A classroom free from excessive reverberation and noise is far more conducive to learning and greatly contributes to better student success – whether the student has learning issues or not. Reducing the ambient sound level also makes it easier to teach, reduces teacher stress and burnout, and significantly reduces listening fatigue for everyone. When you consider the teacher – student benefits and the relatively low cost involved installing acoustic treatment, a practical solution for school districts and post secondary institutions that care about attaining the maximum results from their student body is readily available.

Credit : James Wright, Business development executive at Primacoustic

Asia Noise News

Malaysian police conduct noise checks on their own

Malaysian police conduct noise checks on their own

Perhaps in an effort to show the Malaysian public that the law is being applied equally, police conducted motorcycle noise and modification checks on police personnel. The operation was held by the Traffic Investigation and Enforcement Department (JSPT) on police personnel exiting police headquarters at Bukit Aman, Kuala Lumpur.

This was held in response to public sentiment on social media saying the recent over the top police action against motorcycles was only targeted at the riding public. The vehicle examination special op involved 15 officers and 35 other JSPT personnel, accompanied by 5 officers from the police Integrity and Standard department (JIPS), along with personnel from the Department of Environment (DOE).

During the operation, 280 vehicles were inspected, resulting in 146 summons issued for offences such as “fancy” number plates, no side mirrors, no road tax and exhaust modifications. The main objective of this surprise check is to ensure police personnel complied with the law and road rules, showing an example to the public, as stated on the JSPT Facebook page.

Malaysia traffic noise checks

What do you think dear reader, are the police doing the job we pay them to do or is this just mere window dressing and playing to the public gallery? The recent persecution of road users, notable motorcyclists, has reportedly become overbearing and many feel the police are targeting the lower-income and disadvantaged group in these times of pandemic and lockdown with the resulting economic downturn across Malaysia.

While overbearingly noisy exhausts are a nuisance, the current disproportionate response starts to bring to mind images of a police state. 

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Helmholtz Resonator

Resonate absorbers are the most powerful of low-frequency absorption technologies. Pound for pound and square foot per square foot, resonant absorbers can not be matched for low-frequency absorption. They are sometimes called resonance absorbers. We are speaking about real low-frequency absorption which represents all frequencies below 100 Hz. Resonant absorbers are different than other absorbers. They work best in areas of high room sound pressure not high sound velocity areas like porous absorbers that handle middle and high frequencies.

Vibrations & Sound Pressure
A resonant absorber is a vibrational system that “runs” on sound pressure. As vibrational science will tell us a resonant absorber is a mass vibrating against a spring. The mass is the cabinet and front wall or diaphragm. The spring is the air inside the cavity of the resonant absorber. If you change the vibrating mass and stiffness of the spring, you can control and tune the resonant absorber to the resonant frequency of choice. The internal mass or cabinet depth determines design frequency. The spring or internal air and cavity are used for achieving the rate of absorption above the unit’s designed for resonant frequency. There are three types of resonant absorbers: Helmholtz and Diaphragmatic and Membrane.

Helmholtz / Membrane
A Helm resonator is a box or tube with an opening or slot at its mouth. Air enters the slot which has a calculated width, length, and depth. The slot is attached to a cabinet or cylinder of different widths and depths. A glass coke bottle is a good example of a Helmholtz resonator. It is a resonant absorber or as some would term a resonance absorber. The frequency or resonance is determined by the slot dimensions along with the cabinet or cylinder depth. Helms are frequency specific and narrow frequency band coverage. A membrane absorber works similar to a diaphragmatic. It has a membrane than vibrates in sympathy to sound pressure. This vibrating membrane is attached to a cabinet which has a certain depth and fills material. A diaphragmatic absorber works similar to a membrane with more performance per square foot.


Calculate Resonant frequency of Helmholtz Slot Absorber

Resonant Frequency Formula
fo = 2160*sqrt(r/((d*1.2*D)*(r+w)))
fo = resonant frequency
r = slot width
d = slat thickness
1.2 = mouth correction
D = cavity depth
w = slat width
2160 = c/(2*PI) but rounded
c = speed of sound in inch/sec
If the gaps vary say 5mm, 10mm, 15mm, 20mm and the wall is angled as shown below, a broad band low mid resonator is created that still keeps the high frequencies alive.

Remember the cavity behind must be airtight!
By working out the different slat widths and slat gaps you can create a broadband low mid resonator at specific frequencies.

Credit : , acousticfields

Asia Noise News

Brunei, Sabah: Mystery blast heard, early signs point to sonic boom or meteorite

Mysterious explosion heard in Sipitang, Labuan, Lawas (Sarawak) might originate from a sonic boom high in the skies...

KOTA KINABALU: The mysterious explosion heard by many in Sipitang, Labuan, Lawas (Sarawak), and parts close to these areas on Sunday (Jan 31) could have been a sonic boom or a meteorite which exploded in mid-air.

The Astronomical Society of Brunei Darussalam (PABD) said it received numerous reports from Bruneians who also heard the mysterious loud noise.

The PABD then issued a notice seeking eyewitness accounts of the phenomenon, which is believed to have occurred at about 11 am.

Some Bruneians later shared their experiences and uploaded blurry pictures of what appears to be a fireball trailing smoke to PABD’s Facebook page.

A Sabahan in Brunei, Joey Yong, said she heard something like extremely loud thunder but did not know what it was.

The accounts from these witnesses may be found here.

Earlier, authorities in Sabah, including the navy, police and fire brigade, said they did not receive reports of any incidents that could have caused the blast.

Sabah Meteorological Department director Amir Zudi Hashim said the department did not record any seismic activity that could have caused the sound.

Sonic boom cause of explosion like noise Sabah


People in Sabah who claimed to have heard the blast said they felt the earth shake when the explosion was heard.