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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.

References

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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Acoustic of Small Studio

Small studios are now widely used in the recording industry due to their high feasibility and them being economically friendly, which allows those working in the recording/music industry to be able to work remotely without needing to travel to big studios that much. With a good implementation of acoustic treatments, music recorded in small studios can still be high in sound quality, sometimes even suitable for commercial release.

So, what makes a recording studio good?

In today’s article, we will look into the acoustics of small recording studios, where music is performed as recorded (Everest & Pohlmann, 2015).

Ambient conditions

A quiet environment is a must for a studio to be useful, which is sometimes quite hard to achieve. First, noisy sites should definitely be avoided as many noise and vibration problems will not arise by just choosing a site in a quiet location for your studio. Avoid places near loud areas like train tracks, busy road intersections, or even an airport. The ultimate idea is to reduce the external noise spectrum, then keep the background noise within the criteria goal by implementing sound insulations in the building. However, the construction costs of effective insulation elements like floating floors or special acoustically treated walls/windows/doors may cost greatly. Hence, the best way, that is more cost-effective, will be to choose a quiet site in the first place, rather than isolating a studio located at a noisy place.

The HVAC system, which includes heating, ventilating and air-conditioning systems should be designed such that the acoustics meet the required noise criteria goals. The noise and vibration coming from motors, fans ducts diffusers etc. should be brought to the minimum so that low ambient noise levels can be achieved.

Noise

Similar to any other quiet rooms, a small studio needs to comply with the acoustical isolation rules and standards. It is important to construct the building elements with high transmission loss and decoupled from external noise and vibration sources to ensure that the ambient noise levels are low enough for good recording quality. Not only that, but these constructions will also act as an isolation that prevents loud noise (music) levels in the studio from affecting the neighbouring spaces.

Studio acoustical characteristics

Inside a studio, the types of sound present, and may be picked up by microphones, are the direct and indirect sounds. Direct sound is basically the sound coming from the source (before it hits a surface). Indirect sound follows right after the direct, caused by various non-free field effects characteristic of an enclosed area. In short, everything that is not direct sound is considered as indirect or reflected sound.

It is known that the sound pressure level in an enclosed space will vary according to the distance from a source, while also being affected by the absorbency of the room or space. If all the surfaces in a room are fully reflective, it means that the room is fully reverberant (like a reverberation chamber), therefore the sound pressure level would be the same (as of the sound from the source) everywhere in the room as no sound energy is absorbed. It can also be assumed that there is relatively no direct sound since most of the sounds are reflected, hence indirect. Another component that causes indirect sound comes from the resonances in a room, which is also the result of reflected sound.

Indirect sound also depends on the materials used for room construction (e.g., doors, walls, windows, floors, ceiling etc). These elements can also experience the excitation by the vibration of sound from the source, hence able to decay at their own rate when the excitation is removed.

Reverberation Time

The composite effect of all the indirect sound types is reverberation. Many would say that reverberation time is an indicator of a room’s acoustical quality, but in reality, measuring reverberation time does not directly reveal the nature of the reverberation individual components, giving a small weakness of reverberation time being the indicator. Therefore, reverberation time is often not the only indicator of acoustical conditions.

Reverberation time is, by definition, the measure of decay rate, and is usually known as T60. For example, a T60 of 1 second represents that a decay of 60 dB takes 1 second to finish. Some may say that it is inaccurate to apply the reverberation time concept to small rooms, as a genuine reverberant field may not exist in small spaces. However, it is still practical to utilize the Sabine equation (for reverberation) in small-room design to make estimations on the absorption requirements at different frequencies, provided that limitations of the process are taken into account during the estimation.

It is not good to have it being too long or too short. This is because for a room with reverberation time that is too long, speech syllables and music phrases will be masked hence causing a worsening speech intelligibility and music quality. Conversely, if the reverberation time is too short, speech and music will lose character therefore suffer in quality, whereby music will typically suffer even more. Despite that, there is no specific optimal value for reverberation time that can be applied for any rooms, because too many factors are also involved besides reverberation. Things like the types of sound sources (female/male voice, speed of speech, types of language etc) will all affect the room’s acoustic outcome. However, for practical reasons, there are approximations available for acousticians to refer to, where certain amount of compromise has been implemented to make it usable in many types of recording applications.

Diffusion
A high diffusion room give a feeling of spaciousness due to the spatial multiplicity of room reflections, and it is also a good solution to control resonances effects. To create a significant diffusing effect, the implementation of splaying walls and geometrical protuberances works well. Another way will be to distribute absorbing materials in the room, which also increases the absorbing efficiency of the room apart from diffusion. Typically, modular diffraction grating diffusing elements (e.g. 2- x 4-ft units) can provide diffusion and broadband absorption, and can be easily installed in small studios. Still, there will not be much diffusion in a studio room, in practice.


Examples of acoustic treatment
So, what are the acoustic treatment elements that you can use to improve your studio? These items below can be considered (Studio, 2021):
1. Bass Traps
This is one of the most important tools to have in a studio. Bass traps are normally used to absorb low frequencies, also known as bass frequencies, but in fact they are actually broadband absorbers. This means that they are also good at absorbing mid to high frequencies too.

2. Acoustic Panels
Acoustic panels work similarly like bass traps, but rather ineffective at absorbing the bass frequencies. One thing good about acoustic panels as compared to bass traps is that since they are much thinner, they offer more surface area with less material. Therefore, acoustic panels are capable of providing larger wall coverage with less cost as compared to bass traps.

3. Diffusers
Diffusers may not be as effective as compared to bass traps and acoustic panels if used in small studios. So, this really depends on users, whether they find diffusers useful for their application.
Now, where should the acoustic treatment products be placed at?
There are three key areas of the room to be defined in this case:
– Trihedral corners
– Dihedral corners
– Walls
The priority for coverage goes from trihedral corners, dihedral corners to the walls. This is because acoustic treatments should ideally be placed at areas which have the greatest impact. At trihedral corners, for example, three sets of parallel walls converge, hence if there is absorption material located here, it catches the room modes from all three dimensions, giving three times the initial effectiveness. Same concept goes for dihedral corners and walls, but with two dimensions and one dimension respectively.

 

References
Everest, F. A., & Pohlmann, K. C. (2015). Acoustics of Small Recording Studios. In F. A. Everest, & K. C. Pohlmann, Master Handbook of Acoustics (6th Edition ed.). McGraw-Hill Education – Access Engineering. doi:ISBN: 9780071841047
Studio, E.-H. R. (2021). CHAPTER 3: The Ultimate Guide to Acoustic Treatment for Home Studios. Retrieved from E-Home Recording Studio: https://ehomerecordingstudio.com/acoustic-treatment-101/

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Noise Barriers

Noise barriers are designed to resist the sound waves in the propagation path from source to receiver. In general, the closer the barrier is to the source the more effective it becomes. For simple plane barriers the height and length are the most important factors determining the degree of screening achieved and simple design rules have been developed to determine the reduction in overall noise levels.  These are based on the path difference between the direct path from source to receiver through the barrier and the shortest path passing over the top of the barrier. The greater this path difference the greater the screening. The shadow zone of the barrier is the region where the receiver cannot see the source and here the greatest reductions in noise levels are recorded. Some sound will always be diffracted over the top and around the edges of the barrier into the shadow zone so it is not possible to eliminate all noise from the source. However, typical barriers of a few metres high can achieve a worthwhile noise reduction of the order of 10 dB(A). This corresponds to halving the subjective loudness of the sound.

 

Figure (a)

Figure (b)

For more complex barriers simple methods are not appropriate and numerical methods such as the Boundary Element Method (BEM) have been used to produce accurate solutions.

Many different types of barrier have been installed using a wide variety of materials including wood, steel, aluminium, concrete and acrylic sheeting. Some of these designs have absorptive facings on the traffic side which reduce reflected sound. Barriers over 8 m in height have been used for some applications and novel capped barriers and angled barriers have been tested.

Barriers that may offer improved performance over simple plane barriers can be grouped under the following broad headings.

The above fig (a) shows the Main pathway of the sound propagation from the source to the barrier’s edge for sound walls with or without source-side absorption. Fig (b) shows Absorption material construction.

If smaller vehicles passing by the barrier, the reflection off the vehicle it does not play much of a role. Multiple reflections can only occur if noise barriers are built along both sides of the highway or train tracks.

In the case of large noise emitters, the implementation of source-side absorbent noise barriers can prevent the so-called zigzag effect

  1. Absorptive barriers—that is, barriers incorporating elements on the traffic face that absorb a significant proportion of incident sound and hence reduce reflected sound which could contribute to overall noise levels in the vicinity.
  2. Angled barriers—that is, barriers that are tilted away or have contoured surfaces angled to disperse the noise, the aim being to prevent significant sound reflections into the area where screening is required.

 

ABSORPTIVE BARRIERS

Where a plane vertical barrier is erected on one side of the road then sound reflections to the opposite side take place as illustrated in fig 1(a). In addition, reflections between vehicles and the barrier may lead to loss of screening performance as shown in fig (b). Where plane vertical barriers exist on both sides of the road, as shown in fig(c), they are normally parallel to each other and, in this situation, sound is reflected back and forth between the barriers again leading to a loss in performance. Absorbing panels located on the sides of the barriers facing the traffic can reduce this reflected contribution by absorbing the sound energy from the incident wave.

ANGLED BARRIERS

An alternative to using sound absorptive barriers is to angle the barrier or parts of the barrier away from the road such that the reflected wave from the traffic face of the barrier is deflected upwards, so reducing the contribution to noise at receptor positions relatively close to the ground. The performance of such barriers has been measured at full scale at TRL’s unique Noise Barrier Test Facility (NBTF).  The noise source used consisted of an 800 W speaker that can be positioned in front of the test barrier on a specially laid strip of hot rolled asphalt, thereby representing the traffic source on motorways and all-purpose dual carriageway roads. Microphones can be positioned to measure the noise level in the shadow zone of the test barrier at any point on a wide flat grassland area free of reflecting objects. To measure the acoustic performance of the barrier, recorded noise in a broad frequency range is broadcast and noise levels are measured at standard locations behind the barrier. Corrections can be made for variations in speaker output and wind speed and direction. In this way the screening performance of the barriers for a typical traffic noise source can be evaluated.

The above fig shows angled noise barrier.

Source : Various books and research journal

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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

https://bettersoundproofing.com/best-sound-absorbing-indoor-plants/

The Top Sound Absorbing Plants For The Workplace

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SCOPE OF ARCHITECTURAL ACOUSTIC CONSULTANT’S WORK

What should an architectural acoustic consulting firm do? This question is very commonly asked when an acoustician is asked to submit a work proposal for a project. In this article, we will describe the scope of work of an acoustic consultant with reference to the type of mixed-use high-end building project. Because in this type of project an architectural acoustic consultant is required to be able to describe all the scope of work in one project with high complexity.

Details of the scope of work of acoustic consultants in mixed-use high-end building projects are as follows:

1. Criteria Formulation
At the beginning of the project, the acoustic consultant must recommend design criteria/targets for various rooms and areas within the building such as retail, apartment units both for bedrooms and living rooms, and commercial areas such as meeting rooms, multifunction rooms, spas, fitness, restaurants. , club lounges, etc. These criteria are determined based on studies and summaries of the applicable standards in the country, international standards, client recommendations, and the building operator concerned.

2. Schematic
With so many rooms that fall into the scope of work of an acoustic consultant with this type of project, it is highly recommended that an acoustician provide schematic designs for several important rooms for the attention of other consultants in the early stages of the project. Examples are MEP rooms, building structure connections, placement of HVAC equipment above the ceiling, and draft wall partition configurations.

3. Noise Review from the Environment Around the Building
The acoustic consultant must review potential sources of noise from aircraft, train stations, transportation on highways, outdoor MEP equipment, and all things around the building that have the potential to interfere with audial comfort to the interior of the building to ensure the targeted acoustic criteria are achieved. At this stage the acoustician must be able to convey the results of modeling and simulations for several points around the building in the form of drawings that can be understood by clients and other consultants. At this stage, a building fa konfigurasiade configuration can be recommended that takes into account the noise from the area around the building.

4. Noise HVAC (duct-borne)
Discussion and review of noise from all HVAC be it from air handling unit (AHU), axial and centrifugal fans, fan coil unit (FCU), etc. The ducting system will be analyzed to determine the noise level in the critical room from the nearest diffuser ducting system outlet. From this analysis, the need for silencers, lagging or duct linings will be recommended in order to achieve the acoustic criteria that have been determined. The analysis will be carried out on all HVAC systems without exception, with the greatest attention being on residential areas, spas, hotels, etc.

5. Sound Propagation in Building Structures (Structure-Borne)
All matters relating to the propagation or vibration of sound via the building structure, whether it is due to human footsteps on the top floor or vibrations from the installation of MEP machines above the ceiling or floor. The acoustic consultant must be able to evaluate according to the natural frequency of the building structure and provide recommendations on floor slab elements to meet operator and client standards applied.

6. Machine Vibration Control
The acoustic consultant should conduct an in-depth discussion on the vibration isolator for the installed machines. This is done by taking into account the deflection of the floor slab and its relationship to the static and dynamic loads of the machine (eg chiller, pump, cooling tower, AHU, etc.). In addition, ensuring the insulator is efficient to withstand vibrations to the building structure.

7. Room Insulation
Discussion on the isolation of certain rooms by providing technical calculations both with the “indoor room” and “floating floor” methods so that sound and vibration do not propagate to all elements of the building, especially the room around the isolated area.

8. Acoustic Interior
Reviewing and calculating room acoustic parameters on interior design elements of commercial spaces such as ballrooms, meeting rooms, and other areas where the clarity of speech or music is crucial.

9. Detailed Drawing
The acoustic consultant must provide or recommend specifications for building skin elements such as faades, walls and floor slabs in CAD format on a cut or plan basis. This will make it easier for relevant consultants to apply these specifications in their construction drawings.

10. Noise Isolation Due to Impact
Collisions in the fitness area, whether it’s due to aerobic activity or lifting weights, are a special concern for acoustic consultants. In addition to different forms of acoustic treatment, the time span of these activities must also be included in detailed technical calculations, and of course measurable.

11. Review of Related Consultant Drawings
After all acoustic treatments have been adapted to construction drawings by the relevant consultant, the acoustician must review all these drawings to ensure that all treatments have been described correctly, before entering the tender phase.

12. Coordination with Selected Contractors
The acoustic consultant must allocate time to coordinate the design and answer questions from the selected contractor and sign all forms related to material approval if it is in accordance with the acoustic intentions.

13. Final assessment
Before handing over the project to the next party, the acoustic consultant must conduct a final assessment of the building elements designed by the consultant. Next, compare the measured value to the design target and pre-determined criteria.

by Ramadhan Akmal Putra 

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Accelerometer mounting

One of the challenges in measuring vibration using accelerometer is how to mount the accelerometer on the surface of the object that is being measured. Choosing the proper mounting can affect both to the measurement results and practicality when we are conducting the measurement.

 

Accelerometer mounting affects the measurement results because it can shift the resonance frequency of the accelerometer. Accelerometers have a significant amplification factor at its resonance frequency. This implies that in conducting measurements using accelerometer, it is important to choose mounting techniques that does not shift the resonance frequency into our frequency of interest.

 

Generally, there are four ways to mount accelerometer which are:

  1. Stud mounting: this technique is done by bolting the accelerometer into the object. This option is often considered as the mounting technique that produces the best measurement result compared to other options. Stud mounting has a high resonance frequency that in most cases a lot higher than our frequency of interest. To increase the performance of stud mounting, coupling fluid such as oil, petroleum jelly or beeswax can be used.

The downside of this technique is that not all object has a possible location to be bolted at the surface. If this is the case, then we will need to modify the surface and might leave a hole on the object.

  1. Adhesive: there are few adhesives that are commonly used to mount accelerometers such as epoxy (usually chosen for permanent mounting), wax, glue, and double-sided tape. Use of adhesive has lower resonance frequency compared to stud mounting, but in majority of cases still high enough that it does not affect the measurement at the frequency of interest. Of course, this depends on the type of adhesive that is being used as well.

Usage of adhesive however, especially for temporary mounting, has its own problem which is it can leave stain on the surface of the object that we are measuring, as well as on the accelerometer itself.

Another option of mounting related with adhesive is to use adhesive mounting pad, which is a pad that can be mounted on the surface that we want to measure using adhesive, and then we can mount the accelerometer on the pad. This will allow us to move one accelerometer to few locations more easily. From practicality perspective, adhesive mounting pad has an advantage if we want to repeat the measurement. Also, by using adhesive mounting pad, we avoid direct contact of adhesive to the accelerometer so that it will not need cleaning.

  1. Magnet: For metal surfaces, one of the options that is easy and does not leave stain is by using magnetic mounting base on the accelerometer so that we can attach the accelerometer to metal. This is the reason magnetic base is one of the best options especially for short-term and temporary measurement on metal.

However, this mounting technique produces lower resonant frequency compared to the other two options that we have discussed above. If the frequency that we want to measure is high enough, say above 1 kHz, this mounting technique might influence the measurement results.

  1. Handheld: In some of the cases, the three options above are not possible to be chosen, and it leaves us with the last option which is holding the accelerometer by hand. In this kind of cases, a probe tip can be used so that we can put pressure by hand on the surface that we are measuring easier.

We will have to pay more attention to the frequency range that we are measuring if this mounting technique is used. Because this option will reduce our frequency range significantly, generally only in the range of 10 – 100 Hz. 

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Industrial Noise Control Measure

In industrial places that are normally full of machineries or mechanical systems, noise is definitely inevitable, and in fact, very loud. This can sometimes be harmful to the workers hence causing occupational health and safety hazard. Therefore, in this article, we will look into noise control measures that can be used to overcome industrial noise in workplace.

Noise sources

Let’s begin with a recap on how noise is being produced:

Sound in general, is produced by vibration, or sometimes due to aerodynamic systems. Vibration-induced noises can be caused by multiple reasons, for example:

  • Mechanical shocks and friction between machinery parts like hammering, rotating gears, bearings, cutting tools etc.
  • Moving parts that are off-balanced
  • Vibration of large and heavy structures

As for aerodynamic noises, they are caused by air or fluid flows through pipes, fans, or pressure drops in air distribution systems as well. Typical examples of aerodynamic noise sources are:

  • Steam released through exhaust valves
  • Fans
  • Combustion motors
  • Aircraft jets
  • Turbulent fluid flow through pipes

Steps to control noise in workplace

To properly control the noise in the workplace, these steps should be carried out:

  1. Identify the sound sources (i.e., vibrating sources or aerodynamic flow)
  2. Identify the noise path from source to worker
  3. Determine the sound level of each source
  4. Determine the relative contribution to the excessive noise of each source and proceed to rank the sources accordingly. The dominant source should always be prioritised and controlled first in order to obtain significant noise attenuation.
  5. Understand the acceptable exposure limits as written in the health and safety legislation and find out the necessary sound reduction.
  6. Find out solutions while taking the degree of sound attenuation, operation, productivity restrains and cost into consideration.

To reduce exposure to noise

In general, noise exposure can be reduced by the elimination of noise source if possible, otherwise substitution of source with a quieter one or the application of engineering modifications works too.

The most effective way to minimise the exposure of noise is to engineer it out at the very beginning: the design stage. It is suggested to always choose equipment features that can reduce noise level to an acceptable level. For new installations, again select a quiet equipment, and make sure to have a procurement policy that opts for using quiet equipment, and finally eliminate any design flaws that may lead to noise amplification.

Engineering modifications refer to changes that can affect the source, or the sound path. This is usually the preferred solution for noise control in already-established workplaces (those without noise protection measures during design stage). This is because engineering modifications are known to be more cost effective, especially to control the noise at the source than along the path.

Administrative controls and the use of personal protective equipment (PPE) are also effective as measures of noise control applicable on workers themselves. A combination of both may be taken into consideration when the noise exposure would not justify the implementation of engineering solutions that are more expensive. However, it is important to always note that administrative control and PPE may not be as effective as implementing engineering noise control during the starting stage or modifications of sound path. Therefore, they should be categorised as the last resort.

Engineering solutions to reduce noise

Different solutions can be applied for vibration-induced noise and aerodynamic-noise.

For vibration-induced noise, the key point is to reduce the amount of vibration at the source. The typical solutions include modification of the energy source such as lowering the rotating speed of fans, or reducing the impact force of hitting tools etc. Adding damping materials onto vibrating surfaces due to mechanical forces can help to reduce vibrational effects too, especially for thin structures. To prevent unwanted damage due to friction or impact, the damping material may be sandwiched between the surface of equipment and another material that is resistant to abrasion. This treatment is called the constraint layer treatment.

Other methods to reduce vibration-induced noise include minimising gaps in machine guards and cover them with acoustic-absorbent material, replacing metal parts with plastic parts whenever possible, and replacing motors with quieter ones.

On the other hand, to treat aerodynamic-induced noise, specialists recommended to implement engineering practices that are capable of reducing noise associated with unstable fluid flow, for example minimising fluid velocity, increasing pipe diameter or minimising turbulence by utilising large and low speed fans with curved blades.

Besides those mentioned above, there are also passive noise control measures that can be used. These include using enclosures and isolations by storing noisy equipment in enclosed spaces/rooms that have special acoustic features like isolation, louvres or sealings. Installations of acoustic barriers (sound-absorbing panels) in workplaces, or silencers inside ducts and exhausts works well in attenuating unwanted noise too.

General measures to keep in mind

Finally, here are some general methods that one can take to ensure that workplace noise is under controlled.

Regular maintenance should always be performed, where the focus should be on identifying and replacing any worn-off or loose parts, lubricating any moving parts, and make sure that the rotating equipment does not get off balance to avoid vibration-induced noise.

Noisy processes should be taken note about and be substituted with quieter ones. Sound reverberation in the room should be reduced. Reverberation is when sound produced in an enclosure hits reflective surfaces and reflects back into the room in addition to the original noise paths. In some cases, reverberated sounds may dominate the original sound. A good method to help in such conditions will be to add padding onto the reflective surfaces with sound absorbing materials so that noise level can be reduced. Another way will be to arrange the equipment in the room so that they are not too close to too many reflective structures.

Conclusion

In conclusion, always take measures to identify the sound sources in the industrial workplace and find out suitable ways to solve the noise issues to achieve noise limits in accordance with exposure limits set in the health and safety legislation published by the local authorities. It is utmost important to obey the noise exposure limits to ensure the hearing health of workers in the workplace.

Reference

https://www.ccohs.ca/oshanswers/phys_agents/noise_control.html

https://www.who.int/occupational_health/publications/noise10.pdf

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Sound Absorption

What is Absorption?

Absorption refers to the process by which a material, structure, or object takes in energy when waves are encountered, as opposed to reflecting the energy. Part of the absorbed energy is transformed into heat and part is transmitted through the absorbing body. The energy transformed into heat is said to have been ‘lost’. (e.g. spring, damper etc.)

 

What is Sound Absorption?

When the sound waves encounter the surface of the material: part of them reflects; part of them penetrate, and the rest are absorbed by the material itself.

Formula for Sound Absorption: –

The ratio of absorbed sound energy (E) to incident sound energy (Eo) is called sound absorption coefficient (α). This ratio is the main indicator used to evaluate the sound-absorbing property of the material. A formula can be used to demonstrate this.

 

α (absorption coefficient) =E (absorbed sound energy)/ Eo (Incident sound energy)

 

In this formula: α is the sound absorption coefficient;

  E is the absorbed sound energy (including the permeating part);

  Eo is the incident sound energy.

 

Generally, the sound absorption coefficient of the materials is between 0 to 1. The larger the numeral is, the better the sound absorbing property. The sound absorption coefficient of suspended absorber may be more than one because its effective sound-absorbing area is larger than its calculated area.

 

Example: If a wall is absorbed 63% of incident energy and 37% of energy is reflected then the absorption coefficient of wall is 0.63.

 

How can we measure Absorption Coefficient?

 

The absorption coefficient and impedance are determined by two different methods according to the type of incident wave field.

 

  1. Kundt’s tube (ISO 10534-2)
  2. Reverberation room (ISO 354)

 

Kundt’s Tube Measurement Method: (ISO 10543-2)

For measurement of small specimen use Kundt’s tube or Impedance tube also called as Standing wave tube.  The result from measurement of absorption factor and acoustic impedance, using the standing wave method, obviously are meaningful only when assuming these to be independent of the size of the specimen, which is normally quite small.  The absorption factor for normal incidence is determined by measuring the measuring the maximum and minimum pressure amplitude in the standing wave set up in the tube by a loudspeaker. 

This basic technique is, an mentioned in the introduction, considered a little outdated in comparison with more modern methods based on transfer was implemented relatively late (1993) in an international standard, ISO 10534-1, after being used for al least 50 years.  Commercial equipment has also been available for many decades.  However, there exists a second part of the mentioned standard, ISO 10534-2, based on using broadband signals and measurement of the pressure transfer function between different positions in the tube.  ISO 10543-2, which implies the specified two microphone method is extended to spherical wave fields.

Normally Placid Impedance tube is used for absorption coefficient and transmission loss measurement. 

(https://www.placidinstruments.com/product/impedance-tube/)

The above fig shows Impedance tube

 

Click here to refer Placid Sound absorption measurement  

Click here to refer Placid Sound transmission loss measurement

 

 

Reverberation Room: (ISO 354)

 

              Reverberation Room method is traditional method, measurement of the absorption factor of larger specimens is performed in a reverberation room.  One then determines the average value over all angles of incidence under diffuse field conditions.  The product data normally supplied by producers of absorbers are determined according to the international standard ISO 354, required for measurement is 10-12 square meters and there are requirements as to shape of the area.  The reason of these requirements is that the absorption factor determined this method always includes an additional amount due to the edge effect, which is a diffraction phenomenon along the edge of the specimen.  This effect makes the specimen acoustically larger the geometric area, which may result in obtaining absorption factors larger than 1.0.  Certainly, this does not imply that the energy absorbed is larger than the incident energy.

 

 

Sound Absorption coefficient of different materials:

The sound absorption of the material is not only related to its other properties, its thickness, and the surface conditions (the air layer and thickness), but also related to the incident angle and frequency of the sound waves. The sound absorption coefficient will change according to high, middle, and low frequencies. In order to reflect the sound-absorbing property of one material comprehensively, six frequencies (125Hz, 250Hz, 500Hz, 1000Hz, 2000Hz, 4000Hz) are set to show the changes of the sound absorption coefficient. If the average ratio of the six frequencies is more than 0.2, the material can be classified as sound-absorbing material.

Application of Sound Absorber:

These materials can be used for sound insulation of walls, floors, and ceilings of concert hall, cinema, auditorium, and broadcasting studio. By using the sound absorbing material properly, the indoor transmittance of sound waves can be enhanced to create better sound effects.

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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