Você está na página 1de 13

TKM School of Architecture

Musaliar Hills, Karuvelil P.O., Ezhukone, Kollam - 691505

AR1405 Architectural Acoustics Academic Year: 2017-18
Semester IV Instructor: Ar Dipu George

Course Plan

Teaching Scheme: 2(L) - 1(T) - 0(P) Credits:3

Course Objective
• To familiarize the students with nature and propagation of sound.
• To understand the impact of sound on human beings in built as well as un-built spaces and
methods to control them.
• To understand prevailing standards, materials and methods related to the above and their

Module -I
Nature and propagation of sound: The nature of sound. Propagation of sound. Properties of
sound - velocity, frequency, wavelength of sound, sound pressure, sound intensity and
loudness. Units for measuring sound. The human ear and hearing characteristics. Audibility.
Noise and human behaviour.

Module -II
Behaviour of Sound: Room acoustics. Behaviour of sound in enclosures - sound reflection,
diffusion and Diffraction. Sound absorption and sound absorption coefficient. Reverberation
and reverberation time. Calculation of reverberation time. Sabine’s formula. Acoustical defects
in the enclosed spaces.

Module -III
Study of Noise, Sources of noise. Air borne and structure borne sound transmission. Noise
criteria. Transmission loss. Permissible noise levels for different types of building. Noise control in specific
buildings like Auditoriums and lecture halls.
Module -IV
Acoustical treatment of spaces: Sound absorptive materials and construction - porous material, membrane
absorbers, cavity resonators, space absorbers, variable absorbers - their absorptive characteristics.
Mounting and distribution of absorptive materials. Acoustical design of different types of rooms such as
auditoriums, recording studios and lecture halls - acoustical corrections
Course Outcome:
At the end of the course the student shall be able to understand how the planning and designing of spaces
with good acoustics can be done.

1. Kinsler L. E. and A. R. Frey, Fundamental of Acoustics, 4/e, John Wiley & Sons, 2000.
2. Knudsen V. O. and C. M. Harris, Acoustical Designing in Architecture, Wiley, 1963.
3. Templeton D., Acoustics in the Built Environment, 2/e, Architectural Press, 1997.
4. Acentech and J. P. Cowan, Architectural Acoustics Design Guide, McGraw Hill, 2000.
5. Cavanaugh W. J., G. C. Tocci and J. A. Wilkes, Architectural Acoustics: Principles and Practice,John Wiley & Sons, 2000.

Internal Continuous Assessment (Maximum Marks - 50) (Group 2

50% - Tests (minimum 2)
30% - Assignments (minimum 2) such as home work, quiz, seminar, term-project, etc.
20% - Regularity in the class

University Examination Pattern:

Examination duration: 3 hours Maximum Total Marks: 100
The question paper shall consist of Two Parts

Part A (40 marks)

Eight Short answer questions of 5 marks each. All questions are compulsory.
There should be two questions from each module.

Part B (60 Marks)

Two Questions from each module. Candidates have to answer any one full
question out of the two from each module. Each question carries 15 marks.
Lesson Plan

T.K.M. School of Architecture 

Academic Year 2017 - 2018
Name of Instructor Dipu George

AR1405   Architectural Acoustics

Course Objective
1) To familiarize the students with nature and propagation of sound.
2) To understand the impact of sound on human beings in built as well as un-built spaces and
methods to control them
3) To understand prevailing standards, materials and methods related to the above
and their application.

Class Topic Methods Reason

Explain the fundamental core concepts of Sound,
Nature and propagation of sound: The
perceptory senses of the Human body and mind.
1 nature of sound. Propagation of sound.
2 Properties of sound - velocity,
BB/PPT The importance of acoustics in design of built
3 frequency, wavelength of sound, sound
environment and its need of study.
pressure, sound intensity and

Decibel: Units for measuring sound. The

human ear and hearing characteristics. To discuss and understand logarithmic scale in
Audibility. BB/PPT measurement of sound and acoustical standards to
Noise and human behavior. be followed in buildings

Explain the difference of sound perception related

Behaviour of Sound: Room acoustics. geometry of spaces.
6 BB
Behavior of sound in enclosures. sound Understanding how elements of architecture play a
reflection, diffusion and Diffraction. part in sound perception

Sound absorption and sound absorption

5 coefficient. Reverberation and Explain the importance of Reverberation time and
6 reverberation time. Calculation of how it differs in spaces related to different
7 reverberation time. Sabine’s formula. functions. Awareness of how materials, geometry
8 Acoustical defects in enclosed spaces. and users play a part in indoor acoustics.

Class Assignment
9 Tutorial Topics covered from class 5-8

Study of Noise, Sources of noise. Air Understanding the role of noise in our everyday
borne and structure borne sound BB lives and its influence on human health and its
transmission. various sources.
Noise criteria. Transmission loss. Understanding the fundamental difference
Permissible noise levels for different between unwanted sound and its various criteria.
Decibel level standards ( British standards) for
14 types of building. different functional spaces.

Topics covered from class 1-14 mentioned in

15 Class Assignment Tutorial
previous years university question papers.

Noise control in specific buildings like

16 Sustainable methods to mitigate noise inside and
Auditoriums and lecture halls. Discussion
17 outside buildings using hypothetical cases

Reiterating the fundamentals of sound properties

Acoustic Class by an Acoustical and Acoustic Design with a Consultant ( Mr Godly
Consultant covering the topics BB/PPT Paul). Discussion of the projects handled by the
mentioned in the syllabus Consultant. Purpose to have a practical
understanding of the subject

Series Test

Acoustical treatment of spaces: Sound

absorptive materials and construction -
23 porous material, membrane absorbers, Understanding on various active and passive
24 cavity resonators, space absorbers, systems of Acoustical design and its relevance.
variable absorbers - their absorptive

Visual Understanding on various practical methods

25 Mounting and distribution of absorptive
PPT and functioning of Active and passive systems of
sound absorptive materials and systems.

Acoustical design of different types of

rooms such as auditoriums, recording
26 Explain the various features of built structures in
studios and lecture halls - acoustical BB
27 various tropical climate regions,

Detailed discussions regarding the topics handled

Revisions of the topics covered PPT to appraise the students about his responsibilities
ad sensibilities to acoustics as a future architect.

Discussion of questions featured in previous

30 Previous University Exam QP discussions Tutorial University papers to prepare the students for the
upcoming exam.

Course Outcome
At the end of the course the student shall be able to understand how the planning and designing of spaces with
good acoustics can be done.

Contents covered outside the syllabus

Critical appraisal of Acoustical Design in Architectural Spaces. Architectural Modifications to existing building to
meet acoustical standards. Class by an Acoustical Consultant. Visit to a recording studio to understand the basics of
acoustics and sound engineering.

Assignment - Group work- 5 marks

Topics covered from three modules through power point presentation of 5 minutes each.
Critical appraisal of the group with regards to their understanding of the topic and methods of presentation.
Lecture Notes



Amplification: the increased intensity of sound by mechanical or electrical means

Articulation index: a measure of speech intelligibility calculated from the number of words read from a
selected list that are understood by an audience. A low articulation index (less than 0.15) is desirable for
speech privacy, whereas a high articulation index (above 0.6) is desired for good communication.
Attenuation: the reduction of sound
Decibel: 10 times the common logarithm of the ratio of a quantity to a reference quantity of the same
kind, such as power, intensity, or energy density. It is often used as the unit of sound intensity.
dBA: the unit of sound intensity measurement that is weighted to account for the response of the human
ear to various frequencies
Frequency: the number of pressure fluctuations or cycles occurring in 1 sec, expressed in hertz (Hz)
Hertz: the unit of frequency; one cycle per second equals 1 Hz
Impact insulation class (IIC): a single-number rating of a floor-ceiling's impact sound transmission
performance at various frequencies
Intensity: the amount of sound energy per second across a unit area
Intensity level: 10 times the common logarithm of the ratio of a sound intensity to a reference intensity.
See Decibel.
Noise: any unwanted sound
Noise criteria (NC): a set of single-number ratings of accept-able background noise corresponding to a set
of curves specifying sound pressure levels across octave bands. Noise criteria curves can be used to specify
continuous background noise, achieve sound isolation, and evaluate existing noise situations.
Noise insulation class (NIC): a single-number rating of noise reduction
Noise reduction (NR): the arithmetic difference, in decibels, between the intensity levels in two rooms
separated by a barrier of a given transmission loss. Noise reduction is dependent on the transmission loss
of the barrier, the area of the barrier, and the absorption of the surfaces of the receiving room.
Noise reduction coefficient (NRC): the average sound absorption coefficient to the nearest 0.05,
measured at the four one-third octave band center frequencies of 250, 500, 1000, and 2000 Hz

Octave band: a range of frequencies in which the upper fre-quency is twice that of the lower
Phon: a unit of loudness level of a sound equal to the sound pressure level of a 1000 Hz tone judged to be
as loud
Reverberation: the persistence of a sound in a room after the source has stopped producing the sound
Reverberation time: the time it takes the sound level to decrease 60 dB after the source has stopped
producing the sound
Sabin: the unit of absorption; theoretically, 1 ft' of surface having an absorption coefficient of 1.00 (I m2
of surface having an absorption of 1.00)
Sabin formula: the formula that relates reverberation time to a room's volume and total acoustical
In SI units, the constant is 0.16 instead of 0.05.
Sound: a small compressional disturbance of equilibrium in an elastic medium, which causes the sensation
of hearing
Sound absorption coefficient - the ratio of the sound intensity absorbed by a material to the total
intensity reaching the material. Theoretically, 1.00 is the maximum possible value of the sound absorption
Sound power: the total sound energy radiated by a source per second, in watts
Sound transmission class (STC): a single-number average over several frequency bands of a barrier's
ability to reduce sound. The higher the STC rating, the better the barrier's ability to control sound
Transmission loss (TL): the difference, in decibels, between the sound power incident on a barrier in a
source room and the sound power radiated into a receiving room on the opposite side of the barrier. The
transmission loss varies with the frequency being tested.


Qualities of Sound Sound has three basic qualities: velocity, frequency, and power.

The velocity of sound depends on the medium in which it is traveling and the temperature of the
medium. In air at sea level the velocity of sound is approximately 1130 ft/sec (344 m/s). For acoustical
purposes in buildings, the temperature effect on velocity is not significant. Frequency is the number of
cycles completed per second; it is measured in hertz (Hz). One hertz equals one cycle per second.
Power is the quality of acoustical energy as measured in watts. Because a point source emits waves in a
spherical shape in free space, the sound intensity (watts per unit area)
Inverse Square Law The basic inverse square law is derived where sound—intensity is inversely proportional
to the square of the distance from the source.
Sound Intensity The sensitivity of the human ear covers a vast range (from 10-16 W/cm2 to 10-3 W/cm2).
Because of this and the fact that the sensation of hearing is proportional to the logarithm of the source
intensity, the decibel is used in acoustical descriptions and calculations. The decibel conveniently relates
actual sound intensity to the way humans experience
Sound. By definition, zero decibels is the threshold of human hearing and 130 dB is the threshold of pain.
Loudness The sensation of loudness is subjective. These are useful in evaluating the effects of increased
or decreased decibel levels in architectural situations. For example, spending money to modify a partition
to increase its sound transmission class by 3 dB probably would not be worth the expense because it would
hardly be noticeable.
Addition of Decibels of Uncorrelated Sounds Because decibels are logarithmic, they cannot be added
Human Sensitivity to Sound
Although human response to sound is subjective and varies with age, physical condition of the ear,
background, and other factors, some common guidelines are useful to remember.
The normal human ear of a healthy young person can hear sounds in the range of 20 Hz to 20,000 Hz and is
most sensitive to frequencies in the 3000 Hz to 4000 Hz range.
Speech is composed of sounds primarily in the range of 125 Hz to 8000 Hz, with most energy in the range
of 100 Hz to 600 Hz. The human ear is less sensitive to low frequencies than to middle and high
frequencies for sounds of equal energy. Most common sound sources contain energy over a wide range of
frequencies. Because frequency is an important variable in how a sound is transmitted or absorbed, it
must be taken into account in building acoustics. For convenience, measurement and analysis is often
divided into eight octave frequency bands identified by the center frequency. These are 63, 125, 250, 500,
1000, 2000, 4000, and 8000 Hz. For detailed purposes, smaller bands are often used.
Transmission Loss and Noise Reduction One of the primary objectives of architectural acoustics is to
reduce the transmission of sound from one space to another. Transmission of sound is primarily retarded by
the mass of the barrier. In addition, the stiffness of the barrier is also important. Given two barriers of the
same weight per unit area, the one that is less stiff will perform better than the other.
There are two important concepts in noise reduction: transmission loss and actual noise reduction.
Transmission loss (TL) is the difference (in decibels) between the sound power incident on a barrier in a
source room and the sound power radiated into a receiving room on the opposite side of the barrier. This
is the measurement typically derived in a testing laboratory.
Noise reduction (NR) is the arithmetic difference (in decibels) between the intensity levels in two rooms
separated by a barrier of a given transmission loss. Noise reduction is dependent on the transmission loss
of the barrier, the area of the barrier, and the absorption of the surfaces in the receiving room..
noise reduction can be increased by increasing the transmission loss of the barrier, by increasing the
absorption in the receiving room, by decreasing the area of the barrier separating the two rooms, or by
some combination of the three.
The actual transmission loss of a barrier varies with the frequencies of the sounds being tested. Test
reports, often published with manufacturers' literature, include the transmission loss over six or more
octave bands.
A single-number rating that is often used is the sound transmission class (STC). The higher the STC rating,
the better the barrier (theoretically) in stopping sound. There are many times when a partition will
comprise two or more types of constructions, for example, a door in a wall or a glass panel in a wall.
Remember that STC ratings represent the ideal loss under laboratory conditions. Walls, partitions, and
floors built in the field are seldom constructed as well as those in the lab-oratory. Also, breaks in the
barrier such as cracks, electrical outlets, doors, and the like will significantly reduce the overall noise
In critical situations, transmission loss and selection of barriers should be calculated using the values for
the various frequencies rather than the single STC average value. Some materials may allow an acoustical
"hole," stopping most frequencies but allowing transmission of a certain range of frequencies. This often
happens with very low or very high frequencies. However, for preliminary design purposes in typical
situations the STC value is adequate.

Noise Criteria Curves

All normally occupied spaces have some amount of back-ground noise. This is not undesirable, because
some noise is necessary to avoid the feeling of a "dead" space and to help mask other sounds. However,
the acceptable amount of background noise varies with the type of space and the frequency of sound. For
example, people are generally less tolerant of background noise in bedrooms than they are in public
lobbies, and they are generally more tolerant of higher levels of low-frequency sound than of high-
frequency sound. These variables have been consolidated into a set of noise criteria (NC) curves relating
frequency in eight octave bands to noise level.
Noise criteria curves can be used to specify the maximum amount of continuous background noise
allowable in a space, to establish a minimum amount of noise desired- to help mask sounds, and to
evaluate an existing condition.
For example, if the noise spectrum of an air conditioning system was plotted on the NC chart, the noise
criteria rating would be defined by that curve that was not exceeded by the air conditioning spectrum
curve at any frequency. When background noise conforms to a noise criteria curve, it usually still contains
too many low-frequency and high frequency sounds for comfort. A modification of the NC curves, called
the preferred noise criteria (PNC), has been established that has sound-pressure levels lower than the NC
curves on the low- and high-frequency ends of the chart.
Rules of Thumb
In addition to using calculations for acoustical design, many rules of thumb can be used for preliminary
estimating and for noncritical situations.
• In general, transmission loss through a barrier tends to increase with the frequency of sound. • A wall
with 0.1% open area (from cracks, holes, undercut doors, etc.) will have a maximum transmission loss of
about 30 dB. A wall with 1% open area will have a maximum of about 20 dB.
• A hairline crack will decrease a partition's transmission loss by about 6 dB. A 1 inch opening in a 100 sq ft
gypsum board partition can transmit as much sound as the entire partition.
• Although placing fibrous insulation in a wall cavity increases its STC rating, the density of the insulation
is not a significant variable.

Fundamentals Controlling sound transmission is only part of good acoustical design. The proper amount of
sound absorption must also be included. Although sound intensity level decreases about 6 dB for each
doubling of distance from the source in free space, this is not the case in a room or semi-enclosed outdoor
area. In a room, sound level decreases very near the source as it does in free space, but then it begins to
reflect, and it levels out at a particular intensity. In addition to reducing this intensity level of sound
within a space, sound absorption is used to control unwanted sound reflections, improve speech privacy,
and decrease or enhance reverberation.
The absorption of a material is defined by the coefficient of absorption, which is the ratio of the sound
intensity absorbed by the material to the total intensity reaching the material. Therefore, the maximum
absorption possible is 1—that of free space. Generally, a material with a coefficient below 0.2 is
considered reflective, and one with a coefficient above 0.2 is considered sound absorbing. The coefficient
of absorption varies with the frequency of the sound, and some materials are better at absorbing some
frequencies than others. For critical applications all frequencies should be checked, but for convenience
the single-number noise reduction coefficient (NRC) is used. The NRC is the average of a material's
absorption coefficients at the four frequencies of 250, 500, 1000, and 2000 Hz, rounded to the nearest
multiple of 0.05. The total absorption of a material is dependent on its coefficient of absorption and the
area of the material.

Noise Reduction Within a Space

Increasing sound absorption within a space will result in a noise reduction
Rules of Thumb
There are several rules of thumb related to sound absorption that are useful to remember.
• The average absorption coefficient of a room should be at least 0.20. An average absorption above 0.50
is usually not desirable, nor is it economically justified. A lower value is suitable for large rooms, while
higher values are suitable for small or noisy rooms.
• Each doubling of the amount of absorption in a room results in a noise reduction of only 3 dB.
• If additional absorptive material is being added to a room, the total absorption should be increased at
least three times (amounting to a change of about 5 dB, which is clearly noticeable). The increase may
need to be more or less than three times to bring absorption to between 0.20 and 0.50.

• In adding extra absorption, an increase of 10 times is about the practical limit. Beyond this
(representing a reverberant noise reduction of 10 dB), more absorption results in a decreasing amount of
noise reduction and reaching the practical limit of 0.50 total average absorption coefficient.

• Each doubling of the absorption in a room reduces reverberation time by one-half.

• Although absorptive materials can be placed any-where, ceiling treatment for sound absorption is more
effective in large rooms, whereas wall treatment is more effective in small rooms.
• Generally, absorption increases with an increase in thickness of a porous absorber, except for low-
frequency situations that require special design treatment.
• The amount of absorption of a porous type of sound absorber such as fibreglass or mineral wool is
dependent on (1) the material's thickness, (2) the material's density, (3) the material's porosity, and (4)
the orientation of the fibres in the material. A porous sound absorber should be composed of open
interconnected voids.


• Reverberation is an important quality of the acoustical environment of a space. It is the one quality that
affects the intelligibility of speech and the quality of conditions for music of all types. Reverberation
time is the time it takes the sound level to decrease 60 dB after the source has stopped producing the
sound. Each type of use has its own preferred range of reverberation time, shorter times being best for
smaller spaces and longer times working best for larger spaces.

Control of Room Noise
There are three primary ways sound can be controlled within a space: by reducing the level of the sound
source, by modifying the absorption in the space, and by introducing nonintrusive background sound to
mask the sound. Reducing the level of the sound source is not always possible if the source is a fixed piece
of machinery, if people are talking, or in similar situations. However, if the source is noise from the
outside or an adjacent room, the transmission loss of the enclosing walls can be improved. If a machine is
producing the noise, it can often be enclosed or modified to reduce its noise output. Modifying the
absorption of the space can achieve some noise reduction, but there are practical limits to adding
absorptive materials. This approach is most useful when the problem room has a large percentage of hard,
reflective surfaces. In most cases, introducing nonintrusive background sound is desirable because it can
mask unwanted noise. Some amount of background noise is always present. This may come from the
steady hum of HVAC systems, business machines, traffic, conversation, or other sources. For example, in
an office, if the sound level on one side of a partition with an STC rating of 45 is 75 dB and the background
noise on the other side of the partition is 35 dB, the noise will not be heard (theoretically) on the "quiet"
side of the wall.
If the background noise level is decreased to 25 dB, then sounds will be heard. This phenomenon is used to
purposely introduce carefully controlled sound—often called white sound, random noise, or acoustical
perfume—into a space rather than rely only on random background noise. Speakers are placed in the
ceiling of a space and connected to a sound generator that produces a continuous, unnoticeable sound at
particular levels across the frequency spectrum. The sound generator can be tuned to produce the
frequencies and sound levels appropriate to mask the undesired sounds. White sound is often used in open
offices to provide speech privacy and to help mask office machine noise.
Room noise can be reduced by adding absorption in the space. This is usually accomplished by adding some
type of acoustic panels or upholstered walls. However, these types of panels are only effective for the
higher frequencies and for speech. Controlling low-frequency and very high-frequency sounds within a
room requires construction elements that can trap the longer, low-frequency wavelengths or control the
very short high-frequency wavelengths. Low-frequency control usually requires an allowance for thicker
partitions or more space to apply detailing that absorbs low-frequency sound.
Two typical methods for doing this include. panel resonators and cavity resonators (also called Helmholtz
resonators). The panel resonator absorbs low-frequency energy while reflecting mid- and high-frequency
energy. Helmholtz resonators consist of a large air space with a small opening. As the sound strikes the
resonator, the air mass inside the construction resonates at a particular frequency where the absorption is
very great. However, the amount of absorption above and below the particular frequency drops off rapidly
at higher and lower frequencies. A common type of cavity resonator is a concrete block wall constructed
of special masonry units with narrow slits opening into the cavity of the block.
Control of Sound Transmission
As mentioned previously, control of sound transmission through barriers is primarily dependent on the
mass of the barrier, and to a lesser extent on its stiffness. Walls and floors are generally rated with their
STC value; the higher the STC rating, the better the barrier in reducing transmit-ted sound. Manufacturers'
literature, testing laboratories, and reference literature typically give the transmission loss at different
frequencies. In addition to the construction of the barrier itself, other variables are critical for control of
sound transmission.
Gaps in the barrier must be sealed. Edges at the floor, ceiling, and intersecting walls should be caulked.
Penetrations of the barrier should be avoided, but if absolutely necessary they can be sealed as well. For
example, electrical outlets should not be placed back to back; rather, they should be staggered in
separate stud spaces and caulked. Penetrations of the barrier should be avoided. Pipes, ducts, and similar
penetrations provide a path for both airborne sound and mechanical vibration. If they are unavoidable,
they should not be rigidly connected to the barrier, and any gaps should be sealed and caulked.
"Weaker" construction within the barrier should be avoided or given special treatment.
Construction with a lower STC rating than the barrier itself will decrease the overall rating of the barrier.
Doors placed in an otherwise well-built sound wall are a common problem and can be dealt with in several
ways. The perimeter should be completely sealed with weatherstripping specifically designed for sound
seal-ing at the jamb and head and with a threshold or automatic door bottom at the sill. The door itself
should be as heavy as possible, preferably a solid-core wood door. Often, two doors are used, separated by
a small air gap.
Interior glass lights can be designed with laminated glass set in resilient framing. Laminated glass provides
more mass, and the plastic interlayer improves the damping characteristics of the barrier. If additional
transmission loss is required, two or more layers can be installed with an air gap between them.
Flanking paths for sound to travel should be eliminated or treated appropriately, including air conditioning
ducts, plenum spaces above ceilings, hallways, and open windows in adjacent rooms. Unusual sound
conditions or frequencies must be given special consideration and design. Low-frequency rumbling or high
frequencies are often not stopped, even with a wall with a high STC rating.

Speech Privacy
In many architectural situations, the critical acoustical concern is not eliminating all noise or designing a
room for music, but providing for a certain level of privacy while still allowing people to talk at a normal
level. In many cases, speech privacy is regarded as a condition in which talking may be heard as a general
background sound but not easily understood.
Of course, speech privacy is subjective and depends on circumstances. People involved in highly
confidential conversations may need greater privacy than those conducting normal, nonconfidential
business in an open office. Also, one person may be annoyed by adjacent conversations more than another
Speech privacy is usually of greatest concern in office planning, and especially in open office planning.
Because speech privacy in open offices depends on a complex interaction of many variables, two measures
are used to evaluate open office acoustics: the articulation class (AC) and the articulation index (AI). Both
of these test methods and rating systems have replaced the Speech Privacy Noise Isolation Class (NIC) and
the Speech Privacy Potential (SPP) that were formerly used.
The articulation class (AC) gives a rating of system component performance and does not account for
masking sound. The articulation index (AI) measures the performance of all the elements of a particular
configuration working together: ceiling absorption, space dividers, furniture, light fixtures, partitions,
background masking systems, and HVAC systems. It is used to objectively test speech privacy of open
office spaces, either in the actual space or in a laboratory mock-up of the space.

The articulation index can be used to

(1) compare the relative privacy between different pairs of workstations or areas,
(2) evaluate how changes in open office components affect speech privacy, and
(3) measure speech privacy objectively for correlation with subjective responses.
The articulation index predicts the intelligibility of speech for a group of talkers and listeners, and the
result of the test is a single number rating. The Al rating can range from 0.00 to 1.00, with 0.00 being
complete privacy and 1.00 being absolutely no privacy where all individual spoken words can be under-
stood. Confidential speech privacy exists when speech can-not be understood and occurs when the
articulation index is at or below 0.05. Normal speech privacy means concentrated effort is required to
understand intruding speech and exists when the AI is between 0.05 and 0.20. Above an Al of 0.20,
speech becomes readily understood. Privacy no longer exists when the AI is above 0.30. Both the
articulation index and articulation class are intended only for open office situations with speech as the
sound source of concern. However, the articulation index can be adapted for other open plans (like
schools) and can be applied to measure speech privacy between enclosed and open spaces and
between two enclosed rooms.

Speech privacy in areas divided by full-height partitions is usually achieved by sound loss through the
partitions and, to a lesser extent, by the proper use of sound-absorbing surfaces. In open areas, such as an
open-plan office, speech privacy is more difficult to achieve. There are five important factors in designing
for speech privacy in an open area. All of these must be present to achieve an optimal acoustical

1. The ceiling must be highly absorptive. The idea is to create a "clear sky" condition so that sounds are
not reflected from their source to other parts of the environment.
2. There must be space dividers that reduce the trans-mission of sound from one space to the adjacent
space. The dividers should have a combination of absorptive surfaces to minimize sound reflections placed
over a solid liner (septum).
3. Other surfaces, such as the floor, furniture, windows, and light fixtures, must be designed or arranged
to minimize sound reflections. A window, for example, can provide a clear path for reflected noise around
a partial height partition.
4. If possible, activities should be distanced to take advantage of the normal attenuation of sound with
5. There must be a properly designed background masking system. If the right number of sound-absorbing
surfaces is provided, the surfaces will absorb all sounds in the space, not just the unwanted sounds.
Background sound must then be reintroduced to maintain the right balance between speech sound and the
background noise. This is referred to as the signal-to-noise ratio. If the signal-to-noise ratio is too great
(as a result of either loud talk-ing or minimal background noise), speech privacy will be compromised.

Control of Impact Noise

Impact noise, or sound resulting from direct contact of an object with a sound barrier, can occur on any
surface, but it generally occurs on a floor and ceiling assembly. It is usually caused by footfalls, shuffled
furniture, or dropped objects. Impact noise is quantified by the Impact Insulation Class (IIC) number, a
single-number rating of a floor-ceiling's impact on sound performance. A given construction is analysed in
accordance with a standardised test over 16 third-octave bands, and the results are compared with a
reference plot much as noise criteria ratings are established. The higher the TIC rating, the better the
floor's performance in reducing impact sounds in the test frequency range. The TIC value of a floor can be
increased by adding carpet, by providing a resiliently suspended ceiling below, by float-ing a finished floor
on. resilient pads over the structural floor, and by providing sound-absorbing material in the air space
between the floor and the finished ceiling.

Control of Mechanical Noise

Mechanical noise is similar to impact noise in that the cause is due to direct contact with the barrier.
However, mechanical noise occurs when a vibrating device is in continuous direct contact with the
structure. There are several ways mechanical noise can be transmitted.
• Rigidly attached equipment can vibrate the building structure or pipes, which in turn radiate sound into
occupied spaces.
• The airborne noise of equipment can be transmitted through walls and floors to occupied spaces.
• Noise can be transmitted through ductwork.
• The movement of air or water through ducts and pipes can cause undesirable noise. This is especially
true of high-velocity air systems or situations where the air or water changes velocity rapidly. Depending
on the circumstances, mechanical noise can be controlled in several ways.
• •Mechanical equipment should be mounted on springs or resilient pads (isolators).
• Connections between equipment and ducts and pipes should be made with flexible connectors.
• Where noise control is critical, ducts should be lined or provided with mufflers.
• Noise-producing equipment can be located away from quiet, occupied spaces.
• Walls, ceilings, and floors of mechanical rooms should be designed to attenuate airborne noise.
• Mechanical and plumbing systems should be designed to minimize high-velocity flow and sudden
changes in fluid velocity.

Reflection, Diffusion, and Diffraction
Reflection is the return of sound waves from a surface. If a surface is greater than or equal to four times
the wavelength of a sound striking it, the angle of incidence will equal the angle of reflection.
Wavelength, of course, varies with frequency. Assuming a velocity of 1130 ft/sec (341- m/s), gives
wavelengths of certain frequencies. Reflection can be useful for reinforcing sound in lecture rooms and
concert halls and for directing sound where it is wanted. It can be annoying, however, if it produces
echoes, which occur when a reflected sound reaches a listener later than about 1/17 sec after the direct
sound. Assuming a sound speed of 1130 ft/sec (344 m/s), an echo will occur whenever the reflected sound
path exceeds the direct sound path by 70 ft (21.3 m) or more.
Diffusion is the random distribution of sound from a surface. It occurs when the surface dimension equals
the wave-length of the sound striking it.
Diffraction is the bending of sound waves around an object or through an opening. Diffraction explains
why sounds can be heard around corners and why even small holes in partitions allow so much sound to be
Room Geometry and Planning Concepts
There are many ways the acoustical performance of a build-ing or individual room can be affected by floor
plan layout and the size and shape of the room itself. In addition to designing walls and floors to retard
sound transmission and for proper use of sound absorption, use the following suggestions to help minimize
acoustical problems.
• Plan similar use areas next to each other. For example, placing bedrooms next to each other in an
apartment complex is better than placing a bedroom next to the adjacent unit's kitchen. This concept is
applicable for vertical organization as well as horizontal (plan) organization.
• Use buffer spaces such as closets and hallways to separate noise-producing spaces whenever possible.
Using closets between bedrooms at a common wall is one example of this method.
• Locate noise-producing areas such as mechanical rooms, laundries, and playrooms away from “quiet”
• Stagger doorways in halls and other areas to avoid providing a straight-line path for noise.
• Locate operable windows as far from each other as possible.
• If possible, locate furniture and other potential noise-producing objects away from the wall separating
• Minimize the area of the common walls between two rooms where a reduction in sound transmission is
• Avoid room shapes that reflect or focus sound. Barrel-vaulted hallways and circular rooms, for example,
produce undesirable focused sounds. Rooms that focus sound also deprive some listeners of useful
• Avoid parallel walls with hard surfaces in small rooms. In such situations, repeated echoes, called flutter
echoes, can be generated that result in a perceived "buzzing" sound of higher frequencies. This is why
small music practice rooms have splayed walls. Standing waves can also be produced in small rooms,
when parallel walls are some integral multiple of one-half wavelength apart and a steady tone is
introduced in the room.

Note : Acoustics Class notes to be given along with previous years question papers and PPT