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Lecture 1



ACOUSTICS Historical Background

ἀκουστικός (akoustikos), meaning "of or for hearing,  Man’s interest in acoustics has been documented
ready to hear“ since the first century B.C when Vitruvius recorded
the theory of the sounding vessel in Greek and
- Is a branch of physics that study the sound, Roman Theatres.
acoustics concerned with the production, control,
transmission, reception and effects of sound.  Myths arising from efforts to explain acoustical
qualities have persisted for generations and have
- The study of acoustics has been fundamental to been mistakenly accepted as fact by many people. In
many developments in the arts, science, technology, reality, it was not until the last quarter of the
music, biology etc. nineteenth century that the theoretical foundations
OBJECTIVE OF ACOUSTICS of the study of acoustics were first recorded by an
1. To reinforce needed sound English Physicist named Lord Rayleigh.
2. To eliminate unwanted sound
 Between 1898 and 1905, the first major advances in
3. To prevent unwanted sound to be transmitted
the application of acoustics to architecture were
into an enclosed space made by Wallace Clement Sabine.

Historical Background Division of Acoustics
 In the second quarter of the twentieth century,  Aero acoustics
acousticians began to assemble the accurate data that  Architectural acoustics
would make acoustics and engineering science.  Bioacoustics
 Biomedical acoustics
 Before electronic equipment was invented, the student
 Environment noise
of acoustics lacked both the means to produce specific
 Psychoacoustics
sounds and the methods to measure the strength of the
 Physiological acoustics
sounds that were produced.
 Physical acoustics
 Up until this time, the designer of a theatre could learn  Speech communication
about acoustics only by observing other theatres and  Structural acoustics
speculating about which features were responsible for  Transduction
their successes or failure.  Musical acoustics
 Underwater acoustics
 Countless myths arose to account for the mysterious
 Nonlinear acoustics
acoustics of many great room


It is the technology of designing spaces, structures, and
mechanical systems to meet hearing needs.
National Grand
Is the science of controlling sound in buildings. Embraces all Theater of China
aspects of acoustical design for all types of architectural spaces,
in order to optimize environments for many functions,
including business, recreation, learning, worship, Paul Andreu
communication, broadcasting and entertainment.

The fundamental objective of architectural acoustics is simply

to enhance desired sound and attenuate, or reduce, noise.

The first application of architectural acoustics was in the design

- Opera houses
- Concert halls
- Auditoriums
- Radio and television studios
- Classrooms, etc.

Applications Applications
Melbourne Theater JS Bach Chamber
Company Music Hall
Ashton Raggatt
Architecture Zaha Hadid

Applications Applications
Aula Magna, Cultural Center of
Universidad Central
de Venezuela The Philippines

Carlos Raul
Villanueva Leandro V. Locsin

In the 80s, this

concert hall was
catalogued like one of
the 5 rooms with
better acoustics of the

Sound Theory: Nature of Sound Sound Theory: Nature of Sound
What is the difference between sound and noise? Sound, a manifestation of vibration, travels in wave
patterns through solids, liquids and gases
The distinction between “sound” and “noise” is a The waves, caused by vibration of the molecules,
subjective one – sound is desirable, noise is not. follow sine functions, characterized by the amplitude
and wavelength also known as frequency

Sound waves of equal

Amplitude with
Increasing frequency
From top to bottom

Sound Theory: Nature of Sound Sound Theory: Nature of Sound

Sound – is a physical wave or simple a series of The shorter the wavelength, the higher the
pressure vibrations. frequency

- For Airborne Sound, the medium is air The longer the wavelength, the lower the
- For Structure Borne Sound, the medium is frequency
building materials such as concrete, steel, wood,
glass or combinations of all these.

Wavelength of sound – it is the distance of sound

wave traveling during one cycle of vibration or it is
the distance between adjacent regions where identical
conditions of particle displacement occurs

Sound Theory: Nature of Sound Sound Theory: Nature of Sound
To find the wavelength of sound in air at a specific Important points in Sound Velocity;
frequency by the following equation;  The sound waves can travel from source of origin
V = velocity or wavelength in Feet by air in different directions and these sound waves
F = Frequency in Hz set the ear drum to vibrate then the vibrating ear
D = distance of sound feet per
drum translate by the brain into sound sensation of
second (1130 ft/sec)
Velocity of Sound – the speed at which the sound hearing.
travels. It primarily depends on the elasticity and  In humans, hearing takes place whenever vibrations
density of the medium, In air at normal temperature of frequencies from 20 – 20,000 hertz reach the
and atmospheric pressure the velocity of sound is inner ear. The hertz (Hz) is a unit of frequency
approximately 1130 feet per second at 20ºF equaling one vibration or cycle per second.
Sound may travel at 16,000 ft/s along steel pipes and  When the sound waves are periodic, regular and
duct walls. long continued, they produce pleasing effect of
Speed of sound in concrete is about 12,000 ft/s. sound and this sound is also called audible sound.

Sound Theory: Nature of Sound Speed of sound VS. Speed of Light

 When the sound waves are non periodic, irregular  Sound travels at 1130 Feet per second at normal
and very short duration, it produce displeasing room temperature
effect of sound and this is also called audible noise.
 Sound waves are longitudinal waves and they can  Light travels at 299,792,458 meters per second,
move backward and forward along a line in the which is roughly 974,325,489 Feet per second (974
direction of in which sound is traveling. Million Feet per second!!)
 The velocity of sound depends upon nature and
temperature of medium through which it travels.
The velocity of sound can be measured by feet per
second in Fahrenheit.

Radio Signals: AM & FM Sound Propagation
When sound is generated in a place, it can move or
spread in all direction by air is called as propagation
of sound. Sound can propagate from origin to in all
directions like a person blowing up a balloon with his

Sound propagation principles;

 AM or Amplitude modulation: the height of each  The propagation of sound energy through a media
wave changes via sound waves i.e. compression and rarefaction of
 FM or Frequency modulation: the length of each sound waves.
wave changes  The propagation of sound depends up on the
frequency of sound source and the capacity of
listener’s ear drum.

Sound Propagation Sound Propagation

Rarefaction – the
 The propagation of sound depends up on the instantaneous, local
weather conditions like air temperature, presence reduction in density of gas
of moisture, air velocity etc. resulting from passage of a
sound wave, or the region
 The propagation of sound depends up on the
in which the density is
topographical features like ground cover, hills and
reduced as some instant
obstacles between the source and receivers, type of - Elongation of sound
space like open or closed.
Frequency – cycles per
second (CPS) or vibrations
per second (VPS) and the
compressions and
rarefactions are called
sound waves.

Sound Propagation Sound Propagation
Diffraction of Sound – the bending of sound waves Hearing Sensitivity – The ability of understanding
due to obstacles. Sound diffraction causes decreasing or listening of sound. The hearing of sound depends
of frequency, loudness, pitch. on a persons ear drum, intensity of sound, the type of
Ex. You bought a concert ticket, upon entering the sound tone, distance between the source and the
concert hall your seat is behind a huge pillar. after listener, climatic conditions. A healthy young person is
starting the film you cannot hear a clear voice due to capable of hearing sound from 20 – 20,000 Hz. The
the obstacle in between you and the music source extent of hearing sensitivity for an individual depends
and because of this the sound wave can bent around on many factors like age, sex, ethnicity (character of
the pillar before reaching you. person), previous exposure to high noise etc.

Sound Propagation Sound Propagation

Physical Characteristics of Sound:
 Frequency  Loudness or Intensity – It is the flow of wave
 Loudness or Intensity energy crossing per unit time through unit area.
 Quality or Timbre
Sound Intensities are measured in Decibels (dB).
 Frequency or Pitch – it is the number of cycle of
pressure or vibrations produced by a body in a unit Ex. The intensity at the threshold of hearing is 0 dB,
of time. The greater the number of cycles or the intensity of whispering is typically about 10 dB.
vibrations, the higher will be the pitch. The greater Sound Intensities are arranged on a logarithmic scale
the frequency the higher the pitch and the lesser due to a wide range of vibrations of the intensity of
the frequency the lower the pitch. Frequency of sound.
sound is the measure of the quality of sound.
Frequency of sound can be measured in cycles per
second or hertz.

Sound Propagation Sound Propagation
Amplitude or Volume – Amplitude is the
 Quality or Timber – It is the quality of musical characteristics of sound waves that human perceive as
note. It is one of the important characters of the volume. The amplitude corresponds to the distance
sound that allows the ear to differentiate between that air molecules move back and forth as a sound
tones produced by different instruments when the wave passes through them. as the amount of motion
sound waves are identical in amplitude or frequency. in the molecules increased, they strike the ear drum
with progressively greater force. This causes the ear
Ex. If a person played a violin, second person played to perceive a louder sound. This comparison of
piano and third person a tuning fork, all at the same samples at low, medium, and high amplitudes
volume, the tones are identical in frequency and demonstrate the change in sound caused by altering
amplitude, but different in quality. From these three amplitude. These three waves have the same
sources, the simplest tone is produced by the tuning frequency, and so should sound the same except for a
fork. perceptible volume difference.

Sound Propagation Bels and Decibels

Measure of sound – Generally sound can measure Sound pressure of the faintest sound that a normal healthy
in terms of pressure level decibel (dB) and it us used individual can hear is about 0.00002 Pa.The sound pressure
as convent unit to measure the magnitude of sound produced by a Saturn rocket at liftoff is greater than 200 Pa.
by measuring the sound, we can achieve following Even in scientific notation this is an “astronomical” range of
objects; numbers.
 Sound measurement can help us improving building To cope with this problem, a scale based on the logarithm of
acoustics and loudspeakers and this improve our the ratios of the measured quantities is used. Measurements on
enjoyment of music both in concert hall and home this scale are called levels. The unit for these types of
measurement scales is the Bel, which was named after
 Sound measurement can indicates when sound may
Alexander Graham Bell;
causes hearing damage and it help in taking
corrective measures to be avoiding damage
 It permits evaluation of the hearing sensitivity of
 It permits the improvement of quality of our daily

Bels and Decibels Sound Power and Intensity
A Bel turns out to be a rather large unit, so for convenience it
is divided into 10 subunits called Decibels (dB). Levels in
decibels are computed as follows:

The decibel does not represent any physical unit. It merely

indicates that a logarithmic transformation has been

.: The SI unit for sound pressure p is the Pascal (symbol: Pa).

Sound Pressure Level Sound Pressure for known sounds

Sound Pressure for known sounds Decibel Levels
0 dB – the softest sound a person can hear with
normal hearing
10 dB – normal Breathing / anechoic chamber
20 dB – whispering at 5 feet
30 dB – Soft whispering / Quiet Auditorium
40 dB – limit for Comfortable Hearing
50 dB – Rainfall / Light Traffic
60 dB – Normal Conversation
70 dB – Department Store / Noisy Office
90 dB – Heavy Traffic at 5 Feet
110 dB – Shouting in ear
120 dB – Rock Concert /Thunder/Threshold of
discomfort hearing
130 dB – Jack Hammer at 5 Feet / Threshold of Pain

An Anechoic chamber is a space in which there are

no echoes or reverberations.The surfaces absorb all
sound, and reflect none.