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Impact of Soundscape in Perception

Previously, we have discussed how the human auditory system works and recognizes the sound direction. Now, we will discuss how sound is perceived through our mind. In acoustics, the sound processing into the human auditory system is divided into 2 different mechanisms, namely hearing and listening. Hearing is the process of the mechanism of sound wave propagation into the human auditory system due to the sensitivity of the human auditory system to the vibration of sound waves with a certain frequency and intensity. While listening is a process of hearing along with the interpretation of information about the environment of a place based on the details contained in the vibration of sound waves that are heard.

Interpretation of sound information in the listening process is the vibrations of sound waves that are heard by humans. That not only represents the source of the sound but also contains information about the environment in which the sound is heard due to the physical mechanism that occurs when the sound wave propagates. Listening is considered a complex mechanism because it involves multi-level attention and higher cognitive functions. There are three levels in listening that are used to explain the complexity of listening namely listening-in-search, listening-in-readiness, and background listening.

Listening then forms us in an interpretation and perception in an environment based on its acoustic conditions. For example, if we close our eyes and we are given a stimulus in the form of the sound of water, squeaking, and the sound of wind with a certain level of sound pressure (SPL) we can interpret this as a feeling of being in a park. Then if the sound is added to the vehicle’s sound stimulus with a sufficiently audible sound pressure level, this might disturb the atmosphere of the park, and we feel uncomfortable. The action and interaction of natural factors and / or human factors acoustically in a place is called soundscape. This is because the sound in the environment does not only focus on a person, but also how one interacts with the sound and how one’s attention to the sound that arises.

Simple soundscape involves the type of sound source, location related to activities that occur in the related environment, environmental conditions and various subjective things that shape one’s perception and interpretation. This relates to the definition of soundscape in building one’s perception where it is also influenced by their socio-cultural and also the soundscape approach is seen from various disciplines.The soundscape process can be seen in the process diagram in Figure 1.

The analysis of soundscape can produce information for the basis for taking action in the form of sound management, which is to sort out what sounds should be heard and what sounds should be covered with other sounds (masking noise), by directing the attention of visitors to certain sounds that are in line with expectations they are based on the function of the related place.

Written by:

Adetia Alfadenata

Acoustic Engineer

Geonoise Indonesia


References :                                                                     

1. B. Truax, Acoustic Communication. Ablex Publishi, 1984

2. A. Ozcevik and Z. Y. Can, “A Field Study on The Subjective Evaluation of Soundscape,” in Acoustics 2012, 2012, no. April, pp. 2121–2126.

3. F. Aletta and J. Kang, “Soundscape descriptors and a conceptual framework for developing predictive soundscape models,” no. October 2017, 2016.

The British Standards Institution, “BS ISO 12913-1:2014 – Acoustics — Soundscape Part 1 : Definition and conceptual framework,” ISO, 2014.

5. D. Botteldooren, C. Lavandier, and A. Preis, “Understanding urban and natural soundscapes,” in Forum Acusticum 2011, 2011, vol. 1, no. c, pp. 2047–2052.

Asia Noise News

Soundscape Under Covid-19

Many around the world are experiencing life with very low noise levels due to restrictions as we are confined to our home and there is a decrease in the industrial, transportation and leisure activity. This provides a wonderful opportunity to quantify and record for the future the lower noise levels of our soundscapes. With the reduction in shipping there is also a change in the underwater soundscapes.

Nowadays there are a high number of noise monitoring systems (noise monitoring terminals, city wide systems, underwater systems etc.) installed all over the world which will capture this information for the future. However, there are many acousticians working from home with access to a sound level meter that can be used to capture the soundscape from their balcony or from their garden and compare the before and after the restrictions.

The IYS 2020 committee has provided a central contact between a number around the world who were thinking similarly that there would be some benefit in coordination and a little standardization in the capture of the data. Marçal Serra from CESVA has taken a lead to set up a LinkedIn group COVID-19 Noise Reduction (at www.linkedin.com/groups/13844820/) and with hashtag #COVID19NoiseReduction for any posts.

The following is a general structure for those who wish to participate and share their data in the future. But do not break your confinement to report this data!

  • Place: Country and city (e.g., Spain village near Barcelona)
  • Primary noise source: (e.g., Traffic noise: note number of lanes per direction or Social noise: note if café/bar/restaurant/sporting)
  • Noise measuring system: The noise measuring system used to measure LduringLbefore, and Lafter
  • Noise level during COVID-19 confinement: Lduring, expressed as a weighted overall level (preferably LAeq,1 hour), spectrum or psychoacoustic metrics as Loudness. It could also be reported as an image of the noise time history or a weekly color map and/or compiled into a report/article/conference paper with the measurement details and the comparison data
  • Noise level before & after COVID-19 confinement: Lbefore & Lafter, expressed in the same way as Lduring and over the same time period.