Room Acoustical Parameters as Predictors of Acoustic Comfort in Outdoor Spaces of Housing Complexes

Taghipour A.,Sahand Athari, Gisladottir A., Sievers T., Eggenschwiler K.

Frontiers in Psychology 11:344, DOI: 10.3389/fpsyg.2020.00344


Room acoustical parameters have frequently been used to evaluate or predict the acoustical performance in rooms. For housing complexes in urban areas with high population density, it is important to improve acoustic performance not solely indoors, but outdoors as well; for example on the balconies or in the yards. This paper investigates to what extent classic room acoustical parameters would be able to predict the perceived acoustic comfort in outdoor spaces (i.e., courtyards) of virtual housing complexes. Individual and combined effects of a series of independent variables (such as facade absorption, sound source, and observer position) on short-term acoustic comfort were investigated in three laboratory experiments. ODEON software was used for virtual inner yard simulation, whereby 2D spatialization was carried out for a playback over five loudspeakers. Moderate facade absorption was found to increase acoustic comfort. Relatively pleasant and relatively unpleasant sounds were associated with comfort and discomfort, respectively. Lower acoustic comfort ratings were observed at receiver positions with high sound pressure levels and/or strong flutter echoes. A further analysis of the results is carried out here with respect to the room acoustical parameters and their ability to predict the acoustic comfort ratings. Speech transmission index (STI), definition (D50), clarity of speech (C50) and music (C80), early decay time (EDT), and lateral energy fraction (LF80) were found to be significantly correlated with acoustic comfort. They were found to be significant predictors of acoustic comfort in a series of linear mixed-effect models. Furthermore, linear mixed-effect models were established with the A-weighted equivalent continuous sound level, LAeq, as a significant predictor of acoustic comfort.

Kurt Eggenschwiler
EMPA Abteilung Akustik
Überlandstrasse 129
CH-8600 Dübendorf
Tel. +41 44 823 41 77
Fax. +41 44 823 47 93
E-Mail: kurt.eggenschwiler@empa.ch