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    SOUND LEVELS, (Power, Intensity, Pressure)

noise and vibration control


    In practical applications pure harmonic tones are rare. The character of noise can be dominated by one or more harmonic tones, e.g. for compressor applications. In cases like that it Fourier analysis is a good way to look at the separate tones. Noise can also be more random through the frequency domain, such as white noise. In the latter case noise is present at each frequency. Naturally also combinations are possible.
    A number of examples, with the frequency along the x-axis and the sound pressure level along the y-axis:

    Sound Spectra

    The analysis of a sound spectrum is important to find the tones or frequency areas that need to be silenced. As other graphs noise spectra can be represented by histrograms, tabulations or by connecting the points.

    Octave bands

    As described above the data is often provided in tabulations. The frequency bands are also defined on a logaritmical scale. The bands are from the lower to the upper limit of the band. The octave band central frequency is:
    central frequency

    These have been defined by I.S.O. (values for 31.25 and 62.5 were rounded off):

    The 16000 Hz octave band is hardly ever used in industrial noise control.
    The boundaries between the octave bands can simply be calculated:
    boundary frequency

    As the frequencies of the octave bands are different it can be proven that the individual effective sound pressures squared can be added up to provide the overal level of sound pressure squared. This leads to:
    summation overall sound pressure level

    For more precise analyses terts - octave bands are used. These will provide a closer approximation of the continuous spectrum in reality. Distrurbing tonal noises can be located with more precision. Analog to the octave bands the terts octave bands are:

    octave band
    central frequency
    terts - octave band central frequency in Hertz            

    A - weighting

    It is important to have a parameter that provides a value for the negative effect on hearing and disturbance. The most widely used parameter is the A - weighting, thus sound pressure levels in dB(A)

    The sensitivity of the ear is not the same for all frequencies. The A - weighting is based on curves that show the subjective auditive perception or sensitivity of the human ear at about 40 to 60 dB.

    As there was a very clear correlation between the A - weighted sound pressure levels and hearing loss of industrial workers this weighing has become very popular.

    The practical meaning of the A-weighing is good for applications up to about 90 dB(A). At higher sound pressure levels the ear looses its lower sensitivity for low frequency noise and becomes more vulnerable.

    The B -, C -, and D weightings also exist. The D - weighting was developed specifically for the aircraft industry and gives an extra penalty for high frequency noise in line with the nuisance that people experience by jet engines.

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