Sound and acoustics
"The science of sound," is what acoustics is called - a word which stems from the
Greek akoustos, which means "listen". If we in a study of mechanical vibrations
(and radiation of these vibrations through mechanical waves) start with the origins, acoustics has had important applications of use in all areas of life.
Acoustics is on the one hand part of classical physics, but on the other hand in certain circumstances its effect is more related to psychology than physics. Just as is the case for other parts of the science of physics, most acoustic relationships are measurable. The interpretation of the measurements are however not so straight forward.
Acoustics is and has always been an integral part of the building environment.
Acoustics is a necessary factor of design just like fire protection or lighting conditions. Acoustics is however starting to become a more and more important parameter of quality for the building environment.
The problem is however that there is still some confusion about good acoustics.
The desired effect of acoustics will naturally always depend on the function or
the purpose of a room. Acoustics which meet the requirement for a concert hall
are not suitable for a classroom. All acoustic requirements are expressed as physical, measurable amounts, for e.g. reverberation time. The problem is that even if these requirements are fulfilled it does not necessarily mean there is good acoustics. We can easily define building acoustic requirements as minimum sound insulation or acceptable noise levels. But for the acoustics of a room the situation is more complicated. We can specify reverberation times, but we can not specify that the room must sound natural.
The purpose of this assessment of acoustics is not to provide a complete course in acoustic design, but to focus on the aspects of a room's acoustics and the properties of materials for different jobs.