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Unwanted wanted sounds: Perception of sounds from water structures in urban soundscapes
Stockholm University, Faculty of Social Sciences, Department of Psychology.
2015 (English)Doctoral thesis, comprehensive summary (Other academic)
Abstract [en]

Water structures, for example, fountains, are common design elements in urban open public spaces. Their popularity is probably explained by their visual attractiveness. Less is known about how the sounds of water struc-tures influence the urban soundscape. This thesis explores the potential ef-fects of water sounds on urban soundscapes based on the character of water sounds. Three psychoacoustic studies were conducted in which listeners rated the perceptual properties of various water sounds. Study I found that water sounds had a limited ability to mask traffic noise, as the frequency composition of the sounds resulted in road-traffic noise masking fountain sounds more than the reverse. A partial loudness model of peripheral audito-ry processes overestimated the observed masking effect of water sound on road-traffic noise, and it was suggested that this was related to central pro-cesses, in particular, target/masker confusion. In Study II, water sounds of different degrees of perceived pleasantness were mixed with road-traffic noise to explore the overall effect on soundscape quality. The overall pleas-antness was increased substantially by adding a highly pleasant water sound; however, less pleasant water sounds had no effect or even reduced overall pleasantness. This result suggests that the perceptual properties of water-generated sounds should be taken into consideration in soundscape design. In Study III, this was explored by analyzing a large set of recordings of sounds of water fountains in urban open spaces. A multidimensional scaling analysis of similarity sortings of sounds revealed distinct groups of percep-tually different fountain sounds. The group of pleasant fountain sounds was characterized by relatively low loudness and high fluctuation strength and tonality, generating purling and rippling sounds. The group of unpleasant fountain sounds was characterized by high loudness and low fluctuation strength and tonality, generating a steady-state like noisy sound.. A joint result of all three studies is that sounds from water structures with a high flow rate (i.e., a large jet and basin in Study I, a waterfall in Study II, and large fountains in Study III) generating a steady-state noisy sound should be avoided in soundscape design. Instead, soundscape design might better focus on more fluctuating water sounds, which were considered more pleasant in both studies II and III. A general conclusion from this thesis is that water-generated sounds may be used to improve the soundscape, but that great care must be taken in selecting the type of water sound to use.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
Stockholm: Department of Psychology, Stockholm University , 2015. , 81 p.
Keyword [en]
Perception, psychoacoustics, soundscape, water-sound
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:su:diva-119362ISBN: 978-91-7649-235-2 (print)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:su-119362DiVA: diva2:844573
Public defence
2015-09-25, David Magnussonsalen (U31), Frescati Hagväg 8, Stockholm, 13:00 (English)
Opponent
Supervisors
Note

At the time of the doctoral defense, the following paper was unpublished and had a status as follows: Paper 3: Manuscript.

Available from: 2015-09-03 Created: 2015-08-06 Last updated: 2015-09-01Bibliographically approved
List of papers
1. Auditory masking of wanted and unwanted sounds in a city park
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Auditory masking of wanted and unwanted sounds in a city park
2010 (English)In: Noise Control Engineering Journal, ISSN 0736-2501, E-ISSN 2168-8710, Vol. 58, no 5, 524-531 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

Auditory masking of unwanted sounds by wanted sounds has been suggested as a tool for outdoor acoustic design. Anecdotal evidence exists for successful applications, for instance the use of fountain sounds for masking road traffic noise in urban parks. However, basic research on auditory masking of environmental sounds is lacking. Therefore, we conducted two listening experiments, using binaural recordings from a city park in Stockholm exposed to traffic noise from a main road and sound from a large fountain located in the center of the park. In the first experiment, 17 listeners assessed the loudness of the road traffic noise and fountain sounds from recordings at various distances from the road, with or without the fountain turned on. In the second experiment, 16 listeners assessed the loudness of systematic combinations of a singular fountain sound and a singular road traffic noise. The results of the first experiment showed that the fountain sound reduced the loudness of road traffic noise close to the fountain, and that the fountain sound was equally loud or louder than the road traffic noise in a region 20-30 m around the fountain. This suggests that the fountain added to the quality of the city park soundscape by reducing the loudness of the (presumably unwanted) traffic noise. On the other hand, results from the second experiment showed that road traffic noise was harder to mask than fountain sound, and that the partial loudness of both sources was considerably less than expected from a model of energetic masking. This indicates that auditory processes, possibly related to target-masker confusion, may reduce the overall masking effect of environmental sounds.

National Category
Fluid Mechanics and Acoustics Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-51238 (URN)10.3397/1.3484182 (DOI)000285049400007 ()
Note

authorCount :4

 

Available from: 2011-01-14 Created: 2011-01-10 Last updated: 2017-12-11Bibliographically approved
2. Effects of Sounds from Water on Perception of Acoustic Environments Dominated by Road-Traffic Noise
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Effects of Sounds from Water on Perception of Acoustic Environments Dominated by Road-Traffic Noise
2013 (English)In: Acta Acoustica united with Acustica, ISSN 1610-1928, E-ISSN 1861-9959, Vol. 99, no 2, 218-225 p.Article in journal (Refereed) Published
Abstract [en]

As a complement to conventional noise mitigation, addition of wanted sounds, in particular sounds from water structures, has been suggested as a method for improving noise-polluted acoustic environments. The effect of adding water sounds to road-traffic noise was explored in a listening experiment with 31 listeners. Recordings of road-traffic noise were combined with recordings of waters sounds of varying pleasantness, and the listeners assessed the sounds on eight adjective scales, representing the perceptual dimensions Pleasantness and Eventfulness. The results showed that overall pleasantness increased when a highly pleasant water sound was added to the road-traffic noise. For less pleasant water sounds, no effect, or a decrease in pleasantness, was found. In addition, pleasant water sounds increased perceived eventfulness.

National Category
Fluid Mechanics and Acoustics Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-89550 (URN)10.3813/AAA.918605 (DOI)000316182800006 ()
Available from: 2013-05-02 Created: 2013-04-29 Last updated: 2017-12-06Bibliographically approved
3. Perceptual and psychoacoustic analyses of sounds from water fountains in urban open spaces
Open this publication in new window or tab >>Perceptual and psychoacoustic analyses of sounds from water fountains in urban open spaces
(English)Manuscript (preprint) (Other academic)
National Category
Psychology
Research subject
Psychology
Identifiers
urn:nbn:se:su:diva-119344 (URN)
Available from: 2015-08-06 Created: 2015-08-06 Last updated: 2015-08-14

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