Acoustical and perceptual assessment of water sounds and their use over road traffic noise

Laurent Galbrun, Tahrir T Ali

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    95 Citations (Scopus)
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    This paper examines physical and perceptual properties of water sounds generated by small to medium sized water features that have applications for road traffic noise masking. A large variety of water sounds were produced in the laboratory by varying design parameters. Analysis showed that estimations can be made on how these parameters affect sound pressure levels, frequency content and psychoacoustic properties. Comparisons with road traffic noise showed that there is a mismatch between the frequency responses of traffic noise and water sounds, with the exception of waterfalls with high flow rates which can generate large low frequency levels comparable to traffic noise. Perceptual assessments were carried out in the context of peacefulness and relaxation, where both water sounds and noise from dense road traffic were audible. Results showed that water sounds should be similar or not less than 3 dB below the road traffic noise level (confirming previous research), and that stream sounds tend to be preferred to fountain sounds, which are in turn preferred to waterfall sounds. Analysis made on groups of sounds also indicated that low sharpness and large temporal variations were preferred on average, although no acoustical or psychoacoustical parameter correlated well with the individual sound preferences.
    Original languageEnglish
    Pages (from-to)227-237
    Number of pages11
    JournalJournal of the Acoustical Society of America
    Issue number1
    Publication statusPublished - Jan 2013


    • water generated sounds; fountains; soundscape; ambient sound environment; sound quality; psychoacoustics


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