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Sound and Noise

What Is Sound?

Sound is created when an object moves causing small pressure changes, like rustling leaves being blown by wind. We hear sounds like voices and music as air moves over a person’s vocal cords or an electric signal strikes the cone of a speaker. Movement causes vibrations in air, similar to ripples on water, and when the soundwaves or vibrations reach our ears we interpret them as sound.

Sound is defined as the variance in pressure of air, water or other liquids medium which may be detected by the human ear and interpreted as Sound Pressure Levels or SPL.

What Is Noise?

Noise is ‘unwelcome sound’ which may be dangerous to our health, intrude with speech and verbal communications and is distracting, disturbing, irritating or annoying. Noise can cause trauma to our ears resulting in long term hearing loss and cause symptoms such Tinnitus which is a constant ringing in the ears. Noise can also cause or exacerbate stress related disorders including hyper-tension.

It is necessary to consider a range of factors to determine whether the noise is offensive, including the following:

  • the loudness of the noise, especially compared with other noise in the area
  • the character of the noise
  • the time and duration of the noise
  • whether the noise is typical for the area
  • how often the noise occurs
  • the number of people affected by the noise.

Sound is measured in decibels (dB)

The decibel (abbreviated dB) is the unit used to measure the intensity of a sound. The decibel scale is a little odd because the human ear is incredibly sensitive. Your ears can hear everything from your fingertip brushing lightly over your skin to a loud jet engine. In terms of power, the sound of the jet engine is about 1,000,000,000,000 times more powerful than the smallest audible sound. That's a big difference!

On the decibel scale, the smallest audible sound (near total silence) is 0 dB. A sound 10 times more powerful is 10 dB. A sound 100 times more powerful than near total silence is 20 dB. A sound 1,000 times more powerful than near total silence is 30 dB. Here are some common sounds and their decibel ratings:

  • Near total silence - 0 dB
  • A whisper - 15 dB
  • Normal conversation - 60 dB
  • A lawnmower - 90 dB
  • A car horn - 110 dB
  • A rock concert or a jet engine - 120 dB
  • A gunshot or firecracker - 140 dB

Decibels (dB) are measured on a logarithmic scale, resulting in the following:

  • An increase of 2 dB is hardly perceivable.
  • An increase of 10 dB is perceived as twice as loud. Therefore an increase of 20 dB is 4 times as loud and an increase of 30 dB is 8 times as loud etc.

Effects of Sound and Noise

In the article Sound Standards written by Dr John Davy (formerly an Acoustics Services Manager for CSIRO Manufacturing & Infrastructure Technology) he states that noise complaints have skyrocketed in recent times due to our expanding population growth triggering an increase in noise pollution and its effects on our day-to-day lives.

Contributing factors are typically road and airport traffic as well as more confined inner city dwellings and offices as well as suburban neighbourhoods and sub-divisions.

Being exposed to these daily noises can cause distraction and unrest resulting in productivity loss and can also interrupt our sleep patterns at night (or during the day if you’re a shift worker) causing fatigue during waking hours which can have an adverse effect on our overall health, overall wellbeing and productivity performing daily tasks at work and home.

A survey concluded in 2004 by the Department of Environment and Conservation found that 46% of people residing in New South Wales reported road traffic noise as a problem in their neighbourhood. One in five in Sydney are exposed to road traffic noise levels greater than recommended by the World Health Organisation. This noise included exhaust systems, engines, horns, brakes, sound systems and truck brakes.


Soundblock Solutions Can Help!

Soundblock solutions has an exceptional range of soundproofing products to help you regain control over the noise in your life! 

Contact us today for more information or please enter your requirements for an online quotation.

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