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Sound characteristics in low frequency noise and their relevance for the perception of pleasantness

Journal article
Authors Johanna Bengtsson
Kerstin Persson Waye
A. Kjellberg
Published in Acta Acoustica
Volume 90
Pages 171-180
Publication year 2004
Published at Institute of Community Medicine, Dept of Primary Health Care
Institute of Community Medicine
Pages 171-180
Language en
Keywords low frequency noise, sound characteristics, perception, pleasantness
Subject categories Environmental medicine


Noise sources with a dominant content of low frequencies (20-200 Hz) are found in many occupational environments. Work efficiency has been found in two earlier studies to be impaired to a larger degree when working in a low frequency ventilation noise than when working in a flat frequency ventilation noise at the same A-weighted sound pressure level. Other previous studies indicate that different sound characteristics found in low frequency noise are important for the way in which low frequency noise affects humans, and better knowledge of these characteristics could lead to better methods for assessing low frequency noise in occupational environments. The aim of this study was to evaluate the influence of frequency balance between low and high frequencies, which affects the slope of the frequency spectra, and the modulation frequency on subjects´ perception of a pleasant low frequency noise. The results showed that the subjects preferred either a higher or a lower modulation frequency as compared to that of the original low frequency noise, both choices leading to less perceivable modulations. Furthermore, the subjects preferred a lower relative content of frequencies below 500 Hz, but only as long as the original low frequency noise contained modulations and the variations were made within a constant A-weighted sound pressure level. The results are discussed in relation to improved guidelines and to the previously suggested theory of slope of the frequency spectra and problems involved with the implementation of that theory.

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