Soundproofing is any means of reducing the sound pressure with respect to a specified sound source and receptor. There are several basic approaches to reducing sound: increasing the distance between source and receiver, using noise barriers to reflect or absorb the energy of the sound waves, using damping structures such as sound baffles, or using active antinoise sound generators.
Two distinct soundproofing problems may need to be considered when designing acoustic treatments – to improve the sound within a room , and reduce sound leakage to/from adjacent rooms or outdoors. Acoustic quieting, noise mitigation, and noise control can be used to limit unwanted noise. Soundproofing can suppress unwanted indirect sound waves such as reflections that cause echoes and resonances that cause reverberation. Soundproofing can reduce the transmission of unwanted direct sound waves from the source to an involuntary listener through the use of distance and intervening objects in the sound path.
Damping means to reduce resonance in the room, by absorption or redirection (reflection or diffusion). Absorption will reduce the overall sound level, whereas redirection makes unwanted sound harmless or even beneficial by reducing coherence.
Damping can reduce the acoustic resonance in the air, or mechanical resonance in the structure of the room itself or things in the room. When constructing a vehicle which includes soundproofing, a panel dampening material is fitted which reduces the vibration of the vehicles body panels when they are excited by one of the many high energy sound sources caused when the vehicle is in use.
Absorbing sound spontaneously converts part of the sound energy to a very small amount of heat in the intervening object (the absorbing material), rather than sound being transmitted or reflected. There are several ways in which a material can absorb sound. The choice of sound absorbing material will be determined by the frequency distribution of noise to be absorbed and the acoustic absorption profile required.
If a specular reflection from a hard flat surface is giving a problematic echo then an acoustic diffuser may be applied to the surface. It will scatter sound in all directions. This is effective to eliminate pockets of noise in a room.
Noise cancellation generators for active noise control are a relatively modern innovation. A microphone is used to pick up the sound that is then analyzed by a computer; then, sound waves with opposite polarity (180° phase at all frequencies) are output through a speaker, causing destructive interference and cancelling much of the noise.
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