In the past, sound design has been about minimising the noise generated by a product. The assumption here is that the lower the noise the better. However, this design principle does not always work. In some cases, it may be impossible to lower the noise level below a certain value given the constraints of cost. Maybe the only way to lower the noise level is to make an ineffective product. In other cases, lowering the level of sound may actually result in customers being less satisfied, even if the product still functions. To take an example, we spoke to a manufacturer of outdoor products who designed a low noise leaf blower. However, when the leaf blower was sold, there were a number of returns from customers who assumed that low noise meant low power. In these kind of cases, there is a need to not only look at the total sound energy emitted, but also to look at the detailed quality of the sound. To take the example of the leaf blowers, maybe the solution would be to design one with a low noise level but one that still sounded powerful.
Salford University is equipped with a listening room which meets the requiements set out in ITU-R BS 1116-1, BS 6840-13 and IEC 268-13. The listening room can be used to jury test product sounds which can also be recorded in our anechoic or semi anechoic chambers. Auralisation of transfer path analysis data for sound quality assessments can also be carried out. Also, virtual acoustic product prototypes can be developed for sound quality assessments of products that have not yet been realised physically.
Dr Lara Harris
t: +44 (0)161 295 5052