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Impact of Soundscape in Perception

Previously, we have discussed how the human auditory system works and recognizes the sound direction. Now, we will discuss how sound is perceived through our mind. In acoustics, the sound processing into the human auditory system is divided into 2 different mechanisms, namely hearing and listening. Hearing is the process of the mechanism of sound wave propagation into the human auditory system due to the sensitivity of the human auditory system to the vibration of sound waves with a certain frequency and intensity. While listening is a process of hearing along with the interpretation of information about the environment of a place based on the details contained in the vibration of sound waves that are heard.

Interpretation of sound information in the listening process is the vibrations of sound waves that are heard by humans. That not only represents the source of the sound but also contains information about the environment in which the sound is heard due to the physical mechanism that occurs when the sound wave propagates. Listening is considered a complex mechanism because it involves multi-level attention and higher cognitive functions. There are three levels in listening that are used to explain the complexity of listening namely listening-in-search, listening-in-readiness, and background listening.

Listening then forms us in an interpretation and perception in an environment based on its acoustic conditions. For example, if we close our eyes and we are given a stimulus in the form of the sound of water, squeaking, and the sound of wind with a certain level of sound pressure (SPL) we can interpret this as a feeling of being in a park. Then if the sound is added to the vehicle’s sound stimulus with a sufficiently audible sound pressure level, this might disturb the atmosphere of the park, and we feel uncomfortable. The action and interaction of natural factors and / or human factors acoustically in a place is called soundscape. This is because the sound in the environment does not only focus on a person, but also how one interacts with the sound and how one’s attention to the sound that arises.

Simple soundscape involves the type of sound source, location related to activities that occur in the related environment, environmental conditions and various subjective things that shape one’s perception and interpretation. This relates to the definition of soundscape in building one’s perception where it is also influenced by their socio-cultural and also the soundscape approach is seen from various disciplines.The soundscape process can be seen in the process diagram in Figure 1.

The analysis of soundscape can produce information for the basis for taking action in the form of sound management, which is to sort out what sounds should be heard and what sounds should be covered with other sounds (masking noise), by directing the attention of visitors to certain sounds that are in line with expectations they are based on the function of the related place.

Written by:

Adetia Alfadenata

Acoustic Engineer

Geonoise Indonesia

References :                                                                     

1. B. Truax, Acoustic Communication. Ablex Publishi, 1984

2. A. Ozcevik and Z. Y. Can, “A Field Study on The Subjective Evaluation of Soundscape,” in Acoustics 2012, 2012, no. April, pp. 2121–2126.

3. F. Aletta and J. Kang, “Soundscape descriptors and a conceptual framework for developing predictive soundscape models,” no. October 2017, 2016.

The British Standards Institution, “BS ISO 12913-1:2014 – Acoustics — Soundscape Part 1 : Definition and conceptual framework,” ISO, 2014.

5. D. Botteldooren, C. Lavandier, and A. Preis, “Understanding urban and natural soundscapes,” in Forum Acusticum 2011, 2011, vol. 1, no. c, pp. 2047–2052.

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