Housing complex residents in urban areas are not only confronted with typical noise sources, but also everyday life sounds, e.g., in the yards. Therefore, they might benefit from the increasing interest in soundscape design and acoustic comfort improvement. Three laboratory experiments (with repeated-measures complete block designs) are reported here, in which effects of several variables on short-term acoustic comfort were investigated. A virtual reference inner yard in the ODEON software environment was systematically modified by absorbers on building facades, whereby single-channel recordings were spatialized for a 2D playback in laboratory. Facade absorption was found, generally, to increase acoustic comfort. Too much absorption, however, was not found to be helpful. In the absence of any absorbers on the facade, absorbing balcony ceilings tended to improve acoustic comfort, however, non-significantly. Pleasant and unpleasant sounds were associated with comfort and discomfort, accordingly. This should encourage architects and acousticians to create comfortable inner yard sound environments, where pleasant and unpleasant sound occurrence probabilities are designed to be high and low, respectively. Furthermore, significant differences were observed between acoustic comfort at distinct observer positions, which could be exploited when designing inner yards.
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