Although the soundscape in cities is receiving increased attention in urban planning, there is still a lack of knowledge of how personal factors influence the perception of and preference for soundscapes. Most present studies are linked to one or a few specific soundscapes and do not have a holistic approach exploring the pros and cons of all soundscapes in a place. This study surveyed individuals to assess how soundscape perceptions and preferences may differ among various attendees of typical urban forest recreational parks in Xi’an, China, using an on-site questionnaire. The respondents (N
= 2034) revealed that rare natural sounds were perceived more positively than the dominating artificial sounds. Five main dimensions of social, demographic, and behavioral attributes were found to be linked to the soundscape perceptions and preferences: (1) familiarity of the park and attendees’ age made people more tolerant towards sounds that others find annoying; (2) higher education and higher socio-economic status showed lower tolerance towards sounds; (3) having companions and specific types of recreational use increased the frequent perception of artificial sounds; (4) females generally showed higher sensitivity and lower tolerance than males towards several sounds; and (5) the longer attendees remained in the park, the more positive the overall soundscape preference was. The results indicate that numerous sounds are affecting people’s overall experience in the parks. These findings could help decision-makers and urban forest recreational park designers to formulate relevant strategies for park design that are in tune with varying public needs and expectations towards soundscape. The implementation of human-oriented soundscape design can therefore enhance people’s well-being.
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