Special Issue "Sound Environments"

A special issue of Environments (ISSN 2076-3298).

Deadline for manuscript submissions: closed (28 February 2018).

Special Issue Editor

Special Issue Information

Dear Colleagues,

Sound environment is a vital part of our overall environments. The EU Green Paper on Future Noise Policy indicates that 80 million EU citizens are suffering from unacceptable environmental noise levels according to the WHO recommendation and the social cost of transport noise is 0.2–2% of total GDP. The situations in other developing countries are even more severe. In the last decade or so, there have been many major new developments in the field of sound environment, both in terms of research and practice. Various prediction methods for sound propagation in micro- and meso-scale urban areas have been explored, and large scale noise-mapping software packages have been developed and applied extensively in practice with the advancement of computering resources. There have been a number of new noise control measures and design methods. Sound environments have also been examined from the subjective perspective, with multidisciplinary approaches, and the importance of soundscape and overall sound environment design has been widely recognised, which is a major step further from simply reducing urban noise level. In environmental policies and regulations, noise problems have also been paid increasing attention at various levels. The main motivation of this Special Issue is therefore to present the state-of-the-art development in our sound environment.

Prof. Dr. Jian Kang
Guest Editor

Manuscript Submission Information

Manuscripts should be submitted online at www.mdpi.com by registering and logging in to this website. Once you are registered, click here to go to the submission form. Manuscripts can be submitted until the deadline. All papers will be peer-reviewed. Accepted papers will be published continuously in the journal (as soon as accepted) and will be listed together on the special issue website. Research articles, review articles as well as short communications are invited. For planned papers, a title and short abstract (about 100 words) can be sent to the Editorial Office for announcement on this website.

Submitted manuscripts should not have been published previously, nor be under consideration for publication elsewhere (except conference proceedings papers). All manuscripts are thoroughly refereed through a single-blind peer-review process. A guide for authors and other relevant information for submission of manuscripts is available on the Instructions for Authors page. Environments is an international peer-reviewed open access monthly journal published by MDPI.

Please visit the Instructions for Authors page before submitting a manuscript. The Article Processing Charge (APC) for publication in this open access journal is 1000 CHF (Swiss Francs). Submitted papers should be well formatted and use good English. Authors may use MDPI's English editing service prior to publication or during author revisions.

Keywords

  • Sound
  • Environment
  • Noise
  • Soundscape
  • Prediction
  • Control
  • Design
  • Policy

Published Papers (6 papers)

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Research

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Open AccessArticle
Speech Identification and Comprehension in the Urban Soundscape
Environments 2018, 5(5), 56; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5050056 - 07 May 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
Urban environments are characterised by the presence of copious and unstructured noise. This noise continuously challenges speech intelligibility both in normal-hearing and hearing-impaired individuals. In this paper, we investigate the impact of urban noise, such as traffic, on speech identification and, more generally, [...] Read more.
Urban environments are characterised by the presence of copious and unstructured noise. This noise continuously challenges speech intelligibility both in normal-hearing and hearing-impaired individuals. In this paper, we investigate the impact of urban noise, such as traffic, on speech identification and, more generally, speech understanding. With this purpose, we perform listening experiments to evaluate the ability of individuals with normal hearing to detect words and interpret conversational speech in the presence of urban noise (e.g., street drilling, traffic jams). Our experiments confirm previous findings in different acoustic environments and demonstrate that speech identification is influenced by the similarity between the target speech and the masking noise also in urban scenarios. More specifically, we propose the use of the structural similarity index to quantify this similarity. Our analysis confirms that speech identification is more successful in presence of noise with tempo-spectral characteristics different from speech. Moreover, our results show that speech comprehension is not as challenging as word identification in urban sound environments that are characterised by the presence of severe noise. Indeed, our experiments demonstrate that speech comprehension can be fairly successful even in acoustic scenes where the ability to identify speech is highly reduced. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sound Environments)
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Open AccessArticle
An Exploratory Analysis of Sound Field Characteristics using the Impulse Response in a Car Cabin
Environments 2018, 5(4), 44; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5040044 - 24 Mar 2018
Abstract
Sound environments in cars are becoming quieter and receiving attention because of the prevalence of low-noise engines such as hybrid and electric engines and the manifestation of automated driving. Although the car cabin has potential as a listening space, its acoustic quality has [...] Read more.
Sound environments in cars are becoming quieter and receiving attention because of the prevalence of low-noise engines such as hybrid and electric engines and the manifestation of automated driving. Although the car cabin has potential as a listening space, its acoustic quality has not been examined in detail. The present study investigated sound field characteristics in the car cabin using acoustic parameters obtained by impulse response analysis. In particular, effects of the passenger position, open windows and the use of an air conditioner on acoustic parameters were investigated. The passenger position affected the sound strength at low frequencies. Rear seats, except for the rear central seat, had lower interaural correlation than the front seats, suggesting that rear seats have more diffused sound fields. The opening of windows and use of air conditioners attenuated the ratio of early- and late-arriving energy at high frequencies, suggesting a loss of clarity for music. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sound Environments)
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Open AccessArticle
A Method to Estimate Students’ Exposure to Road Traffic Noise Events
Environments 2018, 5(3), 39; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5030039 - 05 Mar 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
The correlation between exposure to traffic noise and students’ performance and annoyance has been investigated in literature mainly considering the relationship between indoor equivalent A-weighted sound pressure level (LAeq) and students’ cognitive impairment. Annoyance is frequently related to the effect of [...] Read more.
The correlation between exposure to traffic noise and students’ performance and annoyance has been investigated in literature mainly considering the relationship between indoor equivalent A-weighted sound pressure level (LAeq) and students’ cognitive impairment. Annoyance is frequently related to the effect of short-duration noise events characterized by high sound pressure levels, such as those due to aircraft fly-over and pass-by of buses, heavy trucks, motorcycles, or street sweepers. These noise events are often described, over specific measurement periods, in terms of maximum A-weighted sound pressure level, LAmax, or statistical levels, such as LA1 or LA10. This aspect is not considered in the noise maps drawn in accordance with the European Environmental Noise Directive, as they provide the LAeq only, determined over day, evening, and night periods. In this paper, students’ exposure to road traffic noise is analyzed by means of regression equations obtained by the authors between LAeq and A-weighted maximum and statistical levels due to road traffic noise. The traffic noise of 28 urban streets was monitored during the opening period of Italian schools. A method is described to estimate students’ exposure to noise from data made available on noise maps by the municipalities of metropolitan areas. The application of this method to the case study of Florence shows that almost 60% of students from municipal primary and lower secondary schools could be exposed to the maximum sound pressure level (SPL) inside the classroom greater than 55 dB(A) every hour, probably exceeding the typical background noise in classrooms by more than 10 dB. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sound Environments)
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Open AccessArticle
Audio-Visual Preferences and Tranquillity Ratings in Urban Areas
Environments 2018, 5(1), 1; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5010001 - 22 Dec 2017
Cited by 12
Abstract
During a survey related to acoustic and visual perception of users of urban areas, 614 people have been interviewed in Pisa (Italy). The work aims to identify and quantify the effects of parameters influencing the perception of tranquillity in order to understand the [...] Read more.
During a survey related to acoustic and visual perception of users of urban areas, 614 people have been interviewed in Pisa (Italy). The work aims to identify and quantify the effects of parameters influencing the perception of tranquillity in order to understand the soundscape and to propose a method based on the perception of tranquillity for the detection of quiet areas within urban ones. A linear model that predicts the tranquillity perceived in different environments, based on their visual and acoustic characteristics, is proposed. Users were interviewed by operators inside the areas, using a direct approach of standardized questionnaires and oral questions. Simultaneous noise measurements and soundwalks have been performed, together with visual registrations. The linear model obtained predicts the perceived tranquillity based on the statistical level LA10 (A-weighted noise level exceeded for 10% of the measurement time) the sound sources and visual elements. The perceived tranquillity results negatively correlated to LA10 and to the presence of sound sources or negative visual elements. The presence of beneficial sound sources is positively correlated to the perceived tranquillity. However, the effect of the noise level is regulated by environmental characteristics. Perceived tranquillity is proposed as an indicator to identify quiet areas in the urban environment, according to European Directive 49/2002/EC. The obtained model identifies the areas that would get a higher tranquillity value than a fixed threshold value and therefore would be perceived as quiet. The model can be used as a cost-benefit analysis support tool to identify the best solution between the reduction of noise levels and the regeneration of urban areas, referring to the tranquillity perceived by the users. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sound Environments)
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Review

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Open AccessReview
The Impact and Outreach of Soundscape Research
Environments 2018, 5(5), 58; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5050058 - 14 May 2018
Cited by 3
Abstract
Soundscape has been growing steadily as a research field since its interdisciplinary concepts were first introduced about 50 years ago in music theory and acoustic ecology, and it currently affects a broad spectrum of disciplines ranging from social sciences to urban planning and [...] Read more.
Soundscape has been growing steadily as a research field since its interdisciplinary concepts were first introduced about 50 years ago in music theory and acoustic ecology, and it currently affects a broad spectrum of disciplines ranging from social sciences to urban planning and noise control engineering. In spite of its strong research appeal, it is not clear what the actual impact and outreach of soundscape science is at a societal level; that is: how soundscape research is received by community. Using the Altmetric database, this review aims to map how and where soundscape research is “mentioned”, considering the number of mentions over time, their geographical spread and effectiveness of publication outlets. Results show that mentions are growing with time, they mostly originate in the United States and the United Kingdom, and they are generated by a limited number of research items. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sound Environments)
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Other

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Open AccessCase Report
Changing the Urban Sound Environment in Greece: A Guide Based on Selected Case Studies of Strategic Noise Maps (SNM) and Noise Action Plans (NAP) in Medium and Large Urban Areas
Environments 2018, 5(6), 64; https://doi.org/10.3390/environments5060064 - 28 May 2018
Cited by 1
Abstract
Within the frame of European directive 2002/49 for Strategic Noise Mapping and the relevant environmental Noise Action Plans, which included preparation for the management of environmental noise and the rehabilitation of the sound environment, Greece had the opportunity to develop an innovative and [...] Read more.
Within the frame of European directive 2002/49 for Strategic Noise Mapping and the relevant environmental Noise Action Plans, which included preparation for the management of environmental noise and the rehabilitation of the sound environment, Greece had the opportunity to develop an innovative and comprehensive methodology to analyze the sound environments of several urban and semi-urban residential neighborhoods in the large and medium-size cities of the country e.g., Volos, Larissa, Heraklion, Chania, Agrinio, Corfu, and Thessaloniki, between 2012 and 2016. This paper presents the determined multidisciplinary approach, showing how the environmental noise data are cross-analyzed with urban and architectural data and perception descriptors by inhabitants. Furthermore, it shows how these specific results have been implemented in the developed noise actions plans that have been proposed to the authorities for immediate implementation. Finally, the paper discusses the necessary development of this approach to reduce noise exposure problems, as well as assist the cities in their evolution toward the introduction of a sustainable urban sound environment. Full article
(This article belongs to the Special Issue Sound Environments)
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