How Acoustic Engineering Influences Your Daily Life
Outside of the classroom and sound booth it may seem that there is no direct application of acoustic engineering, but the role of the acoustic engineer is interwoven into most people’s daily lives.
Certainly the music heard on the radio was crafted by a well-trained engineering, who toiled tirelessly to hone their craft. This involves years of highly-technical study about the nature of sound, the physics of propagating waves, and often times the artistic process. An acoustic engineer has to often times wear the hat of artist as well as physical scientist.
At the same time, in certain situations, acoustic engineers must also enter the realm of social science. This is because the notion of sound quality extends past microphones and synthesizers into the social sphere, where the very architecture we interact with regularly has been shaped by principles of Acoustic engineering.
The Science of Sound
Acoustical engineering, in its essence is a practical science, dealing with sounds and vibrations. On the other hand, Acoustics as a whole is the science of sound; transmission, propagation, and generation. Both of these fields deal with the notions of signals and noise, where in, a transmitted message may be skewed or effected by the natural governing principles of matter.
If the transmission medium cannot conduct the sound waves, or if the physical nature of the surrounding system is uncooperative, then there will be a problem in transmission.
This is to say, acoustical engineering is a practice that involves the consideration of large systems, interacting in multiple frames of reference. This is as true in music production as it is in building design.
Acoustic Engineering a Space
Whether in an industrial setting, a restaurant, or in a public space, the science of sound has a dramatic effect on the physical nature of a space. In a factory, for example, certain codes are in place to limit high levels of noise pollution. Reducing the noise in this kind of setting would:
- Prevent physical injury from high-decibel sources
- Allow communication between workers
- Ensure all workers are alerted in dangerous situations
Another such example would be in a restaurant, where painstaking research and design has been employed to manipulate the physical space so that a quiet conversation can be heard at each table.
Special noise-canceling speaker arrays, and decorative acoustic buffers are typically standard in upscale establishments, certified by acoustic engineers.
Finally, in public spaces such as band shells and parks, acoustic engineering places a similarly important role. The architecture of concrete or other highly resonant materials must be shaped to provide a noiseless, comfortable environment for guests.
Does it Really Affect Me?
The role of the acoustic engineer can be as diverse as the science itself. Sound takes many forms, whether it be music or a fire alarm. In any case, the acoustic engineer is responsible for determining the most effective way to transmit or otherwise mitigate sound signals, depending on the situation.
Day to day, listening to the radio, or walking through a supermarket, it is important to note that every sound you hear has likely been shaped by the discerning perspective of an acoustic engineer.