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UBC Theses and Dissertations

Prediction of sound pressure and intensity fields in rooms and near surfaces by ray tracing Cousins, Owen Mathew


The health, safety, comfort and productivity of a room’s occupants is greatly influenced by the sound field within it. An acoustical engineer is often consulted during the design of a room to prevent or alleviate unwanted acoustical problems. Prediction models are often used to find the most cost-effective solution to a given acoustical problem. The accuracy of sound-field prediction varies with the particular model, as do the parameters predicted. Most models only predict sound-pressure levels. Many only predict energetic quantities, ignoring wave phase and, therefore, interference and modal effects in rooms. A ray-tracing model, capable of predicting sound-pressure level, reverberation time and lateral energy fraction was translated into MATLAB code and modified to increase accuracy by including phase. Modifications included phase effects due to path length travelled and phase changes imparted by surface reflections as described by complex reflection coefficients. Further modifications included predicting steady-state and transient sound-intensity levels, providing information on the direction of sound-energy flow. The modifications were validated in comparison with free-field theory and theoretical predictions of sound fields in the presence of a single surface. The complex reflection coefficients of four common building materials were measured using two methods—an impedance tube and the spherical-decoupling method. Using these coefficients, the modified program was compared with experimental data measured in configurations involving one or more surfaces made of these materials, in an anechoic chamber, a scale-model room, and a full-scale office space. Prediction accuracy in the anechoic chamber, and in the presence of a single reflecting surface, greatly improved with the inclusion of phase. Further comparison with full-scale rooms is required before the accuracy of the model in such rooms can be evaluated definitively.

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