How To Get Started in Acoustics Analysis
Predictions of acoustic performance are of importance in many areas. These are not limited to just those projects whose objectives are noise reduction, but include aspects of quality and durability. Examples of the need to reduce noise include almost all consumer goods, plus requirements of good acoustic design in the architectural and civil engineering fields. The noise shields being mounted alongside many major roads today are not cheap: they reflect the growing unacceptability of noise pollution by the general public.
Some applications are concerned with the development of transducers to radiate sound more effectively than erstwhile – e.g. underwater sonar devices and loudspeakers. Others require investigation of mechanisms of excitation of structures by acoustic phenomena. The author’s own company was involved, for example, in the investigation of fatigue problems of space rocket nozzles, when fatigue arose from vibrations induced acoustically from the rocket exhaust.
The reasons for performing predictive acoustics are of course limitless, but the following points are probably the most important:
- Predictions may be carried out in advance of the prototype. As
such, they promote the cost effective development of acceptable
products. (This does mean that work may be done without supportive
experimentation; validation of methodologies is vital, as are
- Predictive work provides insight into the mechanisms of noise
generation and propagation. The insight is a pre-requisite for the
successful improvement of designs.
Up to approximately the mid-1980’s it was common practice to use predictive techniques based either on empirical rules, or on extrapolations of relatively simple analytic examples. The prediction of acoustic performance of complex geometries or combinations of fluid media beyond the scope of most groups. For most engineers, the prediction of acoustical behaviour appeared to rely on some mixture of acoustic theory, many years of experience, intuition, and preparedness to stretch analytic examples well beyond their true application.
Since the mid 1980’s, advances in computer hardware and software systems have made the accurate prediction of acoustics both possible and available to all at reasonable cost. As with many advances in predictive methods, this availability of capability may lead to problems. Acoustics is a field where intuition is sometimes misleading. It is essential for predictions of system performance to be made by qualified staff, who have a least have an understanding of the mathematical principles of acoustics, and who understand the capabilities and limitations of the various computer tools available.
One of the objectives of this booklet is to provide some guidelines for new workers in acoustic prediction. The booklet makes no attempt to be an exhaustive treatment of any aspect of acoustics; there are many excellent texts available, some of which are referenced here. If this booklet achieves nothing else, it may at least help practitioners be aware of some of the questions which need to be answered if results are to be trusted.
It is assumed that the reader has some engineering training, is
familiar with fundamentals of engineering mathematics, and also
understands basic concepts of linear vibration theory, such as the
concept of working in the frequency domain. The most important
pre-requisite for reliable predictive work is a preparedness to
question whether or not results obtained ‘make sense’,
and to be prepared to invest a little time to understand the
principles behind the work in hand.
Fundamentals of Acoustics
- Analytical vs Numerical Methods
- Rayleigh Methods
- Finite Element Solutions
- Boundary Elements Formulations
- Ray Tracing Methods
Acoustic Prediction Guidelines
- Cavity Modes
Transfer Function Calculations
Architectural Work (Large Geometries)
- Foam Finite Elements
- Energy Finite Elements
- Acoustic Holography
Glossary of Acoustic Terms
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Tyrrell, R J
First Published: 1998
Softback, 48 pages.