From our geographically central location, Soundscape Engineering LLC's acoustical consultants and noise and vibration control engineers serve clients located throughout North America - in Chicago, Illinois; Detroit, Grand Rapids, Lansing, Ann Arbor, and Petoskey, Michigan; Milwaukee and Madison Wisconsin; Indianapolis, Fort Wayne, South Bend, and Northwest Indiana; Los Angeles, California; Vancouver, British Columbia; Dayton and Cincinnati Ohio, Winnipeg Manitoba; Saskatoon and Regina Saskatchewan; and elsewhere. Our engineers consult on issues of room acoustics, sound isolation, speech privacy, HVAC noise control, building vibration, and exterior noise impact. They also provide acoustic and vibration measurement services.

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Pass the Earplugs, It’s Time for Bed

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Outdoor Noise Intrusion into Condos, Apartments, Hotels, Dormitories and Single-Family Homes  


by Nathan Sevener


Assessing and improving the sound insulation provided by residential building envelopes is one of the aspects of acoustics that we are most commonly asked to address for condos, apartments, hotels, dormitories, and single-family homes.  Residences may be located next to busy roads, near train tracks, under flight paths, or in just generally loud urban settings with accelerating buses, emergency vehicle sirens, honking horns, and other myriad sounds of the city. 


We begin our analysis by measuring the sound level at the project site.  For residential developments, we typically log the noise levels for 24 to 48 hours

and then determine the day-night average sound level, abbreviated Ldn or DNL; the average sound level during each hour of the day, abbreviated Leq(hr); the sound level exceeded only 10% of the time, abbreviated L10; and the sound level exceeded only 1% of the time, abbreviated L1


Next, we create a 3-D computer model to predict the sound level over the facades of the new building, and we calibrate the model using the sound level data collected at the project site.  The model accounts for shielding, reflections off of nearby buildings, attenuation due to distance, and other factors.  The images below show modeling results from a couple of our recent projects. 


For smaller buildings, computer modelling of the sound distribution over the facades is not necessarily beneficial – sound level measurements at the site along with spreadsheet calculations can be sufficient For larger buildings, especially those where some facades will be exposed to much higher noise levels than others, computer modeling allows us to more accurately determine which portions of a façade should be designed to provide better sound isolation - avoiding costly over-design while still achieving project noise isolation goals.