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UNTREF, Sound Engineering, Acoustics Instruments & Measurements

April 2013, Argentina

IMPULSE RESPONSE & ACOUSTICAL PARAMETERS MEASUREMENT WITH DIFFERENT SOUND SOURCES
RAMN FACUNDO1
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Univesidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero, Sound Engineering, Caseros, Argentina. facundo.ramon@gmail.com

1. INTRODUCTION According to the LTI (linear time-invariant) systems theory [1], it is possible to fully characterize a system by its transfer function, which can be obtained by exciting the system with a known signal and studying the resulting one. If the exciting signal is an impulse the analysis becomes easier and the resulting signal is directly the transfer function or impulse response of the system. In the field of acoustics, every place where a sound source and a receiver are located can be considered as a system and can be characterized by its transfer function or impulse response. However, the reliability of the characteristics obtained is strongly related to the repeatability and quality of the impulsive signal and to the external conditions (e.g.: background noise) [2]. The objective of this paper is to obtain five transfer functions of a place, each with a different sound source, and to calculate its acoustical parameters with the five transfer functions in order to compare the results and analyze the advantages and disadvantages of each sound source. The place under analysis is the auditorium of the Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero, located in Caseros, Argentina. All the measurements were made following the ISO 3382:1997 standards [3]. 2. AUDITORIUM CHARACTERISTICS The auditorium is located at the basement floor of the Universidad Nacional de Tres de Febrero in Caseros, Argentina. It has approximately 400 seats distributed on the ground floor and on one balcony (see fig. 1). It is used by the university to give lectures, conferences, to present artistic performances such as theater plays or concerts, and even to celebrate graduation ceremonies. Therefore it is considered as a multi-propose auditorium where speech intelligibility is as much important as musical clarity.
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Figure 1: View of the auditorium from the scenario.

Figure 2: View of the auditorium from the balcony.

As shown in figures 1 and 2, it has been acoustically treated with absorbers, diffusers and reflective panels and it is symmetrical about the central axis. The approximate volume is 2500 m3, 800 m3 correspond to the scenario volume and 1700 m3 correspond to the audience (see fig. 3). It does not have variable acoustic. The seats are upholstered, the ceiling has reflective panels and absorbers behind them, there are resonators and diffusers in the lateral walls and the floor is covered with carpet. It is well isolated from the outside noise because it is mainly constructed under ground, but there is a

train station in front of the building that contributes to generate low frequency noise. It is important to mention that, despite the significant volume, the auditoriums reverberation time is perceived very short. The design includes sound reinforcement, which is not studied in this paper.

Sound source positions were representative of those used by performers and microphone positions were at the audience.

Figure 4: Plan of the auditorium with microphone and sound source positions.

Figure 3: Isometric perspective of the auditorium.

3. DESCRIPTION OF THE METHODS AND METHODOLOGY The measurements were made according to the ISO 3382:1997 standard. The day of the measurement the auditorium was unoccupied and the ventilation system was turned off. The temperature and humidity were no measured and considered constants during the entire procedure. It is important to recall that the objective of this paper is to compare results obtained with different sound sources and not to determinate the acoustical parameters of the auditorium. 3.1. Equipment

First microphone position was at 13th row (considering as first the closest row to the scenario) and seat number 6 (counting from left to right), it was beneath the balcony; second one was at 9th row and seat number 8; and the third one was at 3rd row and seat number 5. The height of all the positions was 1.2 m from the floor. The soundfield microphone was always facing the scenario. The sound sources were positioned at to points of the scenario, the first one was 2.2 m from the front edge and 3.4 m from the left lateral edge; the second one was at 2.0 m from the front edge and 3.4 m from the right lateral edge. In the case of the dodecahedral loudspeaker, a ladder was used to hang it in order to match the acoustic center of the sub-woofer with the dodecahedrons one (see fig. 5). Its height was 1.5 m.

The equipment used is the following: Sound level meter type 1 Svantek 959; Dodecahedron Outline with power source and subwoofer; Regular balloons; Paper-gun made with cardboard; Soundfield microphone SPS200 with software; External sound card Presonus Audiobox 44VSL; Laptop computer; Software Audacity with Aurora Plug-ins; Apache OpenOffice; 3.2. Positions of the microphone and sources
Figure 5: Arrangement to hang the dodecahedron and match its acoustical center with the sub-woofers one.

Three microphone positions and two sources positions were measured (see fig. 4); they were chosen to yield low coverage [3]. This gives a total of 6 measures for each exciting signal. Because of the symmetry of the auditorium, it was decided to cover only one half of the audience area and supposed the other half has equal behavior.
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3.3.

Sound sources

Three sound sources were used, namely: dodecahedral loudspeaker, paper-gun and balloon.

3.3.1.

Dodecahedral loudspeaker

The dodecahedral loudspeaker used satisfies the ISO 3382:1997 standard for omnidirectional sources. It has also a sub-woofer and its own power source. It was used to reproduce pink noise, MLS (Maximum Length Sequence) and the logarithmic sine sweep. 3.3.1.1. Pink noise This is an interrupted noise method and its objective is to field the space with sound energy in the entire bandwidth of analysis and then interrupt the source to obtain the decay curve of the energy in the room. Pink noise was digitally generated with Aurora plug-in and reproduced with the dodecahedron during 5 seconds. The average of sound pressure level at the three measurement positions was set to be 45 dB above the background noise. 3.3.1.2. MLS The MLS is a pseudo random binary signal. It can be created by a digital n-step shift register with the output of one stage fed back into the input [4]. Its length is defined as follow: ! = 2! 1 (1)

The signal used for this measurement was generated with Aurora plug-in MLS generator and has ! = 17 and is reproduced at 44.1 kHz of sample rate. This gives a sequences duration of 3.0 seconds (see eq. 1). It was reproduced with the dodecahedral loudspeaker consecutively 8 times. 3.3.1.3. Logarithmic Sine sweep The logarithmic sine sweep signal is described in equation 2: ! ! = !"#
! !" !! !

!! !

!!

!" !! !

(2)

where n is the number of stages. In contrast with the pink noise, this noise is deterministic. Through the cross-correlation of the reversed MLS signal and the non-reversed one the Dirac delta function is obtained, therefore, the cross-correlation of a reversed MLS and the same MLS non-reversed and affected by the room gives the impulse response of the room. The sequence length must be, at least, as long as the expected impulse response of the room to avoid aliasing [2]; this also depends on the number of samples per second of the sequence. Its frequency spectrum is quasi-flat, the spectrum envelope follows a (!"# (! ) ! )! function and after one third of the sample rate frequency it falls 1.3 dB [4]. The objective of this method is to maximize the signal to noise ratio, the sequence is reproduced consecutively several times and, because of its deterministic nature, the random noise can be distinguished from the pseudo random noise and through circular convolution method [1] the impulse response of the room can be obtained. The more times it is reproduced, a better signal to noise ratio is achieved. Furthermore, this method relies on the perfect time invariance of the system used for playback and recording, including the homogeneity of the medium of transmission (air) which affects especially high frequencies. If the system varies on time, then the deterministic signal is not distinguishable from the stochastic background noise [5].
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where !! is the starting angular frequency, !! is the ending angular frequency and ! is the duration of the entire signal in seconds [5]. This signal contains energy on the entire spectrum and is deterministic, it excites each frequency one at a time and its spectrum contains more energy at low frequencies than at high frequencies. This method is also based on the cross-correlation between the exciting signal and the received one. The signal is reproduced by the sound source in the room under analysis and the room response is recorded in a determined position. Then, the original signal is inverted and filtered to compensate its no flat spectrum, then is convolved with the recorded signal. The result is the impulse response of the room [6]. It turns out that, at any given time, the signal to noise ratio of the received signals spectrum will be higher than it was with previous methods. In other words, the logarithmic sine sweep signal concentrates the source power in a single frequency at a time while the background noise has its energy distributed over the entire audible spectrum. The longer the sweep, the best signal to noise ratio is achieved. The sweep used started at 20 Hz and ended at 20 kHz with 12 seconds of duration. Was generated with Aurora Plug-ins. 3.3.2. Paper-Gun

The paper-gun is an origami, which produces an impulsive sound. It is made with cardboard and its acoustic characteristics depend on its final size and on the ability of those who run the movement to generate the sound [7]. A person generates the sound; therefore there are no possibilities to generate the exactly same sound twice. And the directivity of the source is not as good as the dodecahedron one. This method directly generates an impulsive sound and no mathematical procedure is needed to obtain the impulse response of the room, but the exciting signals level has to overcome the background noise by 45 dB to have reliable results [3].

The paper-gun was hand made, and remade when the sound quality (intensity and frequency content) was notoriously deteriorated. Measurements were repeated if the sound was not strong enough. 3.3.3. Balloon explosion

The impulse is generated with regular inflated balloon explosions. This method lacks of repeatability and the quality of the impulse depends on the characteristics of the inflated balloon. Like the paper-gun, the sound generated needs to exceed the background noise by 45 dB. However, it is the simplest method and returns immediately the impulse response of the room. 3.4. Methodology

The background noise level was measured with the sound level meter at three positions of the auditorium. The sound meter was set in slow integration time and the background noise levels were stored as Leq1min with A weighting and Z weighting. Results are shown in table 1. The sound power level of the dodecahedral loudspeaker was set to obtain Leq10sec 45 dB over the background noise, both measured with A weighting. The level was not modified during the entire procedure, so the MLS and sine sweep signals had the same gain. For each microphone and source position the five exciting signals were generated and the auditorium response was recorded with the computer for later analysis. First, 12 seconds logarithmic sine sweep from 20 Hz to 20 kHz; second, after few seconds of silence, 5 seconds of pink noise to fill the auditorium and then 5 seconds of silence to record the decay curve; third, the MLS sequence; fourth, paper-gun; and fifth and last the balloon explosion. For each exciting signal, the parameters descripted in the following section are calculated and averaged. Then, the averaged results of each signal are compared between them. The signals were processed with Aurora plug-ins and all the following parameters were obtained using Aurora Acoustical Parameters plug-in. 4. ACOUSTICAL PARAMETERS

The EDT (early decay time) is also obtained directly with the impulse response or the decay curve of energy; it is the time in seconds that takes sound energy to decrease 60 dB but using the rate of decay given by the first 10 dB decay after the excitation [8]. The Initial time-delay gap is the time between the direct sound and the first reflection [8]. It is expressed in milliseconds and can also be obtained with the impulse response or, with grater difficulty for the software, with the decay of curve. The Ct is the coefficient, expressed in dB, between the energy received at the first t ms and the energy received after t ms on an omnidirectional microphone [8]. The C50 and C80 are calculated in this paper. The LEF (lateral energy fraction) is defined as the ratio between the energy received by a figure-of-eight microphone with its nulls pointing toward the source and the energy received by an omni-directional microphone at the same position [8]. !"# =
!,!" ! !,!!! !!"#!! ! !" !,!" !!"#$ ! ! !" !

(3)

It is calculated using the different polar patterns the soundfield microphone offers and, like the parameters before, with Aurora Acoustical Parameters plug-in. 5. RESULTS All the results are shown below. The acoustical parameters are shown as the average of the 6 measurements (2 source position and 3 microphone position).
Table 1: Background noise and pink noise signal level Background noise dB A 28.0 28.1 24.3 Background noise dB Z 67.2 65.4 67.8 Signal dB A 76.8 79.7 83.3 Signal dB Z 87.0 87.8 93.5

Pos 1 Pos 2 Pos 3


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The main acoustical parameter that is obtained with an impulse response or a decay curve of energy is the RT (reverberation time). It is described in ISO 3382:1997 as follows: Time, expressed in seconds, that would be required for the sound pressure level to decrease by 60 dB, at a rate of decay given by the linear leastsquare regression of the measured decay curve from a level 5 dB below the initial level to 35 dB below.

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Figure 6: RT in octave bands

At low frequencies all sources return different results. The reverberation time calculated with balloon explosion at 63 Hz centered octave band
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doubles the one calculated with the logarithmic sine sweep and quintuples the one obtained with MLS, also it was no possible for the software to obtain the RT with paper gun at low frequencies, that is the reason why there are no results for paper gun before 250 Hz centered octave band. In middle and high frequencies the values do not differ too much but differences are not easily visible due to the compression. Next figure show the result without outliers to help the analysis.
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Figure 9: EDT in octave bands without outliers

(" !#'" !#&" !#%" !#$" !" )(*+" &)" ($+" $+!" +!!" !%&#$ ,-./" 012" 2344," ,5,46" 751188." (!!!" $!!!" %!!!" '!!!" (&!!!"

Removing outliers, results are very similar for all sources. MLS and the logarithmic sine sweep are almost equal at 31.5 Hz centered octave band and do not show differences bigger than 0.2 s in the entire bandwidth.
Table 2: Initial time-delay gap Pink noise MLS Sweep Paper-Gun Balloon ITDG [ms] 59 33 25 23 22

Figure 7: RT in octave bands without outliers

There are no significant differences in middle frequencies (from 500 Hz to 4 kHz), all sources return a RT between 0.4 s and 0.5 s. At high frequencies the results separate again, pink noise and paper gun did not return any result at 16 kHz centered octave band and there are differences of 0.2 s between balloon and sweep and between sweep and MLS. Notice that the MLS shows a longer RT at 8 kHz and 16 kHz than at 4 kHz centered octave bands.
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Pink noises result is the most long. The other sources have similar results.
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Figure 10: C50 in octave bands

Figure 8: EDT in octave bands

In this case, all sources returned values but they also differ at low frequencies. Paper gun and balloon explosion show extremely long times, this is considered a software mistake and in next figure those values are removed to achieve a better visual analysis at mid and high frequencies.

It was possible for the software to obtain values with all the sources and, again, the biggest differences are at low frequencies. Paper gun and balloon explosion show negative values in some octave bands. After 250 Hz centered octave band the results follow a similar pattern and differences are 4 dB as maximum.

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MLS show grater values at high frequencies than at middle frequencies. Nevertheless differences do not exceed 0.3 points. 6. DISCUSSION

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!&'$% ,+#$-./0$ ,+#$123$ ,+#$3455-$ ,+#$-6-57$ ,+#$862299/$

Figure 11: C80 in octave bands

Same as C50, all sources returned a value for every octave band, biggest difference at low frequencies and after 250 Hz centered octave band the difference are not bigger than 3dB.
'"$# '"!# &"$# &"!# %"$# %"!# !"$# !"!# '%($# )'# %&$# &$!# $!!# !"#$% ,-./# 012# 2344,# ,5,46# 751188.# %!!!# &!!!# *!!!# +!!!# %)!!!#

Figure 12: LEF in octave bands

Due to its definition (eq. 3) it is not likely for this parameter to return values grater than 1, therefore those results are considered outliers. Only the MLS returned values minors than 1 at all octave bands. The outliers are removed in next figure.
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Figure 13: LEF in octave bands without outliers

Results are very scattered and there are few common patterns. MLS and logarithmic sine sweep coincide at 1 kHz, 2 kHz and 4 kHz centered octave bands but they differ at the others octave bands. Paper gun and balloon explosion are similar from 250 Hz to 1 kHz centered octave bands but different from the other sources. Pink noise only achieved logic results from 500 Hz to 4 kHz centered octave bands, but they differ from the other sources. Notice that
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First important thing to mention is the difference between background noise levels measured with A weighted and Z weighted shown in table 1. There is a difference of more than 35 dB at each position, which shows evidence of a possible vibrational problem. As it was mentioned above, there are train tracks a few meters away from the building and the entire auditorium is built under-floor, this possibly can be the cause of the difference. The train generates low frequency vibrations that can travel through the ground and excite the floor or walls of the auditorium. This increases the background noise at low frequencies and generates uncertainty in the results for the low octave bands. The biggest differences between the results obtained with the different sources are at the extremes of the spectrum; both low frequencies and high frequencies show dispersion (fig. 6, 7, 8, 10, 11 and 12), and there is more equality in the middle range frequencies. For RT and EDT measurements it is especially important that the source is able to overcome the background noise because a decay of energy is needed. From figures 6 and 8 analysis, one can assume that neither the balloon explosion nor the paper-gun was able to overcome the background noise at low frequencies (below 250 Hz centered octave band), in consequence, the software calculated an extremely long RT and EDT or could not get any result. The logarithmic sine sweep, pink noise and MLS did generate enough energy for the software to calculate. However there is a 1 second difference between the RT obtained at low frequencies with the sine sweep and the one obtained with the MLS at low frequencies (fig. 7 at 31.5 Hz), and that difference is not visible in the EDT results (fig 9). Because the EDT is lower than the RT for all the cases, except for the MLS at 31.5 Hz, it is considered that the MLS result of RT at low range frequency is the less probable to be right and that not enough energy was generated by that method in low frequency to get a good signal to noise ratio. Initial time-delay gap (table 2) has very similar results when is obtained with the logarithmic sweep, balloon explosion, paper gun and MLS, but pink noise returns longer times between direct sound and first reflection. This can be adjudicated to the use of a decay curve instead of an impulse response; it is an interrupted noise method, which makes more difficult for the software to find a direct sound and a first reflection. The C50 and C80 parameters show dispersion at low frequencies (fig. 10 and 11). Paper-gun and balloon explosion have negative values at 31.5 Hz

because the energy obtained in the first 50 ms and 80 ms is not enough to exceed the background noise energy of the rest of the signal, therefore the logarithmic difference of the energy is negative. Pink noise also shows different results than MLS and sine sweep (figs. 10 and 11 at 31.5 Hz), this also can be attributed to the lack of impulsive sound of that method. It is unlikely to have that much of C50 if the EDT at that frequency is longer than a second. Therefore, the value is showing that pink noise method is not effective for this type of measurements. It is important to clearly distinguish the direct noise from the first reflection and from the reverberation tail to have a clear result. After 500 Hz up to 4 kHz centered octaves bands all the parameters are almost equal. This frequency range is not a problem for the sources. The LEF (fig. 12) shows values grater than 1 for the pink noise, paper gun and sine sweep. This is very unlikely and those results are considered errors. This can be caused by the absence or no detection of direct sound in the case of the pink noise, and by the lack of signal to noise ratio in the case of paper gun and sine sweep. But, even with the outliers removed, there is no clear result for this parameter (fig. 13). Only the MLS and balloon explosion methods returned values for all the frequencies but very different between them. To have a good result it is necessary to obtain all the factors mentioned above, signal to noise ratio and clear difference between direct sound and reflections at all frequencies. The MLS shows regular values at the entire spectrum, except at 16 kHz, due to the absorption the auditorium has, it is unlikely to get more LEF at high frequencies than at middle frequencies. Between 125 Hz and 4 kHz centered octave bands the values shown by sine sweep method and MLS method are the expected ones. MLS and sine sweep methods are considered the best ones of the comparison. Both can achieve good signal to noise ratio and an impulse response in which direct sound and reflections are clearly distinguishable. However, MLS method shows more instability at low and high frequencies than sine sweep method, and also requires more computational power for the post-processing. On the other hand, methods like balloon explosion and paper gun can achieve reliable results in mid range frequencies and can be used to have a first impression measurements without having to use a dodecahedron or any electroacoustic source and noise or signal generators, they cover the spectrum from 250 Hz to 4 kHz and can generate enough sound energy to overcome low background noise levels. Pink noise method has no advantages over MLS and sine sweep method, it does require an electroacoustic source to reproduced the noise but cant get enough signal to noise ratio if the background noise is loud. Also it does not generate a
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clear impulse, which generates problems for parameters like initial time-delay gap, Ct or LEF. 7. REFERENCES [1] Oppenheim A. V., Willsky A. S., Hamid Nawab S. Seales y Sistemas Segunda edicin. Second edition. Pearson. Edo. de Mxico. Mexico. 1998. [2] Kuttruff H., Room acoustics. Fourth edition. Spon press. London. England. 2000. [3] ISO 3382:1997(E), Acoustic Measurement of the reverberation time of room with reference to other acoustical parameters. [4] Schroeder M.R., Proceedings of the Third International Congress on Acoustics. Stuttgart. Elsevier. Amsterdam. 1959. [5] Farina A., Simultaneous measurement of impulse response and distortion with a swept-sine technique. 108th Convention. Audio Engineering Society. Paris. France. 2000. [6] Farina A., Advancements in impulse response measurements by sine sweeps. 122nd Convention. Audio Engineering Society. Vienna. Austria. 2007. [7] Toyoda E., Sugie S., Yoshimura J., Characteristics of the origami impulse source. Inter Noise 2009. Ottawa. Canada. 2009 [8] Carrin A. I., Diseo acstico de espacios arquitectnicos. First edition. UPC editions. Barcelona. Spain. 1998.