Noise Problems

Disturbance by noise can be one of the most annoying aspects of modern life. There is a continuous conflict between the need for quiet relaxation and recuperation on the one hand and travel, enjoying music and the cost of noise control on the other hand.

Most noises heard indoors are low frequency noises. This is because the insulation of the building keeps out the higher frequencies. Some low frequency noises are easy to locate, even though there may not be an easy solution to them – traffic noise heard indoors is an example of this. Other low frequency noises defy location and remain a mystery, but create havoc with the lives of those sensitive to them. Figure 1 Perception Diagram

Perception is a very complex process. The illustration splits the process into stages. Shown in Figure 1.

Sound INPUTS reach the ear, where DETECTION takes place, converting the airborne sound into electrical impulses which pass to the brain. Here there is PERCEPTION, which can be completely unemotional, merely indicating that a sound is present. However, RESPONSE is very variable and dependent on the listener’s expectations, previous experiences, current requirements etc.

Fig 2 Response Scale

The result is that there can be a range of responses from “Not bothered” to “It’s ruining my life”. This is indicated on the Response Scale Figure 2. Some people may be unaffected and accepting, whilst other suffer enormous resentment at what is being done to them.

Every effort must be made to control the noise at source, or to stop it travelling to those affected. But sometimes it is not possible to locate the source, or to control it even if it is known and we are left with either walking away and leaving people to suffer, or we have to try some other means of helping them.

This project is aimed at helping participants to move down the response scale. To help those who are badly affected move down the scale to join those who are less affected by the same noise. This will be done by showing you how you can have some control over your responses to the noise, with the end result that your coping capacity and quality of life will be improved.