The acoustic environment

William J. Davies

in Oxford Handbook of Auditory Science: Hearing

Published in print January 2010 | ISBN: 9780199233557
Published online September 2012 | | DOI:

Series: Oxford Library of Psychology

 The acoustic environment

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  • Psychology
  • Cognitive Psychology
  • Cognitive Neuroscience


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This article provides an overview of what shapes the acoustic signals that arrive at the ear. There are three physical processes which are capable of generating audible sound: a vibrating surface, a turbulent fluid, and a rapid pressure change. It is structured as an account of the journey of a sound wave, from first generation, then propagation outdoors, followed by transmission into a building and indoor reverberation to its final reception, perception, and assessment. It throws light on how the signals that arrive at the ear are generated; how environment influences these signals; and how sound is perceived, controlled, and assessed in the environment. It gives information on basic principles, common measurements and current modelling techniques. Finally, it suggests that the external environment is complex and the acoustic signals arriving the ear reflect this complexity by carrying information about their production, their interaction with the environment, and their transmission through it.

Keywords: acoustic environment; audible sound; sound wave; transmission; external environment

Article.  17650 words. 

Subjects: Psychology ; Cognitive Psychology ; Cognitive Neuroscience

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