Why to make noise tests for soundproofing?

Noise measurements

Anyone who has a noise problem in his home knows about it, he can hear it. He may think that noise tests are not necessary. However, the assessment of the problem by the suffering homeowner is subjective.

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A soundproofing consultant who is trying to help the homeowner will ask questions, such as:

  • What is the occupant’s major concern, loud music only or other types of noise as well (loud speech, banging, stomping, etc.)?
    Answer to this question helps in determining what kind of soundproofing is required to address the problem. Soundproofing for speech and moderately loud music is easier than damping loud music (particularly heavy base) and structure borne noise (banging, stomping, slamming doors, etc.). Different soundproofing measures need to be taken for different types of noise.
  • Are you disturbed in one floor or room in your house, or throughout the house?
    Answer to this question may help in determining the weak areas and to limit the scope of required soundproofing renovations.

Answers to these and similar subjective questions will help the soundproofing consultant in determining the extent of the noise problem.

Noise tests

Noise tests help in determining scope of the problem more accurately before a soundproofing improvement work starts. Knowing the extent of the problem quantitatively will result in better remediation plan and lower renovation cost.

The noise tests is done in three steps:

  • The soundproofing consultant introduces loud airborne test noise on one side of a demising wall and measures the level of noise passing through on the other side of the demising wall. The difference in sound pressure levels measured on each side of the wall is the sound transmission loss provided by the wall as it is. This will help in assessing how much additional soundproofing is required to meet the homeowner’s objectives.
  • To measure structure borne noise (impact noise) the consultant places a tapping machine on one side of the wall (or on upper level floor) and measures the resulting noise on the other side of the demising wall (or at lower level below the floor). The test results obtained here are not as straightforward as in the previous test. However, the test results will help the expert in establishing the amount of soundproofing that is required to reduce impact noise.
  • To identify possible noise leaks (opening, cracks, voids in the wall, etc.) a special loud test tone is produced on one side of the demising wall, and a noise analysis instrument is used to search for the test tone on the other side of the wall. This test will show locations of noise leaks.

It is advisable to repeat the noise tests after the soundproofing renovation was completed in order to quantify the amount of soundproofing improvement that was achieved.

​How expensive are noise tests?

Most acoustics experts will perform sound transmission loss tests using procedure defined by international standards ASTM E336 and ASTM Standard E1007. These tests are designed to give accurate quantitative results that can stand to scrutiny, and that can be repeated by anyone. These tests are complicated and require very expensive equipment. Consequently, such tests are expensive to perform and cannot be financially justified on smaller projects.

We take a different approach. We use the ASTM standard as a guide, but we simplify the test procedure and we use inexpensive instruments that still provide results sufficiently accurate to aid in the soundproofing project. Our proprietary tests are quicker to execute, use inexpensive equipment and are therefore much cheaper to do. It is feasible even for a small soundproofing project to employ these tests. In fact, it would be foolish to attempt soundproofing without benefit of these tests. The total cost of the project can be significantly reduced if the scope of the problem is known before walls are taken apart.

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About the Author Ivan Koval

The author is the publisher of the Soundproofing.Expert website. He is a soundproofing and building acoustics consultant working in Toronto and GTA, Ontario, Canada. Telephone (416) 471-2130

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