ACOUSTICS & WELLBEING
Humans perceive visual information with far greater awareness than acoustic signals. The English Language has numerous terms and words to describe shapes and colours, yet few autonomous words for sounds and tones. This is astounding, especially if one considers the degree to which acoustic signals shape the perception of our environment. Our sense of hearing is incredibly fine, and processes acoustic signals in a highly differentiating manner. For example, we have the capability to recognize a voice among millions of other voices and can do so in fractions of a second.
The tone we use to present a statement can reverse the meaning of the words we say. Without music or a soundtrack, the storyline of an opera or movie would be flat and lifeless. Playing barely a second of a piece of music is enough for us to create the emotion. Frequently such acoustic signals trigger lively memories and strong feelings.
The Meaning of
AMBIENT NOISE AND HEALTH
Numerous studies that examine the impact of noise on the physical and mental health of human show how close the link between acoustics and the stability of our psychosomatic household. Such studies frequently describe pathological conditions caused by stressful noises. Based on the information provided by occupational safety regulators in 2007, hearing impairments caused by noise were still the most frequently certified vocational disability in Europe costing insurance companies millions of Euros for related treatment.
The issue at hand is not merely external noise pollution, but also the acoustic climate in the room. People who live in the northern hemisphere of the earth spend an average of about 80% of their lifetime indoors. In urban centers, the percentage is likely even higher. Noise pollution in rooms is primarily the result of reverberation and the impaired comprehensibility of voice communications. Nowadays, humans are afflicted by this phenomenon every minute of the day; wherever they go: in railway station halls or in airport terminals, shopping malls, open space office, restaurants, bars – even at home while dining in their loft apartments.
“Noise interference with speech comprehension results in a large number of personal disabilities, handicaps and behavioral changes. Problems with concentration, fatigue, uncertainty and lack of self-confidence, irritation, misunderstandings, decreased working capacity, problems in human relations, and a number of stress reactions have been identified.” (A.A. Lazarus, quoted in WHO Media Information, March 30, 2011)