Areas of high acoustic quality: Soundscape planning
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This paper develops ideas on moving "soundscapes" into the mainstream of activity of environmental noise. Such a move has value in introducing a new dimension aimed at catching political attention and the engagement of other professions in acoustic management of outdoor environments. "Quiet Areas" - the EU Directive on Environmental Noise requires "preserving environmental noise quality where it is good". The paper shows contrasts and similarities between conventional noise control approaches with those in the soundscape literature. Environmental noise control deals with sounds of discomfort; soundscapes sounds of preference. Noise control measures sound by integration; in soundscapes the information content of sound is critical. Noise control manages sound as a waste product; soundscapes manages sound as a scarce resource. Managing "quiet areas" is about managing the resource of high quality acoustic environments. "Quiet" is not always (even rarely) their characteristic - instead we should adopt the terminology "areas of high acoustic quality". There is enough evidence to discount standard noise criteria (say Leq or Lden) as criterion for such areas. Instead, a two- dimensional criterion is needed: level of sound (high level sounds versus low level sounds) and distinction between sounds that are unwanted and sounds that are wanted in particular contexts.
14th International Conference on Sound and Vibration
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