A test person carries out a hearing test in a listening booth. Copyright: © ITA

How can the effect of sound on human beings be described? Which parameters do actually depict the strain or inconvenience of complex sounds on a human being?

These are the research questions psychoacoustics concerns itself with. Psychoacoustics describe the coherences between acoustic stimuli and the sensations, as well as the perception caused in human beings. The acoustic stimulus is the sound that impacts the hearing and which can by described in physical terms, such as sound pressure level etc. The linked perception and sensation are described by loudness, annoyance etc.

Scientific methods here are on the one hand the analysis and modelling of sounds and sound effects and on the other hand the implementations of listening experiments with test subjects.

The development of specific listening experiments provides a deep insight into effects of certain parameters of specific acoustic stimuli. These can be used as the base to describe complex sounds and acoustic scenes with so called psychoacoustic parameters.

Well-known parameters here are among others loudness, sharpness, roughness and tonality. They can describe sounds more detailed than the standardized strain parameters, such as A-weighted sound pressure level (dB(A)), and provides a link to the perception of the human being (Noise Research).