MONTHLY NEWSLETTERS

July 2024 Newsletter: Sounds of Summer

Now that spring has turned to summer, you may be getting used to the birds chirping and bumble bees buzzing. These summer sounds present a comforting backdrop for a pleasant morning on the patio with a fresh iced coffee in hand. But just as you’re about to take your first sip, you’re greeted by that other sound of summer: the start of a gas-powered lawn mower engine just on the other side of the fence, followed shortly thereafter by a gas leaf blower. Fortunately, there is a growing trend towards electric-motor lawn equipment that has the power to save your morning from noise (and air) pollution. Read on to learn more about the acoustic side of this trending topic.

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June 2024 Newsletter: Easy as A-B-C

Deep in the throes of the pandemic in late 2020, the idea of returning to the physical office was a distant dream. By 2022, most of us had returned to the office on a limited basis, but still spent more time working remotely. Now in 2024, the post-pandemic work model seems to lean towards an office-heavy hybrid – a shift motivated by the promise of collaboration, spontaneous interactions, clearer communication, and team cohesion. Companies are now looking for ways to optimize the use of their facilities with greater emphasis on flexibility and interpersonal communication and a deemphasis on space-hogging private offices and one-employee-one-desk models. However, the shift from the solitude of home offices to the humming open office environment can present significant acoustic challenges. Read on to learn more about open office speech privacy.

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May 2024 Newsletter: Bottle Top Blues

Have you ever blown across the top of a bottle to make it whistle? Did you notice how the pitch of the whistle is higher when there’s more liquid in the bottle and gets lower when there’s less liquid? That’s because the bottle is a Helmholtz resonator. Read on to learn more about the magic of this peculiar class of objects.

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April 2024 Newsletter: Current Affairs

A buzzing florescent bulb. Crackling power lines. A humming computer graphics card. We can all recognize the distinctive sounds of electricity that surround us, but where does this noise actually come from? Read on to discover some of the ways electricity and acoustics intersect.

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March 2024 Newsletter: To be or not to be… Intelligible

Have you ever sat in a noisy restaurant and had a hard time understanding your server, or been on a train and heard every word of a conversation being held three rows behind you? In both of these situations, you were aware of speech intelligibility. Sometimes, good speech intelligibility is key, such as in classrooms or conference rooms. At other times, we want to reduce speech intelligibility and improve speech privacy, such as in open offices. Read on to learn about some of the factors that go into making speech intelligible (or not).

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February 2024 Newsletter: Wading the Acoustical Waters

Acoustics is a field that is difficult to understand. Subtle distinctions between metrics, technical jargon, and non-arithmetic mathematics create a perfect storm of confusion for those who don’t normally swim the waters. There are common malapropisms that we hear time and time again, which we would like to put to rest. From the existence of silence to the use of the term “soundproofing,” read on to learn how to avoid misusing these words.

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January 2024 Newsletter: Reflected Sound for the Soul

In last month’s newsletter we discussed room modes, a standing wave phenomenon created by the geometry of a space. This month, we’ll carry on with our discussion of interior room acoustics, and focus on the control of reflected sound in a room. While recording studios and performance venues are often the first spaces that spring to mind when considering reflection control, many less prestigious spaces can benefit from thoughtful treatment, especially those that require good speech intelligibility such as lecture halls, classrooms, and conference rooms. Read on to learn more about surface finishes in the acoustician’s arsenal.

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December 2023 Newsletter: Acoustics a la Mode!

Picture this: you’re standing in your kitchen fixing a cup of coffee, and you notice a low, throbbing sound of unknown origin. You chalk it up to your caffeine-starved imagination, and proceed to your window overlooking the city. As you make your way through the apartment, the sound disappears…that is, until you reach the window, where the throb returns. As you traverse back and forth, you realize that the sound disappears halfway between the coffee machine and window. Before starting on any conspiracy theory, consider this: you may be affected by a room mode! Read on to understand how these acoustic phenomenon form and how to combat them.

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November 2023 Newsletter: Vibrations & Excitations

Among our clients, there is often confusion between what is sound and what is vibration. We concede that the two can be difficult to distinguish to the untrained ear. Read on to learn more about the relationship between the two and how vibration can transduce into sound.

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October 2023 Newsletter: Ancient Architectural Acoustics

The world of modern architectural acoustics is still relatively young, with calculations and standards being refined to this day. This reality makes the acoustical achievements of the ancient world all the more impressive. Read on to learn about a few different ancient structures that produce impressive acoustic phenomenon!

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