Noise: What is it?

We are all familiar with what noise is but we often struggle with the ability to describe it.  We know what it is when we hear it and most of the time it annoys us.  But if we can’t get a proper appreciation of what noise is, how it travels through the air and what happens when it hits a surface then we can’t answer the question why it annoys us and more importantly what we can do to control it.

We will look at noise in more detail and what we can do to combat it.

How do we measure noise?

Noise is measured in decibels.  Any noise that is higher than 80 decibels is classed as being uncomfortable on the ears and can cause potential problems to our hearing.  Examples of those types of noise over 80 decibels include the noise of being inside a sports car.  When noise reaches over 100 decibels it will start to cause you problems.  An example is the sound inside of a factory.

Noises below 80 decibels can be extremely annoying at times but they should not cause you any physical long term damage.  But if left it can cause a mental strain as it is proven to increase anxiety and stress levels.

The only way you can reduce these sounds is by eliminating the sound at source or by soundproofing your property.  Eliminating the sound at source in most cases is impossible because we do not have control of the sound, such as noisy neighbours from the flat above or traffic outside.

How is noise transmitted?

Sound will travel through the air and cause waves.  Think of the ripples that are caused in a pond when a stone is thrown in the water, sound works in exactly the same way.  As the ripples get further away from the source they get smaller, decreasing in intensity.

Soundproofing your floors work in two and completely different ways.  They will either reduce the noise or absorb it.  Noise reduction will block the sound waves by putting objects in its path whereas noise absorption will transform the sound wave into heat.

What types of noise are there?

There are two types of noise, airborne and impact.  Airborne as explained in the title is noise that travels through the air carrying noise such as people talking or loud instruments.  Another type of noise is impact.  Again as the name suggests this is when two objects come together such as a door slamming or a ball being smashed into a window.

Soundproofing will massively reduce the level of airborne and impact noise.  Noise can rarely be silenced but it can certainly be massively reduced.  The purpose of soundproofing is to create a sound barrier and break the density of the sound.  A door can be described as a sound barrier and by closing a door it reduced the amount of sound that can pass through it.  Soundproofing materials will help screen the sound in a similar manner.

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