The term ‘acoustics’ can be used to describe the study of sound in general, but the subject of room acoustics is concerned with the control of sound within an enclosed space. The general aim is to provide the best conditions for the production and the reception of sound such as music or speech. The sound quality of a large auditorium such as a concert hall can be difficult to get right, and acoustics has sometimes been described as an art rather than a science. But, as with thermal and visual comfort, there are technical properties that do affect our perception and these make the best starting point for designing or improving the environment. Noise control is treated separately in Chapter 9 but the exclusion of unwanted noise is an important element of room acoustics. Similarly, the acoustic quality of sound in a room can affect the way that people judge noise levels. The Resource sections at the back of the book also contain supporting information that can be used for both revision of principles and extended investigation of topics.
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