Making Every Hair Appointment a Sound Experience #ASA186

Making Every Hair Appointment a Sound Experience #ASA186

Reducing the noise levels of hair salons can create a more relaxing experience and protect hearing all at once.

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OTTAWA, Ontario, May 14, 2024 – Walking out of a hair salon can have customers feeling brand new, but the noisy environment may have negative effects at the cost of a new “do.” At Image Creators salon in Maryland, owner Silvia Campana along with her employees and customers noticed they had to work hard to understand each other’s words while in the salon, but they couldn’t put their finger on exactly why. In addition to difficulties understanding speech, Campana experienced increased ear pain and tinnitus after long-term exposure to high sound pressure levels while working at the salon. These challenges inspired some creative solutions.

Campana consulted with Donna Ellis at Lines by Nature LLC to enhance the acoustical landscape at the high-end beauty salon. Ellis experimented with noise reduction methods to contribute to the calming, luxurious environment desired by the clientele and employees. She will present her work Tuesday, May 14, at 3:00 p.m. EDT as part of a joint meeting of the Acoustical Society of America and the Canadian Acoustical Association, running May 13-17 at the Shaw Centre located in downtown Ottawa, Ontario, Canada.

hair salon

Seeking to create a calming, luxurious environment, salon owner Silvia Campana consulted with Donna Ellis at Lines by Nature LLC to enhance its acoustical landscape. Image credit: Virginia V. Ellis

“Many noisy environments can be fixed in reasonably fast, cost-effective ways to provide social environments where our hearing is protected, where we can relax, and where we can have meaningful conversations with our friends, business colleagues, and family,” said Ellis.

Ellis collaborated with Campana to improve the salon’s acoustics and reduce the noise levels for the customers and staff. The main noise sources came from long reverberation times, high background noise from the HVAC system, hair dryers, and multiple people talking.

The pair found great success by installing acoustically absorptive materials throughout the salon. Reducing noise levels noticeably improved the ability to converse easily. In addition, receptionists were able to actually answer the phones at the counter and staff reported reduced ear pain.

“After the acoustics were retrofit the customers sensed a difference,” said Ellis. “When asked what changed, salon staff point up and it clicks. Customers often share their gratitude and surprise at the difference good acoustics make on their salon experience.”

The safety upgrades created for the salon are transferable to other noisy locations. With healthy noise levels being the focus, Ellis has data to show how noise reduction can be implemented within interior spaces.

“By balancing the listening environment, our findings can be applied to other salons, restaurants, stores, and conference centers to name a few,” said Ellis. “The solutions would support clear verbal communication in enclosed spaces and protect the occupational safety of the employees and customers.”

Ellis collected positive feedback from the occupants and emphasized the importance for communities and industries to support healthy human function as a whole.

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The Acoustical Society of America is the premier international scientific society in acoustics devoted to the science and technology of sound. Its 7,000 members worldwide represent a broad spectrum of the study of acoustics. ASA publications include The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America (the world’s leading journal on acoustics), JASA Express Letters, Proceedings of Meetings on Acoustics, Acoustics Today magazine, books, and standards on acoustics. The society also holds two major scientific meetings each year. See


  • fosters communication among people working in all areas of acoustics in Canada
  • promotes the growth and practical application of knowledge in acoustics
  • encourages education, research, protection of the environment, and employment in acoustics
  • is an umbrella organization through which general issues in education, employment and research can be addressed at a national and multidisciplinary level

The CAA is a member society of the International Institute of Noise Control Engineering (I-INCE) and the International Commission for Acoustics (ICA), and is an affiliate society of the International Institute of Acoustics and Vibration (IIAV). Visit

Tools for shaping the sound of the future city in virtual reality

Christian Dreier –

Institute for Hearing Technology and Acoustics
RWTH Aachen University
Aachen, Northrhine-Westfalia 52064

– Christian Dreier (lead author, LinkedIn: Christian Dreier)
– Rouben Rehman
– Josep Llorca-Bofí (LinkedIn: Josep Llorca Bofí, X: @Josepllorcabofi, Instagram: @josep.llorca.bofi)
– Jonas Heck (LinkedIn: Jonas Heck)
– Michael Vorländer (LinkedIn: Michael Vorländer)

Popular version of 3aAAb9 – Perceptual study on combined real-time traffic sound auralization and visualization
Presented at the 186th ASA Meeting
Read the abstract at

–The research described in this Acoustics Lay Language Paper may not have yet been peer reviewed–

“One man’s noise is another man’s signal”. This famous quote by Edward Ng from a 1990’s New York Times article breaks down a major learning from noise research. A rule of thumb within noise research states the community response to noise, when asked for “annoyance” ratings, is said to be statistically explained only to one third by acoustic factors (like the well-known A-weighted sound pressure level, which can be found on household devices as “dB(A)” information). Referring to Ng’s quote, another third is explained by non-acoustic, personal or social variables, whereas the last third cannot be explained according to the current state of research.

Noise reduction in built urban environments is an important goal for urban planners, as noise is not only a cause of cardio-vascular diseases, but also affects learning and work performance in schools and offices. To achieve this goal, a number of solutions are available, ranging from switching to electrified public transport, speed limits, traffic flow management or masking of annoyant noise by pleasant noise, for example fountains.

In our research, we develop a tool for making the sound of virtual urban scenery audible and visible. From its visual appearance, the result is comparable to a computer game, with the difference that the acoustic simulation is physics-based, a technique that is called auralization. The research software “Virtual Acoustics” simulates the entire physical “history” of a sound wave for producing an audible scene. Therefore, the sonic characteristics of traffic sound sources (cars, motorcycles, aircraft) are modeled, the sound wave’s interaction with different materials at building and ground surfaces are calculated, and human hearing is considered.

You might have recognized a lightning strike sounding dull when being far away and bright when being close, respectively. The same applies for aircraft sound too. In an according study, we auralized the sound of an aircraft for different weather conditions. A 360° video compares how the same aircraft typically sounds during summer, autumn and winter when the acoustical changes due to the weather conditions are considered (use headphones for full experience!)

In another work we prepared a freely available project template for using Virtual Acoustics. Therefore, we acoustically and graphically modeled the IHTApark, that is located next to the Institute for Hearing Technology and Acoustics (IHTA):

In our latest experiment, we focused on the perception of especially annoyant traffic sound events. Therefore, we presented the traffic situations by using virtual reality headsets and asked the participants to assess them. How (un)pleasant would be the drone for you during a walk in the IHTApark?

Reducing the Sound Transmission Between Suites, One Conduit at a Time

Michael Kundakcioglu –

HGC Engineering, 2000 Argentia Road, Plaza One, Suite 203, Mississauga, Ontario, L5N 1P7, Canada

Jessica Tinianov
Adam Doiron

Popular version of 1aAA9 – Sound Transmission and Impact Noise in Buildings I (Cosponsored by: NS, SA)
Presented at the 186th ASA Meeting
Read the abstract at

–The research described in this Acoustics Lay Language Paper may not have yet been peer reviewed–

Residents living in an apartment or condominium expect a certain amount of privacy, especially when it comes to noise intrusions from neighbours. In fact, there are Building Code requirements in most jurisdictions which outline minimum requirements for the design of suite-demising architectural assemblies, to limit the allowable amount of sound that can go directly through (or in some cases, around) walls, floors, and ceilings. Despite this, sometimes, noise finds a way to travel through the building in unexpected ways, sometimes bypassing these assemblies. One such “sneaky” path is through the electrical conduits – those tubes that carry electrical wires between suites.

These conduits can act like a highway for sound, especially if they’re not sealed properly at certain points, like where they connect to fire alarms. This can allow noise from one suite to easily travel to another, even if the walls are properly designed to block sound. It’s a bit like having string from one suite to another, tied to a foam cup on each side, like those makeshift telephones we used to make as children.

This isn’t just a minor annoyance; it can be a big problem. In fact, this conduit issue has been found in multiple buildings in recent times, and it can reduce the effectiveness of the walls that are meant to keep sound in – by quite a bit. In many cases, this simple flaw in construction can cause the sound transmission between suites to fail Building Code requirements mentioned above, depending on the local requirements.

The good news is that this can be prevented. Sealing the open holes at the end of the conduits with simple flexible caulking on both sides of the tube greatly reduces the amount of noise from traveling through them (see Figure 1 below). It’s a simple solution that can make a big difference in the level of noise intrusion between suites.

Figure 1: Unsealed Conduit Opening in Fire Alarm Junction Box (Left), and Conduit Opening after Applying Sealant (Right). Image Courtesy of HGC Engineering

Standard sound transmission testing (known as Apparent Sound Transmission Class or ASTC testing) has shown that sealing these conduits can reduce the amount of sound travelling through the conduit so much that the amount of sound transmitted from suite-to-suite returns to the expected design values. In Figures 2 and 3 below, we plot the amount of sound transmitted between two adjacent suites as tested in four different real-world buildings with three different wall types separating the suites (double steel stud walls in Figure 2, and poured concrete walls in Figure 3); the dotted lines represent the amount of sound blocked by the wall when the conduit routed between the suites is left unsealed, while the solid lines represent the amount of sound blocked when the conduit has been sealed with caulking.

Figure 2: Steel Stud Walls Transmission Loss Results, as Tested by HGC Engineering
Figure 3: Poured Concrete Walls Transmission Loss Results, as Tested by HGC Engineering


In the above tests, we see the ASTC rating increase by 5 to 10 points once the conduits are sealed, which is a significant and very noticeable difference. In conclusion, if you are a developer, builder, architect, or engineer, it might be worth looking into whether the conduits in the suites in your buildings are properly sealed. It’s a fix that can help everyone get back to enjoying their own space in peace.

Listen In: Infrasonic Whispers Reveal the Hidden Structure of Planetary Interiors and Atmospheres

Quentin Brissaud –
X (twitter): @QuentinBrissaud

Research Scientist, NORSAR, Kjeller, N/A, 2007, Norway

Sven Peter Näsholm, University of Oslo and NORSAR
Marouchka Froment, NORSAR
Antoine Turquet, NORSAR
Tina Kaschwich, NORSAR

Popular version of 1pPAb3 – Exploring a planet with infrasound: challenges in probing the subsurface and the atmosphere
Presented at the 186 ASA Meeting
Read the abstract at

–The research described in this Acoustics Lay Language Paper may not have yet been peer reviewed–

infrasoundLow frequency sound, called infrasound, can help us better understand our atmosphere and explore distant planetary atmospheres and interiors.

Low-frequency sound waves below 20 Hz, known as infrasound, are inaudible to the human ear. They can be generated by a variety of natural phenomena, including volcanoes, ocean waves, and earthquakes. These waves travel over large distances and can be recorded by instruments such as microbarometers, which are sensitive to small pressure variations. This data can give unique insight into the source of the infrasound and the properties of the media it traveled through, whether solid, oceanic, or atmospheric. In the future, infrasound data might be key to build more robust weather prediction models and understand the evolution of our solar system.

Infrasound has been used on Earth to monitor stratospheric winds, to analyze the characteristics of man-made explosions, and even to detect earthquakes. But its potential extends beyond our home planet. Infrasound waves generated by meteor impacts on Mars have provided insight into the planet’s shallow seismic velocities, as well as near-surface winds and temperatures. On Venus, recent research considers that balloons floating in its atmosphere, and recording infrasound waves, could be one of the few alternatives to detect “venusquakes” and explore its interior, since surface pressures and temperatures are too extreme for conventional instruments.

Sonification of sound generated by the Flores Sea earthquake as recorded by a balloon flying at 19 km altitude.

Until recently, it has been challenging to map infrasound signals to various planetary phenomena, including ocean waves, atmospheric winds, and planetary interiors. However, our research team and collaborators have made significant strides in this field, developing tools to unlock the potential of infrasound-based planetary research. We retrieve the connections between source and media properties, and sound signatures through 3 different techniques: (1) training neural networks to learn the complex relationships between observed waveforms and source and media characteristics, (2) perform large-scale numerical simulations of seismic and sound waves from earthquakes and explosions, and (3) incorporate knowledge about source and seismic media from adjacent fields such as geodynamics and atmospheric chemistry to inform our modeling work. Our recent work highlights the potential of infrasound-based inversions to predict high-altitude winds from the sound of ocean waves with machine learning, to map an earthquake’s mechanism to its local sound signature, and to assess the detectability of venusquakes from high-altitude balloons.

To ensure the long-term success of infrasound research, dedicated Earth missions will be crucial to collect new data, support the development of efficient global modeling tools, and create rigorous inversion frameworks suited to various planetary environments. Nevertheless, Infrasound research shows that tuning into a planet’s whisper unlocks crucial insights into its state and evolution.

Sounds of the Hindu Temples of South India

Shashank Aswathanarayana –
Instagram: @shashankaswath

American University, Department of Performing Arts, American University, Washington, DC, 20016, United States

Braxton Boren, Department of Performing Arts, American University
X (twitter): @bbboren

Popular version of 2pAAa12 – Acoustics of two Hindu temples in southern India
Presented at the 186th ASA Meeting
Read the abstract at

–The research described in this Acoustics Lay Language Paper may not have yet been peer reviewed–

What is the history behind the sonic experiences of millions of devotees of one of the oldest religions in the world?

Hindu temple worship dates back over 1,500 years. There are Vedic scriptures from the 5th century C.E describing the rules for temple construction. Sound is a key component of Hindu worship, and consequently, its temples. Acoustically important aspects include, the striking of bells, gongs, blowing of conch shells, and chanting of the Vedas. The bells, gongs, and conch shells all have specific fundamental frequencies and unique sonic characteristics that play out of them, while the chanting is specifically stylized to include phonetic characteristics such as pitch, duration, emphasis, and uniformity. This great prominence of the frequency domain soundscape makes Hindu worship unique. In this study, we analyzed the acoustic characteristics of two UNESCO heritage temples in Southern India.

Figure 1: Virupaksha temple, Pattadakal

The Virupaksha temple in Pattadakal, built around 745 C.E, is part of one of the largest and ancient temple complexes in India.1 We performed a thorough analysis of the space, taking sine sweep measurements from 36 different source-receiver positions. The mid-frequency reverberation time (the time it takes for the sound to decay by a level of 60dB) was found to be 2.1s and the clarity index for music, C80 was -0.9dB. Clarity index is a metric that tells us how balanced the space is and how well complex passages of music can be heard. A reverberation time of 2.1s is similar to a modern concert hall’s reinforcement, and a C80 of -0.9dB means that the space is very good for complex music too. In terms of the music performed, it would be a combination of vocal and instrumental South Indian music with the melodic framework being akin to melodic modes of western classical music set to different time signatures and played at various tempi ranging from very slow (40-50 beats per minute) to very fast (200+ beats per minute).

Figure 2: The sine sweep measurement process in progress at the Virupaksha temple, Pattadakal

The second site was the 15th century Vijaya Vittala temple in Hampi which is another major tourist attraction. Here the poet, composer, and the father of South Indian classical music, Purandara Dasa, spent many years creating compositions in praise of the deity. He was known to have created thousands of compositions in many complex melodic modes.

Measurements at this site spanned 29 source-receiver positions with the mid-frequency reverberation time being 2.5s and the clarity index for music, C80 being -1.7dB. These values also fall in the ideal range for complex music to be interpreted clearly. Based on these findings, we conclude that the Vijaya Vittala temple provided the optimum acoustical conditions for the performance and appreciation of Purandara Dasa’s compositions and South Indian classical music more broadly.

Other standard room acoustic metrics have been calculated and analyzed from the temples’ sound decay curves. We will use this data to build wave-based computer simulations and further analyze the resonant modes in the temples, study the sonic characteristics of the bells, gongs, and conch shells to understand the relationship between the worship ceremony and the architecture of the temples. We also plan to auralize compositions of Purandara Dasa to recreate his experience in the Vijaya Vittala temple 500 years ago.

1 Alongside the ritualistic sounds discussed earlier, music performance holds a vital place in Hindu worship. The Virupaksha temple, in particular, has a rich history of fulfilling this role, as evidenced by inscriptions detailing grants given to temple musicians by the local queen.

The Cost of Transparency: Acoustics and Sustainability Issues with Glass Office Partitions

Caroline Harvey –

Arup, Suite 900, Toronto, Ontario, M4W 3M5, Canada

Vincent Jurdic
Chris Pollock
Willem Boning

Popular version of 1aAA13 – The cost of transparency: balancing acoustic, financial and sustainability considerations for glazed office partitions
Presented at the 186th ASA Meeting
Read the abstract at

–The research described in this Acoustics Lay Language Paper may not have yet been peer reviewed–

I’m an acoustician and here’s why we need to use less glass inside office buildings.

Glass partitions are good for natural light and visual connection but how does glass perform when it comes to blocking sound? What about the environmental cost? These questions came up when my team was addressing problems with acoustic privacy in a downtown Toronto office building. One of the issues was the glass partitions (sometimes called a “storefront” system) between private offices or meeting rooms and open office areas. Staff reported overhearing conversations outside these offices, an issue that ranges from just being distracting to undermining confidentiality for staff and clients.

Glass is ubiquitous in office buildings, inside and out. As a façade system, it’s been a major part of the modern city since at least the 1950s. Inside offices, it often gives us a sense of connection and inclusivity. But as an acoustician, I know that glass partitions are not effective at blocking sound compared to traditional stud walls or masonry walls. How good or bad depends on the glazing design – how thick the glass is, lamination, double panes and air gaps, and how the glass is sealed. When working on fixing the speech privacy problems in the Toronto office, we measured the sound isolation of the glazed partitions by playing random noise very loudly in each office and measuring the sound level difference between that room and the area outside. Our measurements supported the experience of the office staff: conversations are not just audible but comprehensible on the other side of the glass. The seals around the sliding doors often had gaps and sometimes there were joints without any seals – big enough to put your fingers through. Sound is made by tiny fluctuations in air pressure; even small gaps can be a problem.

glass partitionFigure 1: Example of glass storefront with a sliding door and no seal (Arup image)

This acoustics problem led me to other questions about the cost of transparency in offices, especially the carbon cost. Glass is energy-intensive to produce. Per unit area, ¼” glass can require seven times the embodied carbon of one layer of 5/8” type X gypsum. When Arup compared several glazed partition systems that all had about the same acoustic performance, we found the glass was the greatest contributor to carbon emissions compared to all the other components (see Figure 2). Using these embodied carbon values, we estimated that the carbon cost of all the glazed partitions in this particular office was about 56,800 kgCO2eq, equivalent to driving one-way from New York to Seattle 51 times in an average gasoline-powered car.

Figure 2: Embodied carbon for typical aluminum storefront with three glazing buildups with the same sound isolation rating (Arup research)

So how should these costs be balanced? First, acousticians should be involved early on in space planning and can encourage architects to use less glazing to achieve the design outcomes, including acceptable acoustic performance. Second, we could encourage designers to create a glass aesthetic that uses “less perfect” glass in some locations. Offices may not require the degree of transparency that has become the norm. Where visual privacy is important, glass made from recycled cullet could be specified, leaving the perfectly transparent glass manufactured from virgin silica sand for key locations where a strong visual connection matters. The right balance depends on the project, but asking questions about the multiple costs of transparency is a good place to start.