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Evaluating Room Acoustics for Speech Intelligibility

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Document pages: 12 pages

Abstract: Room acoustics play an important role in the intelligibility of speech.The main aspect of acoustics that is usually studied is the duration of thereverberation decay, since a long decay causes a blurring of phonemes. However,other parameters of the acoustics such as the strength of the reverberation canactually improve intelligibility. These factors do not receive the sameattention. In many common practical situations such as classrooms andresidential rooms, it would be of value to quantitatively study the acousticsto optimize the room’s function, but this is not done routinely due to theexpected expense or difficulty involved.This research explores inexpensive first-principle methods toquantitatively measure three key parameters of a room’s acoustics: thereverberation decay time RT60, the reverberant intensity IR, and the room’s total absorption A. The required equipment includes two laptops installed withcertain free softwares. Generation of the required noise signal and leveldetection are carried out using the REW software, and long-duration recordingsare carried out using the Audacity software. The procedures are simple enoughto be performed without specialized training and do not require specialized equipment,only commonly available household resources. This research also sheds light onthe fact that not all reverberation is bad and that strong but short-durationreverberation can enhance communication. This information can beexpected to benefit schools and other venues where speech intelligibility isvital.

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