Investigations into the performance of the reverberation chamber of the integrated acoustics laboratory

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Famighetti, Tina Marie
Cunefare, Kenneth A.
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This thesis details the performance of the reverberation chamber of the Integrated Acoustics Laboratory (IAL), equipped with experimental lightweight diffusers. Reverberation chambers are generally equipped with dense baffles, called diffusers, which are designed to reflect but not absorb sound, in an effort to create a sound field in the chamber with uniform energy density. Industry standards, such as ASTM C423, ISO 354, and ISO 3741 for sound absorption and sound power testing in reverberation chambers, recommend the use of stationary and rotating diffusers, made of a material with high surface density and low absorption. Instead, lightweight fiberglass diffuser panels were installed in the IAL reverberation chamber because they are safer, less expensive and more flexible; their performance in the IAL chamber was evaluated. Preliminary testing of the IAL instrumentation chain and analysis techniques documented their acceptable performance. Qualification testing per the abovementioned standards proved that the IAL chamber, equipped with stationary lightweight diffusers, was fit for testing sound power but not sound absorption. However, when equipped with a combination of stationary and rotating lightweight diffusers, the chamber qualified for sound absorption tests. Optimization of absorption testing methodology showed that specimen area did not significantly affect the measured sound absorption coefficient unless the specimen was highly absorptive or the area was significantly less than the recommended 6.69 m2. Also, increasing the empty room absorption of the acoustically hard IAL chamber did not improve the reproducibility of absorption measurements. With regard to length of test, absorption tests in the IAL chamber should include the measurement of 225 decays to attain the representative repeatability values of ASTM C423 for frequencies 315 Hz and higher. Comparative absorption testing showed that the chamber reproduced sound absorption results well; when round robin testing was replicated in the chamber, results were not statistically different from other laboratories. However, the reproducibility was worse for highly absorptive specimens. Sound power testing produced highly reproducible results, well within the limits of reproducibility of the standard. It can be concluded that a combination of stationary and rotating lightweight diffusers made the IAL chamber fit for sound absorption and sound power testing.
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