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Psychoacoustics and Industry: Instrumentation versus Experience?

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Psychoacoustics has found entrance into several industrial areas within the last years. Producers realized that it can be an efficient means to strengthen their market position and to achieve an advantage over competitors. As a consequence, the need to perform psychoacoustic investigations, especially in the design phase of new products, increased. This increased need poses the question on how to access the specific required knowledge in psychoacoustics, a field which is not usually included in the education of the engineers working in the development departments in industry. A first possibility is the cooperation with universities, which – due to reduced research budgets – have to get more and more servants for industry. But, an important fact which hinders to some extent this cooperation is the sensitivity of the development process: the advantage over competitiors can only be guaranteed and maintained if the investigations are kept confidential. As a result, cooperations with universities often deal with rather general topics, while the security-sensitive product-specific investigations are excluded. A second possibility would be to employ psychoacousticians, which may only be possible for big companies. The third, and on the first regard maybe cheapest possibility, is to buy modern and sophisticated instrumentation tools, that is, measurement and signal analysis methods which render psychoacoustical indices and which are advertised as being aurally adequate, in order to replace the expert. Nevertheless, a closer look to those tools reveals that they offer a lot of possibilities, but also a lot of risks and dangers. First, not all psychoacoustic methods and indices are standardized, so that the implementation can depend on the provider, and second, the instrumental methods usually have restrictions and limitations which have to be considered in their application. As a consequence, these tools can be helpful in industrial psychoacoustic applications, but only if the user has the specific psychoacoustic experience and knowledge - the instrumentation tools can not replace the psychoacoustician, a fact which has to be considered in teaching in universities.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: September 1, 1999

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  • Acta Acustica united with Acustica, published together with the European Acoustics Association (EAA), is an international, peer-reviewed journal on acoustics. It publishes original articles on all subjects in the field of acoustics, such as general linear acoustics, nonlinear acoustics, macrosonics, flow acoustics, atmospheric sound, underwater sound, ultrasonics, physical acoustics, structural acoustics, noise control, active control, environmental noise, building acoustics, room acoustics, acoustic materials, acoustic signal processing, computational and numerical acoustics, hearing, audiology and psychoacoustics, speech, musical acoustics, electroacoustics, auditory quality of systems. It reports on original scientific research in acoustics and on engineering applications. The journal considers scientific papers, technical and applied papers, book reviews, short communications, doctoral thesis abstracts, etc. In irregular intervals also special issues and review articles are published.
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