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Technology Guide: Acoustical Engineering
Acoustical Engineering seeks to improve the quality of sound and reduce noise. It concerns:
- building design and building materials
- noise control
- environmental regulations
- sound recording, broadcast and reproduction
Acoustics and its applications often involve several different disciplines, so you may need to do your research within multiple subject areas, and even in different library locations. For example, in the New York Public Library many books and journals about musical acoustics are held at the Performing Arts Library, a research library that holds materials on music and musicians. The collections at the Science, Industry & Business Library (SIBL) are strong on theory, research, noise control and building design, as well the technology of sound recording. This guide is divided into the following sections:
Acoustics.org : Maintained by the Acoustical Society of America. Emphasizes science of acoustics: Background information, consultants, standards, employment in acoustics, covers science of the whole field of acoustics.
Acoustics.com : Acoustics.com is an alliance of educators, experts and design professionals dedicated to promoting the importance of acoustics in the architecture, design, construction and building communities, as well as to the general public. Emphasizes acoustics in buildings: background theory, case studies of typical rooms, specifications and standards, consultants.
Books you can borrow:
Some suggested titles:
The Physics of Sound, by Richared E. Berg : 534 B (at SIBL)
The Science and Applications of Acoustics, by Daniel R. Raichel : 534 R (at SIBL)
You can also browse by using the call number 534 on the street level shelves; you may find similar titles in the same general shelf location.
Reference materials you can browse:
McGraw-Hill Encyclopedia of Science and Technology : *R-SIBL Q121 .M3 Excellent introductory articles under Acoustics, Architectural Acoustics, Bioacoustics, and Acoustics Noise. You can photocopy articles at the library for personal use.
Acoustics: an Introduction, by Heintrich Kutruff : *R-SIBL QC225.15 .K88 2007
Sound System Engineering, by Don Davis. *R-SIBL TK7881.4 .D38 Theory and practice for designing sound systems for public address, domestic homes and concert halls.
Reference Materials in our Closed Stacks (request at the B. Altman Delivery Desk)
Encyclopedia of Acoustics, by Malcolm J. Crocker : JSF 12-290 : Four-volume handbook of advanced technical essays on various aspects of acoustics. Also contains introductory chapters for the gneeral reader.
Audio Engineer's Reference Book, edited by Michael Talbot-Smith : JSE 11-323 : Theory and practice for recording studio and broadcast engineers.
Handbook of Acoustical Measurements and Noise Control, edited by Cyril M. Harris : JSE 11-645
The library holds research-level books, journals and electronic databases of current acoustics research. It also has directories of companies offering services in acoustics, and directories of industry acoustics standards. Advanced research in acoustics can be technical and may require higher mathematics skills, such as knowledge of the wave equations of sound or advanced computing techniques.
Search the Catalog
Search the library’s catalog for advanced acoustics books and journals. Hint: use the following "subject" terms (Library of Congress subject listings):
- Acoustical Engineering
- Noise control
- Sound—Equipment and Supplies
- Underwater acoustics
SIBL Closed-Stack Research materials can be picked up at the B. Altman Delivery Desk on the lower level.
Find Articles in Databases
Find detailed articles and research papers on a specific topic, using one of the library’s electronic indexes/databases in the Electronic Information Center (EIC) on the lower level. Some searches may only provide you with a citation to an article while others give you the full text in an electronic form.
If the database offers the full text of an article, you will see a link in your list of search results. If you only get a citation to an article, consult the catalog to see if that journal is available at SIBL and note the journal's call number. If you cannot find a journal in the catalog ask a reference librarian for help. If the library does not subscribe to a journal you need, the reference librarian may be able to refer you to another New York library that does have the item.
Here are some examples of acoustic topics to give you an idea of the detailed level of search you can make in these databases:
- Active sound and vibration control
- Active noise control headphones
- Reduction of noise inside automobiles
- Reduction of noise outside automobiles
- Classroom acoustics and effects on learning
- Neighborhood noise: (e.g.) car alarms; building alarms; machinery; refuse collection
- Noise: (e.g.) Airplane; Air conditioning (HVAC); Boat noise on recreational lakes; Construction site noise; Lawnmower noise; Local power stations; Noise in national parks; Traffic and vehicle noise; Trains and subways; Workplace noise; Underwater acoustics, effects of noise on marine life
Academic Search Premier (Available from home with a Library Card)
General and research level database for citations and some full text of articles. Also available over the Internet from home using a library card. Indexed search terms include: noise control, acoustical engineering, noise—measurement, noise—psychological aspects, environmental law, noise control—law & legislation
Science Online (Available from home with a Library Card)
High school study guide: definitions, essays, diagrams and experiments, including an experiment to measure speed of sound using echoes.
Reference USA (available in most NYPL locations) : Find New York area acoustic engineers, consultants and acoustic materials suppliers. (A free online directory is the Blue Book: Building and Construction Network) You can search this database for the following ‘SIC’ codes that define specialist businesses in acoustics:
- 329602 Acoustic materials, manufacturers
- 382903 Acoustic/Vibration instrumentation
- 503921 Acoustic materials, wholesalers
- 871102 Acoustical Consultants
- 871108 Engineers—Acoustical
- 174201 Acoustical materials
- 174202 Acoustical contractors
Acoustic Textbooks and Handbooks at SIBL
Acoustics. Leo Leroy Beranek : PFB (Beranek, L. L. Acoustics) One of the classic university textbooks on the subject, this advanced mathematical treatment is still the set textbook on degree-level acoustic and audio engineering courses.
Acoustical Engineering. Olson, Harry F. : TTF (Olson, H. F. Acoustical engineering) A large, classic textbook on acoustics and still relevant (the 1957 text was reprinted in 1991). The author was an acoustical scientist at the RCA Research Laboratories in Princeton NJ (now the Sarnoff Research Laboratories) which pioneered sound recording and radio.
Fundamentals of acoustics. Kinsler, Lawrence E and Frey, Austin R. New York : Wiley, 1962. PFB (Kinsler, L. E. Fundamentals of acoustics, 1962) A classic university textbook, still recommended on degree-level courses.
Acoustics and noise control handbook for architects and builders. Leland K. Irvine and Roy L. Richards : JSF 98-237
Noise control reference handbook. Hirschorn, Martin : JSC 03-122 A largely non-mathematical and practical treatment of noise, its measurement and reduction.
American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Standards. Print editions of historical standards. The Subject Index in Volume 1 lists specs, testing methods and practices under “acoustic, acoustical, noise”… etc
History and Historical Books on Acoustics
Acoustics in Relation to Achitecture and Building: the Laws of Sound as Applied to the Arrangement of Buildings [1895 version], by T. Roger Smith : PFB (Smith, T. R. Acoustics in relation to architecture and building) [Also available in a c.1860 version]
The Standard of Silence: Recollections of the Early Years of Industrial Acoustics Company, by Martin Hirschorn : JBX Q-700
The Soundscape of Modernity: Architectural Acoustics and the Culture of Listening in America, 1900-1933, by Emily Ann Thompson : [Location - Performing Arts Library – Music] JME 02-590
Acoustics Journals (print editions)
These are a selection of printed journals to which NYPL has subscribed (dates are given in brackets). Request these items from the B. Altman Delivery Desk.
Acoustical Physics : JSM 93-198 [1993-2006]
Acoustical Science and Technology : JSM 01-90 Acoustical Society of Japan) [2001-2009] See also entry in online journals list
Environmental Health Perspectives : JBM 93-201 (U.S. Dept. of Health, Education, and Welfare, Public Health Service, National Institutes of Health, National Institute of Environmental Health Sciences) [1991-2010] see also online journals list
The Journal of the Acoustical Society of America : American Institute of Physics for the Acoustical Society of America. Appears under the following call numbers -- JSM 99-24 [1994-2010] : *ZAN-V702 1972-1993 [Microfilm] : PAA (Acoustical Society of America. Journal) 1929-1971.
Journal of Sound and Vibration : JSM 94-486 [1964-2008]
Noise Control Engineering Journal : JSP 86-62 (Institute of Noise Control Engineering) [1982-2009]
Journal of Low Frequency Noise, Vibration and Active Control : JSM 02-142 [1997-2007]
Acoustics Journals (electronic)
In addition to NYPL's databases, these publications are available from the Internet.
Acoustics Research Letters Online Free online letters journal of the Acoustical Society of America, all areas of acoustics research, full-text papers in PDF format [SIBL has print issues 1977-89]
Acoustical Science and Technology (online) Free online journal of the Acoustical Society of Japan, full-text PDF papers in English
[SIBL also has print edition of The Journal of Acoustical Sociey of Japan (E), 1980-94]
Environmental Health Perspective Free online journal published by National Institute of Health and other public agencies.
In addition to the websites, databases and electronic journals listed above, here are some additional recommendations:
Acoustics in General
The Sound of Life (Internet audio) :An eight-program radio series by the BBC and the Open University on the sounds of the natural world, the acoustics of hearing in different animals, sound in nature, noise pollution and sound in the future. Originally broadcast in 2004, the programs feature interviews with experts and stereo recordings of many birds, insects and mammals.
American National Standards Institute (ANSI) : American National Standards Institute (ANSI) technical input to ANSI acoustics and noise standards is provided by the Acoustical Society of America, who sell all ANSI (and ISO) standards
American Society for Testing and Materials (ASTM) Standards : Print editions of past standards are available at SIBL (Call numbers JSM 95-45 and VEE (American Society for Testing Materials. A.S.T.M. standards). The Subject Index in Volume 1 lists specs, testing methods and practices under “acoustic, acoustical, noise”… etc.
The ASTM web site shows you the scope of each standard for free and lets you buy electronic versions.
International Organization for Standardization (ISO) : Full text of more than 100 international noise standards available for purchase online; technical committee TC43 works on acoustics and noise, technical committee TC108 studies human effects of mechanical vibration and shock.
ISO standards are also available from the Acoustical Society of America: ISO standards are also available from the Acoustical Society of America: https://asastore.aip.org
Professional Societies in Acoustics
The Acoustical Society of America : Professional society, education directory, local chapters, acoustic standards, conferences
Institute of Noise Control Engineers : Professional society, holds national and international conferences
Occupational Safety & Health Administration, U.S. Department of Labor
Information on hearing and health effects of noise, OSHA standards, OSHA directives
Federal Highway Administration. U.S. Department of Transport
Highway Traffic Noise in the United States, Problem and Response
Updated and revised January 2013, KJ
Picture of the Day
Production still, including Fred Willard, Carole Shelley, Paul Benedict, Elizabeth Wilson and Vincent Gardenia (1968). NYPL Billy Rose Theatre Collection.
One of 700,000 pictures in the NYPL Digital Gallery