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Geometric and boundary element method simulations of acoustic reflections from rough, finite, or non-planar surfaces

Jonathan Rathsam, University of Nebraska - Lincoln


This dissertation seeks to advance the current state of computer-based sound field simulations for room acoustics. The first part of the dissertation assesses the reliability of geometric sound-field simulations, which are approximate in nature. The second part of the dissertation uses the rigorous boundary element method (BEM) to learn more about reflections from finite reflectors: planar and non-planar. ^ Acoustical designers commonly use geometric simulations to predict sound fields quickly. Geometric simulation of reflections from rough surfaces is still under refinement. The first project in this dissertation investigates the scattering coefficient, which quantifies the degree of diffuse reflection from rough surfaces. The main result is that predicted reverberation time varies inversely with scattering coefficient if the sound field is nondiffuse. Additional results include a flow chart that enables acoustical designers to gauge how sensitive predicted results are to their choice of scattering coefficient. ^ Geometric acoustics is a high-frequency approximation to wave acoustics. At low frequencies, more pronounced wave phenomena cause deviations between real-world values and geometric predictions. Acoustical designers encounter the limits of geometric acoustics in particular when simulating the low frequency response from finite suspended reflector panels. This dissertation uses the rigorous BEM to develop an improved low-frequency radiation model for smooth, finite reflectors. The improved low frequency model is suggested in two forms for implementation in geometric models. ^ Although BEM simulations require more computation time than geometric simulations, BEM results are highly accurate. The final section of this dissertation uses the BEM to investigate the sound field around non-planar reflectors. The author has added convex edges rounded away from the source side of finite, smooth reflectors to minimize coloration of reflections caused by interference from boundary waves. Although the coloration could not be fully eliminated, the convex edge increases the sound energy reflected into previously nonspecular zones. This excess reflected energy is marginally audible using a standard of 20 dB below direct sound energy. The convex-edged panel is recommended for use when designers want to extend reflected energy spatially beyond the specular reflection zone of a planar panel. ^

Subject Area

Architecture|Physics, Acoustics

Recommended Citation

Rathsam, Jonathan, "Geometric and boundary element method simulations of acoustic reflections from rough, finite, or non-planar surfaces" (2008). ETD collection for University of Nebraska - Lincoln. AAI3297864.