Acoustic comfort concept

(Copyright Arch. Silvano Spandre)

The acoustic comfort is that physical condition in which anyone may have a feeling of well-being, according to the activity he is doing.
Bypassing the complex parameters connected to the listening quality in audio music spaces, acoustic comfort can be intended as acoustic well-being, not to be confused with the basic concepts of silence and noise absence. A typical example is the acoustic condition in laboratories for acoustic measurements (known as anechoic chambers): in these places, there is a condition of absolute silence that causes a strong sensory and emotional discomfort to people who enter for the first time.
This phenomenon may be explained very simply, if we consider that the total silence does not exist in nature; maybe this discomfort is partially attributable to ancestral self-defence mechanisms, which make us feel a condition of sudden silence as a signal of imminent danger.
This aspect may be experienced in our daily life, for example when we are in an empty restaurant, where the total silence is not perceived as a condition of real acoustic well-being.
The cause of acoustic comfort or discomfort does not depend on the only general noise level, but it is necessary to evaluate the “sound spectrum” features, considering as highly disturbing the sound components with too high or too low sounds.
A proper intervention of architectural acoustic correction aims at reducing the general noise in any environment, acting on the reverberation, eliminating at the same time all those sound excesses, perceived as unusual in the human audible range.