Acoustics, more than what meets the ear

What is the study of acoustic?
When the word “Acoustics” gets thrown around it is often perceived as concerning purely musical acoustics. Few associate the word with the physics involved regarding sound, in buildings or in an open environment, generated from everyday activities.  The Merriam-Webster definition of Acoustics is the science that deals with the production, control, transmission, reception, and reflects of sound.

Don’t assume when someone tells you they work in acoustics that they have a career in music, there are many fields within acoustics…some may even be of interest to you!

Acoustical Engineering
Acoustical Engineering is a branch of engineering which deals with sound and vibration. Typically acoustical engineers are concerned with noise control.

A career in Acoustical Engineering generally involves extensive knowledge in physics and mathematics and usually requires a bachelor’s degree in an engineering discipline.

Architectural Acoustics
Architectural Acoustics is a branch of Acoustic Engineering which focuses on achieving superior sound within a building, whether it’s through the enhancement of sound or the suppression of noise. An increased awareness of the importance of acoustical design is causing an expansion from its use in concert halls and recording studios into offices, factories, and learning and medical institutions.

Typically acoustic consultants help manage sound within an enclosed environment. A career in this field generally requires a degree in acoustics or physics. In addition, it is important to have knowledge of the environmental legislation and standards depending on the location.

Psychological and Physiological Acoustics
Psychoacoustics is the study of sound perception, the psychological and physiological responses associated with sound. This field strives to explain how we respond to sounds, such as music, and noise, such as construction noise. This helps designers select the appropriate sounds to achieve the feeling they desire in the space. This study of sound perception is exploited in film and music as it helps set the psychological response from the audience.

A career in psychoacoustics typically demands a degree with exposure to acoustics or psychoacoustics.

Underwater Acoustics
Underwater Acoustics is the study of the behaviour of sound in water. A common application of underwater acoustics is through the use of acoustic signals (systems) to guide underwater vessels, a valuable tool for both military and commercial use.

A career in Underwater Acoustics typically requires at least a degree in engineering or similar discipline. Experience in acoustic and software engineering would be an advantage when entering this field.

Noise Control
Noise Control is a field of Acoustical Engineering in which the objective is to suppress noise whether it is to meet environmental regulations or improve quality of life. Noise pollution is an increasing concern that has motivated the development of strategies for its reduction usually through the addition of a silencer or an enclosure encompassing the noise source.

A career in Noise Control involves a deep understanding of the behaviour of sound and the determination of solutions to environmental noise problems which requires considerable knowledge in acoustics.

Physical Acoustics
Physical Acoustics is a field of Acoustical Engineering which studies the way in which sound waves propagate in different mediums including solids, liquids, gases, and plasmas.

A career in Physical Acoustics generally revolves around research and typically requires an advanced degree in physics.

Structural Acoustics and Vibration
Structural Acoustics and Vibration is a branch of engineering of great concern to engineers. The main focus is that machines and structures need to be designed to withstand vibration as components can be damaged or structures can collapse under excessive vibration. Furthermore, excessive vibration can also be quite noisy.

In this field engineers have the task of either eliminating the possibility of vibration or isolating the vibrating equipment. A career in this field requires exceptional mathematical skills and ingenuity to arrive at useful insights that can be used in real world situations.

Musical Acoustics
Musical Acoustics is typically the field that comes to mind when thinking of acoustics. This field deals with the way in which musical sound is perceived and produced through the use of instruments, human voice, and computer generated sounds. A common application involves the use of sound for therapy to improve physical and mental health.

Those who work in the field of Musical Acoustics typically have an interest in both music and science and frequently have worked in the entertainment, education, or musical instrument industry.

Biomedical Acoustics
Biomedical Acoustics is the study of the interaction of ultrasound energy with biological tissues. This field has incredible applications in the diagnosis and treatment of diseased tissue.

A career in biomedical acoustics requires not only an interest in biology and medical science but also acoustics and physics.

A Career in Acoustics
There are many fields within Engineering Acoustics other than the ones outlined above, which simply scrape the surface of the field. Companies like, dB Noise Reduction, focus on the branches of engineering acoustics including Architectural, Noise Control and Vibration. Originally dBNR focused on the Industrial noise control industry but are rapidly expanding into the architectural field as well. Thanks to their experienced team of acoustical engineers they have developed into a strong company in the industry with acoustic designs to meet a variety of applications. From Industrial Silencers to Architectural Acoustics, dBNR is a leader in Acoustic Engineering.

dB Noise Reduction is continuously looking for new talent to join our innovative and hard working team. Whether you have a nick for sales development or have a passion for engineering design and solutions, dBNR offers excellent working conditions and encourages personal development.  Check our  Careers page often for our available positions ranging from full-time to co-op student positions.


The following article was written by Richard Anthony, Director, dB Noise Reduction

One of my sisters is a health and wellness expert. She has stated for years that, “Sitting is the new smoking”.  Our Mother had died of lung cancer, so she was not trivializing smoking but instead pointing out that sitting TOO MUCH  has a profoundly negative effect on human health.

Since learning about the adverse effects of noise on human health, I have modified this phrase to make the point: “NOISE is the new smoking”

If you haven’t yet heard about them, please let me introduce a great organization to you: the good people at the Hearing Health Foundation.   (  They want to remind us that October is also “NATIONAL PROTECT YOUR HEARING MONTH”.

These people perform a great service in publishing facts about noise and awareness about Tinnitus and the most damaging type of hearing loss:  Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL).  They also inform us about new technologies and advancements in physics and medical research that point the way to one day being able to repair hearing damage – until then, NIHL remains irreversible BUT PREVENTABLE. 

For a perspective on the scale of today’s noise problem,  Hearing Loss (NIHL and Tinnitus) affects up 50 million people; 20% of teenagers (think: earbuds/headphones) and 60% of active military and veterans.  These statistics are for the USA only!   Adverse health effects from Hearing Loss are not limited to deafness – it can also contribute to cardiovascular and other physical and/or mental health conditions.

The prerequisite of prevention is AWARENESS.  When exposed to loud noise, The Hearing Health Foundation advises to Walk (literally, walk away – noise dissipates with distance), Block (use ear plugs and/or ear muffs; use noise barriers, or even put your hands over your ears in an urgent situation), Turn (turn down the volume; throttle-back machinery; adjust the direction of the noise source).  

 Please protect your hearing – for life.

 About dBNR:  dB Noise Reduction provides custom noise control, acoustic and vibration isolation solutions for any application.  Contact for assistance.

WHY you really do need a professional Acoustical Consultant

A professional acoustical consultant can correctly analyze and solve noise problems – and avoid costly errors.  Sound often does not behave the way the math, science and common sense suggest it should.  These professionals understand the whole situation and how sound behaves; as well as the complex interactions that occur between different noise sources and conditions on site.  Their precise knowledge, along with relevant experience ensures that an appropriate solution is determined for the project.  They will generate either a product or performance-based specification.  Typically, several manufacturers will bid and are required to meet or exceed that specification.  Experienced acoustical consultants understand the importance of a good manufacturer with a solid, reliable reputation for providing quality products and solutions.  They expect to see (and hear/not hear) successful results.

In many jurisdictions, it is not only mandatory to engage the services of a professional acoustical consultant, but often another separate acoustical consultant must provide verified results post-installation.

Choose a professional acoustical consultant – because it just has to be done right.

NOTE:  dBNR is NOT an acoustical consulting firm; dBNR is the designer and manufacturer of products and systems specified by independent acoustical consultants.  dBNR recommends retaining the services of a professional acoustical consultant for direction in solving your noise problems on site.   


Thank you to our Richard Anthony for writing this article.