The human response to vibration covers a wide range from a few
μm/s2 to tens of metres per second squared. The dB scale is a useful way to represent the immense range using a manageable set of numbers.
Acceleration Level dB : La = 20 lg (a/ao) dB re 1 µm/s2 - also known as Vibration Acceleration Level
an increase or decrease in acceleration of 20 dB = a factor of 10
a 40 dB = a factor of 100
a 60 dB = a factor of 1000 ... etc.
Accelerometer : a vibration sensor whose electrical output is directly proportional to the Acceleration component of the vibration. The two most common accelerometer types are the traditional Charge type and the IEPE, Integrated Electronic PiezoElectric type with a built-in line-drive amplifier to enable the output signal to be transmitted over 'longer cable runs'.
ACGIH : American Conference of Industrial Hygienists.
Acoustic Calibrator : an instrument providing a reference noise source used to calibrate and check the performance of sound level meters.
Acoustic Coupler : cavity of predetermined shape and volume used, for example, for the calibration of earphones or microphones in conjunction with a calibrated microphone adapted to measure the sound pressure developed within the cavity.
Acoustic Emission : the energy that is generated when materials are under stress or break.
For example at room temperature and normal atmospheric pressure, ρc = 415 N·s/m3
Complex Acoustic Impedance : in general, a phase relation exists between the pressure and the particle velocity and the complex impedance is defined as Z = R +iX
where R is the resistive part, and X is the reactive part of the impedance The resistive part represents the various loss mechanisms an acoustic wave experiences such as random thermal motion.
For the case of propagation through a duct, wall vibrations and viscous forces at the air/wall interface (boundary layer) can also have a significant effect, especially at high frequencies for the latter. For resistive effects, energy is removed from the wave and converted into other forms. This energy is said to be 'lost from the system'.
Acoustic Pressure : p : more commonly known as
Sound Pressure is the difference between the pressure produced by an acoustic wave and the Atmospheric Pressure at a given point in space, and is measured in Pascal - symbol Pa, units Newton per square metre.
Active Noise Control : reducing unwanted sound electronically. When a sound wave of equal amplitude but opposite sign (180 degree out of phase) is added to the original sound the result is sound cancellation.
Algorithm : a specific procedure for solving mathematical problems. An FFT is an algorithm.
Aliasing : digital sampling requires the analogue signal to be sampled at twice the frequency of interest otherwise aliasing occurs. If the signal is not filtered to eliminate the high frequencies, they appear as 'false' lower frequency signals. Once 'introduced' these aliased signals cannot be distinguished from valid sampled data.
Ampere : A : the basic SI unit of electric current; the constant current that, when maintained in two parallel conductors of infinite length and negligible cross section placed 1 metre apart in free space, produces a Force of 2 x 10-7Newton per metre between them.
Amplification Factor : Q : the mechanical gain of a structure when excited at a Resonant Frequency.
The amplification factor is a function of the system Damping.
For a Damping Ratio = 0 (no damping) the amplification factor is infinite, for = 1 (critically damped) there is no amplification.
Amplitude : the magnitude of an oscillating quantity, for example
Sound Pressure or Vibration Level. In the case of a vibrating object, the amplitude is measured and expressed in three ways: Displacement,Velocity and Acceleration. Amplitude is also the y-axis of the vibration time waveform and spectrum; it helps define the severity of the vibration.
Amplitude Distribution : a representation of time-varying noise indicating the percentage of time that the noise level is present in a series of amplitude intervals.
Amplitude Probability : used to investigate the amplitude distribution of signals. Also 'known' as probability amplitude.
Analogue : continuously variable physical quantity, such as a sound or vibration wave.
Analogue to Digital Converter : converts an Analogue signal to a Digital one. US spelling analog.
Anechoic : without echo - refers to the absence of sound reflections. It is almost impossible to create a truly anechoic environment, as there is no such thing as a perfect Sound Absorber, an expensive Anechoic Chamber is as close as it gets. Measurements in a field well away from reflective surfaces and any other sound sources can approximate to semi-anechoic conditions.
Anechoic Chamber : echo free room, within specified limits Walls lined with Sound Absorbent wedges to minimize reflections and create Free-field conditions, so direct sound measurements of test objects may be made. Low frequency measurements are restricted by the room dimensions and the sound absorbing materials 'wedges' used.
Antinode : the point of maximum displacement in a periodic system.
Note : the appropriate modifier should be used to signify the other types; e.g. Particle Velocity Antinode or Sound Pressure Antinode
Apodization Function : also called a tapering or Window Function. It provides a smooth amplitude weighting of a signal to zero at the beginning and the end of the record to be sampled. This suppresses Leakage which would otherwise be produced upon performing a Discrete Fourier Transform.
Artificial Ear : device for the calibration of earphones, incorporating a calibrated microphone for the measurement of Sound Pressure and an Acoustic Coupler such that the overall Acoustic Impedance is similar to that of the normal human ear in a given frequency band.
Artificial Mastoid : device which simulates the mechanical impedance of the average human mastoid where a bone vibrator may be applied to permit calibration of the vibrator.
Artificial Mouth : device consisting of a loudspeaker unit mounted in a baffle or an enclosure so shaped as to have a radiation pattern similar to that of the average human mouth.
Artificial Reverberation : Reverberation generated by electrical or acoustical means to simulate that of concert halls, etc., Added to a signal to make it sound more lifelike.
Artificial Voice : a complex sound, usually emitted by an Artificial Mouth, whose spectrum corresponds to that of the average human voice.
Autocorrelation : the Correlation between values of a signal at different times. A signal processing tool for finding repeating patterns, such as the presence of a Periodic signal(s) 'buried in noise'. It is frequently used for analysing Time Domain functions. It is the Cross-correlation of a signal with itself.
Auto Scale: the axes of the graph used to display time signal, spectra, post-processed functions, etc., are automatically set by the software to fit the full display into the available viewing area.
Autospectrum : for FFT measurements, the Fourier Transform of a time signal is complex as it has magnitude and phase. The autospectrum is the average of the squared magnitude. For 1/n-octave Constant Percentage Bandwidth measurements, it is the mean square of the filter output.
Average : in acoustics where dB levels are extensively used, average may not mean adding up the values and then dividing by the number of samples. See our discussion Calculations using the decibel and the other Averaging entries below.