dBx Acoustics

A Strange Thing Happened…

The strangest things happen on noise surveys…

I was going to write a blog about the strangest things that have happened to me when I’ve been out on a survey. Then it occurred to me – I can’t  be the only one. This blog is therefore crowd-sourced from the experiences of colleagues past and present as well as my own adventures.

The short arm of the law

“I once got propositioned by a working girl then an hour later almost got arrested on suspicion of being a working boy!!!”

“I was stopped by the police at 3am as they thought I might be soliciting. I was wearing tights, thermals, a grotty tracksuit, fleece, gloves and a bobble hat. Apparently the standards in Ealing aren’t that high.”

“Had a tripod stolen but all of the rest of the equipment left in place!”

“Been stopped by police and told to be careful as they had reports of suspicious looking person in that location. I was the suspicious looking person.”

“I had agreed with a resident that I’d get into their garden by going over the wall, so that I wouldn’t disturb them for the night time measurements. The police arrived just as I was at the top of the ladder with one leg over the wall, dressed all in black with a hat and scarf on. I was quite surprised that when I said  was doing a noise survey, they went away!”

Animal encounters

“I got mobbed by seagulls on a rooftop in London and ended up in a&e.”

“Collected mic to find a slug sat on the diaphragm. Anyone know what the slug loading correction is?”

“I got trapped in a car in a field by horses gathering round the engine to keep warm.”

“I was stalked around a field by a herd of cows. Every time I stopped, they stopped too, but the ones at the back didn’t get the memo. Cow pile up.”

“A cow ate the windshield from the meter.”

“A horse ate the windshield from the meter.”

“I left the meter in a field with a goat. The windshield WASN’T eaten”

“The building had feral cats living in the walls. They were surprisingly noisy.”

“Have been cornered by a bull and had to escape over and fence and throw the equipment over a stream.”

“Measuring noise in a field in Suffolk, I noticed something round that looked like a rock in my measurement position (It was night so quite dark). So I gently hooked my foot under it and gave it a good kicked it out of the way. It travelled a good 12 feet, then after a while uncurled itself and waddled off. I had no idea it was a hedgehog. Sorry Mr hedgehog.”

Interesting characters

“I had to call the fire brigade to have them put out a burning car in the middle of the fens at about 2am”

“I had a man offer me ‘special interest’ material”

“Saw a man taking his dog for a walk/run whilst he was driving alongside it, again, in the fens”

“Tried to measure outside a nightclub door way in Blackpool but there was a couple having sex in it. “I’ll come back later.””

“I got the meter on its tripod kicked down the street by a lady who was convinced I was filming her house.”

“A site security guard made me a ‘sexy’ mix tape and handed it to me when I was leaving site…then followed up by working out where I worked and calling me to ask me out. Extra creepy points.”

“I spent a night surveying in Kings Cross. One guy entertained himself for a long time by throwing chips at my head. I also picked up a hanger on who had missed the last train and was scared to spend the night alone.”

“Had builders sing the complete works of Neil Diamond into mic.”

“a) Found I was measuring in a cottaging hotspot and was propositioned several times.

b) One bored guy struck up a long conversation about my job while he was waiting to find someone to have sex with.

c) Retold above story at company internal conference only to find out the MD, who was present, lived on that street.”

Fire, exclamation mark. Send Help, exclamation mark.

“SI test in an occupied retirement home, using starting pistol for RT. Spent cartridge set fire to a rug.”

“Left a logger running in a timber framed furniture warehouse. double checked on it before leaving and found the power supply on fire.”

We’re only human!

“I spent many hours sat in a car in the area north of Kings Cross from midnight waiting for a goods train to come through. The only one that night. Had accelerometers tied to a paper trace running almost continually. It was too long ago for digital recorders. After three and a half hours, paper needed changing. As we reached over to flick it over, train goes past! Doh.”

“I got a bit annoyed with some kids one night, and told them I was there finding ghosts. That got rid of them.”

“I’ve perfected a look now which stops people coming over to ask what I’m doing. Sometimes you can actually see them bounce off the glare and change path.”

Thanks and big love to Dan Pope, Paul Malpas, Dan Boote, Adrian Popplewell, Chris Clayden, Phil Mudge and Tracy Thompson for sharing their experiences!

dBx Case Studies - Education

There is a proven link between acoustic conditions in schools and educational outcomes. Building Bulletin 93 (BB93) mandates minimum standards in primary and secondary schools for noise levels and room acoustics, as well as acoustic separation between teaching spaces.

The dBx Acoustics team can help you comply with BB93, but our expertise goes even further. We have extensive experience designing environments for pupils with additional needs, including autism and hearing loss, as well as higher education and noisier, practical workshop spaces.

New and refurbished school buildings must comply with Building Regulation E4 and the acoustic performance standards of Building Bulletin 93 (BB93) ‘Acoustic Design of Schools’. Whilst BB93 is not mandatory for higher education establishments, it typically forms the basis of the initial design for such establishments, with modifications as appropriate to allow for specific HE uses. Where projects are being designed with BREEAM in mind, credits HEA05 and POL05 are also relevant.

There are a number of different acoustic aspects which come together to ensure that acoustic conditions in schools are appropriate to support learning, and it’s so important to get it right – studies have shown that educational attainment can be directly correlated to acoustic conditions.

Our involvement often begins at the planning stage with an environmental noise survey, which allows us to advise on ventilation and glazing requirements to control noise ingress to the building. If mechanical ventilation is proposed, if there is an external MUGA, or if community use is proposed, the noise survey also allows noise emission limits to be set to ensure that existing neighbours are not adversely affected by noise.

Internal ambient noise levels in teaching spaces are also affected by mechanical ventilation, and we work with the M&E consultant to specify appropriate noise control measures, such as silencers.
When it comes to the design of the building itself, BB93 requires us to specify partitions and floors to control airborne and impact sound transmission between teaching spaces, based on their relative sensitivity and noise generation characteristics. The detailing of junctions and sealing of any services penetrations is critical in maintaining acoustic separation between adjacent rooms.

Having provided a suitably quiet teaching environment which won’t be adversely affected by activity in other classrooms, our focus moves to room acoustics and control of reverberation. Often this is as simple as specifying the acoustic performance of a suspended ceiling, but for large spaces such as Assembly Halls and Sports Halls, we undertake acoustic modelling to optimise the specification and placement of acoustic finishes. Where an exposed soffit is preferred, we calculate the specification and quantity of finishes, such as acoustic rafts and wall panels to control room acoustic conditions.

Finally, we carry out pre-completion acoustic testing on-site to ensure that all of the acoustic criteria for the project have been complied with on-site.

The dBx Acoustics team also have a particular interest in acoustic design for SEN schools, particularly schools catering to neurodiverse pupils. BB93 specifies design criteria for “children with special hearing and communication needs”, which is intended to include autism, ADHD and auditory processing difficulties, and assists in providing an environment in which speech transmission is clear and effective. The standard does not, however, consider the other acoustic aspects of school life which affect such pupils, including auditory sensitivities and the need to provide spaces to allow a retreat from the noise and bustle of daily school life. Our team’s direct and personal experiences of neurodiversity, both as parents and as individuals, helps us to understand the requirements of individual educational clients, and help guide the design of educational buildings to provide an acoustically diverse and appropriate environment.

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