Psycho-physiological evaluations of low-level impulsive sounds produced by air conditioners



Air conditioners are widely used in buildings to maintain thermal comfort for long time. Air conditioners produce sounds during operation, and air conditioners are regarded as one of the main noise sources in buildings. Most sounds produced by the air conditioner do not fluctuate over time and sound quality of the steady sounds produced by the air conditioner have been evaluated. However, air conditioners sometimes produce low-level and impulsive sounds. Customers criticizes such sounds are annoying when they sleep and they spend time quietly in the living room. The aim of this study was to determine the factors that significantly influence the psycho-physiological response to the low-level impulsive sounds produced by air conditioners. We assessed the A-weighted equivalent continuous sound pressure level (LAeq) and factors extracted from the autocorrelation function (ACF). Subjective loudness, sharpness, annoyance, and electroencephalography (EEG) were evaluated. Multiple regression analyses were performed using a linear combination of LAeq, the ACF factors, and their standard deviations. The results indicated that LAeq, the delay time of the first maximum peak, the width of the first decay of the ACF, and the magnitude and width of the IACF could predict psycho-physiological responses to air conditioner sounds.