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  Acoustic nuisance caused by little household helpers
HEAD News Herzogenrath (Germany), July 27, 2015
Acoustic nuisance caused by little household helpers
Chopping or grating vegetables, kneading dough, beating eggs, or whipping cream: Kitchen appliances do it all in next to no time, and it’s hard to imagine a modern household without them. They support us, save us lots of time, and make life in the kitchen easier. 
But these little all-purpose machines are also responsible for creating an everyday nuisance, because many kitchen appliances are real noisemakers. The noise generated when operating the machine is perceived by many people to be annoying. The degree of annoyance is not only influenced by the sound pressure level, but also considerably by the psychoacoustic characteristics of the noise. 
We wanted to find out which noise characteristics are relevant and what relations exist between the judgement of the sound quality and the psychoacoustic quantities, so we took eight mixers and examined them. We conducted binaural measurements under two different conditions (whole nuts and chopped nuts), which served as the basis for psychoacoustic analyses and for the perceptive judgement in the listening studio. Although all of the kitchen machines proved to be far from being silent operators, there were considerable differences regarding their perceived sound quality. 
As expected, the evaluation showed that a low-noise machine is more likely to receive a positive rating for its sound quality. But apart from that, loudness changes during operation were relevant as well: Machines for which the loudness value dropped considerably after a few seconds of operation were rated significantly better. Furthermore, it turned out that psychoacoustic quantities like sharpness and pattern content also played a significant role for the judgement. Prominent patterns were even interpreted as a malfunction of the machine. Finally, a sound quality measure was developed based on loudness, sharpness, tonality, and a Relative Approach analysis, which allowed a reliable prediction of the perceived sound quality. 
The bottom line: Taking both test conditions into account, only one of eight examined kitchen machines was rated with a good sound quality, whereas the sound quality of four machines was rated as bad. This explains why these helpful machines are often perceived as a nuisance. 
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HEAD acoustics has developed into one of the world's leading specialists in the fields of sound and vibration analyses and optimization. For more than 25 years HEAD acoustics has developed products and solutions for artificial head recording and playback technology, exceptional acquisition and analysis software and techniques, and communication measurement technology.
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