1.1 The acoustic impulse response

The acoustic measurement of an existing building or landscape enables the capture of characteristic audio impulse response data that can be used to help preserve a site's intangible acoustic heritage and allow further analysis of its sonic features (Figure 1). Where acoustic measurement is not possible, computer modelling allows us to imagine, build and interact with these sites in the digital domain. This may involve the adaptation of an existing site to investigate particular features, or the reconstruction of a building that no longer exists, or only exists in part.

Figure 1
Figure 1: The echogram profile of a typical impulse response from an enclosed space, demonstrating how a short, impulsive sound – like a handclap, balloon pop or gun-shot – at the source position arrives at the measurement position in three stages: (a) the direct sound arrives via the straight line path between sound source and measurement position, arriving a short time after the sound source has stopped; (b) the early reflections arrive via the next longest paths from source to measurement position, involving one or more reflections from the main surrounding walls, where some additional energy will be lost due to sound absorption; (c) the reverberation or exponential reverberant decay, where it is no longer possible to detect distinct reflections due to the density of arrival of many reflections via many paths, involving reflections from multiple walls


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