The soundscape of public places : a new field for sensory research
L. Dreyfuss (1), J. Tardieu (2), H. Nicod (1), S.Guerrand (2), A. Giboreau (1)
(1) ADRIANT, France
(2) SNCF, France
Hearing is involved in our daily human experience in the most intimate way and in the audiovisual, sound and musical arts. However it remains a rather unexplored issue even if it is a fundamental sense involved in the sound comfort perception for example.
SNCF, the French railway national company, highlighted the importance of auditive comfort in public places. This work develops the Preference Mapping methodology applied to the soundscape of railway stations waiting rooms.
Thirteen audio records of waiting rooms were evaluated, both by trained sensory experts and by 150 na´ve customers regularly using trains for their leisure or holidays travels.
Compared to Preference Mapping technique applied to food products and to other senses such as touch and sight, this exploratory study highlights several methodological points, especially for the sensory description by the experts. We observed a tendency to refer, from the outset, to the sound sources and objects instead of describing the sensory characteristics of the sounds themselves.
The sensory descriptors used by the experts to characterize the samples were divided into 4 categories : the background noise and sounds of the station, the sounds of conversations, the sounds of human activities and the characteristics of the supposed waiting room.
The thirteen sound samples presented distinct sensory characteristics and were divided into 3 groups. Concerning the customer evaluation, they also found the sounds different in general and their liking judgements were quite homogeneous.
This study shows the real potential of sensory evaluation in the field of acoustic research by answering the following questions :
1.how can the results from customers tests be interpreted in order to translate them in descriptive words usable by the researchers in acoustics ?
2.how can the “sensory” expectations (conscious and unconscious) of the customers be comprehended at best ?