Feb 25 2024 / Blog

Our Guide to Sound Testing

Sound insulation testing is an essential aspect of ensuring the acoustic performance of buildings, particularly in environments where noise control is critical.

Whether you’re constructing residential, commercial, education, healthcare or office developments, understanding sound insulation testing is vital to meeting regulatory requirements and providing occupants with comfortable and peaceful living or working spaces.

In our guide, we will explore the fundamentals of sound insulation testing, its importance, methods, and standards, including how Peninsular Acoustics can assist you in achieving optimal acoustic performance for your projects.


Understanding Sound Insulation Testing

Carrying out sound tests that test the sound insulation performance between adjacent rooms, also known as acoustic testing, noise testing or soundproofing tests, evaluates the effectiveness of a building’s soundproofing measures.

It measures the sound insulation capability of building elements, such as separating wall and floor structures, by testing the impact sound and airborne sound transmission between separate spaces. Impact noise tests are only conducted on separating floors.

The sound insulation tests are crucial to ensure compliance with building regulations and standards, as well as to identify and rectify any deficiencies in the construction that may lead to unwanted noise transfer.


The Importance of an Acoustic Consultant for Good Acoustic Design

When sound insulation testing separating wall and floor structures at the completion stage of a project, requiring Building Control sign-off, these tests must pass with no issues. This could mean costly remedial work.

Involving an acoustic consultant as part of the design team for your project can ensure you receive the correct design advice early on in your project. The involvement of an acoustic consultant will reduce the risk of sound test failures, ensuring the airborne noise and impact sound insulation tests run smoothly at the completion of your project.


Where is Sound Insulation Testing Required – Standards and Regulations

Sound insulation testing is governed by various international, national, and local standards and regulations, depending on the location and type of project.

In the UK, for example, testing is typically conducted in accordance with Building Regulations Approved Document E for England and Wales, Technical Handbook Section 5 for Scotland, and Technical Booklet G for Northern Ireland.

These standards specify the sound testing procedures, performance criteria, and acceptable sound insulation levels for different types of buildings and construction methods.

Building Regulations Document E 2003 requires separating floors and walls between dwellings to be tested for sound insulation performance. Performance standards are set within the document and testing must be carried out by approved third-party accredited organisations. This could include approved test bodies from the Association of Noise Consultants (ANC). Peninsular Acoustics is an ANC-approved test company.

There are many other standards providing guidance for sound insulation performance, where sound insulation testing will be required.

Building Bulletin 93 (BB93) Requirements for acoustics in schools are detailed within BB93. An acoustic consultant should be involved at the start of the project for the design process. On completion, testing is required for a number of performance standards such as Sound Insulation, internal noise levels and reverberation time.

In the office sector, sound insulation test requirements are detailed in documents such as:

  • British Council for Offices (BCO) Guide to Specification 2019
  • Finishes and Interiors Office Acoustic Guide April 2015

In hotels, it is commonplace for “Brand Standards”. This is where individual brands have their own enhanced sound insulation performance requirements, which can vary between spaces.

In the absence of brand standards, acoustic consultants often refer to the guidance in BS8233:2014. This provides specific guidance for sound insulation between hotel bedrooms and adjacent spaces.

Breeam Assessment criteria commonly require sound insulation testing to be carried out for Breeam credits in HEA 05. This can be applicable to a variety of different sectors.

Sound Insulation Testing in the healthcare setting comes under the guidance of HTM 08-01 Acoustics (Health Technical Memorandum).

Peninsular Acoustics are able to offer sound insulation testing and acoustic consultancy design advice in relation to all the above-detailed requirements.


The Importance of Sound Insulation Requirements

In the residential sector, effective sound insulation not only enhances the quality of life for occupants but also contributes to the overall health and well-being of individuals by reducing stress levels and improving sleep quality.

Additionally, proper sound insulation can increase property value and desirability, as it enhances comfort and privacy for residents or tenants.

In the office, commercial and healthcare sectors, good sound insulation can contribute to good speech privacy between spaces. This is critical to the function of certain room types in buildings.

Speech privacy is critical between consulting rooms and other spaces within the healthcare environment. In the office environment, poor sound insulation can cause concentration issues for staff, with noise impact from adjacent rooms affecting staff performance. Speech privacy can also be critical in meeting rooms in office developments.


Methods of Sound Insulation Testing

There are two primary methods of sound insulation testing.


Airborne Sound Insulation Testing

Airborne sound testing evaluates the transmission of sound through the air between adjoining spaces. It measures the sound reduction of building elements between adjacent rooms, such as walls and floors, using specialised testing equipment.

During testing, a sound source such as a dodecahedron loudspeaker is used to generate a source room noise level in one room. The sound levels are measured in both the source room and the adjacent receiver room to determine the sound reduction between spaces and hence the level of sound transmission.

Background noise measurements and reverberation time measurements are taken in the receiver room and factored into the calculation process depending on the criteria being worked to.


Impact Sound Insulation Testing

Impact sound insulation testing assesses the transmission of impact or structure-borne noise, such as footsteps or impacting objects, through separating floor structures.

It measures the impact sound pressure level in the receiver room, generated by a standardised tapping machine in the source room. Background noise measurements and reverberation time measurements are taken in the receiver room and factored into the calculation process depending on the criteria being worked to.

This method is particularly important for multi-story buildings where footfall noise can be a significant nuisance for occupants.


How Peninsular Acoustics Can Help

At Peninsular Acoustics, we specialise in providing comprehensive sound insulation testing services to architects, developers, contractors, and building owners across the UK.

Our team of experienced acoustic consultants is equipped with state-of-the-art equipment and expertise to conduct thorough and cost-effective testing and analysis to ensure compliance with regulatory requirements and achieve optimal acoustic performance for your projects.


Peninsular Acoustics Services

Our services at Peninsular Acoustics include the following:


Work With Us At Peninsular Acoustics

Sound insulation testing is a crucial aspect of building design and construction, ensuring that buildings provide occupants with comfortable, peaceful, and enjoyable living or working environments.

By understanding the principles, methods, standards, and regulations associated with sound insulation testing, and partnering with experienced professionals at Peninsular Acoustics, you can achieve optimal acoustic performance for your projects and meet regulatory requirements with confidence.

By offering a full range of services, Peninsular Acoustics strives to support clients in achieving their acoustic and environmental goals while ensuring compliance with regulatory standards and enhancing the quality of indoor and outdoor environments.

Contact us today to learn more about our sound insulation testing services and how we can assist you with your acoustic and environmental consulting needs.