Apr 15 2024 / Blog

What is an Airborne Sound Insulation Test?

Within architecture and construction, the term “sound insulation” holds significant weight. A key aspect of sound insulation involves ensuring a space provides comfort and privacy by effectively controlling sound transmission.

One key method for assessing this is through an airborne sound insulation test. But what is an airborne sound insulation test? That’s what we’ll be exploring in this blog post. Read on for the intricacies of this test, its importance, and how it contributes to creating acoustically optimised environments.


Understanding Airborne Sound Insulation

Let us first break down the components of an airborne sound insulation test. Airborne sound, as the name suggests, travels through the air. It originates from sources like speech, music, machinery, or any other airborne noise-producing activity within a building.

When this sound encounters a surface such as a wall, ceiling, or floor, it can be transmitted through it. This can cause disturbance to occupants in adjacent spaces.

The primary goal of an airborne sound insulation test is to measure the effectiveness of a building element (like a partition or barrier) in attenuating airborne sound. Essentially, it evaluates how well the structure prevents sound from passing through it.


The Testing Process

Let’s explore the typical steps involved in conducting an airborne test:



Before the test begins, the space must be adequately prepared. This involves ensuring that all structures are suitably completed, with all doors and windows in place and closed.

Ensuring a controlled environment sets the stage for precise measurements and reliable evaluation of the building’s airborne sound insulation capabilities.



Specialised equipment is used to generate controlled sound levels in one room, often referred to as the source room. This could involve loudspeakers emitting white or pink noise. A noise level is typically set between the frequency spectrum 100Hz to 3.15KHz, which cover a significant proportion of the common sound frequencies encountered in everyday environments.

This meticulous setup ensures the accuracy of the test, allowing for precise evaluation of the building’s airborne sound insulation performance across various sound frequencies.



Measurement is a crucial phase. Sound Level Meters are used to measure the level of the noise generated in the source room by the loudspeaker. Then, while the noise source is still running, measurements of the sound level in the adjacent receiver room are taken.

In basic terms, this generates a sound reduction from one room to the other with measurements across the frequency range. Background measurements are taken to ensure the accuracy of the test, ideally demonstrating that the background levels are not limiting the test result. Reverberation time measurements are taken to understand the absorption levels within the receiver room.


Frequencies of the Test

Testing is typically from 100Hz to 3.15KHz, in third-octave bands for sound testing. These frequencies cover a significant proportion of the audible spectrum.

Engineers gain valuable insights into its overall effectiveness in attenuating airborne sound and can tailor solutions accordingly by examining how the structure responds to different sound frequencies.



Following data collection, rigorous analysis and calculation are conducted to determine the Weighted Standardised Level Difference (D’nT,w) for example of the tested partition. DnT,w is calculated according to ISO 717-1:1997 (as amended 2006).

This index quantifies the extent of sound attenuation across various frequencies, providing crucial insights into the partition’s effectiveness in mitigating airborne sound transmission. This thorough analysis informs decision-making processes regarding acoustic enhancements and optimisations.



Based on the airborne test results, the effectiveness of the partition in attenuating airborne sound can be evaluated. This information is critical for architects, engineers, and designers to make informed decisions about improving acoustic performance if necessary.


Who Are Sound Insulation Tests For?

These tests have applications in various settings, including healthcare facilities, schools, offices, and residential buildings.

Healthcare FacilitiesAirborne sound insulation tests ensure patient privacy and a peaceful environment for recovery by preventing the transmission of noise between rooms and areas within healthcare facilities.

Schools These tests help create efficient learning environments by reducing noise distractions, allowing students to focus better and enhancing their educational experience.

Offices Airborne sound insulation tests are important in offices to minimise the transfer of noise between workspaces. This can promote productivity and concentration among employees.

Residential Buildings For residents, these tests ensure a quiet and comfortable living environment by ensuring separating walls and floors between dwellings are built to achieve Building Regulation Standards, thus reducing noise from entering dwellings from adjacent properties by reducing the sound transmission between them.

These tests help identify any deficiencies, allowing architects, engineers, and building owners to take appropriate measures to improve soundproofing.


The Importance of Airborne Sound Insulation Testing

The testing process plays a key role in assessing a building’s ability to reduce airborne sound transmission, thereby ensuring the desired level of acoustic comfort and privacy for occupants.

We uncover airborne sound insulation test’s vital role in guiding architectural, engineering, and design decisions. These tests aim to enhance overall acoustic performance in residential, commercial, and institutional settings.


Occupant Comfort

Effective sound insulation contributes to a more comfortable living or working environment by reducing how much noise disturbances from neighbouring spaces. This is particularly crucial in residential buildings, hotels, hospitals, and office spaces where privacy and tranquillity are essential.


Regulatory Compliance

Many building codes and building regulations stipulate minimum standards for airborne sound insulation in various types of structures. Conducting these sound tests demonstrates compliance with such requirements and helps avoid potential legal or regulatory issues in the future.


Quality Assurance

For developers, builders, and property owners, requiring sound insulation testing is a form of quality assurance. It demonstrates a commitment to delivering spaces that meet or exceed industry standards and client expectations.


Design Optimisation

Sound test results provide valuable feedback that can inform the design and construction process. If deficiencies are identified, adjustments can be made to improve the acoustical performance of the building elements before construction is complete.


Peninsular Acoustics Can Help

In a world where noise pollution is increasingly prevalent, the importance of effective sound insulation cannot be overstated.

Airborne Sound Insulation Testing can ensure that buildings provide the desired level of acoustic comfort and privacy to their occupants.

When assessing how building elements reduce airborne sound, architects, engineers, and designers craft spaces that are visually stunning and acoustically pleasing. Sound insulation tests ensure environments are optimised for tranquillity.

At Peninsular Acoustics, we offer expertise and reliability to aid you in achieving acoustic excellence in residential spaces. Through our specialised knowledge and advanced technologies, we can assist in overcoming challenges posed by noise pollution, ensuring you attain your desired level of acoustic comfort.

We are committed to ensuring client satisfaction from the initial consultation to the completion of the project.

We can be your reliable partner, serving homeowners, architects, developers, and builders, offering the expertise and resources necessary to create acoustically optimised environments. With Peninsular Acoustics, you can achieve a quieter, more peaceful living environment.


Airborne Sound Testing across the UK

Peninsular Acoustics Limited is ANC Accredited to conduct Sound Insulation Testing, and covers the UK. Our main offices are in Liverpool, Birmingham and London. If you require a Sound Insulation Test, please get in touch for a quotation.