An exploratory evaluation of perceptual, psychoacoustic and acoustical properties of urban soundscapes

Deborah A. Hall, Amy Irwin, Mark Edmondson-Jones, Scott Phillips, John E. W. Poxon

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review

108 Citations (Scopus)


The present study reports an exploration of the multi-dimensional space involved in listening to soundscape recordings made in different city-based settings. A range of perceptual, psychoacoustic and acoustical properties were examined using a range of statistical methods including principal components analysis and multiple regression. Just as the affective responses to individual sound sources have often been described in terms of pleasantness and arousal (or vibrancy), so could the acoustic scenarios of urban life. However, different from previous research, the acoustic and psychoacoustic variables contributed very little to judgements about pleasantness and vibrancy. We surmise that the perceived quality of the soundscape is very much an individual subjective experience that is likely to be embedded within contextual domain and that it probably relates to personal preference, past history and other social and cultural factors.
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)248-254
Number of pages7
JournalApplied Acoustics
Issue number2
Early online date7 May 2011
Publication statusPublished - Feb 2013

Bibliographical note

This project was funded by an EPSRC Grant: Positive Soundscapes (EP/E011624/1), and the scanning costs were supported by an MRC infrastructure grant awarded to the MRC Institute of Hearing Research. The authors would like to thank Dr. Victoria Owen for her advice on the kappa statistic and Mr. John Foster for matching the sound level of the selected soundscape clips. The authors give special thanks to Prof Christopher Plack, University of Manchester who facilitated the companion work involving fMRI.


  • well-being
  • sound quality
  • affective response


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