A variety of routes were used to reach the industry. A few of these are given below.
Claire Chuchill was a research assistant employed on the project. Claire won the Perspectives poster competition for young researchers at the BA Festival of Science concerning the interaction of Science and Society. Scientists are increasingly being asked to communicate ethical and social issues that arise from their work. Perspectives encourages scientists, at the beginning of their career, to explore and discuss the social implications of their research with a general audience. There are two aspects considered: (i) what impact does the research have on society (direct and/or indirect) and (ii). to what extent can the research (or research area) has been shaped by society.
We held a one-day workshop on sound quality on 15th September 2004:
'Sound Quality Assessment: Will Improving Your Product’s Sound Increase Your Sales?'
After a study looking at the extent and the scope of sound quality testing in the UK industry, it was found that relatively little formal sound quality testing was being carried out in the UK, except in the automobile and in the audio-visual industries. Attempts were made to identify the reasons why so few UK manufacturers are aware of sound quality compared to some of their European compatriots. The two main reasons are the little knowledge manufacturers have of acoustics and the lack of standards and labelling, which would push the manufacturers to consider sound quality. Another reason which justifies the manufacturer’s choice not to consider sound quality in great detail, is the fact there are no facilities in shops allowing the customers to compare the product noise, as they would do for a TV or hi-fi. Interviews also highlighted that labelling is often misunderstood by customers, starting from a lack of understanding of the decibel scale used on some current labels. This has led the research to find out more about labelling across Europe and further afield, and to discuss future possibilities for practical sound labelling of domestic products useable by manufacturers and customers.
After a study looking at the extent and the scope of sound quality testing in the UK industry, it was found that relatively little formal sound quality testing was being carried out in the UK, except in the automobile and in the audio-visual industries. To encourage more testing, it was found necessary to define a cheap but effective method to encourage UK manufacturers of domestic appliances to assess product sound quality. This paper presents the application of this method to kettles of different water volumes, design and power. It is also known, that, among them, the 3kW kettle has given rise to complaints by some consumers as having a sound which is like "a plane taking off." Objective tests are used to estimate the psychoacoustic metrics, while a questionnaire designed for any products is also used for the laboratory-based subjective test. The results from these tests will be presented. In addition, it will be discussed how this has influenced the drawing up of a simple method for sound quality assessment.
This paper presents results from a study into the extent and scope of sound quality testing in the UK. While some European countries have been placing considerable effort to improve the sound quality of white goods, anecdotal evidence suggested that relatively little formal sound quality testing was being carried out in the UK except in the automobile industry. Manufacturers of domestic appliances, outdoor products, home entertainment, heating, air-conditioning and pumps were contacted using a questionnaire survey. A significant proportion of manufacturing companies rate sound quality as an important factor when investigating noise emission. Twelve companies and other stakeholders such as consumer groups have then been selected for semi-structured interviews. Small and large companies rely on a good work relationship between their marketing and consumers departments as the sound quality of their products is becoming increasingly important to their customers. Sound quality is mainly viewed in terms of noise level and annoyance: identify if the sound is quiet and if it is pleasant to the ear. Perceptual testing is not usually rigorous. It is mainly carried out using informal listening by designers, but some use their staff for jury testing. Sound quality indices are not usually used in objective tests. The industry appears to welcome an approved standard method for sound quality testing. Attitudes to labelling, national standards and approved test centres will be discussed.