Wankling, Matthew and Fazenda, Bruno (2009) Studies in modal density – its effect at low frequencies. In: Proceedings of the Institute of Acoustics. 25th Reproduced Sound Conference 2009: REPRODUCED SOUND 25: The Audio Explosion, 31 . Instute of Acoustics, Brighton, UK, pp. 62-73. ISBN 978-1-61567-685-9

The ability to objectively measure the reproduction quality of a small room at low frequencies has long been desired. Over many years, there have been attempts to produce recommendations, metrics, and criteria by which to define a particular room. These have often concentrated on some aspect of the modal distribution, such as spacing or density. Other attempts have focused upon the deviation from a desired frequency response. Whilst the subjective validity of objective measures such as these has often been questioned, the notion that a transitional region between a modal and diffuse sound fields exists, dependant on the room volume and reverberation time continues to permeate much thinking. The calculation of this transitional frequency relies on the calculation of a desired modal density. In the case of the most well known definition, the Schroeder Frequency1, the transitional frequency is that point where the density becomes sufficient that three modes lie within one bandwidth. Although this idea may well be useful in some instances, such as defining points for the use of statistical sound field analysis, recent thought has cast some doubt over its relevance as a subjective frequency above which we may ignore modal issues2. This paper highlights a number of studies along with a new listening test, which help us to better understand the role of modal density upon subjective perception of modal soundfields.


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