When I tell people I’m an acoustical consultant, I’m usually met with lots of confused faces! The fact is acoustical consulting isn’t as difficult to understand as it sounds. Put simply, an acoustical consultant (also referred to as an acoustical engineer) is concerned with sound, specifically the measuring, quantifying and manipulation of noise and vibration. An acoustical consultant’s key responsibilities will vary depending on their area of expertise, and in fact many acoustical consultants, like myself, have more than one specialty. Still confused?! The following examples may help.

Environmental Noise

Local and national standards for noise pollution mean this is an area where acoustical consultants are in high demand. Noise and vibrations from road traffic, aircraft, trains, industrial plants and entertainment venues are a concern to local communities. An acoustical consultant can measure and analyse the impact of these noises, as well as determine how they can be controlled.

Architectural Acoustics

Also known as building acoustics, this type of acoustical consulting involves measuring noise in existing buildings or testing future building sites for specific acoustical characteristics. Room acoustics (reflections, reverberation and absorption) and noise control (sound transmission and background noise level) are two sub categories of architectural acoustics.

A good example of architectural acoustics is a busy restaurant where it is impossible to have a conversation because of elevated noise levels. An acoustical consultant can recommend specific building materials to ensure great room acoustics so diners are able to hear each other! Hospitals, schools, theatres and offices are other common environments that encounter acoustical problems and can benefit from an acoustical consultant’s expertise.

Forensic Acoustics/Legal Disputes

Acoustical consultants can also offer an expert witness service when there is a legal dispute over excessive noise. This might involve providing testimony in person or preparing a written report. Just some of the organisations I have worked with include the NSW Land and Environment Court, the Environmental Protection Authority (EPA) and Shoalhaven councils.

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