A critical analysis of loudness calculation methods

Jeff J. Defoe, Colin J. Novak, Helen J. Ule, Robert G. Gaspar


The physical meaning and methods of determining loudness were reviewed Loudness is a psychoacoustic metric which closely corresponds to the perceived intensity of a sound stimulus. It can be determined by graphical procedures, numerical methods, or by commercial software. These methods typically require the consideration of the 1/3 octave band spectrum of the sound of interest. The sounds considered in this paper are a 1 kHz tone and pink noise. The loudness of these sounds was calculated in eight ways using different combinations of input data and calculation methods. All the methods considered are based on Zwicker loudness. It was determined that, of the combinations considered, only the commercial software dBSonic and the loudness calculation procedure detailed in DIN 45631 using 1/3 octave band levels filtered using ANSI S1.11-1986 gave the correct values of loudness for a 1 kHz tone. Comparing the results between the sources also demonstrated the difference between sound pressure level and loudness. It was apparent that the calculation and filtering methods must be considered together, as a given calculation will produce different results for different 1/3 octave band input. In the literature reviewed, no reference provided a guide to the selection of the type of filtering that should be used in conjunction with the loudness computation method.


Computation theory; Computer simulation; Computer software; Graphic methods; Numerical analysis; Signal filtering and prediction; Loudness; Pink noise; Psychoacoustic metric; Sound stimulus

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