Speakers’ comfort and voice level variation in classrooms: Laboratory research

David Pelegrin Garcia, Jonas Brunskog

Research output: Contribution to journalJournal articleResearchpeer-review


Teachers adjust their voice levels under different classroom acoustics conditions, even in the absence of background noise. Laboratory experiments have been conducted in order to understand further this relationship and to determine optimum room acoustic conditions for speaking. Under simulated acoustic environments, talkers do modify their voice levels linearly with the measure voice support, and the slope of this relationship is referred to as room effect. The magnitude of the room effect depends highly on the instruction used and on the individuals. Group-wise, the average room effect ranges from 0.93 dB/dB, with free speech, to 0.1 dB/dB with other less demanding communication tasks as reading and talking at short distances. The room effect for some individuals
can be as strong as 1.7 dB/dB. A questionnaire investigation showed that the acoustic comfort for talking in classrooms, in the absence of background noise, is correlated to the decay times derived from an impulse response measured from the mouth to the ears of a talker, and that there is a maximum of preference for decay times between 0.4 and 0.5 s. Teachers with self-reported voice problems prefer higher decay times to speak in than their healthy colleagues.
Original languageEnglish
JournalAcoustical Society of America. Journal
Issue number1
Pages (from-to)249–260
Publication statusPublished - 2012


  • Acoustic noise
  • Architectural acoustics
  • Speech
  • Transient response

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