Svantek UK
18 January, 2022

Building Acoustics: What, When, Where and How to Measure?

Under the Building Regulations, Approved Document E (ADE) 2003 (as amended 2010, 2013, 2015) sound testing between residential dwellings is a requirement for building control sign-off.

What to test?

Under ADE, a full set (comprising of 2x airborne wall tests, 2x airborne floor tests and 2x impact floor tests) is required to sign off up to 10 properties, providing they are all constructed the same. Building Control, however can request for more tests or for certain rooms to be tested if they choose.

Airborne noise is sound that travels through the air, such as people talking or music. Impact noise is sound that occurs due to something being struck, for instance something being dropped onto a floor, or people’s footsteps.

In order to calculate the sound insulation levels, sound transmission measurements are undertaken. A background measurement and a reverberation time test are also required in the receiver room.

When to test?

Pre-completion sound testing should be undertaken when the construction has been finished. The sockets, skirting boards and doors should all be hung. Ideally, however the floor finish (e.g. carpet/laminate flooring) should not have been laid.

Where to measure?

Only habitable rooms (bedrooms and living rooms) should be tested under ADE and this can include open-plan rooms, however a standalone kitchen or a bathroom should not be tested unless it has been specifically requested by building control.

How to undertake Airborne Tests:

The idea of the airborne test is to see how well performing the partition is, in order to do that, you need to test the level difference between the rooms:

Set up the dodec and amp in the source room (the bigger room) away from the partition you are testing. Generate the reference test noise (e.g. white or pink noise).

Take a sweep or static measurement using 1/3 octaves:
If using the sweep measurement technique, take 2 x 15 second measurements
If using the static measurement take 6 x 6 second measurements

Go into the receiver room (the other side of/or below the partition) and measure the (received) level transmitted through the partition using the same technique. Ensure all connecting doorways are closed.

Move back to the source room, and move the speaker position, remember to adjust the height as well. Retake the measurements in the source and receiver room.

Switch the speaker off, and undertake the background measurements in the receiver room, again using the static or sweep method.

Move the dodec and amp into the receiver room, and undertake your reverberation measurements. Reverberation measurements should be undertaken in 3 positions within the room and comprise of 2 measurements per position.

How to undertake Impact Tests:

In order to undertake impact tests, measurements must be taken with the tapper in the room above, and tested down.

Place the tapper in the upstairs room at one position and switch on. Ensure the hammers are correctly striking the floor. The tapper should be placed at a 45° 

In the receiver room undertake the measurements in 1/3 octaves. Measurements can be taken using the sweep or static techniques.

Once undertaken, move the tapper into another position within the same room and re-test. Do this at least 4 times. A total of 6 measurements must be undertaken over the 4 tapper locations.

Switch the tapper off and undertake background measurements in the receiver room, again using the static or sweep method. Use the same method as you did for the tapper measurements.

Undertake reverberation measurements in the receiving room using a dodec and amp. Reverberation measurements should be undertaken in 3 positions within the room and comprise of 2 measurements per position

Testing should be undertaken in accordance to with BS EN ISO 140 (1998) “Acoustics – measurement of sound insulation in buildings and of building elements” Part 4 – “Field measurements of airborne sound insulation between rooms” and part 7 – “Field measurements of impact sound insulation of floors” as stated within the building regulations.

The Criteria:

The following criteria is given under ADE:

Airborne testsImpact Tests
Change of UseDnT,w + Ctr ≥ 43dBL’nT,w ≤ 64 dB
New BuildDnT,w + Ctr ≥ 45dBL’nT,w ≤ 62 dB

The Equipment:

Equipment is just as important as the testing!

In order to undertake sound tests, a loud speaker with amplifier that can produce white/pink noise will be required, along with a tapper machine, class 1 sound level meter and calibrator. Under ISO 16283 (2014) the speaker for testing should either be a hemi-dodecahedron or dodecahedron. This standard has not yet been incorporated into the Building Regulations and so testing can still be undertaken using a cabinet speaker in line with ISO 140-4 (1998).

All equipment used must be compliant with the correct standard, such as BS ISO 61672-1:2003 and be UKAS calibrated. The calibrator will require yearly laboratory UKAS calibration and the rest of the equipment will need to be UKAS laboratory calibrated every 2 years.

All the equipment you could need to undertake a sound test is available from Svantek UK and meets the appropriate standards. Their class 1 SLM’s comply to IEC 61672 : 2013, the calibrators to BS IEC 60942 : 2018, dodecs are compliant to ISO 16283 : 2018 and tapping machines to ISO 140.

Finally, remember in order to undertake pre-completion sound tests for building control sign-off, your organisation must be part of one of the accredited schemes: UKAS, ANC, SITTMA.

Find out more about our building acoustics kits. Complete kits that reliably work together to get you to the result as fast as possible. We have devised two options of kits, one of which includes two Class 1 Sound Level meters that work side by side in a single test.


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Building Acoustics Kits

Complete kits that reliably work together to get you to the result as fast as possible.

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