SOURCE: Biamp Systems

December 05, 2012 08:00 ET

Biamp Systems Releases Report on the Hazardous Levels of Noise in Everyday Life

Hidden but Heard: New Report Highlights the Impact of Noise in Everyday Life, Whether at Work, at School or at Home

BEAVERTON, OR--(Marketwire - Dec 5, 2012) - The amounts of sustained noise people are subjected to in everyday life have reached unsafe levels, according to a new report authored by leading sound experts and published today. Building in Sound, developed by Biamp Systems in collaboration with acoustics expert and TED speaker Julian Treasure, reports that everyday noise levels regularly exceed World Health Organization's (WHO) recommended levels. The study draws clear links between excessive noise and poor acoustics and ill-health, distraction and loss of productivity, even disruption to educational development.

Drawing on a variety of academic, government and industry body sources, the paper has identified the economic and social impacts noise can have on everyday life -- whether in a city, at work, in a classroom or hospital.

Examples of the sort of noise levels urban populations are regularly exposed to include:

  • An air conditioning unit puts out sounds of 55 decibels. At this level, sleep is impaired and the risk of heart disease increases. Yet an average busy office has been recorded at 65 decibels.
  • Street traffic has been recorded at 70 decibels. Regular unprotected exposure to the same level of noise can lead to permanent hearing loss.
  • The average noise of a motorway is around 85 decibels, the same point at which US Federal Law mandates hearing protection for prolonged exposure. 

The study also looks at much needed solutions to the issues -- given that road traffic noise is estimated to cost between 30 and 46 billion Euros a year ($39 and 60 billion USD a year), or 0.4% of GDP in the European Union.1 It calls for an integrated approach to acoustic design that incorporates cutting edge sound technology with a more thoughtful approach to architectural design and construction. Properly executed, managing sound can lead to higher employee productivity and job satisfaction, lower crime rates in urban environments, and increased sales in business.

"Noise is a major threat to our health and productivity -- but until now we have been largely unconscious of its effects because of our obsession with how things look," says Julian Treasure, chairman of The Sound Agency. "We need to start designing with our ears, creating buildings and public spaces that sound as good as they look. If we do that, we can transform the productivity and wellbeing of office workers, patients in hospitals and children in schools, among many others."

"This isn't a call for silence, but an appeal to start considering the effects poorly managed sound can have," says Graeme Harrison, vice president of marketing at Biamp Systems. "The right sound and acoustics can transform education, healthcare and work, but we have to address the problem now because it's only going to become more difficult in the future. We have the technology and expertise to manage the acoustics of new and existing environments, but now's the time to act and build in sound."

The full report and infographic are available for download here.

About Biamp Systems
Biamp Systems is a leading provider of innovative, networked media systems that power the world's most sophisticated audio/video installations. The company is recognized worldwide for delivering high-quality products and backing each product with a commitment to exceptional customer service. Industry collaboration and education lie at the heart of Biamp's philosophy. The company is a founding member of the AVnu Alliance, the industry body dedicated to developing standards for professional-quality networked audio and video systems, and it was the first US manufacturer to certify a networked audio solution as EN 54-16 compliant.

The award-winning Biamp product suite includes the Tesira® media system for digital audio networking, Audia® Digital Audio Platform, Nexia® digital signal processors, Sona™ AEC algorithm and Vocia® Networked Public Address and Voice Evacuation System. Each has its own specific feature set that can be customized and integrated in a wide range of applications, including corporate boardrooms, conference centers, performing arts venues, courtrooms, hospitals, transportation hubs, campuses and multi-building facilities.

Founded in 1976, Biamp is headquartered in Beaverton, Oregon, USA, with additional engineering operations in Brisbane, Australia. For more information on Biamp, please visit

About Julian Treasure
Julian Treasure is chairman of The Sound Agency, a UK-based consultancy that helps clients achieve better results by optimising the sound they make in every aspect of business. He is also the author of the book Sound Business, the first map of the exciting new territory of applied sound for business. Mr. Treasure has been widely featured in the world's media and conferences, including TED. His four TED talks have been viewed an estimated four million times. His latest talk is on why architects need to use their ears.

1 SILENCE - Recommendations: Practitioner Handbook for Local Noise Action Plans: European Commission Sixth Framework Programme

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