Effects of environmental sound quality on soundscape preference in a public urban space

Kuen Wai Ma, Cheuk Ming Mak, Hai Ming Wong

Research output: Journal article publicationJournal articleAcademic researchpeer-review

38 Citations (Scopus)


A public urban space is undoubtedly one of the key elements in urban planning. It allows citizens with different backgrounds to freely accesses for various healthy, social, or individual reasons. User experience of the space is hence valuable data for the improvement of urban land use. This study aims to investigate how the environmental sound quality influence visitors' soundscape perceptions, preferences, and behavior. Multidimensional acoustic characterization, in terms of a series of acoustic and psychoacoustic metrics, of the acoustic environment were conducted in the five locations at Sha Tin Park of Hong Kong. Meanwhile, self-administrated questionnaires were distributed to the visitors in the locations to collect the subjective data. Total 150 visitors were surveyed. The results indicated that the visitors’ loudness and satisfaction perceptions were associated with the maximum sound levels (LAmax and Nmax) instead of the time-equivalent sound levels (e.g. LAeq and Neq) of the environment. Moreover, it was found that the higher degree of satisfaction was predicted if the visitors perceived a more quiet and pleasant soundscape. In addition, the preferences for soundscape elements could be classified into the three principal components “Natural sounds”, “Human-made sounds”, and “Mechanical sounds”. Furthermore, visitors had a greater overall preference for a good soundscape when they perceived a more pleasant soundscape, had a higher preference for natural sounds, and had a higher visit frequency of the park. These findings consolidated the knowledge on further environmental management and designs of public urban spaces to fulfil the public expectation.

Original languageEnglish
Article number107570
JournalApplied Acoustics
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jan 2021


  • Multidimensional acoustic characterization
  • Psychoacoustic metrics
  • Public urban space development
  • Soundscape perceptions
  • Soundscape preferences

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Acoustics and Ultrasonics


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