Managed by the Human Language Technology Group, the sound room is a resource for Laboratory staff who need to replicate acoustic environments from the field in a laboratory setting. The facility comprises two areas: the command center and the acoustic isolation room.
The command center allows a person to control the audio signals being fed into the acoustic isolation room and to analyze the data being recorded inside. Two major sound systems feed audio into the room. One sound system comprises five loudspeakers that model acoustic noise events up through 130 decibels. Researchers first measure sound pressure levels and one-third octave frequency spectra and generate audio recordings in a field environment, such as at a commander's chair on specific aircraft, and then use those measurements and recordings to tune the sound system to reproduce the acoustic environment in the room. This replication allows engineers to test technology, such as a voice communication or translation system, for example, in the same conditions in which a human operator would use it. The second sound system is a ring of speakers set up around a subject standing in the room. This setup allows researchers to study, for example, how noise protection headphones affect a soldier's situational awareness amid realistic battlefield sounds.
The facility is stocked with a variety of microphones and biometric devices, such as eye trackers, to support a range of research applications and human studies. Researchers use the equipment in various ways, including to characterize audio channels, study variability in speech patterns, evaluate machine translation systems, and test sensors that are acoustically triggered.