Rated 4 of 5.
Level of importance:
Rated 4 of 5.
Level of validity:
Rated 4 of 5.
Level of completeness:
Rated 3 of 5.
Level of comprehensibility:
Rated 4 of 5.
|Keywords:||microperforated panel, Built environment, sound absorption, post-pandemic 'new style', indoor acoustic environment, permeable membrane|
This is a commentary on potential usage scenarios of the self-standing microperforated acoustic absorbers developed by the authors and more thoroughly described in their previously published works. The potential novelty lies in an original point of view of this commentary. Therefore, I believe the text should be improved so the overall narrative becomes its strongest point. The main improvements could be achieved by briefly describing a wider context. There is a strong intention to advocate for usage of the self-standing absorbers at events held during times when certain epidemiological measures are in place to compensate for the acoustical effect caused by lower numbers of audience allowed due to social distancing. However, I would suggest the C-19 aspect should be either omitted or made stronger. While appreciating the argument that the 3D-PMAs described are hygienic and economically viable as very flexible to install and remove, one of the reasons for suggesting to reconsider the focus on the C-19 pandemic is the temporary nature of all the epidemiological measures we are witnessing all over the world.
The use of self-standing objects intended to acoustically enhance rooms is not new but they are not very common in performance spaces, especially from the viewpoint of a listener / audience, so I wholeheartedly welcome this commentary as a contribution to reflect on the potential reasons behind that and how and why this could be changed. The mention of the three-dimensional absorption units that are usually hung from the ceiling weakens the overall argument as they are common as they allow a more flexible plan interieur. A clear distinction should be made between those and the units this commentary focuses on.
For instance, there is a record of self-standing items for enhancing acoustics used in ancient theatres and churches in Europe. On the other hand, in more recent times transparent microperforated absorbers became commercially available so perhaps the ongoing development of acoustic metamaterials should be briefly mentioned. Also, I would suggest that the introduction incorporates a clearer connection between the two concepts (self-standing acoustic units and (transparent) microperforated absorbers) with a very brief history overview of both concepts and how the authors came to combine them. This could be reflected in the introduction and discussion. I believe there is a strong argument for such an approach from the design point of view, even for residential uses and perhaps combining similar design with furnishing such as lighting. It should be made clearer in the introduction if the focus of the commentary is on multipurpose halls or residential use and why.
It is not clear from the text how much is known about the interaction between coronaviruses and the usual porous absorber materials. It is sensible to suggest that the harder, self-standing panels are easier to clean and disinfect but it might be too hasty to suggest all the other absorbers would now be in need of replacing and/or cannot be used anymore. More references on this point are needed.
Another important point related to the context is the acoustic effect of human bodies. It might be self evident, but considering the wide range of backgrounds the readers of this journal come from, please stress already in the introduction that multipurpose public spaces usually host many people where human bodies then significantly contribute to the overall sound absorption in the room. A reader should perhaps get more knowledge about the significance of the effect in rooms of different sizes than mentioned in the ‘Some simple examples’ section. Further, information on the effect of human bodies on room modes and speech intelligibility would be beneficial so readers could fully understand the context. This is crucial as this is a strong part of the conclusions but not elaborated in sufficient depth throughout the text.
A minor point I came across is the mention of the effect of wearing face coverings which is not clear. While it is clearly related to speech intelligibility per se, it is not clear in relation to 3D-PMAs so it could be omitted or explained in more depth, i.e. source vs receiver relation.
In the face of venues all over the world struggling to survive the financial effects of the pandemic and the subsequent lockdowns, it is hard to imagine they could afford additional costs to compensate for the acoustic effect of missing human bodies. I believe this aspect should be considered to strengthen the narrative. Perhaps suggesting how the 3D-PMAs could be used in the pre/post-pandemic life could be beneficial for the narrative.
Moreover, the narrative is mostly built based on the epidemiological measures implemented in Japan so far. This should be acknowledged in the title and discussed as a limitation.
Some minor typos are present, but the overall presentation and language are very good and very clear. I enjoyed reading it.
To conclude, I believe this commentary on potential usage scenarios of self-standing microperforated absorbers is a valuable contribution. Therefore, I would suggest to slightly revise the paper by giving more attention to the context and the narrative, mainly: different usage scenarous, the absorptive effect of human bodies compared to 3D-PMAs across the scenarios, the acoustic requirements of multipurpose halls, and the infection risks related to coronaviruses and porous materials, with clearly laid out limitations of the commentary, such as policy (focus on Japan and the temporary nature epidemiological measures) and economics.