The indoor sound environment and human task performance: A literature review on the role of room acoustics

J. Reinten, P.E. Braat - Eggen, M.C.J. Hornikx, H.S.M. Kort, A.G. Kohlrausch

Research output: Contribution to journalArticleAcademicpeer-review

44 Citations (Scopus)
275 Downloads (Pure)


A substantial amount of studies have addressed the influence of sound on human performance. In many of these, however, the large acoustic differences between experimental conditions prevent a direct translation of the results to realistic effects of room acoustic interventions. This review identifies those studies which can be, in principle, translated to (changes in) room acoustic parameters and adds to the knowledge about the influence of the indoor sound environment on people. The review procedure is based on the effect room acoustics can have on the relevant quantifiers of the sound environment in a room or space. 272 papers containing empirical findings on the influence of sound or noise on some measure of human performance were found. Of these, only 12 papers complied with this review's criteria. A conceptual framework is suggested based on the analysis of results, positioning the role of room acoustics in the influence of sound on task performance. Furthermore, valuable insights are presented that can be used in future studies on this topic. While the influence of the sound environment on performance is clearly an issue in many situations, evidence regarding the effectiveness of strategies to control the sound environment by room acoustic design is lacking and should be a focus area in future studies.

Noise; Human performance; Sound environment; Speech intelligibility; Sound level
Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)315-332
Number of pages18
JournalBuilding and Environment
Publication statusPublished - Oct 2017


  • Human performance
  • Noise
  • Sound environment
  • Sound level
  • Speech intelligibility


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