Sound production for BAuA-listening study from real workplace recordings

Project No. IFA 4242


completed 02/2021


The project conducted by the Federal Institute for Occupational Safety and Health (BAuA) “Effects of the acoustical work environment on reading performance and well-being in employees“ examines the influence of a number of realistic sounds on workers' reading performance, well-being and cognitive performance in the working environment. In this project, the test subjects are required to complete a proofreading task and other cognitively demanding tasks whilst being exposed to sounds. The influence of the sound on their performance is studied. The test subjects also provide information on their own perceived exertion. For these tests, the BAuA requires sounds from real-case work contexts in order to place the test subjects in the auditory scenes. Such sounds are not available at the BAuA. The BAuA therefore enquired whether the sound recordings of working environments available at the IFA included such sounds, with the aim of compiling suitable auditory scenes from them.


Sound recordings from real-case workplaces are available at the IFA. The sounds were recorded binaurally with an artificial head and correspond to the human sense of hearing. This method enables the sounds to be reproduced realistically for the human sense of hearing and with auditory immersion. A separate software application was used for further processing of the audio signals with special filtering for playback. Sounds suitable for use in BAuA project F2427 were selected in conjunction with the BAuA. The sounds were preferably to be from shared offices and the retail sector. The selected design of the listening test required the sounds to be at least 20 minutes in length. Shorter audio sequences were therefore taken from the selected full sound tracks. In particular, these guarantee the anonymity of the company and individual persons. The audio sequences selected and satisfying the requirements for anonymity were edited to reflect the human sense of hearing during playback. The editing of the audio signals was documented. Finally, the playback equipment was calibrated at the test site. The test sounds were adapted to the playback equipment in each case by filtering and calibration.

This joint effort yielded results suitable for sound impact research. The knowledge gained of listening test design, work tasks and sound processing can be exploited in further IFA experiments.


Suitable sounds from an office and retail business environment were selected for the listening test and adapted in an iterative process for on-site playback. The sounds were characterized in terms of their acoustic properties and can be cross-referenced to the results of the listening test. Influences of sounds of differing character on the work tasks employed, such as the reading and cognitive performance, can be studied. The knowledge gained on the adaptation and characterization of the sounds and on the general listening test methodology will be incorporated into future listening tests at the IFA.

The series of tests at the BAuA has not yet been completed, since the response to the request for test subjects has been low owing to the pandemic.

Last Update:

14 Apr 2021


Financed by:
  • Deutsche Gesetzliche Unfallversicherung e. V. (DGUV)
Research institution(s):
  • Institut für Arbeitsschutz der Deutschen Gesetzlichen Unfallversicherung (IFA)
  • Bundesanstalt für Arbeitsschutz und Arbeitsmedizin (BAuA)

-cross sectoral-

Type of hazard:



load, stain, noise

Description, key words:

hearing test, noise, binaural, working environment, playback, extra-aural


Further information