Annoyance ratings for artificially created noises, resembling the main characteristics of temporal wind turbine noise, were studied by means of a listening experiment involving 21 participants with normal hearing. Three types of stimuli were examined: broadband noise (−4 dB/octave), noise generated by moving cars, and narrowband noise. All stimuli had the sound level fluctuations typical for wind turbine noise. The magnitude of the sound level fluctuations was measured in a quantitative way, by using the characteristics of amplitude modulated sound: modulation rate and modulation depth. Our aim was to examine how the modulation rate and the modulation depth influence the noise annoyance assessment of broadband and narrowband amplitude modulated noises. Three different modulation rates, 1, 2 and 4 Hz, and sound level fluctuations (a measure of the modulation depth), 3, 6, 9 dB, were applied to each type of stimuli (with exception of noise generated by the moving cars) and investigated. The participants in the listening experiment were presented with sound stimuli in laboratory conditions and asked to rate their annoyance on a numerical scale. The results have shown a significant difference between the investigated conditions. The effect was particularly strong between the annoyance judgments of different types of noise (narrow and broadband), and modulated versus unmodulated noises. Temporal fluctuations occurring in wind turbine noise are very pertinent to the perception of annoyance and could be responsible for its being a relatively annoying noise source. The obtained results were discussed and compared to the typical modulation rates and level changes that occur in recordings of real wind turbine noise.
The present study consisted of two experiments. The goal of the first experiment was to establish the just noticeable differences for the fundamental frequency of the vowel /u/ by using the 2AFC method. We obtained the threshold value for 27 cents. This value is larger than the motor reaction values which had been observed in previous experiments (e.g. 9 or 19 cents). The second experiment was intended to provide neurophysiological confirmation of the detection of shifts in a frequency, using event-related potentials (ERPs). We concentrated on the mismatch negativity (MMN) - the component elicited by the change in the pattern of stimuli. Its occurrence is correlated with the discrimination threshold. In our study, MMN was observed for changes greater than 27 cents - shifts of ±50 and 100 cents (effect size - Cohen’s d = 2.259). MMN did not appear for changes of ±10 and 20 cents. The results showed that the values for which motor responses can be observed are indeed lower than those for perceptual thresholds.