Fields of Acoustics

Acousticians include engineers, physicists, speech and hearing scientists, architects, biologists, psychologists, linguists, mathematicians, oceanographers, computer scientists, and musicians. Since there are many different areas of study and practice within acoustics we have condensed materials into 6 main content areas here. You can also read about different careers in acoustics on the Career Profile Archives page.

General Acoustics

Material in this category covers the science of sound and waves. How sound is created, how it travels and how it is received. In addition how materials react to different types of sounds.

Animal Bioacoustics

Animal Bioacousticians study how animals make, use and hear sounds. Animal bioacoustics also includes the use of sound to study and detect the presence of animals and their behavior, the sounds they make, the effects of man-made noise on animals, and the use of SONAR to monitor the presence of plankton and fish.

Architectural Acoustics

Architectural acousticians study how to design buildings and other spaces that have pleasing sound quality and safe sound levels. Architectural acoustics includes the design of concert halls, classrooms and even heating systems. They may work with musical acousticians and noise specialists.

Medical Acoustics

Doctors and medical researchers study and use acoustics to diagnose and treat different types of ailments. The study of medical acoustics includes the use of ultrasound and other acoustical techniques to learn how different types of sound interact with cells, tissues, organs and entire organisms. Biomedical acousticians may work with engineers, physicians and speech therapist.

Musical Acoustics

Musical acousticians study the science of how music is made, travels and is heard. Since musical acoustics combines elements of art and science, people with training in this field can work in the entertainment industry, in education, in recording and film studios, in the musical instrument industry and much more.

Noise and Environmental Acoustics

Noise specialists are mostly concerned with making our world a quieter place. They study natural and man-made noise, especially from machinery and transportation, and how people respond to noise. Knowledge produced by these scientists can be used to redesign noisy machinery, or to recommend ways of shielding the noise, or to help lawmakers and public officials create rules for limiting exposure to noise.

Speech and Hearing

Hearing specialists and speech scientists are interested in how our ears sense sounds, what types of sounds can damage our ears and how speech is made, travels, and is heard. Hearing specialists may study how to help people with hearing impairments and a speech scientist might be interested in how people learn to speak. People interesting in hearing and speech come from many different fields, including physics, speech and hearing science, experimental psychology, linguistics, electrical engineering, and others.

Underwater Acoustics

Underwater Acoustics is the study of sounds moving through water, such as the ocean, a lake or even water in a tank. The field of underwater acoustics is closely related to acoustical oceanography, animal bioacoustics and physical acoustics.

13 Technical Committees

Learn how these content areas fit into the 13 technical committees of ASA.

Career Profiles

Read about different careers in acoustics.