Physiological Variation

The external ear (pinna / ear canal) plays a significant role in transforming acoustic signals from the free field to the middle ear (tympanic membrane).  It acts as a filter to reduce low frequencies, a resonator to enhance mid range frequencies, and a direction-dependent filter at high frequencies to augment spatial perception.  Consequently, the characteristics of sound reaching the middle ear from the free field are influenced by the physical dimensions and the response properties of the external ear.

While wind noise is aero-acoustic, the amount experienced will also be influenced by the physical characteristics of the external ear. In addition, head shape, eyewear, facial hair, and helmet design can affect wind noise. And, to make things more complicated, a persons ears (L / R) typically have some variation.

Ear Shape Variation

We obtained six different silicon ear sets designed for acupuncture training / binaural recording. We aeroacoustically tested these ears in our open jet wind tunnel to evaluate the wind noise generated by slightly different ear shapes. We eventually settled on two high quality ear sets (with desired variations) for ongoing wind tunnel testing.

Ear Canal Variation

Real 'in the canal' measurements using sound pressure probe tubes have helped us understand ear canal variation.

Head Shape Variation

Head shape can also impact experienced wind noise. However, pinna shape variations typically have a larger impact.

Based on our analysis of different ear / pinna and head variations, measured wind noise can vary by several decibels.

Related Reading / Scholarly Articles

  • Transformation characteristics of the external human ear

  • Theoretical and applied external ear acoustics (B. Ballachanda)

  • The pressure distribution in the auditory canal in a progressive sound field

  • Experiments on the noise heard by human beings when exposed to atmospheric winds

  • An average of the human ear canal: Recovering acoustical properties via shape analysis

  • On the relation between pinna reflection patterns and head-related transfer function features 



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