About Noise Simulation Laboratory

Realistic Audiovisual Recording, Simulation, and Reproduction of Traffic Noise and Noise Abatement Measures

When it comes to planning transport infrastructure and noise abatement measures different complex physical phenomena are an issue. Yet only a relatively small group of experts fully understands the complex connections of these phenomena. The abstract calculations and visualizations used in planning are only partially suitable for conveying these connections to decision-makers in the economic, political and social sector.

Until now, an interface between the fields of calculation/simulation on the one hand and the intuitive experienceable, realistic audiovisual depiction of rail traffic noise and urban development effects of noise mitigation methods, on the other hand, was missing.

In cooperation with the DB AG, an innovative technology was developed and implemented in the TiME Lab of the Fraunhofer Heinrich Hertz Institute HHI in Berlin. Based on spatial sound recordings and acoustic simulations in combination with high-resolution video panoramas or photorealistic 3D computer graphics, the noise simulation “Info Point Noise Protection” (Infopunkt Lärmschutz”) was developed.

With the help of a 12 meters wide 180 degrees panoramic projection and a 3D audio reproduction system based on wave-field synthesis, simulations of railroad traffic noise can be reproduced realistically in an unprecedented quality at the TiME Lab. Furthermore, various noise reduction or urban development measures can be integrated into the audiovisual simulation. As a result, the visitor finds himself in the center of a virtual space – for instance directly in front of a planned railway section. He is able to experience the future structural and acoustic situation as well as the efficiency of the planned noise reduction measures in a realistic manner.

In addition to the representation in the TiME Lab, a simpler mobile version of the simulator was developed. This makes the system very user-friendly. Hence, the system can, for instance, be used in meetings with representatives of local citizens’ initiatives to demonstrate realistic scenarios of the planned noise reduction measures on site.

Published with the kind permission of Deutschen Bahn AG. You can watch the video here.


High Quality Panoramic Video Recording High Quality Panoramic Video Recording

The OmniCam-360 developed at Fraunhofer HHI is used for panoramic video recordings. This panoramic camera is equipped with a special mirror rig, which guarantees the simultaneous, parallax-free recording of near and far areas. By using 10 micro-HD cameras, an extremely high resolution of 10,000 x 2,000 pixels can be achieved. For an optimal quality, the images are recorded with a 12-bit color depth in RAW format. By calculating the overall image in real time, the “Real Time Stitching Engine” developed by Fraunhofer HHI allows the viewing of the panoramic image already during production.

Computer Generated Visualization Computer Generated Visualization
In cooperation with a service provider specialized in the visualization of transport infrastructure as well as building construction and civil engineering, map- and plan data are accurately transferred into a computer-generated 3D representation. The visualization is given in a format optimized for the 180° panoramic reproduction in the TiME Lab. Thereby a geometrically correct and realistic depiction can be ensured.

Integration of Proposed Urban Development Measures Integration of Proposed Urban Development Measures
The urban development measures are inserted into the real scene in the form of photorealistic computer animation. The computer-generated graphics are produced (for example based on existing CAD planning data) by a service provider who specialized in this area.


audio recording Special microphone systems are used for audio recording. A 3D microphone array with 14 microphones allows the correct level and localization for the sound field reproduction using the wave field synthesis system in the TiME Lab. Furthermore, an artificial head microphone system is used for later headphone reproduction, for example as part of the interactive mobile demonstrator.


Acoustic Simulation Based on the original sound recordings, various conventional and innovative noise reduction measures such as noise barriers, rail dampers or rail web shields can be simulated. By making these simulations audible and experienceable, they can be compared with each other. The noise reduction measures have not only the correct level but can also be spectrally simulated for the selected listening position.


Terminals In addition to the representation in the TiME Lab, a simplified, mobile version of the simulator has been developed. The viewer can choose and compare different scenarios via a touchscreen interface. The passing trains are displayed in real time on a HD display (1920 x 1080 pixels, with 50 frames per second).

Programming For a realistic audio reproduction, a two-channel audio format optimized for headphone playback is used. By means of this binaural method, there is no 'in-head localization' of the sound event – in contrast to the headphone reproduction of conventional stereophonic signals. The listeners perceive the passing trains frontally and from the right direction. The headphone systems are also calibrated to the correct reproduction level.