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Have you heard? A new soundscape is being trialled at Helsinki Airport

23.7.2016 at 05:00
A brand new sound experiment is currently underway in the Terminal 2 check-in area. At Helsinki Airport, we want to generate a calm atmosphere and a relaxing experience for all our passengers in the terminal and security control areas.

“Our new soundscape is a blend of music and natural and technologically-created sounds. This is definitely not about piped music, played on a continuous loop. The soundscape can combine the sound of flowing water, birdsong and music, for example,” Johanna Metsälä, Customer Experience Manager at Finavia explains.

According to Metsälä, a well-designed soundscape can have a positive impact on people’s well-being and the way they react to situations. The new soundscape trial is driven by Finavia’s desire to reduce passenger stress levels and provide a calmer atmosphere in the terminal and especially the security control areas, which can often be a source of anxiety.

The airport soundscape is constantly evolving, and the same patterns are never repeated. The sounds are created using software that has been programmed to constantly generate new sound combinations.

Passengers making their way through the airport may not even have perceived the presence of the new sounds as they are intended to blend imperceptibly with the atmosphere and venue.

The experiment was first launched on 1 June. The soundscape can be heard in Terminal 2 on alternate days.

“We are monitoring passengers’ reactions and will be conducting surveys and other research projects throughout the trial period. Passengers can rate their experience in a number of ways, including using the emoticons on our survey app. We want to find out whether the right soundscape delivers positive effects at the airport,” Metsälä says.

The trial forms part of Finavia’s ongoing commitment to developing and enhancing the customer experience and making travel as easy and stress-free as possible.

The technical dimension

The soundscape is created using an Ambifier DSP BSS Soundweb processor and 16 speakers.
The processor is connected to a measurement microphone that “listens” out for the level of ambient noise and adjusts the volume accordingly. This means that the soundscape is set at the right volume at all times.

The speakers are mounted onto the ceiling grid in a dispersed 4x4 pattern facing directly downwards. This allows the sound to flow evenly across the entire space and makes it impossible for the listeners to perceive where it is coming from. The effect is completely natural.

The speakers are relatively small and unobtrusive and fitted with safety wires. The equipment used to mount the speakers is BGV-C1 certified. The cabling is concealed in the ceiling grid. Each individual speaker, including the mount, weighs around 35 kg.