Numerical Techniques for Acoustic Modelling and Design of Brass Wind Instruments
Abstract: Acoustic horns are used in musical instruments and loudspeakers in order to provide an impedance match between an acoustic source and the surrounding air. The aim of this study is to develop numerical tools for the analysis and optimisation of such horns, with respect to their input impedance spectra. Important effects such as visco-thermal damping and modal conversion are shown to be localised to different parts of a typical brass instrument. This makes it possible to construct hybrid methods that apply different numerical techniques in different parts of the instrument. Narrow and slowly flaring parts are modelled using a one-dimensional transmission line analogy, and the rapidly flaring bell is modelled using a two-dimensional finite-difference method. The connection between the different regions is done by the aid of impedance boundary conditions. The use of such boundary conditions is investigated with respect to the required number of degrees of freedom.Numerical shape optimisation is employed in order to design horns with desired impedance characteristics throughout a design frequency band. A loudspeaker horn is optimised with respect to its sound power output, and a brass instrument is optimised with respect to its intonation. The horns are modelled using the finite-element method and a transmission line analogy. In order to achieve rapid convergence of the optimisation, gradient based minimisation algorithms are used. A prerequisite for success is the ability to accurately and inexpensively compute the gradient of the objective function. The gradient for the finite-element method is computed by an adjoint equation technique, whereas for the transmission line analogy, it is derived by formal differentiation of the model. In order to find smooth solutions, a smoothing technique is used, where optimisation is done with respect to the right hand side of a Poisson type equation.
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