The goal of the present study is to characterize water sounds that can be used in urban open spaces to mask road traffic noise. Sounds and visual images of a number of water features located in urban open places were obtained and subsequently analyzed in terms of psychoacoustical metrics and acoustical measures. Laboratory experiments were then conducted to investigate which water sound is appropriate for masking urban noise. The experiments consisted of two sessions: (1) Audio-only condition and (2) combined audio-visual condition. Subjective responses to stimuli were rated through the use of preference scores and 15 adjectives. The results of the experiments revealed that preference scores for the urban soundscape were affected by the acoustical characteristics of water sounds and visual images of water features; Sharpness that was used to explain the spectral envelopes of water sounds was proved to be a dominant factor for urban soundscape perception; and preferences regarding the urban soundscape were significantly related to adjectives describing “freshness” and “calmness.”

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