Evaluation of the effect of microphone cavity geometries on acoustic imaging in wind tunnels

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Aeroacoustic measurements performed by flush-mounted microphone arrays on the walls of closed-section wind tunnels are contaminated by the hydrodynamic pressure fluctuations of the wall's boundary layer. This study evaluates three different microphone cavity geometries for mitigating this issue. Their improvement to the signal-to-noise ratio (SNR) and the accuracy of their acoustic imaging results are compared to a flush-mounted microphone array. The four geometries include: (1) an array of flush-mounted microphones as the baseline, (2) a cylindrical hard-plastic cavity with a countersink, (3) a conical cavity made of melamine acoustic absorbing foam, and (4) a conical cavity with star-shaped protrusions, also made of melamine. The three arrays with cavities were covered with a steel-wire cloth to reduce the boundary layer fluctuations at the microphone while the baseline array was uncovered. Two sound sources were tested in an aeroacoustic wind tunnel for assessing the performance of the different cavities: a speaker placed outside the flow and a distributed sound source generated by a flat plate inside of the flow. When using conventional frequency domain beamforming, both cavities made of melamine offer up to a 30 dB increase in SNR with respect to the flush-mounted case, followed by the hard-walled cavity with up to a 20 dB increase. This is a 20 dB improvement when compared to the single microphone cases. The melamine cavities also provide cleaner acoustic source maps and accurate spectral estimations for a wider frequency range. The effect of cavity placement and geometry on the coherence, which affects the beamforming analysis of the acoustic signal was negligible for all cases. Distributed sound source measurements using the three arrays agreed with predictions using the Brooks, Pope, and Marcolini (BPM) model, showing that the cavities could detect vortex shedding that was undetectable by the flush array.

Original languageEnglish
Article number108154
Number of pages15
JournalApplied Acoustics
Publication statusPublished - 2021


  • Aeroacoustics
  • Beamforming
  • Boundary layer noise
  • Cavity
  • Microphone arrays
  • Wind-tunnel measurements


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