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AGMA 914- B04

{Revision of AGMA 299.01)

AMERICAN GEAR MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION

Gear Sound Manual


Part I - Fundamentals of Sound as Related to Gears
Part II - Sources, Specifications and Levels of Gear Sound

AGMA 914- B04

Part III - Gear Noise Control

AGMA INFORMATION SHEET


(This Information Sheet is NOT an AGMA Standard)

American
Gear
Manufacturers
Association

Gear Sound Manual


Part I -- Fundamentals of Sound as Related to Gears
Part II -- Sources, Specifications and Levels of Gear Sound
Part III -- Gear Noise Control
AGMA 914--B04
[Revision of AGMA 299.01]
CAUTION NOTICE: AGMA technical publications are subject to constant improvement,
revision or withdrawal as dictated by experience. Any person who refers to any AGMA
technical publication should be sure that the publication is the latest available from the Association on the subject matter.
[Tables or other self--supporting sections may be referenced. Citations should read: See
AGMA 914--B04, Gear Sound Manual: Part I -- Fundamentals of Sound as Related to
Gears; Part II -- Sources, Specifications and Levels of Gear Sound; Part III -- Gear Noise
Control, published by the American Gear Manufacturers Association, 500 Montgomery
Street, Suite 350, Alexandria, Virginia 22314, http://www.agma.org.]

Approved March 4, 2004

ABSTRACT
Noise measurement and control on gear driven equipment is dependent upon the individual characteristics of
the prime mover, gear unit and driven machine, as well as their combined effects as a system in a particular
acoustical environment.
Because of the wide variation of gear driven systems and acoustical environments, this manual attempts to
indicate certain areas where special considerations might be necessary, and must be agreed upon between
purchaser and the gear manufacturer, when discussing gear sounds.
The information is arranged in three parts. Part I presents the fundamentals necessary to understand sound as
related to gears. Part II describes the sources, specifications and levels of gear sound. Reduction or control of
noise, as addressed in Part III, requires attention to connecting equipment and the acoustical environment, as
well as the gear unit.
Published by

American Gear Manufacturers Association


500 Montgomery Street, Suite 350, Alexandria, Virginia 22314
Copyright 2004 by American Gear Manufacturers Association
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced in any form, in an electronic
retrieval system or otherwise, without prior written permission of the publisher.

Printed in the United States of America


ISBN: 1--55589--820--3

ii

AMERICAN GEAR MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION

AGMA 914--B04

Contents
Page

Foreword . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . vi

Part I -- Fundamentals of Sound as Related to Gears


1.1
1.2
1.3
1.4
1.5
1.6
1.7
1.8
1.9

Scope . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
References . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
Symbols and definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1
What is sound? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Description of sound . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 2
Sound or noise? . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Generation of sound in gear units . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 8
Sound transmission . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10
Noise control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 10

Part II -- Sources, Specifications and Levels of Gear Sound


2.1
2.2
2.3
2.4

Gear sound sources . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Sound spectrum experience . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Specification and standards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Gear system sound levels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

11
17
17
20

Part III -- Gear Noise Control


3.1
3.2
3.3
3.4
3.5
3.6
3.7
3.8
3.9
3.10
3.11
3.12

Source noise control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .


Gear design noise control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Gear housing noise control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Bearing noise control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Shaft and hub design noise control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Lubrication noise control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Noise control with system analysis . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Noise of gear unit accessories . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Noise control in the transmission path . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Noise control materials . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Total enclosures . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
Control summary . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

26
26
29
30
31
31
31
32
32
34
35
36

Figures
1--1
1--2
1--3
1--4
1--5
2--1
2--2
2--3
2--4
2--5
2--6
2--7
2--8
2--9

Sound wave forms . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 3


Frequency responses . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 5
Typical A--weighted sound levels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 6
Calculation for expected sound level . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Chart for combining levels of uncorrelated noise signals . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 9
Sound pressure level vs. frequency . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Triple reduction gear motor frequency analysis 3600 rpm input, ratio -45 to 1 . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 13
Gear noise analysis by constant--bandwidth, 10 Hz filter . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 15
Unfiltered sound measurement . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Fast Fourier Transform analysis of sound . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 16
Waterfall analysis of gear unit sound . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 17
Sound test microphone position . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 20
AGMA typical maximum and average sound pressure level vs. high speed
mesh pitch line velocity . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 21
AGMA typical maximum and average sound pressure level vs. catalog
power rating . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 22

AGMA 2004 ---- All rights reserved

iii

AGMA 914--B04

AMERICAN GEAR MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION

2--10 Sound pressure level vs. pitch line velocity taken 3 feet from housing . . . .
2--11 Change in dBA sound pressure level relative to that at 1750 rpm (LPA)
vs. input speed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2--12 Sound pressure level vs. worm speed . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2--13 Change in dBA sound pressure level relative to that at no load (LPA)
vs. P/Pat . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2--14 Change in dBA sound pressure level relative to that at no load (LPA)
vs. P/PR . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
2--15 Sound pressure level vs. center distance -- taken 5 feet from housing . . . .
3--1 Contact of helical gears . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3--2 Contact of spur gears . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3--3 Variation of length of contact lines/face ratio with face width . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3--4 Tip relief on gear teeth . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3--5 Sound transmission paths for gear unit in typical installation . . . . . . . . . . . .
3--6 Noise attenuating devices in gear unit surroundings . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3--7 Effect of noise attenuating devices in gear unit surroundings -- octave
band results . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
3--8 Sound transmission paths for gear unit with vibration isolators and
total enclosure . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

22
23
23
24
24
25
28
28
29
30
33
33
34
36

Tables
1--1
1--2

2--1
2--2
2--3
2--4
2--5
3--1

iv

Symbols and definitions . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 1


Center and approximate cut--off frequencies for standard set of
contiguous--octave and one--third--octave bands covering audio
frequency range . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 7
Common sources of airborne and structure--borne sounds generated in
gear drive systems . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 12
Occupational noise exposure -- OSHA Regulation (Standard 29 CFR) . . . . 18
ANSI noise specifications . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 18
International standards . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 19
No twist steel rod mills A weighted sound levels . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 25
Considerations for noise control . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . 26

AGMA 2004 ---- All rights reserved

AMERICAN GEAR MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION

AGMA 914--B04

Foreword
[The foreword, footnotes and annexes, if any, in this document are provided for
informational purposes only and are not to be construed as a part of AGMA Information
Sheet 914--B04, Gear Sound Manual: Part I -- Fundamentals of Sound as Related to Gears;
Part II -- Sources, Specifications and Levels of Gear Sound; Part III -- Gear Noise Control.]
Concern with industrial noise created a need for a sound standard on all types of products.
Noise measurement, control and attenuation on gear driven equipment is dependent upon
the individual characteristics of the prime mover, gear unit, and driven machine -- as well as
their combined effects as a system in a particular acoustical environment.
Proper assessment of these considerations is essential for realistic determination of
acoustic values. The knowledge and judgment required to properly evaluate the various
factors comes primarily from years of accumulated experience in designing, manufacturing,
and operating gear units. For this reason, the detailed treatment of the testing and resultant
conclusions for specific product applications is best accomplished by experts in the field.
The complexity makes most sound standards difficult to apply or interpret properly. The
AGMA Acoustical Technology Committee developed the Gear Sound Manual 299.01 to
provide improved communication between project engineers, gear manufacturer, and user
in the areas of Fundamentals of Sound as Related To Gears (Part I), Sources,
Specifications and Levels of Gear Sound (Part II), and Gear Noise Control (Part III).
This Information Sheet was originally issued as three separate documents: AGMA 299.01,
Section I, Fundamentals of Sound as Related to Gears; AGMA 299.01, Section II, Sources,
Specifications and Levels of Gear Sound; and AGMA 299.01 Section III, Gear Noise
Control. Section I was approved by the membership in January 1978, Section II was
approved in October 1978, and Section III was approved in October 1978. Combining the
three entitled, AGMA SOUND MANUAL, was approved by the AGMA Technical Division
Executive Committee in October 1987.
The first draft of AGMA 914--B04 was made in November, 2002. It combines all three parts
into one document with three clauses, updates references, and adds a subclause on Fast
Fourier Transform analysis. It was approved by the AGMA membership in March, 2004.
Suggestions for improvement of this document will be welcome. They should be sent to the
American Gear Manufacturers Association, 500 Montgomery Street, Suite 350, Alexandria,
Virginia 22314.

AGMA 2004 ---- All rights reserved

AGMA 914--B04

AMERICAN GEAR MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION

PERSONNEL of the AGMA Sound and Vibration Committee


Chairman: Darwin D. Behlke . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Twin Disc, Incorporated
Vice Chairman: Richard A. Schunck . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . Falk Corporation

ACTIVE MEMBERS
J.B. Amendola . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
L. Lloyd . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
J.J. Luz . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
J.L. Radovich . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
J.R. Sears . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

MAAG Gear AG
Lufkin Industries, Inc.
General Electric Company
Davis--Standard
General Motors Corporation

ASSOCIATE MEMBERS
E.J. Bodensieck . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
D.L. Borden . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
F. Choy . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
D. Coffey . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
D.R. Houser . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
A.J. Lemanski . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
J.V. Lisiecki . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
W.D. Mark . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
H. Minasian . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
G.W. Nagorny . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
D. Palmer . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
E.I. Rivin . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
D.C. Root . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
F.A. Thoma . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
A. von Graefe . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .
B. Ward . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . . .

vi

Bodensieck Engineering Company


D.L. Borden, Inc.
University of Akron
General Motors Corporation
Ohio State University
Penn State University
Falk Corporation
Penn State University
Stoneridge Control Devices, Inc.
Nagorny & Associates
Pittsburgh Gear Company
Wayne State University
Otis Elevator Company
F.A. Thoma, Inc.
MAAG Gear AG
Recovery Systems, LLC

AGMA 2004 ---- All rights reserved

AMERICAN GEAR MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION

American Gear Manufacturers


Association --

Gear Sound Manual:


Part I -- Fundamentals of
Sound as Related to
Gears

AGMA 914--B04 Part 1

between purchaser and gear manufacturer when


discussing gear sounds.

1.2 References
The following standards contain provisions which
are referenced in the text of this information sheet.
At the time of publication, the editions indicated were
valid.
AGMA 913--A98, Effect of Lubrication on Gear
Surface Distress
ANSI/AGMA 1012--F90, Gear Nomenclature,
Definitions Of Terms With Symbols
ANSI/AGMA 6025--D98, Sound for Enclosed Helical, Herringbone and Spiral Bevel Gear Drives

1.1 Scope
1.3 Symbols and definitions
The purpose of this manual is to establish a common
base for communications pertaining to various types
of gear units in differing applications and to encourage the maximum practical degree to uniformity and
consistency between sound measurement practices
within the gear industry.
Because of the wide variation of gear driven systems
and acoustical environments, this manual attempts
to indicate certain areas where special considerations might be necessary and must be agreed upon

The terms used, wherever applicable, conform to


ANSI/AGMA 1012--F90.
NOTE: The symbols and definitions used in this standard may differ from other AGMA standards. The user
should not assume that familiar symbols can be used
without a careful study of their definitions.

The symbols and terms, along with the clause


numbers where they are first discussed, are listed in
alphabetical order by symbol in table 1--1.

Table 1--1 -- Symbols and definitions


Definition

Symbol
ai
f
Lp
Lw
N
p
po
v
W
Wo

Sound pressure level from a single source or octave


Frequency
Sound pressure level
Sound power level
Number of single levels investigated
Sound pressure being measured
Sound pressure, reference
Velocity
Sound power
Sound power reference
Wavelength

AGMA 2004 ---- All rights reserved

Units
dB
Hz
dB
dB
---mN/m2
mN/m2
-- -picowatt
picowatt
-- --

First
referenced
Eq 1.5
Eq 1.1
1.5.2.1
1.5.2.2
Eq 1.5
Eq 1.2
Eq 1.2
Eq 1.1
1.5.2.2
1.5.2.2
Eq 1.1

AGMA 914--B04

AMERICAN GEAR MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION

where

1.4 What is sound?


Sound can be defined as the variations in pressure,
stress, or particle displacement of a medium, or the
sensation of hearing resulting from these variations.
These variations propagate through the medium to a
receiver (ear, pick--up, transducer, etc.). Therefore,
there are three elements of sound: source, transmitting medium and receiver.
When an object vibrates, a disturbance is caused in
the surrounding medium. This disturbance causes a
pressure oscillation, which travels through the
medium to the receiver, where it is transformed back
into a vibration. This receiver may either cause an
auditory sensation or excite some type of read--out
instrumentation.
The transmission of pressure variations is referred to
as a sound wave. A sound wave has the following
basic characteristics:

is wavelength;

is velocity;

is frequency.

1.4.5 Waveform
Waveform defines the type of sound wave, i.e.,
whether the wave is simple (sinusoidal), complex
deterministic (periodic), or a complex random wave
consisting of multiple frequencies, harmonics, random pulses, etc. See figure 1--1.

1.5 Description of sound


1.5.1 Description
Sound is commonly measured or described by one
or more of the following characteristics:
Level

--

amplitude;

--

sound pressure level;

--

frequency;

--

sound power level.

--

velocity;

Frequency content

--

wavelength;

--

A, B, and C weighing networks;

--

waveform.

--

octave and 1/3 octave band filters;

--

narrow band filters.

1.4.1 Amplitude

Descriptive properties

Amplitude is the amount of variation in the pressure


reading of the medium, relative to a standard
reference pressure. Amplitude determines the energy level or strength of the sound, normally expressed
in terms of a decibel level.
1.4.2 Frequency
Frequency is the number of variations in the
amplitude per a given period of time, normally
expressed in Hertz (cycles per second).
1.4.3 Velocity
Velocity of the sound is the speed of the wave, and is
a function of the elastic modulus and the mass
density of the medium.
1.4.4 Wavelength
Wavelength is the distance between adjacent waves
of the same frequency. The relationship of frequency, velocity, and wavelength is expressed by:
=v
f

(1.1)

--

sound intensity;

--

loudness;

--

pitch;

--

tone;

--

directivity.

1.5.2 Level
The level of sound is normally described in terms of
either sound pressure level at a given distance from
the source or sound power level. In each of these,
the desired quantity (pressure or power) is expressed in the numerator of a ratio with the reference
level as the denominator. Because of the extremely
wide range of levels measured (very small to
extremely large) in everyday environments, both
pressure and power ratios are expressed by logarithmic scales.
1.5.2.1 Sound pressure level, Lp
Sound pressure level, Lp, expressed in decibels, is
20 times the logarithm to the base 10 of the ratio of

AGMA 2004 ---- All rights reserved

AMERICAN GEAR MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION

the sound pressure being measured to the reference


sound pressure.
p
L p = 20 log 10 p , dB re 20 mNm 2
o

(1.2)

where
p

is sound pressure being measured, mN/m2;

po

is reference sound pressure, 20 mN/m2.

AGMA 914--B04

The reference sound pressure, po, is internationally


accepted as 20 micro Newtons/meter squared,
which is about the threshold of normal hearing at a
frequency of 1000 Hz. All sound measuring instruments respond to sound pressure.
Example: The sound pressure near a punch press is
measured as being 0.0025 psi. What is the sound
pressure re 20 mN/m2 in dB?

Single frequency
sinusoidal wave form

Form A

Pressure

Pressure

Period
(time)

Example of complex
wave form

Time

Amplitude

Time

Wavelength
(distance)

Sinusoidal wave form A


when combined with form B
results in complex form A + B

Amplitude

Velocity
=
(speed of sound)

Wavelength
Period

Form A + B

Pressure

Pressure

k--

Pressure

Form B
Frequency = 1
Period

Time

Wavelength = Velocity Period

Pressure

Example of complex -- random wave

Time
A + B + Random pulses
Figure 1--1 -- Sound wave forms

AGMA 2004 ---- All rights reserved

AGMA 914--B04

AMERICAN GEAR MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION

Since 1.0 psi = 6890 N/m2, then 0.0025 psi = 17.225


N/m2.

L p = 20 log 10

17.22 Nm 2
20 mNm 2

= 20 log 108.612 10 5
= 118.7 dB re 20 mNm 2

(1.3)

So we would commonly say the noise of the punch


press is 119 dB.
1.5.2.2 Sound power level, Lw
Sound power level, Lw, is the ratio, expressed in
decibels, of the sound power under consideration to
the reference sound power, one picowatt (10 --12
watt).
L w = 10 log 10 W , dB re 10 12 watt
Wo

(1.4)

is interesting to note the tremendous attenuation the


A scale performs on low frequencies. At about 95
Hz, for example, there is about a 20 dB attenuation.
Only 1/10 of the actual sound is indicated on the
meter. Therefore, gears generating low frequency
sound are more likely to pass a dBA specification,
and be less annoying to the ear. AGMA sound
standards use an A weighted sound level (dBA) as a
common indication of performance. See figure 1--3.
1.5.3.2 Octave and 1/3 octave band filter
Another filtering system often used in the measurement of sound is the octave and 1/3 octave bands.
These are discrete filters which only register a limited
range of frequencies. The octave and 1/3 octave
bands are used for analytical work and are usually
specified by their center frequencies. See table 1--2.
The 63 Hz octave band to the 8000 Hz octave band
are most commonly used in industry specifications.
1.5.3.3 Narrow band filters

where
W

is sound
picowatt;

power

under

consideration,

Wo

is reference sound power, picowatt.

Sound power cannot be measured directly. It can be


obtained only by calculation after having measured
sound pressure levels in a known acoustical environment (i.e., anechoic chambers, reverberant rooms,
etc.).

A narrow band filter (spectrum analyzer) is similar to


octave band filters, however, the band filter is greatly
reduced in width to allow better resolution of
component frequencies in a noise spectrum. A
narrow band filter may have a bandwidth of only 2
Hz. Real time analyzers are a special form of narrow
band filter that enables the investigator to look at all
bands in an instant, instead of sweeping through
each band slowly.

1.5.3 Frequency content

1.5.4 Descriptive properties

The frequency content of a sound is normally


described as a particular frequency or by the level
content in a band of frequencies.
1.5.3.1 A, B and C weighing networks
The frequency response of the human ear is not as
good as a sound level meter. Therefore, various
weighing networks (filters) have been established so
that the objective meter measurement will come
close to indicating what the ear hears. Figure 1--2
shows the attenuation of the A, B and C weighing
scales of a sound level meter. The A scale is a
filtering system that roughly matches the human
ears response at sound levels below 55 dB. The B
scale roughly matches the ear at levels between 55
dB and 85 dB, and the C scale is to match above 85
dB. However, the A scale (sound pressure level
measured in dBA) has received prominence due to
its use in OSHA, for measuring levels up to 115 dB. It

The characteristics described are the ones which


must be investigated properly in order to obtain an
accurate description of a generated sound level and
to be able to prescribe proper corrective measures
for reduction of excessive levels.
1.5.4.1 Sound intensity
Sound intensity is the quotient, expressed in watts
per square meter, obtained when the average rate of
sound energy flowing in a specified direction is
divided by the area, perpendicular to that direction
toward which it flows.
1.5.4.2 Loudness
Loudness is the attribute of sound intensity which
depends primarily on the sound pressure. Loudness
is typically ranked on a scale ranging from soft to
loud. See figure 1--3.

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AGMA 914--B04

A, B, and C electrical weighting networks for the sound--level meter


These numbers assume a flat, diffuse--field response for the sound--level meter and microphone
A--weighting
relative response, dB

B--weighting
relative response, dB

C--weighting
relative response, dB

Frequency,
Hz

A--weighting
relative response, dB

B--weighting
relative response, dB

C--weighting
relative response, dB

10.0
12.5
16.0
20.0
25.0
31.5
40.0
50.0
63.0
80.0
100.0
125.0
160.0
200.0
250.0
315.0
400.0

--70.4
--63.4
--56.7
--50.5
--44.7
--39.4
--34.6
--30.2
--26.2
--22.5
--19.1
--16.1
--13.4
--10.9
--8.6
--6.6
--4.8

--38.2
--33.2
--28.5
--24.2
--20.4
--17.1
--14.2
--11.6
--9.3
--7.4
--5.6
--4.2
--3.0
--2.0
--1.3
--0.8
--0.5

--14.3
--11.2
--8.5
--6.2
--4.4
--3.0
--2.0
--1.3
--0.8
--0.5
--0.3
--0.2
--0.1
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0

500
630
800
1 000
1 250
1 600
2 000
2 500
3 150
4 000
5 000
6 300
8 000
10 000
12 500
16 000
20 000

--3.2
--1.9
--0.8
0.0
0.6
1.0
1.2
1.3
1.2
1.0
0.5
--0.1
--1.1
--2.5
--4.3
--6.6
--9.3

--0.3
--0.1
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
--0.1
--0.2
--0.4
--0.7
--1.2
--1.9
--2.9
--4.3
--6.1
--8.4
--11.1

0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
0.0
--0.1
--0.2
--0.3
--0.5
--0.8
--1.3
--2.0
--3.0
--4.4
--6.2
--8.5
--11.2

Relative response, decibels

Frequency,
Hz

Frequency responses for


SLM weighting characteristics

Frequency, Hz
Figure 1--2 -- Frequency responses
1.5.4.3 Pitch
Pitch is the psychophysical attribute of sound
corresponding approximately to frequency by which
sounds may be ordered from low to high. Pitch
depends primarily upon the frequency of the sound,

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but it also depends upon the sound pressure and


wave form.
1.5.4.4 Tone
Tone is an auditory sensation of pitch. There are two
types of tones: a pure tone and a complex tone. A

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AMERICAN GEAR MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION

pure tone is created by a simple sinusoidal function.


A complex tone is created by a combination of simple
sinusoidal functions. Most of the sound which is
investigated around gear units is a combination of
complex tones and random noise.
1.5.4.5 Directivity
Directivity describes the directionality of sound in a

field. Sound does not propagate equally in all


directions except in a textbook free field case. In
measuring sound pressure level, directionality must
be taken into consideration. A gear unit against a
wall radiates a higher level of sound in a given
direction away from the wall than an isolated unit
removed from reflecting surfaces.

At a given distance from noise source

Environment

Decibels
re 20 mN/m2

140
50 HP siren (100)

130
Jet takeoff (200)

Pain

120

Deafening
Riveting machine
Cut--off saw
Pneumatic peen hammer

Very loud
Loud

110

Casting shakeout area

100

Electric furnace area

Textile weaving plant


Subway train (20)

90

Boiler room
Printing press plant

Pneumatic drill (50)

80

Tabulating room
Inside sport car (50 mph)

Freight train (100)


Vacuum cleaner (10)
Speech (1)

70

Moderate

60
Large transformer (200)

50
40

Faint

Soft whisper (5)

Near freeway (auto traffic)


Large store
Accounting office
Private business office
Light traffic (100)
Average residence
Minimum levels ---residential areas in
Chicago at night

30

Studio (speech)

20

Studio for sound pictures

Very faint
10
Threshold of hearing,
youths 1000--4000 Hz

Typical A--weighted sound levels increase

Increase in levels
p
Decibels 20 log p
o
1 dB
3 dB
6 dB
10 dB
12 dB
20 dB
40 dB

Increase in sound
pressure level
1.12 times
1.41 times
2.00 times
3.16 times
4.00 times
10.00 times
100.00 times

Figure 1--3 -- Typical A--weighted sound levels

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Table 1--2 -- Center and approximate cut--off frequencies for standard set of contiguous--octave and
one--third--octave bands covering audio frequency range
Frequency, Hz
Band

Octave
Lower band
limit

12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
21
22
23
24
25
26
27
28
29
30
31
32
33
34
35
36
37
38
39
40
41
42
43

Upper
Center
band limit

11

16

22

22

31.5

44

44

63

88

88

125

177

177

250

355

355

500

710

710

1 000

1 420

1 420

2 000

2 840

2 840

4 000

5 680

5 680

8 000

11 360

11 360

16 000

22 720

One--third octave
Lower band
Upper
Center
limit
band limit
14.1
17.8
22.4
28.2
35.5
44.7
56.2
70.8
89.1
112
141
178
224
282
355
447
562
708
891
1 122
1 413
1 778
2 239
2 818
3 548
4 467
5 623
7 079
8 913
11 220
14 130
17 780

16
20
25
31.5
40
50
63
80
100
125
160
200
250
315
400
500
630
800
1 000
1 250
1 600
2 000
2 500
3 150
4 000
5 000
6 300
8 000
10 000
12 500
16 000
20 000

17.8
22.4
28.2
35.5
44.7
56.2
70.8
89.1
112
141
178
224
282
355
447
562
708
891
1 122
1 413
1 778
2 239
2 818
3 548
4 467
5 623
7 079
8 913
11 220
14 130
17 780
22 390

The differentiation between sound and noise can be


defined simply: sound is a variation in pressure;
noise is undesired sound. Noise also implies
undesired frequencies which tend to mask useful
information, causing possible misrepresentation of
actual sound characteristics. Examples of noises
extraneous to gear sound measurement are lubrication pump noise, air--drill noise, 60 cycle hum,
instrumentation, electrical noise, etc.

sound waves in the form of rms levels at various


frequencies or frequency bands. Using an analyzer
will help separate undesired frequencies from the
sound spectrum and contribute to an accurate
interpretation of sound data. The bandwidth of the
analyzer governs the amount of useful data displayed for analysis. The narrower the bandwidth, the
more discrete frequency information available, the
easier it becomes to identify extraneous noise
frequencies from the other generated sound in a
gear driven system.

Sound measurement and analysis are required to


determine what sound is typically generated and
what sound is undesired noise. This analysis is
accomplished by the use of a sound analyzer. A
sound analyzer is an instrument which displays

In all possible cases, the elimination of unwanted


noise in the area under investigation should be
carried out before proper gear sound analysis is
initiated. This will make the engineers job of

1.6 Sound or noise?

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AGMA 914--B04

analyzing the data much easier and will enable him


to give better results.

1.7 Generation of sound in gear units


The sounds generated during gear unit operation
can be from one or more of the following major
sources:

produce noise. Care must be taken to determine the


natural frequencies of support structures to ensure
that the rotational frequency and other generated
frequencies are not coincident to, or a multiple of,
natural frequencies. Likewise, lateral and torsional
natural frequencies in the rotating system may be
excited to produce noise if they are too close to a
generated frequency or its harmonics.

--

gear dynamics;

--

bearing dynamics;

Often, other equipment is required for proper


operation of a gear unit. Accessories such as
cooling fans and lubrication systems (pumps, motors, relief valves, etc.) can be sources of noise
which may appear to be generated by the gear units.

--

coupling noises;

1.7.1 Overall sound level

--

system resonance or critical speeds;

All of these sources as well as extraneous noise from


the surrounding environment (background noise)
add up to the overall sound level in the area of the
gear unit. The interrelationship between them helps
to define the sound level. The overall level is
determined by the addition of different generated
levels by the following expression:

-- accessories such as fans, lubrication systems, etc.


Sound generation in gears is related to design
tolerances and operation. The mating accuracy of a
gear set must be maintained, commensurate with
the desired operation. Gear sound is often generated by the mesh action of the teeth. If the teeth have
irregularities in their profile or spacing, noise may be
generated at the frequency of the irregularities. One
must understand that a 100% accurate theoretical
tooth profile will still generate sound due to the
dynamics of gear mesh. Improper lubrication may
allow noise to be generated in the mesh. The sounds
generated will often be at the mesh frequency (i.e.,
the frequency of rotation times the number of teeth
on the rotor), harmonics of mesh frequency, or at
sideband frequencies (mesh frequency plus and
minus pinion or gear rotational frequencies).
Sound in ball and roller bearings can be generated
by the irregularities in the bearing elements, friction,
deflections under load, misalignments, loose cages
and races, windage, roller skewing and/or skidding,
etc. Misalignments and deflections under load are
the major causes of antifriction bearing noise.
Couplings may produce noise due to windage.
Exposed bolts, exposed holes and high velocity
surfaces can all add to the ability of a coupling to
generate noise due to windage. The windage shows
up as a rotational frequency and multiples of
rotational frequency, depending on the number of
exposed bolts and exposed holes.
System resonances and critical speed generate
sound in gear units. The structural resonant frequencies of the casing and the baseplate can be excited
by internally generated frequencies (tooth mesh) to

AMERICAN GEAR MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION

L p = 10 log 10

100.1ai

(1.5)

i=1
where
Lp

is sound pressure level, dB;

ai

is sound pressure level from a single source


or octave;

is number of single levels investigated.

In an octave band analysis, N is the number of


octaves.
1.7.2 Example 1
The installation in figure 1--4 shows a motor, parallel
shaft double increasing gear unit, and a compressor
in an industrial plant environment. The sound of
each piece of equipment was measured by its
manufacturer to have the listed sound levels at the
operator location shown. Totaling the levels by the
formula gives an expected level at the operator of 94
dBA. Actual measurement after installation indicated 95 dBA at full load.
Therefore, a means of adding or subtracting sound
generated from different sources is also available.
Any school student will tell you that (82 + 88 = 89) is
an invalid equation. However, if we state that in the
same environment 82 dB + 88 dB = 89 dB we would
be correct. Figure 1--5 shows a chart which can be
used to assist in adding and subtracting sound
pressure levels in dB units of measure.

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AMERICAN GEAR MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION

AGMA 914--B04

Numerical difference between


total and larger level, decibels

Figure 1--4 -- Calculation for expected sound level

Numerical difference between total


and smaller levels, decibels
To add levels
Enter the chart with the numerical difference between two levels being added. Follow the line corresponding to this value to its intersection with the curved line, then left to read the numerical difference between total and larger level. Add this value to the larger level to determine the total.
Example: Combine 75 dB and 80 dB. The difference is 5 dB. The 5 dB line intersects the curved line at 1.2
dB on the vertical scale. Thus, the total value is 80 + 1.2 or 81.2 dB.
To subtract levels
Enter the chart with the numerical difference between total and larger levels if this value is less than 3
dB. Enter the chart with the numerical difference between total and smaller levels if this value is between
3 and 14 dB. Follow the line corresponding to this value to its intersection with the curved line, then either
left or down to read the numerical difference between total and larger (smaller) levels. Subtract this value from the total level to determine the unknown level.
Example: Subtract 81 dB from 90 dB. The difference is 9 dB. The 9 dB vertical line intersects the curved
line at 0.6 dB on the vertical scale. Thus, the unknown level is 90 -- 0.6 or 89.4 dB.

Figure 1--5 -- Chart for combining levels of uncorrelated noise signals

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AGMA 914--B04

1.7.3 Example 2
There are four gearmotors generating equal
amounts of sound energy (power). Together they
produce a level of 94 dBA. To cut the sound by 3 dB to
91 dBA, two (half) of the gearmotors would have to
be turned off. To be below the OSHA limit of 90 dBA a
third (one--fourth original number) gearmotor would
have to be shut down, resulting in a level for one
gearmotor of about 88 dBA.
Also, the lowering of the level of the major contributor
to a high noise level from a single gear unit will drop
the overall more significantly than lowering any other
level.
1.7.4 Example 3
There are four levels -- 70, 86, 78, 91 at different
frequencies. When added together the overall is
92.4 dB. Lowering the major contributor (91 dB) by 7
dB, lowers the overall to 88.6 dB -- a reduction of 3.8
dB. Lowering the second major contributor (86 dB)
by 7 dB, lowers the overall to 91.5 dB -- a reduction of
only 0.9 dB. This shows it is the major contributor
which must be reduced for effective noise control.

AMERICAN GEAR MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION

natural resonances of other equipment and structures, and thus create a sound pressure level louder
than the source under investigation. If the sound
levels of a gas turbine driven--gear compressor
system are being measured to determine the gear
noise one could ask the following questions:
-- What is the major noise source: turbine, gear
unit, compressor, piping or structure?
-- How much of the noise is traveling through
the support structures and radiating at some point
other than its source?
-- Is the gear unit mesh frequency exciting a natural resonance in the sheet metal cover of the turbine, or the piping, etc.?
-- Is a blade pass frequency exciting a natural
resonance of the bull web or the gear housing?
-- What are the sound levels at different loads or
speeds?
This list could be continued at great length; however,
one can see that there are many different influences
when trying to determine the sound level of a gear
unit in the middle of a power transmission system.
The exact same gear unit may generate completely
different sound levels in two different systems.

1.8 Sound transmission


There are two types of sound transmitted to the
receiver. These are structure--borne sound and
airborne sound. Structure--borne sound is sound
that reaches the receiver over at least part of its path
by vibrations of a solid structure. Airborne sound is a
sound that reaches the receiver by propagation
through the air.
An extremely important consideration when evaluating generated sound pressure levels of machinery is
that sound can be structure--borne for considerable distances without significant attenuation.
Structural steel beams may provide a path for
structure--borne sound (vibrations) to travel significant distances and then radiate airborne sound
pressure levels at nearly the same level as the
source. A screwdriver often is used to transmit
structure--borne sound from the gear case to the ear.
Furthermore, structure--borne sound may excite

10

1.9 Noise control


When we discuss noise control (or noise reduction)
two approaches must be considered: either controlling the source or controlling the transmission path.
Reducing the noise level at its source is accomplished by a change in design and/or manufacturing
(quality). Noise control in the transmission path
involves interrupting the transmission of the noise or
changing its direction. The method which is chosen
often depends on the economics involved. A
detailed approach on various methods of noise
control will be covered in Part III.
In order for industry to effectively combat the noise
problems of today and the requirements of the
future, knowledgeable steps must be taken during all
phases of design, manufacture, assembly, test and
field installations of gear driven systems.

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AMERICAN GEAR MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION

American Gear Manufacturers


Association --

Gear Sound Manual:


Part II -- Sources,
Specifications and
Levels of Gear Sound
2.1 Gear sound sources
There are a multitude of factors, as discussed in Part
I, which can contribute to the sounds produced in a
gear driven system. The influence of each factor, its
contribution, and what methods can be employed to
economically control the sources of noise must be
analyzed to minimize the generated levels. Therefore, it becomes important to separate the specific
sources, specifications and levels related to the gear
unit from others related to the drive system.
Most industrial gear driven system sounds can be
generally explained by one of the following relationships:
2.1.1 Harmonic frequencies
Those directly related to the frequency or harmonic
frequencies of a mechanical motion.
2.1.2 Resonant frequencies
Those related to the resonance frequencies and/or
critical speeds of the system, part of the system, or
its structure.
2.1.3 Complex frequencies
Complex source frequencies due to waveform
combinations, i.e., amplitude modulation, frequency
modulation, products, sums, differences of mechanical motion or resonant frequencies.
2.1.4 Frequency origins
Generally, the primary sound frequencies generated
by a gear unit are predominantly described in 2.1.1

AGMA 2004 ---- All rights reserved

AGMA 914--B04 Part II

or 2.1.2. Occasionally, a complex problem may exist


where an analysis of frequencies listed in 2.1.3 is
necessary for a solution. Therefore, knowing the
major frequencies of mechanical motion or resonants will supply the origins of a majority of the sound
sources generated by a gear unit.
2.1.5 Common frequencies
If the frequency components of the overall sound
generated by gear units are reviewed in general,
there will be many similarities. The most common
frequencies will be the rotational speeds, their
multiples, periodic motions (such as tooth mesh),
windage, critical speeds and natural resonances.
Table 2--1 defines some of the common sources of
airborne and structure--borne sounds generated in
gear driven systems.
2.1.6 System frequency range
It is interesting to note that the majority of common
sound frequencies mentioned above for moderate
and high speed industrial gear driven systems lie in
the 250 to 8000 Hz octave bands. These frequencies, when related to mechanical motion, might be
used to detect sources related to antifriction
bearings, hydrodynamic bearings, looseness,
distortion, lube pump systems, etc.
2.1.7 Typical sound investigation
The following are typical investigations of gear
system sound generations.
2.1.7.1 Investigation 1--gear unit
A typical result of a gear unit sound investigation to
determine the major sources is shown in figure 2--1.
Tabulated are the A, B and C weighted sound
pressure levels as measured with a sound level
meter. These results reveal no information as to the
major sound sources. Octave band results (curve 1)
are plotted versus frequency and reveal the two
major source frequencies to be approximately 250
and 1000 Hz. The exciting frequencies for the gear
unit show the 1000 Hz peak to be associated with the
high speed mesh, and the 250 Hz peak to be
associated with either or both the low speed mesh or
high speed fan. The 1/3 octave band results (curve
2) further define the frequency spectrum pointing to
the high speed mesh as a major sound source, but
still not resolving whether either or both the low

11

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AMERICAN GEAR MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION

speed mesh or high speed fan are major sources.


Results of a 1/10 octave band analysis (curve 3)
clearly show the major sources to he the high speed
mesh (84 dB @ 1060 Hz) and low speed mesh (81

dB @ 285 Hz). This analysis indicates frequencies


directly related to mechanical motion of the shafts
and tooth meshes.

Table 2--1 -- Common sources of airborne and structure--borne sounds generated in gear drive
systems
Instruments that provide the operator with not only the amplitude of the vibration or noise, but, also the
predominant frequencies can be a tremendous aid in determining sources. These causes normally present themselves as follows:
1. Balance. Residual unbalance presents itself at
a frequency equal to once per shaft revolution and
it will increase in amplitude as speed is increased.
2. Alignment. Misalignment will present itself at
once or sometimes twice and three times per shaft
revolution. However, the amplitude will remain fairly constant with speed changes.

7. Resonances. These also display themselves as


frequencies at which system members like to vibrate. The distinction from critical speeds is that
resonances occur in other than rotating members,
and affect alignment. Resonances occur at fixed
frequencies and change in amplitude with load,
speed and temperature.
8. Tooth mesh, i.e., tooth contact. This will show
up at tooth mesh frequency (i.e., rotating speed
times number of teeth) and multiples of this mesh
frequency.

3. Friction. This is difficult to pinpoint by vibration


and noise frequency. Amplitude may be very high
when continuous sliding occurs. It may also be random, high--amplitude, shock--type pulses, as in hydrodynamic bearing rubbing. It may be irregular and 9. Bearing instability. Bad antifriction bearings will
often violent.
cause high--frequency vibration at several times
rotational speed; also, friction vibration will occur.
Hydrodynamic bearings, lightly loaded, will tend to
4. Looseness. This may cause unbalance, misalignment and friction rubbing at moderate and high whirl at 0.43 to 0.47 times the rotational speed.
This so--called half frequency whirl will on--set
speeds. At low speeds, it may display itself as an
violently with speed or temperature changes, and
irregular rattle. Often it shows up at twice shaft
may continue until the rotor is completely stopped.
rotational speed.
5. Distortion. This is often an indirect cause of
vibration and noise, which also leads to unbalance,
misalignment, or friction. It will tend to change in
amplitude with load or operating temperatures,
when speed is held constant.

10. System pulses. These may occur in many


types of systems, such as the vane--pass frequency
of a pump or compressor (rotational speed times
the number of vanes), and the beating of reciprocating engines which cause frequencies at one--half
and one--quarter rotational speed at various amplitudes.

6. Critical speeds. These occur through any given


speed range and are points at which a rotating sys11. Windage. Couplings and other rotating parts
tem likes to vibrate torsionally or laterally at a pargenerally create broadband noise, but can be at a
ticular frequency. Rotors characteristically show
bolt pass frequency or fan blade pass frequency.
violent increase in amplitude at particular critical
speeds, but are fairly stable above and below these
speeds. A critical speed may change frequency
with load and temperatures.

NOTE:
All of these types of vibrations and noise frequencies can be generated in a gear drive. Major frequencies can interact
and cause frequency modulation and phase shifts. Any combination, sum, difference and multiple (harmonics) of the
prime frequencies can occur if the forcing magnitude and system freedoms are such that they will cause and allow the
generated vibration to become predominant. Generally, only the prime frequencies will present themselves as problem
modes. However, sometimes very elusive frequencies appear, such as periodic cutting machine error appearing on one
of the gears.

12

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AMERICAN GEAR MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION


100

Source
HS Mesh
LS Mesh
HS Fan
HS Shaft
Int. Shaft
LS Shaft

1060
285
243
30.4
20.4
4.84

Double reduction gear unit -- fan cooled, 4.8 LS


center distance, 6.26 total ratio, 1820 input rpm, full
load, microphone 5 from unit side at height of HSS

Sound pressure level, dB re 20 mPa

Exciting
frequency, Hz

AGMA 914--B04

Sound level meter results


89 dBC, 88 dBB, 86 dBA
Curve 1:
octave band
results
Curve 2:
1/3 octave
band results
Curve 3:
1/10 octave
band results

HS MESH

Frequency, Hz

Figure 2--1 -- Sound pressure level vs. frequency


2.1.7.2 Investigation 2--gear motor
Similar analysis of a gear motor shown in figure 2--2
did not clearly indicate the major sources of noise
even after a 500 band real time analyzer was used.
The major frequencies were present at 565 Hz and
1,325 Hz as shown on curve 1, but the sources were
not apparent. Only after further investigation of the
system indicated by the structure--borne noise

Sound pressure level, dB re 20 mPa

Motor resonance
565 Hz

curves 2 and 3, did the sources present themselves.


Resonance frequencies of the motor case and
support structure, excited by other frequencies in the
system, were responsible for the major frequencies.
If a narrow band filter had not been used, the major
sources of noise could have been mistaken for the
high speed gear mesh frequency (1,270 Hz) and two
times the intermediate speed gear mesh frequency
(512 Hz).

Resonant structure
1325 Hz

512
Hz
Intermediate
mesh
256 Hz

Curve 1:
Area noise 3 feet
from gear case

1270
Hz

Curve 2:
Support structure
structure--borne noise
(acceleration)
Curve 3:
Motor case structure--borne
noise (acceleration, fan cover)

Frequency, Hz

Figure 2--2 -- Triple reduction gear motor frequency analysis


3600 rpm input, ratio -- 45 to 1

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2.1.7.3 Investigation 3--spectrum analysis

2.1.7.3.4 Problem aspects

Analysis of a typical industrial sound spectrum


reveals much information about component heredity
and physical makeup. For example, for a set of
involute gears, the contact frequency (meshing rate
of the teeth) is fc = 1,038 Hz, the pinion rotates at
fp = 38.44 Hz, and the wheel rotates at fw = 27.33 Hz.
The pinion was cut using an indexing wheel with 69
teeth. A 10--Hz--wide frequency analysis of directly
radiated gear sound is shown in figure 2--3.

Improvement to this particular gear sound level may


be achieved by improved concentricity of the pinion.
However, there are other aspects of the problem to
be understood.

2.1.7.3.1 Noise regions


Three major regions in this spectrum exist: one
centered around 885 Hz, another around 2,035 Hz,
and a third around 2,649 Hz. The first region is
centered around a frequency that is not the contact
frequency, as might be expected. Rather, the
maximum level at 885 Hz occurs at an amplitude
modulation sideband caused by some eccentricity in
the pinion during rotation.
2.1.7.3.2 Identifications
This identification can be made because the amplitude modulation process gives a set of sum--and--difference terms involving the frequencies in the
modulation process. If pinion eccentricity causes the
teeth to be driven into and away from the wheel
teeth, a load fluctuation results. Thus, amplitude of
tooth contact sound level (1,038 Hz) is increased
and decreased and an amplitude modulation process occurs. In its simplest form, a 100 percent
modulation, the 1,038 Hz frequency disappears and
two amplitude modulated sidebands are generated
at (fc + fp) and (fc -- fp). In reality, the modulation
process is neither simple nor 100 percent. The
details of amplitude modulation are discussed in
many electronics textbooks. More complex modulation processes allow extended sideband structures
about the primary frequency. In the involute gear
example, the fourth lower sideband is the largest;
that is, (fc -- 4fp) = 886 Hz.
2.1.7.3.3 Amplitude modulation
The amplitude modulation sidebands throughout the
whole analysis are dominated by the pinion rotation,
although wheel effects show up occasionally. These
sidebands indicate that there is an eccentric pinion in
the system, as explained above. It is important to
remember that a 10 Hz filter can discern frequencies
only within 5 Hz and, during dynamic scanning,
within 8 Hz. The frequency of a peak can then fall
within 8 Hz of the actual value.
14

2.1.7.3.5 Sidebands
Frequencies around 2,035 Hz are the sidebands
associated with the second harmonic of tooth
contact frequency. However, 2 fc = 2,076 Hz is not
the predominant frequency. All the high level
sidebands are associated with the pinion, as can be
seen by the 38 Hz spacing. Again, this suggests
pinion eccentricities.
2.1.7.3.6 Ghost noise and index wheel errors
The last major frequency region around 2,649 Hz is
also amplitude modulated by pinion frequency. But,
first, it is important to know why the 69th harmonic
(69 38.44 = 2,652 Hz) of the pinion rotary speed is
large when no other harmonic is significant. The
answer is that this frequency -- 2,649 Hz -- is not a
rotational speed harmonic. Instead, it is associated
with slight inaccuracies manufactured into the pinion. During manufacture, erroneous table positioning relative to the gear cutter resulted in periodic
variations of pinion tooth geometry. In effect, the
cutting machine generated surface undulations
appearing as a ghost gear on top of the actual gear.
Minute errors generated in the pinions involute tooth
form corresponding to errors in the indexing wheel
constitute the ghost gear which has the same
number of teeth as does the manufacturing index
wheel. Thus: (number of teeth on indexing wheel)
(rotary speed of pinion) = [first ghost, (fgi)].
Secondary and tertiary ghosts have also been
informally reported. These ghosts are generated by
a gear that has inaccuracies from machines that are
one and two generations removed from the machine
that manufactured the gear.
2.1.7.3.7 Sound level improvement
Therefore, the generated sound level of this gear set
could be improved by:
--

improving the pinion eccentricity;

-- correcting the machining errors (hone away


undulations or remachine on a different or
improved table).
NOTE: Discussions of noise control methods are
covered in Part III of the Gear Sound Manual.

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k6i6

Sound pressure level (dB re 20 mPa)

Sound pressure level (dB re 20 mPa)

AMERICAN GEAR MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION

Figure 2--3 -- Gear noise analysis by constant--bandwidth, 10 Hz filter

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the same measurement as a function of its discrete


frequencies in the spectrum from 0 to 400 Hz.

There are many ways that a measurement of sound


level can be processed to give useful information
about a gear unit. A digital, Fast Fourier Transform
(FFT) analysis can be used to separate the discrete
frequencies. Figure 2--4 shows an unfiltered amplitude measurement of sound for a short period of a
gear unit operating at 640 rpm. Very little information
can be ascertained until the measurement signal is
processed. An FFT analysis, as in figure 2--5, shows

A waterfall plot, using FFT analysis, gives a picture


of a multitude of measurements at different operating speeds. Such an analysis, see figure 2--6, can
show the frequency components that change with
speed and those that do not. This can give an
indication of the resonant frequencies and the
excitation frequencies as a function of operating
speed.

Amplitude, volts

2.1.7.4
Fast Fourier Transform (FFT) and
waterfall analysis

Time, msecs

RMS amplitude, volts

Figure 2--4 -- Unfiltered sound measurement

Frequency, Hz

Figure 2--5 -- Fast Fourier Transform analysis of sound

16

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Figure 2--6 -- Waterfall analysis of gear unit sound

2.2 Sound spectrum experience


Generally, experience indicates the sound spectrum
of a gear unit will contain tooth meshing frequencies,
natural resonances, bearing noises, windage, and
sounds of auxiliary equipment--such as lubrication
systems. When a gear unit is installed, frequencies
related to the total system may be evident at the gear
unit, i.e., prime mover and driven equipment
frequencies, as well as system resonant frequencies
which will be measured in addition to gear
frequencies.

2.3 Specification and standards


Noise specifications are written by governments,
standards organizations, users, manufacturers and
trade associations.
2.3.1 Governmental specifications
The most significant governmental noise specification has been the Occupational Safety and Health

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Act (OSHA) Regulations (Standards -- 29 CFR,


Occupational noise exposure -- 1926.52). OSHA
placed limitations on the maximum sound level and
exposure times to which an employee may be
subjected at his working station without personal
protective equipment. Protection against the effects
of noise exposure shall be provided when the
A--weighted sound pressure level exceed those
shown in table 2--2.
When employees are subjected to sound levels
exceeding those in table 2--2, feasible administrative
or engineering controls shall be utilized. If such
controls fail to reduce sound levels within the levels
of the table, personal protective equipment shall be
provided and used to reduce sound levels within the
levels of the table.
If the variations in noise level involve maxima at
intervals of 1 second or more, it is to be considered
continuous.
In all cases where the sound levels exceed the
values shown , a continuing, effective hearing
conservation program shall be administered.

17

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Exposure to impulsive or impact noise should not


exceed 140 dB peak sound pressure level.
exposure1)

Table 2--2 -- Occupational noise


OSHA Regulation (Standard 29 CFR)
Duration per day,
hours
8
6
4
3
2
1.5
1
0.5
0.25 or less

Sound level
dBA slow response
90
92
95
97
100
102
105
110
115

NOTE:
1) When the daily noise exposure is composed of two
or more periods of noise exposure of different levels,
their combined effect should be considered, rather than
the individual effect of each. Exposure to different levels for various periods of time shall be computed according to the following formula:
T(1) T(2)
T( n )
+
+ +
L(1) L(2)
L( n )
F(e) is equivalent noise exposure factor;
T is period of noise exposure at any essentially
constant level;
L is duration of the permissible noise exposure at the
constant level.
Example: A sample computation showing an application of the above formula is as follows. An employee is
exposed at the following levels for the following periods:
110 dBA for 0.25 hour
100 dBA for 0.5 hour
90 dBA for 2 hours
F( e ) =

F(e ) = 0.25 + 0.5 + 2


2
0.50
8
= 0.5 + 0.25 + 0.25
= 1.000
Since the value of F(e) does not exceed unity, the exposure is within permissible limits.

2.3.2 Standards organizations


Standard organizations, both national and international, publish standards related to noise terminology, instrumentation, testing and analysis. Some
noise specifications, shown in tables 2--3 and 2--4,
are used in writing of user, manufacturer and trade
association noise specifications.

18

2.3.3 User specifications


User noise specifications include measurement
techniques and required sound levels or octave
band sound pressure levels to be met by equipment
to be purchased. Formalized user noise specifications are becoming more frequent, and it is the
purpose of this clause to aid in developing effective
user gear unit noise specifications.

Table 2--3 -- ANSI noise specifications


S1.1 1994 (R1999)*
ANSI S1.4--1983
(R2001)
S1.11--2004

S1.13--1995 (R1999)*
S3.4--1980(R2003)*

Acoustical Terminology
Specification for Sound
Level Meters
Octave--Band and Fractional--Octave--Band
Analog and Digital Filters
Measurement of Sound
Pressure Levels in Air
Procedure for the Computation of Loudness of
Noise

NOTE:
*
Reaffirmed

2.3.4 Manufacturer specifications


Manufacturer noise specifications are written to
describe the noise performance of manufactured
products. However, rather than a single manufacturer issuing a noise specification, more commonly,
manufacturers groups or trade associations issue
noise specifications covering a particular type of
product.
2.3.5 Trade associations
Trade associations involved with electric motors,
hydraulic pumps and motors, machine tools, pneumatic equipment, gear units, etc., have published
noise specifications. Of major concern to the users
of gear units is the gear unit sound standard,
ANSI/AGMA 6025--D98.
2.3.6 ANSI/AGMA 6025--D98, sound standard
The overall purpose of the AGMA sound standard is
to improve communication and understanding between the gear unit manufacturer and purchaser.
ANSI/AGMA 6025--D98 utilizes ANSI standards
where applicable. Clauses 2.3.6.1 through 2.3.6.4
provide an overview of the sound standard.

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Table 2--4 -- International standards


ISO 3743--1:1994

ISO 3744:1994
ISO 3745:2003
ISO 3746:1995

ISO 4871:1996
ISO/TR 7849:1987
ISO 8579--1: 2002
ISO 9614--1:1993
ISO 9614--2:1996
ISO 11203:1995
IEC 61260:1995
IEC 61672:2002

Acoustics Determination of sound power levels of noise sources Engineering


methods for small, movable sources in reverberant fields Part 1: Comparison
method for hard--wall test rooms
Acoustics Determination of sound power levels of noise sources using sound
pressure -- Engineering method in an essentially free--field over a reflecting plate
Acoustics Determination of sound power levels of noise sources using sound
pressure Precision methods for anechoic and semi--anechoic rooms
Acoustics Determination of sound power levels of noise sources using sound
pressure Survey method using an enveloping measurement surface over a
reflecting plane
Acoustics Declaration and verification of noise emission values of machinery and
equipment
Acoustics Estimation of airborne noise emitted by machinery using vibration
measurements
Acceptance code for gears -- Part 1: Determination of airborne sound power levels
emitted by gear units
Acoustics Determination of sound power levels of noise sources using sound
intensity Part 1: Measurements at discrete points
Acoustics Determination of sound power levels of noise sources using sound
intensity Part 2: Measurements by scanning
Noise emitted by machinery and equipment -- Determination of sound pressure
levels at a work station and at other specified positions from the sound power level
Electroacoustics -- Octave--band and fractional--octave--band filter
Electroacoustics -- Sound level meters -- Part 1: Specifications

2.3.6.1 Standards--scope and limitations

2.3.6.3 Standard procedure

The AGMA sound standard is limited to those units


designed and rated in accordance with applicable
AGMA product standards. Also, gear units are to be
lubricated in accordance with manufacturers recommendations and operated in a system free from
serious critical speeds, torsional vibrations and
overloads. Compliance with the conditions of
ANSI/AGMA 6025--D98 does not imply a warranty of
gear unit sound levels under installed field service
conditions, because particular operations and environments must be considered in view of subjects
covered in this information sheet.

The gear unit may be rigidly or resiliently mounted in


its normal operating position and either belt or
coupling connected to the driver. The gear unit is to
be run at no load or with a light brake load, and at the
application speed. A light brake load, stabilizes the
rotating elements -- that is, it eliminates the effects of
gear mesh backlash and bearing clearances on the
gear unit sound. The acoustic environment is to be
that of shop testing locations, which are typically
semi--reverberant, and the test machinery may be
acoustically isolated from the gear unit.

2.3.6.2 Standard instrumentation

The microphone is to be located perpendicular to the


center of a vertical surface, but not less than one foot
above the test floor or plate, see figure 2--7. The
distance between the microphone and gear unit
depends on the unit size. See table 1 in ANSI/AGMA
6025--D98. Both the overall sound level (gear unit
plus ambient) and the ambient level alone are to be
recorded. Corrections for the influence of the
ambient on the gear units sound level are made to
provide a truer indication of the gear units sound
level. The average meter reading is to be recorded
when the sound pressure level fluctuates.

The standard specifies that sound levels are to be


measured with a sound level meter, Type 1 (precision) or Type 2 (general purpose), conforming to
ANSI specifications. Also, octave band sound
pressure levels, when agreed upon, are to be
measured with an octave band analyzer conforming
to ANSI specifications. Instrument acoustic calibration is to be checked before and after each test, and
slow meter response is preferred when taking sound
measurements.

AGMA 2004 ---- All rights reserved

2.3.6.4
Microphone position and ambient
correction

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AMERICAN GEAR MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION

2.4 Gear system sound levels


2.4.1 Typical levels
The sources of generated sounds in a gear driven
system are important. However, the levels which are
generated and the methods of measurement become the points of major interest when determining if
a system will meet a specification. The gear industry
has had years of experience measuring sound, both
on the test stand and in field installations. This
experience has indicated the sound levels that may
be expected on qualification spin or load tests. This

sound level can be obtained from test results of


identical or comparable units and/or empirical data
extrapolated from similar equipment. The levels
generally will not include driving or driven equipment
noise and system influences. When a gear unit is
actually installed, the prediction or estimation of its
sound level is difficult, since the gear unit is now part
of a total acoustic system which includes, in addition
to the gear unit, the prime mover, driven equipment,
gear unit mounting and surrounding acoustic environment. Some insight into this problem can be
gained by examining the effect of some system
parameters, such as speed and load.

Key:
L=
H=
W=
D=

Length of gear unit


Height of gear unit
Width of gear unit
Distance of microphone perpendicular of unit
as specified in standard for size
h = Height of microphone perpendicular to floor
H
2
d = Distance of microphone from corner of unit
L or W
2
2
*Note: Load is optional for factory testing

Figure 2--7 -- Sound test microphone position

20

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2.4.2 AGMA typical maximum data


The latest AGMA standard includes typical maximum sound levels for their representative types of
gear units, see figures 2--8 thru 2--15, for information
only. The typical maximum curves of figures 2--8
through 2--10 were established based on the measured sound levels of gear units given by the points
in the figures. The curves for gearmotors in figure
2--9 were obtained by adding estimated electric
motor sound levels (using motor sound power levels
published by the National Electrical Manufacturers
Association, NEMA) to gear unit sound levels. The
typical maximum levels given in the AGMA standards are for the test condition stated in these
standards.
2.4.2.1 Speed effects
Change in speed can significantly effect the sound
pressure level. Typical data for the effect of speed
(input rpm) on sound levels is presented for information in figures 2--11 and 2--12.
2.4.2.2 Load effects
Another operating parameter affecting the level of

AGMA 914--B04

gear unit sound is load. Much of the experimental


literature to date indicates an increase in noise due
to an increase in load, see figure 2--13. Some data
has indicated as much as a 20 dB increase for spur
gearing between a load and no load (spin) test.
However, empirical data collected throughout the
gear industry indicates increased noise level does
not always accompany increased loading; in some
cases, even the reverse occurs, i.e., when the tooth
geometry has been modified for loaded deflections
and operating temperatures. Until these design
loads and temperatures have been reached, the
mesh action may be noisy.
The average statistical difference in gear unit sound
between no load spin and full load (AGMA rated load
+ service factor) is an increase of approximately 4
dBA (see figure 2--14 -- helical, herringbone, spiral
bevel and worm gearing).
The maximum increase in sound between no load
and full load observed was 12 dBA. The data
showed about two--thirds of the units increased in
sound with load. About one--fifth did not indicate a
measured difference with load, and the remainder
had reduced sound levels with increased load.

II
I
CA

Sound pressure level, dBA

ANSI/AGMA 6025--D98

High speed mesh pitchline velocity, fpm


Enclosed helical, herringbone and spiral bevel gear drives
Single, double and triple reduction
No load or light brake load
No cooling fan
Figure 2--8 -- AGMA typical maximum and average sound pressure level vs. high speed mesh pitch
line velocity

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Therefore, for gears of this type a majority showed


an average increase of 4 dBA. Only in similar gear
drive systems may this be used as a guideline for the
expected difference between a shop spin test and

field installed loaded operation. Table 2--5 shows


additional data on the operation of geared systems
loaded and unloaded.

110

Sound pressure level, dBA

100
ANSI/AGMA 6025--D98

Catalog power rating, HP


Gearmotors, in--line reducers and increasers
Single, double, triple and quad reduction
No load or light brake load
No cooling fan on gear unit
Figure 2--9 -- AGMA typical maximum and average sound pressure level vs. catalog power rating

Sound pressure level, dBA

ANSI/AGMA 6025--D98

High speed mesh pitch line velocity, fpm


High speed helical and double helical, single reduction
gear units at full speed, light load or spin test
Figure 2--10 -- Sound pressure level vs. pitch line velocity taken 3 feet from housing (values shown
are for information only)

22

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Sound pressure level, dBA

AMERICAN GEAR MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION

Input speed, rpm

Sound pressure level, dBA

Figure 2--11 -- Change in dBA sound pressure level relative to that at 1750 rpm
(LPA) vs. input speed

Input speed, rpm


Figure 2--12 -- Sound pressure level vs. worm speed

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AMERICAN GEAR MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION

Sound pressure level, dBA

AGMA 914--B04

Power ratio

Sound pressure level, dB

Figure 2--13 -- Change in dBA sound pressure level relative to that at no load (LPA) vs. P/Pat

.2

.4

.6

.8

1.0

1.2

1.4

1.6

1.8

2.0

Power ratio
Figure 2--14 -- Change in dBA sound pressure level relative to that at no load (LPA) vs. P/PR

24

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AGMA 914--B04

Sound pressure level, dBA

Worm gear speed reducers -- single reduction


light or no load, 1750 rpm input, fan cooled

Unit center distance, inches


Figure 2--15 -- Sound pressure level vs. center distance -- taken 5 feet from housing

Table 2--5 -- No twist steel rod mills A weighted sound levels


(with and without rod in mill)

Mill
A
B

Basic data of sample rod mills


Mill horsepower
Load w/rod
No load w/o rod
2200
150
1100
100

Gear speed (rpm)


min.
max.
950
6600
570
4000

NOTE:
There are approximately 35 gear meshes in each mill. The meshes transmit anywhere from 100% of horsepower at the
lowest RPM to a small fraction of total horsepower. The primary increase of sound level with rod load appears to be from
the gear meshes.

Mill
A

A
B

Observed sound level test data at sample rod mills


Distance,
w/rod
w/o rod
Diff.
Location
ft
dB A
dB A
dB A
Between strands 1 & 2
5
98
95
3
a) Near motor end
5
95
93
2
b) Midway along mill
Between strands 3 & 4
5
94
93
1
a) Near motor end
Between strands 1 & 2
3
93
90
3
a) At 3 high gear increments
3
93
89
4
b) Midway along mill
3
91
89
2
c) At high speed end
Between strands 3 & 4
3
93
89
4
a) At 3 high gear increments
3
94
90
4
b) Midway along mill
3
93
89
4
c) At high speed end

AGMA 2004 ---- All rights reserved

Background
dB A
90
90
90
81
81
81
81
81
81

25

AMERICAN GEAR MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION

American Gear Manufacturers


Association --

Gear Sound Manual:


Part III -- Gear Noise
Control

AGMA 914--B04 Part III

3.1.2 Design for environment


Gear unit noise control must begin with the design of
the system components and end with satisfactory
operation. This section of the gear manual is
designed to give a broad outline of noise control.
Specific details must be developed by the manufacturers design for the known acoustical environment.

3.2 Gear design noise control


3.2.1 Influence factors

3.1 Source noise control

The first two sections of the Gear Sound Manual


reviewed the nature of sound, the characteristics
pertaining to gear driven systems, and levels that
may be expected from some standard gear units.
The sounds generated by a gear unit in a power
transmission system can be caused by the rotating
gear unit elements interacting with the prime mover,
driven machine, and connected mounting structures. Sound can be transmitted either through air or
vibration of the connected structures. The effects of
the sounds transmitted are greatly influenced by the
acoustical environment. To reduce or control noise
requires attention not only to the gear units but to the
collecting equipment, the transmission phenomena,
and the acoustical environment.

There are many factors which experience has shown


to influence the amount of sound generated by
operating gears in a power transmission system.
Table 3--1 lists items which are often considered
when quiet operation is desired.
Table 3--1 -- Considerations for noise control
--

Type of gearing

--

Tooth profile and pitch

--

Pressure angle

--

Geometry modifications

--

Total gear contact ratio

--

Design load versus operation

--

Quality (accuracy and finish)

--

Unbalance and alignment

--

Tooth ratios

--

Type of bearing support

3.1.1 System dynamics

--

Gear blank design

Periodic acceleration, deceleration, and vibratory


dynamic loads in a gear driven system can cause the
meshing gear teeth to generate sounds. The system
dynamics which generate sound can be caused by
gear tooth inaccuracies, the meshing phenomenon,
or by the interaction of the total mass elastic system
including driving and driven machines. Although this
manual is specifically dealing with the sounds
generated from an enclosed gear drive, the broader
aspects associated with the total system dynamics
must be considered in any practical noise control
procedure.

--

Pitch line velocity

26

Each item in table 3--1 can be argued as to its relative


importance; however, they all must be considered
with the thought that the main object is to achieve
smooth operation under certain performance conditions. To transfer a specific power with minimum
change in the angular velocity of the meshing gears
is the most desirable characteristic. One can see that
there is great difficulty in describing a simple model
of a gear driven system. Therefore, to say the
generation of gear noise can be simply described or
analyzed may be an impossibility. However, one

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AGMA 914--B04

should reserve thinking about the many degrees of


freedom (lateral, longitudinal and torsional) and their
modes that may develop into gear noise, and
concentrate on eliminating the system vibrations.

gear unit that will be its quietest at all required


speeds and loads. Therefore, the user should not
expect a gear unit to be quiet under all conditions of
operation.

3.2.1.1 Manufacturing quality

3.2.2 Total gear contact ratio

One major internal source of gear noise can be


related to differences in gear geometry during
engagement (meshing) of teeth. If a perfect gear
set could be designed and manufactured, there
would not be any sudden accelerations or decelerations of the rotors during the transfer of power, and
noise or vibration, due to operation, would be
minimized. Therefore, the imperfect geometry,
profile, and spacing of gear teeth must be controlled
to minimize the noise. The items in table 3--1
pertaining to gear geometry must be discussed in
terms of reducing the sudden accelerations and
decelerations during tooth mesh for a particular
application. One prime consideration is that no
matter how good the design, it is the result of the
realistic quality of manufacturing that determines the
sounds generated.

The variation of meshing stiffness is one of the major


influences on noise generation. The total contact
ratio as a sum of the helical overlap ratio and the
transverse contact ratio significantly influences the
stiffness variation. By careful selection of both
ratios, the influence of transmission error and noise
can be reduced significantly. In general, increasing
both ratios will lead to a lower noise level, but
experience and investigation have shown the best
results are at values for both factors which are more
or less a whole number. For example, selecting a
transverse contact ratio of 2 can result in a sum of the
total contact ratio as a whole number. Therefore,
simply increasing the ratios is not enough; rather
finding an optimum value is required. A very high
total contact ratio in itself may not result in an
improved noise level.

3.2.1.2 Types of gearing

The helical overlap ratio can be increased by a


higher helix angle, increased face width, or use of a
finer pitch. But its benefit is limited because the
transverse contact ratio will in turn be diminished.

The type of gearing for quiet operation must be


selected for the speed and power transferred. The
various types of gears such as spur, helical, herringbone, worm, bevel, etc., all have individual characteristics lending themselves to specific applications,
speeds, and loads. The tooth profile, pitch, pressure
angle, overlap, quality, and ratios are all items that
can be discussed in terms of quiet operation for one
or more of the following reasons:
-- enables
inaccuracy;

manufacturer

to

reduce

-- averages out individual tooth errors over a


wide number of teeth;
-- reduces abrupt changes in tooth contact
action;
-- places generated noise frequencies outside
the sensitive audible range or at a frequency that
can be more easily controlled.
3.2.1.3 Geometry modifications
Other items such as geometry modifications for
designed operating load, misalignments, unbalance
and types of bearings can also be controlled to
minimize the changes in angular velocity while
transferring loads. Because of the number of items
to be considered and their dependence on load
deflections of teeth, it becomes difficult to produce a

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The transverse contact ratio can be increased by


using a lower pressure angle and profile modification, see AGMA 913--A98.
A possible difference in action between spur and
helical gears of similar geometry is shown by
comparing figures 3--1 and 3--2 and is further defined
in AGMA design standards.
Knowledgeable design of helical gears is an implied
requirement as shown figure 3--3. The more
constant the contact length and the more uniform the
contact conditions, the lower the dynamic forces
which cause noise. The same advantages lie in
spiral bevel gears when compared to straight bevel
gears.
3.2.3 Optimum tooth geometry
The selection of optimum tooth geometry to reduce
noise is complicated by the fact that compromises
are necessary. If a tooth of increased height is used
to get a greater transverse overlap, both the strength
and scoring resistance might be reduced. If the tooth
pitch is reduced or the helix angle increased too
greatly, reductions in strength are also possible. It
might appear simple to increase the size of the gears

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to increase strength capacity, but a larger gear runs


at a higher pitchline velocity normally producing
increased noise.

pressure angle. A lower pressure angle reduces the


effect of radial runout and in a minor way decreases
tooth stiffness to reduce meshing impulse.

3.2.3.1 Pressure angle selection


Some noise control is related to the selection of

Figure 3--1 -- Contact of helical gears

Figure 3--2 -- Contact of spur gears

28

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AGMA 914--B04

Facewidth, inches
Figure 3--3 -- Variation of length of contact lines/face ratio with face width
3.2.3.2 Profile modifications

3.2.5 Practical design changes

Meshing impulses or dynamic forces can be reduced


to control noise by profile modifications. As an
example, tip relief can ease an incoming tooth into
contact to compensate for the elastic deflection of
the teeth already in contact as illustrated in figure
3--4.

It is important to realize that, generally, the present


accepted practices for gear design in accordance
with AGMA standards are such that reductions of
only 2 to 4 dBA are practically obtainable by
changing items listed in table 3--1.

3.2.3.3 Lead modifications


Besides profile modifications, crowning (or barreling) across the face and tapering of the lead may be
done to compensate for misalignment and deflections under a given load. Crowning and tapering can
also affect the durability and strength capacity of the
gears. Excessive profile and lead modifications can
increase rather than decrease gear contact noise.
3.2.4 Pitchline velocity
Normally gear contact velocities will affect the
generation of noise. Lower pitchline velocities and
sliding generally result in lower noise levels. Lower
velocities may be achieved by changing types of
gears, materials, hardness, ratios, size, etc.

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The gear manufacturer must be given the design


flexibility to balance load capacity with the items that
may affect the sound generation.

3.3 Gear housing noise control


3.3.1 Surface excitations
An enclosed gear unit housing consists of a number
of surfaces, each of which, alone or in combination,
can be excited into vibration by the gear mesh
impulse or other periodic forces of the rotating
elements. In addition, excitation can be developed
by the driving or driven machines. These excitations
may generate an objectionable sound level.

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AMERICAN GEAR MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION

Interference
(exaggerated)
Figure 3--4 -- Tip relief on gear teeth
3.3.2 Frequency determination
Design dimensions, proportions, and materials determine the sound frequency and sound pressure
level emanating from housing sections. Sound from
the case vibrations is usually transmitted directly to
the surrounding air and/or structures with very little
attenuation (reduction).
3.3.2.1 Resonant frequencies
A gear unit housing cannot, in itself, be considered a
primary source of noise since it must be excited by
the rotating elements. Acoustical tests are made on
many standard units to determine the resonant
frequencies of all housing areas. Those which might
be excited by operating frequencies can be modified
by changing their stiffness.
3.3.2.2 Constrained layer damping
Noise from plate sections of a housing may be
reduced by using constrained layer damping
(sandwiching a damping material between the
housing section and a constraining plate). If the
predominant noise is due to a plate section resonance, it is conceivable that a 6 dBA reduction may
be achieved by this method. The materials used for
the damping layer must have the ability to absorb
large amounts of shear energy. It must be remembered that damping layers will lower the housings

30

ability to dissipate heat; therefore, the thermal effect


must be considered for proper gear operating
temperatures.

3.4 Bearing noise control


3.4.1 Alignment of bearing
Misalignment and deflections can be a cause of
bearing and gear noise. Consequently, care must be
taken during assembly and installation to maintain
proper fit and alignment of bearings and gears.
3.4.2 Rolling element noise
Rolling element bearing noise can usually be
sufficiently low so that it is not a problem except at
higher speeds. If correction is necessary, bearings
are available (generally more expensive) having
lower noise characteristics. Sometimes preloaded
bearings will operate at a lower noise level although
a reduction in life might result.
Tapered roller bearing sound can be due to runout at
low frequencies (15 to 100 Hz), race waviness at
intermediate frequencies (100 to 3000 Hz), and
surface finish at higher frequencies. The rollers are
the major source of sound, and the races, the prime
sound radiators.

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Sound generated in rolling element bearings is


caused by the rolling and slipping action of the
elements and cages or separators with variations in
the speed, load, and shaft runout. The sound
characteristics are also dependent upon the surface
finish of the mating members and the variations in
their geometry. The stiffness of rolling element
bearings will also affect the vibration of the total
system.
3.4.3 Sleeve bearing noise
Sleeve bearings generate little sound if properly
designed and adequately lubricated. In a rare case,
oil whirl or whip causes dynamic load instabilities
to the extent of creating measurable noise. In very
lightly loaded bearings with correspondingly large oil
film thicknesses, the stiffness may contribute to the
vibration and noise of the system.

3.5 Shaft and hub design noise control


3.5.1 Runout noise
The main contribution of shafts to the generation of
sound is radial or axial runout, caused by inaccuracies or dynamic unbalance, which affect gear tooth
contact as well as bearing dynamics. Runout can
also be caused by natural resonant vibrations as well
as elastic deflections. Windage is not of great
importance except at high speeds.

AGMA 914--B04

damping rings are used in circumferential slots cut


into the inside of the rim. Damping or resilient
materials can be used for rim--hub isolation or for
constrained layer dampening.

3.6 Lubrication noise control


3.6.1 Lubricant viscosity
The method of gear lubrication may be subject to
noise control. The sound developed by a gear
churning the oil or occurrences developed by oil
being splashed or thrown from a gear onto a housing
wall are not unusual. However, gear mesh noise
from inadequate oil film is most common and
reduced by increasing lubricant viscosity.
3.6.2 Fluid noises
Fluid noises, including cavitation, are usually due to
restricted or turbulent high velocity flow. Corrections
are obvious. Noise due to churning or oil throw can
be limited by regulating oil level, use of pans,
barriers, and flow guides.

3.7 Noise control with system analysis

Noise whose source is caused by shaft runout can


only be successfully corrected by greater accuracy
in manufacture, balance or correcting excessive
misalignment. When high shaft deflections are
encountered, which affect the gear mesh, either
increased rigidity is required or compensations can
be made by profile and lead modifications of the
teeth.

Analysis of the total geared system has to be


discussed because it adds a whole different dimension to gear noise. If the vibratory excitations from a
gear unit are low as discussed, the noise is generally
low and the forcing functions driving the system
resonance will be low. Even so, the existence of
torsional, lateral, or structural resonances of the
gear system may become points of extreme sensitivity and sources of high noise generation. Consequently, resonance must be avoided during design,
and if discovered during operation, the operating
conditions or system design must be changed.

3.5.2 Gear blank resonance

3.7.1 System sources

Gear blanks, which are either integral or mounted on


the shafts, should be designed sufficiently rigid to
meet strength and deflection requirements and,
normally, are not a major source of noise. Exceptions occur for certain high speed turbine gears
designed for minimum weight. The types of vibration
developed as standing or traveling waves in the rim
or disc must be known and the gear blank designed
so that these resonant frequencies are not excited in
the operating range. When this is not possible,

Any resonating member is a source of vibration and


sound. There are two types of resonances to be
concerned about. One is caused by the rotating
parts and is associated with critical speeds; the
second involves the support foundation and
structures.

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3.7.1.1 Critical speeds


The critical speeds (resonances) of the rotating parts
should be at least 20% from any operating speeds,

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AMERICAN GEAR MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION

from their multiples (harmonics), and from the mesh


frequencies of the gear teeth. The farther the
operating speed is from the critical speeds, the less
chance there will be of detrimental effects. Care
must be taken in the calculation of torsional and
lateral critical speeds. The mathematical model of a
gear driven system must be carefully developed and
analyzed. Often the mass elastic characteristics of a
system will vary with changes in speed and/or load.

3.8 Noise of gear unit accessories

3.7.1.2 Structural resonance

3.8.2 Cooling fan noise

Structural resonances of gear systems and supporting members should also be away from operating
speeds, multiples, and tooth--mesh frequencies.
This may be difficult to obtain at times so that a
practical minimum may be 10 to 15% differential
depending on how accurately the resonance
frequencies can be determined.
3.7.2 Coupling considerations
Couplings between components in a gear driven
system can have a major effect on the system
response and noise generation. The coupling
flexibility should be commensurate with the desired
response to critical speeds. Changing coupling
stiffness is often the easiest way of changing a
critical speed. Flexible couplings whether spline
tooth, flexible disk, elastomer type, or other designs
all produce noise exciting frequencies particularly
when operating misaligned. The magnitude of the
excitation may also change with coupling wear.
Consequently, coupling alignment and condition
should be considered during noise control investigations.
3.7.3 Connected equipment analysis
Driving and driven equipment in a geared system
may be, by their very nature, either sources or
transmitters of noise exciting frequencies. The
periodic excitation of connected components in a
system may interact with natural resonant frequencies. Typical sources for periodic steady state
excitation are:

32

--

internal combustion engines;

--

motor pole pass frequency;

--

electric pump and compressors;

--

reciprocating pump and compressors;

--

centrifugal fan blade pass frequencies;

--

impeller or propeller pass frequencies.

3.8.1 Lubrication system noise


Lubrication and cooling devices can be a source of
sound. The pump, pump drive (motor, direct or gear
driven from a gear unit shaft), and fluid flow in pipes
and coolers of a pressurized lube system are all
sources of noise.

Cooling fan noise has been investigated, and air flow


turbulence must be avoided as well as periodic
passing of blades close to a fin or rib. A major
problem is one of obtaining the desired air mass flow
rate within the set limits of shaft speed and mounting
location.
Often the components in a gear units lubrication and
cooling system will generate more noise than the
gears and bearings.

3.9 Noise control in the transmission path


3.9.1 Minimize transmission
Noise can be reduced by control of its source.
Performance requirements or economic considerations sometimes make it unfeasible to control or
correct the noise source. For these applications,
noise at a given location can be minimized by
controlling the transmission of airborne or structure-borne noise from the gear unit.
3.9.2 Barriers
The vibrations developed within a gear unit travel
through the air or structure, and are then radiated to
the ear. Typical paths for air and structure--borne
noise are shown in figure 3--5. The paths are not
straight to the receiver, but can be reflected from
floors, walls, and ceilings. Barriers might partially
absorb or reflect the sound waves.
3.9.3 Sound absorption
For severe noise producing installations, noise
control can only be obtained by the use of attenuating (noise reduction) devices such as vibration
isolators, noise absorbing panels or barriers, total
enclosures, and damping devices. The use of
vibration isolators, noise barriers, and total enclosures is illustrated in figure 3--6 and their effectiveness is shown in figure 3--7.

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AGMA 914--B04

Figure 3--5 -- Sound transmission paths for gear unit in typical installation

Figure 3--6 -- Noise attenuating devices in gear unit surroundings

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33

AGMA 914--B04

AMERICAN GEAR MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION

Figure 3--7 -- Effect of noise attenuating devices in gear unit surroundings -- octave band results
3.9.4 Economic sound reduction
Generally, the absorption of sound or isolation of
sound sources and operators are the most economical means of lowering generated sound levels.
Some generated sounds are characteristic of machines and no amount of redesign or improved
quality will eliminate these sounds. However, the
most desirable method of minimizing sound levels is
by design or quality improvements. Improved sound
or vibration levels achieved from smoother operation will also tend toward lower dynamic loads and
improve the durability life of the gears, bearings and
couplings.
3.9.5 Control with vibration isolation
Vibration isolation consists of putting a resilient
material between the unit and its mounting structure.
This reduces the amount of structure--borne noise
which is normally transmitted to the mounting and
then radiated in the form of airborne sound. Vibration
isolation with soft (resilient) mountings is generally
most effective at high frequencies. To obtain

34

effectiveness at low frequencies requires a softness


that may create shaft alignment problems.

3.10 Noise control materials


There are two general types of material available for
noise control in the transmission path. These are
sound absorbing materials and sound barrier materials. Vibration isolation and damping materials are
not included in this section grouping, having been
discussed previously in 3.9.5.
3.10.1 Absorbing materials
Sound absorbing materials basically serve the
purpose of minimizing the reflection of sound waves;
they are not particularly effective in blocking the path
of sound transmission. For these reasons, such
materials are used to alter the sound characteristics
of a room or area from reverberant to anechoic or
semi--anechoic and, in this manner, reduce the
sound pressure level within that area. This type of
material should never be used alone as a barrier
between a source and a receiver, since the sound

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AMERICAN GEAR MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION

pressure level would be reduced very little at the


receiver. Some factors affecting the absorption
characteristics of a material are mass, surface
condition, pore size and structure, flow resistance,
thickness, and frequency of impinging sound.
Typical materials used are glass fiber and certain
types of polyurethane foam.

AGMA 914--B04

Un--assembled panels can be attached rigidly to the


floor or attached to casters for portability; they can
also he hung vertically from the ceiling in some
cases.

3.11 Total enclosures


3.10.2 Reflecting materials
Sound barrier materials are very dense materials
which block the passage of airborne sound waves.
Since sound waves are not absorbed but reflected
by these materials, they tend to increase sound level
inside the barrier. Some of the most effective barrier
materials are thin lead sheets and lead impregnated
vinyl sheets, although all metals and normal
construction materials are effective to various degrees if properly used. Since sound barrier and
absorbing materials work on diametrically opposite
principles, they are often combined with a sound
absorbing material on one or both sides of the barrier
material in order to reduce the reflection of sound.
The side of the resulting laminate with the greater
thickness of absorbing material should face the
source.
3.10.3 Material selection
If the source and receiver are in a reverberant room
of limited size, sound absorbing material in either
sheet or roll form or in the form of preassembled
panels can he attached to the walls and ceiling to
change the acoustical character from reverberant to
semi--reverberant. Such a procedure can be effective in reducing the sound level, but the material must
be selected so that its acoustical characteristics are
compatible with the predominant frequencies of the
generated sound.
3.10.4 Panel location
One approach often employed, and sometimes
moderately successful in the treatment of larger
plant areas, is the placement of preassembled
sound panels (barriers) at various locations, but
primarily between the source and receiver. These
panels must be close to the source or to the receiver
and must be a combination of sound absorbing and
barrier materials. If the panel is a substantial
distance from both source and receiver, the sound
waves will circumvent the panel, particularly if the
predominant frequency is low (long wave length).

AGMA 2004 ---- All rights reserved

If it is determined that the objectionable noise from a


gear unit is not an indication of poor operation, then
the use of a total acoustical enclosure is generally
the most economical way of lowering a given noise.
3.11.1 Enclosure structures
A total enclosure is a completely air--tight structure
surrounding the unit and normally consisting of a
rigid outer wall and sound absorbing inner wall. The
inclusion of the sound absorbing material is important since it prevents noise build--up within the
enclosure. Sometimes resilient mountings are also
used. The outer wall provides the needed rigidity and
mass. A total enclosure is very effective in reducing
noise, but care must be taken that structure--borne
vibrations do not transmit and then radiate noise
outside of the enclosure. Figure 3--8 shows how
vibration isolators and a total enclosure contain the
noise and protect the receiver.
Total enclosures have gained wider acceptance
because the gear unit, as well as the driving and
driven machine, can be enclosed within the same
structure, which can be structurally isolated from
other plant equipment.
3.11.2 Effective enclosures
The most attractive feature of total enclosure is the
ability to reduce generated noise 10 to 20 dBA by a
relatively economical and technically sound means.
The effectiveness of a total enclosure is very
dependent upon even the small openings. Openings
for shafts or other equipment and small cracks
around panels and doors, can drastically reduce the
sound transmission loss which would otherwise be
expected.
3.11.2.1 Operation disadvantage
A disadvantage with total enclosures is that if not
designed properly they can be a hindrance to normal
operation and/or maintenance of the equipment.

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ABSO RBI NG

Figure 3--8 -- Sound transmission paths for gear unit with vibration isolators and total enclosure
3.11.2.2 Thermal disadvantage
It must be remembered that an acoustical enclosure
is also a thermal barrier. If a gear unit or an entire
gear driven system is enclosed, care must be taken
to provide adequate means to remove the heat
which is generated during normal operation.
3.11.3 Enclose operator
An operator enclosure is an alternate approach to
using equipment enclosures. Instead of enclosing
very large and bulky equipment to reduce the
operator exposure level, a relatively small enclosure
can be built for the operator(s).
3.11.4 Other solutions
Another solution to a noise problem is the use of
earplugs or ear muffs. Also, placing the personnel
further from the system is a simple means of
attaining results. If the unit noise radiation is sharply

36

directional, changing its angular position sometimes


can prove useful.

3.12 Control summary


The systems engineer must be aware of the
acoustical nature, sources and the means to control
sounds generated in a gear driven system. The
three sections of this Gear Sound Manual have been
developed to facilitate this work.
3.12.1 Compatible methods
This section presents information concerning sound
generation and suggests noise control methods
compatible with the technical requirements as well
as the economic limitations.
3.12.2 Source reduction, absorption or isolation
Reducing noise by controlling the sources of noise
generation is possible; gears, housing, shafts,

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AMERICAN GEAR MANUFACTURERS ASSOCIATION

AGMA 914--B04

bearings, lubrication and cooling devices must be


considered in combination with the entire system.
The noise transmission path can be revised to
absorb noise and prevent radiation at an unfavorable angle or the transmission path can be almost
totally blocked by full enclosures and isolation
mountings.

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37

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