This paper describes a thorough investigation of the measurement of frequency band average loss factors of structural components for use in the statistical energy analysis (SEA) method of computation of vibration levels. The "traditional" method of measurement is to excite the structure by a random force having a flat spectral density in the frequency band of interest. The force is then cut off and the decay of the modes excited in the band is noted. The average loss factor is deduced from the decay curve. The alternative energy method is the subject of this study. In this test the power input from the band limited random force is measured and the spatial average vibration level of the structure is estimated from several surface accelerometers. It is shown that when the modes in the band have similar loss factors (as is usually the case) the energy method gives a result which is very close to that obtained from the decay method. These in turn are close to the arithmetic average of the loss factors of the individual modes in the band. It is shown that only when the band contains one or two very lightly damped modes amongst several more heavily damped modes is there a difference between the two methods. In this case it is better to use the energy result in the SEA calculations. © 1983.
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