The prediction, by the statistical energy analysis (SEA) method, of transient vibration envelopes for coupled systems is investigated. The relation between the time-varying energy transferred between two coupled subsystems and time-varying energies of the subsystems is studied numerically and experimentally. These studies indicate that time-varying energy transmitted between two subsystems is related to the subsystem energies by an apparent time-varying coupling loss factor. It is shown that the apparent coupling loss factor approaches the asymptotic (or steady-state) coupling loss factor as response energies and transferred energies are integrated over progressively larger times. Both the apparent time-varying coupling loss factor and the asymptotic coupling loss factor, determined experimentally, are used in energy balance equations to predict the time-varying vibration envelopes of a system of two point-coupled plates and the results are compared. Although overall response predictions are similar, considerable differences are noted in individual frequency bands. However, no general method for a priori determination of the apparent time-varying coupling loss factor is suggested.

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