Hello, I could use some recommendations on what is needed to reduce echo in my company board room. The room dimensions are 24’2″ x 22’4″ with 16’6″ ceiling. I would like to know if ceiling or wall baffles would be more effective, or a combination of both, as well as how many are needed. I need a solution that does not clash too much with the room.
Thank you for the e-mail. Taking the edge off of the echo in the room is really going to be a pretty easy thing to do because there are a number of product options for you to choose from. With the dimensions and pictures provided, I am happy to make some recommendations in terms of how many panels or baffles to install as well as the advantages and disadvantages of each product.
First, I want to go through quantity and location. There is not necessarily a right or a wrong way to treat a room and getting it exactly right is going to take a little bit of faith as well as a bit of trial and error. I have been asked to advise people on how many panels they will need for their room SO many times, that I have come up with a pretty simple way to at least get the ball rolling. I figured that there had to be a relationship between the number of panels that made people happy and comfortable in a room relative to the size of the room because in a gym or swimming pool, one might need a couple hundred panels, but in an office, only a handful might be required.
So, with that in mind, I have come up with the following equation. Cubic volume x 3% = square footage of panels needed.
For instance, considering your room size:
24′ x 22′ x 16.5′ ceilings = 8,712 cubic feet
8712 x .03 = 261
This room needs ~260 square feet of treatment.
With that in mind, we can start talking about location and type of installation. There are basically two types of installations. Flush mounting where the panels are installed (usually glued) to the walls or the ceilings or Baffles where the panels are hung from one edge like a flag or banner. Generally speaking, a baffle-type installation is a more effective way to introduce absorption into the room than a flush mount, but there is one main factor that needs to be discussed. If this room has a fire suppression sprinkler system and a baffle hanging from the ceiling will block the intended throw (coverage) of the sprinkler system, then a baffle installation is going to put you in violation of fire code. Clearly, that won’t work. So, if this room does not have a sprinkler system or the sprinklers are below the bottoms of the proposed baffles, go for it! I would probably get the fire marshal on board during the design process to make sure that all rules of safety are observed.
As far as location goes, there is a surprising amount of freedom here. Generally speaking, as long as the panels or baffles are installed evenly throughout the room, they will have generally the same affect on the acoustic of the room once all of the panels are installed. This basically means that you have the freedom to install the panels wherever you feel they will either look the best or be the most inconspicuous. If one had two identical rooms and 260 square feet of panels were installed on the walls of room A and the ceiling of room B, it would be extremely difficult for the average person to determine which room they were in if they had their eyes closed. This type of approach should not be used for high-end recording rooms or media rooms, but for offices and schools where one is looking to “take the edge off” or simply to reduce the echo, it works just fine.
As far as product goes, there are quite a few choices. All absorptive panels are going to have their respective advantage or disadvantage as I said earlier. I will do my best to explain each.
The Echo Eliminator is one of the most popular products that we have to offer and that has everything to do with the cost. This is one of the most absorptive and cost effective panels on the market. It is made from recycled cotton fiber and looks and feels kind of similar to a panel made of felt. It is available in nine different colors and is generally sold in 2′ x 4′ panels. It is Class A fire rated and can either be glued up to walls or ceilings with a construction adhesive or grommets can be pounded thru it and it can be hung like a baffle. Dollar spent for absorption increased, this is one of the best value panels. However, the most common reason that it is turned down is because it is not as “decorative” or “finished looking” enough.
Another very possible panel is the Fabric Wrapped Fiberglass panels. These panels start as 4′ x 8′ or 4′ x 10′ boards of compressed fiberglass. They are cut to the requested size, the edges are treated for aesthetic purposes and they are wrapped with fabric. These are the most decorative and finished looking panels that we have to offer. They are very absorptive and there are countless options when it comes to size and shape as well as color. We have a very extensive list of fabrics to choose from and I can definitely send you samples if you are interested in exploring them. The two factors that might make this a less attractive option are the cost and lead time. Because these panels are cut and wrapped by hand, the cost is relative to the sizes and quantities of the panels ordered. They are always put onto pallets and shipped via an LTL carrier which the cost is also relative to the size of the order and the distance traveled. So, basically for this option you are paying a higher price for a more decorative panel.
Out of all of our options, these are probably the most likely, but if you want to explore others, here are a few links: