How to reduce echo in the office
As kids, most of us enjoyed learning about echo. We’d encounter a space with just the right acoustic profile and start hollering, “HELLO!” That fascination fades as we get older, and echo presents very real headaches in the spaces where we conduct business and relax. Learning how to reduce echo in a room can lower stress levels and help you become more productive.
A reason echo raises our stress levels is that excess noise causes our brains to work overtime identifying the source of the sounds. Our brains want to know if the sounds represent danger or not. We can’t fully relax, and we may find it hard to focus. Not a great environment for getting things done.
Let’s look at some ways to reduce the unwanted echo in our lives.
How to reduce echo in a room
In order to tackle the sound issues in any space, it’s helpful to understand a little bit about how acoustics work and how to address problem areas. In general, the thing that causes echo is a sound wave’s unchecked ability to travel freely across space.
This is usually caused by reflective surfaces that surround an open area with few obstructions. When you have a large, fairly empty room with high ceilings, the echo can become very pronounced and can cause even more of a distraction. So, how do you reduce echo?
When attempting echo reduction in your home or office spaces, you want to cut down on the square footage of large, reflective surfaces and introduce obstructions to scatter sound waves. The main mode of reducing that echo is introducing materials that absorb and diffuse sound waves.
Absorbing sound waves
The first thing you want to do to eliminate echo in rooms with lots of reflective surfaces like hardwood floors and high ceilings is to absorb some of the sound waves.
This prevents them from bouncing back to the source. This can be done with soft, porous materials like area rugs and acoustic wall panels. You don’t want to absorb too many sound waves, or the room will sound dead. The key is to find a proper balance. This is an integral part of echo reduction.
Diffusing sound waves
Since you’re not going to absorb all the sound waves, nor would you want to, you’re going to have to tackle the sound waves that do return off your reflective surfaces. This is where filling the room with materials like furniture and sound diffusers come into play. They scatter the sound waves, so they dissipate more quickly with each reflection.
There are ways of reducing echo in a room cheaply, but they don’t always produce the look we are going for. Your best bet is to find a solid balance between DIY echo reduction and professional acoustic materials. If you want to reduce echo in your office effectively, there are simple, great-looking solutions that will get you there.
How to reduce echo in office environments
The world is getting more casual, but an office is still a place where we like to convey a sense of professionalism. It’s also the place where annoying levels of echo will cause the most productivity problems. If you’ve ever asked yourself, “why does my office echo” you aren’t alone. Luckily, there are easy and elegant solutions to your sound issues. Using professional-grade materials here will maintain a minimalist decor while vastly improving the audio quality.
Treating the floor
Since offices are often filled with desks, chairs, and all the tools of your trade, floors can be fairly easy to treat. If your floors are covered with wall-to-wall carpeting, you’re in luck. You probably don’t need to do much of anything.
If it’s not, incorporating area rugs can go a long way. Cover the largest open spaces with an area rug and a few pieces of furniture. You’ll not only reduce the amount of echo in the room, but you’ll create a nice sitting area. You don’t want to go overboard and clutter the space, though. Treating your walls correctly will allow you to achieve solid echo reduction with fewer pieces.
Treating the walls
You can achieve a great deal of echo reduction by covering your walls in blankets or curtains, but that look conveys very little professionalism. In the office, it’s a great idea to utilize fabric-covered acoustical panels on your walls. They look great and are filled with acoustic materials, so they absorb sound waves exactly where you need them to eliminate echo.
Acoustic panels come in so many fabric colors and patterns, and they look like pieces of functional modern art. You can also have them printed with anything you can think of, so you can use them to convey anything from your brand identity to scenes of serenity that keep people at ease.
Treating the windows
Since windows can make up a good deal of our wall space, if we’re lucky, we need to address them as well. Not only do these incredibly reflective surfaces contribute to echo, but they also allow outside sounds to sneak into your presentations and board meetings.
Since you’re likely going to purchase some sort of window treatment for them anyway, you should consider Acousti-curtains™. They are lined with a blackout layer, which means they serve the standard purpose of curtains and blinds. They block out the sun really well.
The advantage Acousti-curtains have over traditional curtains is that they absorb a good deal of sound waves. They are easily adjustable, so you can find a perfect balance of natural light when you need it and total darkness for things like presentations. You’ll get great sound either way. Kill both your glare and your echo with one fell swoop.
Treating the ceilings
Ceiling treatments for reducing echo are great, and they can serve multiple purposes, just like acoustic curtains do. Not only is your ceiling a large reflective surface, but it also often contains noise-emitting elements like HVAC ductwork and water pipes. Each of these things creates some amount of noise, and you may not always immediately notice them. But they are like an echo. Lots of little sounds can be distracting and stressful.
Hanging ceiling clouds in your office will reduce the echo in your room, block the sounds from your pipes and ductwork, and they look great to boot. They are suspended from the ceiling, so they can be adjusted for height and visual impact. If you’ve been trying to figure out how to reduce echo in a room with high ceilings, this may be your ticket.
If you don’t have ceilings high enough to handle losing a few feet, you can use fabric-covered acoustic panels on the ceiling too. They can be secured to your existing ceiling and can be repeated in ways that create very interesting ceiling patterns.
How to reduce echo in home offices
Now that you’ve learned a little about how to reduce echo in an office, it’s time to translate that knowledge into an echo-free home office. When you’re looking to reduce echo in home offices, you aren’t necessarily bound by the same constraints as you would be in a company office. But that’s not always the case. A home office dedicated to things like graphic design or sales presents a different scenario than that of a psychologist or a masseuse.
If the main function of your home office is to provide you a place to work independently and jump on the occasional video call, you can keep things a little more casual. No one is really going to see anything other than what shows on their computer monitors, so you can cover the walls and windows with blankets to reduce echo. Keep in mind that this may add to the clutter in the room and the clutter in your mind.
If you’re going to have clients into your home, the visual aesthetic is as important as the acoustic attributes. These types of offices should be treated similarly to company offices, but you can add the personal touches that make for great home offices. Here are some solid solutions that will dress your home office for success.
Display your book collection
A great way to reduce echo in rooms and deliver a timeless look is to install a bookshelf behind the spot you sit for video calls. Loading up the shelf with your favorite books will help absorb sound waves and keep your video calls sounding crisp. It’s also a great way to show your colleagues and clients that you keep up with your personal and professional growth. A wall of bound paper is a great way to reduce echo and prompt talking points to those reading your titles rather than watching talking heads.
Fill your office with furniture
If you’re looking for a cheap way to reduce echo in a room of any type, adding furniture can be a great solution. Move some of the excess furniture from around the house into the office to diffuse sound waves and reduce echo. It’s best if the furniture is big and cushy, with fabric upholstery, but don’t let that stop you from using your favorite leather couch. While the leather will reflect more sound waves than fabric will, simply having it in the room will help reflect the sound waves, so they don’t produce as much echo.
Pick up some plants
There are all kinds of great benefits that come from introducing plant life to our indoor spaces. They contribute to feelings of calm, they produce oxygen, and they can even help with echo. While they aren’t particularly adept at absorbing sounds, they do a decent job scattering sound waves. They are also one of the few decorations that look great suspended from ceilings, allowing you to break up sound waves in the part of the room that rarely houses audio obstructions.
How to get help with your project
It’s not always enough to know how to reduce echo in a room. Sometimes it helps to get assistance from an expert. Whether you are looking to reduce echo in small rooms or large, doing it right will ensure your room sounds great. Drop us a line to set up a plan for your place. We’re here for you.