Reduce Noise with Acoustic Panels

Open spaces have been the home and office layout of choice for the past few decades. They let lots of light in and provide ample space for people to gather with their workmates and enjoy their loved ones. They’re not all upsides, though. Those open spaces can create the perfect atmosphere for sound waves to reflect and reverberate. That means you can deal with echoes and noise that distracts from your conversations.

Acoustic wall panels are the go-to solution for interior decorators and high-end commercial contractors alike. They absorb sound waves, creating a much more pleasant audible atmosphere in the room. If you’re hesitant to use wall panels because you don’t want to staple egg cartons to your walls, it’s time to familiarize yourself with the great new acoustic products that are available today.

The trouble with excess room noise

When sound waves are allowed to bounce around rooms freely, we end up dealing with things like echo and reverberation. These noisy nuisances are a result of sound waves bouncing off hard, smooth surfaces and traversing the open space in between. The reflections mix with other sound waves, creating an audible jumble. The larger the room is, the more these effects can be amplified, and the more important sound mitigation measures become.

How acoustic wall panels regulate noise

In order to keep sound waves from amplifying and creating echo, it’s necessary to absorb some of the sound waves and scatter or diffuse others. When sound waves strike reflective materials like walls and hardwood floors, much of the sound bounces back into the room. 

Covering or replacing reflective surfaces with an acoustic wall covering will allow you to trap a good deal of the sound waves before they reenter the room and cause audio issues. You don’t want to completely cover the wall, though, or you’ll end up with a dead sounding room. Finding a good balance of hard and soft surfaces creates a natural sounding room suitable for any event.

Scattering sound waves

A large part of what creates unwanted noise is the ability of sound waves to reflect directly back at the source. We get reverberation when this is allowed to happen. If the room is fairly large, we also get echoes. The amount of echo increases with the size of the room.

The way to combat this is to scatter or diffuse the sound waves. By creating curved surfaces and flat surfaces at different depths, we can direct the sound wave reflections around the room, minimizing the negative effects of those direct reflections. Diffusers can be a great help, but pairing them with materials that absorb some of the waves will round out your acoustic treatment plan.

Absorbing sound waves

The main way we absorb sound waves is by introducing soft, absorptive materials to the decor. This can be somewhat easy in a space like a small, carpeted living room filled with sound absorbing furnishings. The smaller space means the reflective surfaces are smaller, and the soft, porous surfaces in the wall-to-wall carpeting and couches do a pretty good job of absorbing the sound waves.

But, let’s say you’re working with an open space like a gymnasium. It’s a large room, and it won’t be filled with furniture. It will be filled with crowds of screaming fans, the sounds of people playing sports, musical performances, and much more. If the acoustic performance is not addressed, sound waves can amplify until they are downright deafening. You’ll get the best results by relying on the acoustic absorption properties of materials made to combat reverberation and echo. 

What kind of acoustic solutions are right for your application?

There are so many different kinds of acoustic products on the market. It can be hard to know where to begin. What’s the difference between different acoustic panel materials and thicknesses? Well, it depends on the usage.

The vast majority of acoustic materials are fibrous or porous, and their density and thickness are the aspects that determine the amount and type of sound waves absorbed. A recording studio or home movie theater with booming bass would be treated differently from a multi-use board room or gymnasium.

Acoustic wall panels

One of the most effective ways of controlling sound in large, reflective spaces is by utilizing acoustic wall panels. They come in many standard sizes and thicknesses, so you can likely use stock products in many places. If you’ve got a specific area to treat, and you’d like a custom size, that’s an option too. Now you’ve just got to decide on the specifics.

In a place like a gymnasium, maybe you’ll want to go with your school colors. If you’d rather custom print images of student athletes or motivational messaging. You can do that too. The right acoustic wall panels for gymnasiums can pull the look together, as well as the sound. 

In order to get the best sound out of the room, it’s important to choose an appropriate acoustic panel material. If your panels are too small or thin or don’t have the appropriate density, you may be underwhelmed by their performance.

Poly Max ceiling and wall panels are an excellent choice for places like gymnasiums and auditoriums. You can get them in standard and custom sizes large enough to effectively treat the acoustics in large rooms, and they do a really great job of reducing noise in loud rooms. Add in the fact that they resist fungal growth and can withstand intense heat without burning, and you’ve got a great solution that may even contribute to LEED V4.1 EQ Credit: Low-Emitting Materials. Another option is our Echo Eliminator™ echo reduction panels, a cost-effective, high-value, high-performance, and easy-to-install acoustic panel that offers a high noise-reduction coefficient.

You can easily install them yourself, which means you’ll save big bucks by not contracting the installation. It also means you can change your configuration whenever the need arises. Print custom graphics on them or choose from a dozen standard colors. Mixing it up with different colors means you can rearrange them for any big event. 

Acoustic ceiling panels

People often don’t think about soundproofing the ceiling. Sound absorbing ceiling panels not only absorb sound waves and control noise levels, but they look great and get people talking.

Suspending them below your HVAC system allows them to be more functional than you might have imagined. With this setup, the panels absorb sound waves coming from both the occupants of the room and the noisy ductwork above. Ceiling panels hide the ductwork above, creating a clean, cool look that can be tailored to your particular taste.

Acoustic ceiling panels are made using the same principles and products as wall panels, delivering the same performance but designed to look great on your ceiling.

Window treatments

If the room has windows, they create additional reflective surfaces. The trouble with windows, though, is that we can’t treat them with acoustic wall panels without rendering them pretty much useless. Windows call for a different approach.

A fantastic option for treating windows is acoustical curtains. They help absorb the sound waves that cause the room to get overly noisy, but they also provide the option of keeping light out. Many events call for a dark room. You can achieve this with a simple set of blackout curtains, but they don’t provide the acoustical benefits you get with acoustical curtains.

If noise passage through the windows is a concern, you should consider window inserts. They dramatically reduce the amount of sound that passes through the windows. It doesn’t matter if you’re trying to keep the noise in or out. Window inserts provide a noise control barrier material that works equally well in either case. And, if those benefits weren’t enough, inserts make the room more energy efficient by sealing out drafts. Ultimately, you also have the option of installing a new soundproof glass window.

Putting it all together

When we find ourselves in rooms that sound bad, it’s an unmistakable feeling. We can’t hear our conversations, and we may even lose our voices trying to talk over the noise. It’s awful. Making the decision to treat the room with acoustic wall panels ensures that our guests never have to experience that.

No matter what kind of commercial soundproofing materials you’re looking for, we’ve got the products and expertise you need to make your space sound great. Reach out when you’re ready to start putting your plan together.

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