Home Gym Acoustical Treatment

In the past few weeks or months, I have had a few inquiries about reducing the echo and reverberation in a home gym.  The nature of a gym with it’s hard floors, concrete or drywall walls and (generally) metal ceilings are the epitome an echo chamber.  They are always fairly large or very large rooms and are used by people doing loud things.  So, acoustical treatment of the gym is usually necessary and always makes the room more comfortable.

There are usually three questions that people ask when inquiring about treating a gym. What product do you suggest, how much do I need and where do I put this treatment?  I’ll do what I can to simplify my answers to these as I could probably go on and on.

What product do you suggest?

This question can provide quite a few different answers. Most of them revolve around the room itself. There are a variety of panels available that can easily be glued to the ceiling or high up on the walls. There are cost effective panels, abuse or impact resistant panels, and then there are custom panels which are typically available in a wide variety of sizes and colors.

If you are not worried about how the panels effect the look of the room, then by all means, why not go with the cost effective panels?  If they perform well enough for your needs and you are not worried about how they look, they can be a great cost saver. One school gym used these panels in a decorative way, though, making a sweet checkered pattern with them.

If you don’t really care about how they look, but you are worried about them getting hit, then you may want to consider panels that are going to be abuse or impact resistant. These are going to take a lot of damage without showing wear or tear. Here you can read a success story about a home gym using impact/abuse resistant panels.

If the gym has a look you are trying to uphold and acoustical panels will not fit into the design, you may want to look into custom made panels. You will find these are going to cost the most, but they will be able to meet your acoustical and design needs.

How much do I need?

Unfortunately there is no “easy” answer to this question as the right answer depends just as much on your comfort level and the use(s) of the room as anything else, but I have developed a safe way to at least get an idea of what kind of coverage is going to “take the edge off” of the space.  I’ve applied this equation to a considerable amount of different rooms and the result has always been acceptable.

Take the cubic volume of the space and multiply that by 3%.  This will give you an approximate square footage of panels to install.  So:  Height x Width x Depth = Cubic Volume.  Cubic Volume x .03 = Square footage of panels.

My Disclaimer:  If you have a massive gym, this math will change a bit.  The larger the room, the more panels are needed because of the increase in reflective surface area.  So, call me with your measurements and I’ll help you out with the applicable math.  In larger situations, I will use 4% or even 5% based on the actual size of the room.

Where do I put this treatment?

The treatment can really be placed anywhere you would like and have essentially the same result.  This leaves the end user with a lot of freedom to install the panels in locations that will not be hit by flying objects, be out of the way of impact or damage, act as a decorative element in the room, blend into the room or be installed in areas that have the available surface area.  This means that you can put the panels on the walls or the ceiling and it will sound the same.

If you had two identical gyms and you put 350 panels on the ceiling of the first gym and the same 350 panels on the walls of the second gym and you had a conversation in either with your eyes closed, it would sound exactly the same.  So, the spacing, location and pattern is up to you.

If you would like to ask me questions about your situation, please feel free. I would be happy to do what I can to crunch some numbers for you, talk about the best product for your particular application and get you a quote or some product samples.  If you have the (even approximate) measurements for the space and you could E-mail me a digital picture or two, it would be greatly helpful

Here’s a picture for inspiration.  This is one of the coolest installations I’ve seen.  I’ll add a story about this later.


7 Comments

  1. Eric

    Hi
    Master Ted.

    I’m curious to know two things, or maybe more.

    1. What is the ideal reverberation time for a gym (is there any
    technical standard that I can follow?)

    2. How can deduct that the calculation of 3% to 5% of acoustic absorbent material area, question: how do you show this theoretically ?

    If you have time to respond, will be greatly appreciated.
    Thanks

  2. Ted W

    Eric,
    Thanks for reading the article and posting the comment! I don’t know if anyone in the world would be able to quantify or state an ideal reverberation time for a gym. Think about this question in another way. What if someone asked you to quantify the ideal temperature(heat/cool)for a room? If you asked 100 people this question, you’re going to get a LOT of varying answers. The same is true with reverberation time. Sure, there will be some kind of overall average or middle ground but there is no exact answer.

    My suggestion is usually to get a logical and calculated number/amount of panels into the space and use the space as you normally would and then step back and assess the situation. If there is still too much echo and reverberation you can almost always add more, but you don’t know what your ideal reverberation time will be until you get there.

    I’m sorry but I don’t understand the second question, could you please rephrase that?

    Thank you!
    -Ted

  3. WorthlessArticle

    “Any Gym”?
    “…doesn’t matter where you put them…it will sound exactly the same”?
    Really? That is a pretty short-sighted and ill-informed thing to say.
    How about setting up a sound system and doing a play, band performance or church service in this gym? The ONLY way to calculate this is to bring in acoustic analysis equipment to test the room and have it plot EXACT placements of material.
    oh, and Ted: the answer is; he can’t… he just read/heard somewhere that that was the proper percentage rate range.
    Basically let me summarize this article: —-“If you want to make your gym less ‘echo-y’ try hanging some foam panels or home-made panels on the ceiling or walls”

  4. Ted W

    Dear Mr. WorthlessArticle,

    Thank you for your comment, I appreciate all viewpoints and was not aware that my marketing team modified the title of the article as well as some of the wording within the article. It should be titled, specifically “Home Gym Acoustical Treatment”. They likely changed it so that more people found the article and I will be changing this back as soon as I can. So although I don’t appreciate your comments about me being “short-sighted and ill-informed”, per the title I can understand why you decided to use the lovely choice of words that you did.

    Let me address your concerns and explain the basis for my suggestion. Because I actually spoke to and discussed the situation with the person using this room, it was explained to me that the main and only use for this room was for playing (basketball, volleyball, whatever). It is not ever used for music, performances or any services – this is simply and only a play room. For rooms like this, one does NOT need an acoustical analysis and EXACT LOCATIONS of products to reduce the overall reverberation time of the room it is simply a relationship of the absorptive surfaces in the room relative to the cubic volume and surfaces within the room. The simple overall reduction in reverberation time makes this room more comfortable for the occupants and the home owner and his family was extremely pleased with the outcome.

    Again, thank you for bringing to my attention that the title of the article was changed without my knowledge, I am addressing this now. If you knew me or if you’ve spoken to me even for a few minutes, you will quickly learn that it is absolutely NOT my intent to present short “sighted or ill-informed” information to the general public. I am extremely quick to point out that acoustical treatment needs to be extremely room and use specific and that there is not a blanket answer to anything and per the title of this article, that was misrepresented. I spend many, many hours a week talking to people about their specific acoustical situation and ask questions as to the use of the room as I am fully aware that, in fact, some rooms for some uses need to be plotted and have product installed in specific locations – but would you agree that not all rooms need an analysis and strategic locations to make the acoustic of that room appropriate for it’s use? Many of the schools and houses of worship that I speak to can simply not afford to hire a consultant to model a room and draft a report showing them EXACTLY where product should be installed – it’s that simple. Some treatment is better than no treatment – would you not agree?

    Feel free to call me to discuss – my direct line is 952-466-8228. Maybe we’ll both learn something.
    I hope you have a good day.

    -Ted

  5. jason

    Some excellent pointers here, Ted, and some pertinent replies to the questions put to you in the comments.

    You can please a lot of people some of the time….

  6. Goffe

    Ted, this is just the kind of practical application I am looking for, as I am working with my gym owner to reduce reverb (and it is used only as a gym). We don’t need anything real precise, but we also don’t want to over-spend. I have a couple of questions: What thickness of material is assumed? If we install panels vertically (between the ceiling trusses), does that double the effective surface area? I have been figuring to use Owens Corning 703 or something similar. BTW, the room is about 85′ l x 95′ w x 23′ h. Thanks.

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