How to Optimize Room Acoustics for Your Space
Light, bright, and airy might be three of the most often-repeated words in real estate, but a room’s acoustics are equally—if not more so—important. Sound impacts everything from our ability to concentrate to our stress levels, and a space with poor acoustics can have a major effect on our quality of life.1
Whether you’re arranging a new office space now that you’re working from home indefinitely or looking for ways to curb distracting noises in your classroom, this post will give you an inside look at improving room acoustics.
What Are Room Acoustics?
“Room acoustics” refers to the way sound or the sound energy travels through an enclosed space. Think of how some spaces have a disturbing echo or the depth and richness of music in a concert hall. This is due to the way sound interacts with an area and reverberates off the surfaces it encounters.
Essentially, this is how sound moves through a room:2
- Sound strikes a surface and reflects off of it
- Alternatively, the sound wave hits a surface, and the surface absorbs and dissipates it
- If there is no sound absorption or reflection, the sound passes through the space or material
When it comes to negative noise—whether that’s the inability to hear the precision of another’s words or the whir of an air conditioner—we tend to point the finger at the source of noise rather than the acoustics. Fortunately, there are several ways to improve a room’s acoustics–which we’ll get to shortly.
What Impacts Room Acoustics?
Whether you’re working with home or building acoustics, several factors contribute to how well or how poorly direct sound behaves, including:
- The room’s shape
- The room’s surfaces, such as carpet/rugs, furnishings, and walls
- Ceiling height and ceiling panels
- Construction materials
Why is Acoustic Design Important?
Acoustics play a critical role in both sound quality and room volume levels. There are a handful of reasons why buildings are constructed with concrete and fiberglass insulation—and acoustics is certainly among them. These materials can help hinder noise or a sound wave from traveling from one office space or apartment to another by reflecting and absorbing it, and by diminishing the amount that passes through walls and floors.
Proper acoustic design has the potential to:3
- Improve communication
- Decrease stress
- Reduce background din
- Amplify noise in desired areas (such as a recording studio)
Without taking acoustics or sound absorbing material into consideration, noise can become distracting or intolerable, or it can create an unpleasant, hollow effect.
How to Improve Room Acoustics for Your Industry
Every industry has unique acoustic requirements. The acoustic needs of a concert hall are entirely different than those of a dentist’s office. But what all industries might agree on is that they desire clarity and quality of sound, and a reduction or elimination of unwanted noises.
Let’s take a look at how a few industries can improve their room acoustics.
Hospital noise reduction is crucial to ensure doctor-patient confidentiality, comply with HIPPA regulations, improve comfort levels, and encourage recovery. Two options to improve medical spaces’ acoustics are:
- Install ceiling and wall panels – Hospitals must be spotless—and products such as Acoustical Surfaces Noise S.T.O.P. Ultra-San Clean Room Ceiling and Wall Panels are an excellent option. These FDA and USDA-approved acoustic panels provide terrific noise reduction while also adhering to sanitation requirements.
- Use door seal kits – A closed door may indicate quiet and privacy, but noise can seep through unsealed edges. Door seal kits are a type of acoustic treatment that can help solve this by confining the sounds of conversations or other noises to a large or small room, cutting down on outside noise pollution.
Recording studios have entirely different acoustic requirements—needs that are best addressed before construction even begins. However, you can still implement sound acoustics (pun intended) with these tips:
- Hang soundproof curtains – Whether it’s from traffic or a park across the street, outside noises can disrupt your concentration and ruin a recording. Sound-absorbing curtains with a barrier core have the capacity to absorb noise and are a great interior wall soundproofing option that won’t damage your walls.
- Insert drywall – If space permits, adding drywall to the foundation you have in place can improve sound quality and restrict noise from entering. One of the most efficient and expedient ways to accomplish this is to use green glue between two sheets of drywall. Add one sheet of drywall and apply green glue to it. From there, affix another sheet of drywall. This process can help dampen sound.
- Invest in a soundproof door – Acoustical Surfaces’ Studio 3D Soundproof Interior Doors were specifically designed to improve room acoustics in recording studios. With a Sound Transmission Class (STC) value of 56, they act as a barrier between your recordings and the outside world and facilitate superior sound quality.
Schools and the classrooms they contain should have an acoustic room design that minimizes intrusive sounds and fosters focus and learning. You can easily achieve this by:
- Using fabric wall panels – To enhance listening and communication, Acoustical Surfaces offers made-to-order fabric wall panels to absorb sound. With hundreds of fabrics from which to choose, you can match your acoustic panels to your school or classroom’s aesthetics. These can be placed on walls close to the ceiling, which will be outside of children’s reach and can help curb that “boomy” effect that can disrupt learning.
- Buffering distracting sounds – If your students are distracted by the sound of an AC, heater, or electrical system, create a barrier between it and your classroom with sound-buffering products like barriers, duct wrap, and sound silencer panels.
Whether it’s the DMV or a county clerk’s office, government facilities see a great deal of traffic that can detract employees and visitors from the tasks at hand. Strategies for these facilities include:
- Consider a Barrier Decoupler – Ventilation throughout government facilities can cause noise pollution. To mitigate it, check out Acoustical Surfaces’ Barrier Decoupler. Made with Mass Loaded Vinyl, it can be placed over pipes and vents to mitigate sound energy transmission and keep intrusive noises from escaping.
- Rely on window inserts – Traffic, lines of people, altercations–outside noise can be disruptive to what’s occurring inside. Window inserts are a simple solution. They create a seal around windows to decrease the volume of noise that passes through.
Enhance Your Room Acoustics with Acoustical Surfaces, Inc.
Room and general building acoustics have a hand in everything from our stress levels to our listening pleasure. Without the appropriate construction, materials, and sound solutions, a room’s noise levels can have a detrimental impact on our day-to-day responsibilities and even happiness.
From sound reflection to sound absorption, Acoustical Surfaces has the answers you need. Whether you want to provide a meditative space for your counseling patients or take your recordings to the next level, we’ve got you covered.
And if you’re curious about other types of acoustic treatment materials, learn more about soundproofing with rockwool or discover the differences between mineral wool vs fiberglass as you prepare for your next project.
Ready to get started? Contact us and explore our products today to hear the difference.
- Wiley Online Library. Psychological effects of sound exposure. https://onlinelibrary.wiley.com/doi/10.1002/9781118895696.ch5
- Big Rentz. Architectural acoustics: the art of sound design. https://www.bigrentz.com/blog/architectural-acoustics
- GB&D. 6 acoustic design principles to consider in your next project. https://gbdmagazine.com/acoustic-design-principles/