Public Corridor Echo Problem

Hello Ted:

I am writing to find out your suggestions on how to reduce a echo problem that exists in a mall office public corridor. We recently completed a Life Style Center in Arizona and are experiencing a big problem with echoes in the mall office public corridor. The office corridor is 138′ long by 8′ wide by 10′ tall. The flooring consist of quarry tile and the walls and ceiling are a drywall painted finish. We also have bathrooms interconnected to the corridor at one end. Please see attached drawing for clarification. Our architect has thrown out some suggestions but admits he is not experienced in noise reduction coefficients.

Can you please make a suggestion on how to reduce or omit the echo problem that currently exists? Your website is full of ideas but frankly I could use some guidance. I looked at the following products WallMate, Clear Voice acoustical panels and Echo Eliminator. I notice in one of your blogs that a good starting point to figure out how many panels I need was to use 4% of the cubic volume. Any advice will be greatly appreciated.

Thank you,

Most of the rooms that I am asked to help treat have much different dimensions – most are square or rectangular – much more so than this giant corridor. I would absolutely love to get some panels into the space to see how the number and placement of panels affects the acoustic of the room.

Based on the dimensions of the room, I’m not at all surprised that a severe echo problem exists. You may want to start with the four-percent formula an then assess the situation after you have some panels installed. I’m sure you don’t need recording studio acoustics in the room, so a little trial and error would be appropriate here just to “take the edge off”.

A few things came to mind as I was reading this. I was a little confused as to why the architect made two recommendations of baffles, but then reading the E-mail above, it made sense. I would not suggest using baffles in this space, not only for fire code issues, but visually a baffle type installation is going to be incredibly disruptive. I only suggest the possibility of baffles when the ceiling height is over 18′-20′ like in a swimming pool or a gymnasium. Any ceiling lower makes the room feel very small and will often make awful shadows.

The two suggestions that I would make (which might change after seeing pictures of the location) would be our 1″ Thick Echo Eliminator panels adhered directly to the ceiling, spaced evenly along the 138′ surface. If one installed 400-450 square feet of the cotton into the space, I would be very surprised to hear of any kind of a echo in that space. I think that ceiling panels might be a little less visually intrusive as wall panels may be, and considering that it’s a public space, they will almost definitely last longer. These panels are made from recycled cotton, are class A/1 Fire rated, and are some of the most cost effective-yet acoustically absorbent panels on the market. Each 2′ x 4′ panel only weighs 2lbs, so they will adhere to the ceiling very easily with a construction grade caulk tube adhesive and a contact/spray adhesive. This is the product that is the absorbent core used in the WallMate system which may also be a possibility.

Another solution you might want to consider is the Fabric Wrapped Fiberglass panels. These are just as absorptive as the Echo Eliminator, but you have the ability to specify any panel size up to 4′ x 10′ panel dimensions as well as choose from hundreds of different fabrics to face each panel with. I also have the ability to have a local printing company print graphics onto the fabric before I adhere it to the fiberglass board.

Either way, I would suggest sticking with the 1″ thickness. The two inch panels would be overkill for this type of a room and also most likely more visually intrusive.

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