Training Room Echo Problem
We have a new training room that has the following dimensions: 8′ High, 40′ Long, & 18′ Wide. The walls are dry wall, the ceiling has the typical tiles, and the floor is concrete covered by thin vinyl tiles. Also, one 40′ long wall has a white board all the way across it. The echoes are quite awful in this room. What would you recommend doing to reduce the noise?
Thank you for the E-mail. Taking care of the echo in the room is actually quite simple, but there are a few options. Before I get too far along, if you would like to see samples or get literature for any of the products I will mention below, please feel free to let me know and I will get them on the way as soon as I can. Also, if this gets to be confusing or if you have questions, don’t hesitate to call or send me an E-mail.
Although there really isn’t a cut and dry way to treat every room, I have come up with a simple equation that I have been very successful with for reducing the echo to a reasonable and acceptable degree. This isn’t a guarantee or anything, but it is a simple answer to at least give people an idea of how many panels they will need for their rooms.
Cubic Volume x 4% = square footage of panels installed.
40′ x 18′ x 8′ = 5,760
5760 x .04 = 230.4
This room needs approximately 230 square feet of paneling.
One nice thing about acoustics and fixing echo problems is the fact that the exact location of the acoustical material is not critical and, for all practical purposes, it can be installed anywhere in the room and have about the same performance. So, the panels do not HAVE to be installed on the walls a certain distance off of the floor to be effective. Let’s say that you had two identical training rooms and you put 230 square feet of paneling on the walls of “Room A” and the same 230 square feet on the ceiling of “Room B”, if you or I were in either (with our eyes closed) we would not likely be able to tell which room we were in. This leaves a lot of freedom for the end user to put the panels in whatever location they want. Most people end up installing the panels on the ceiling because they are the most inconspicuous and the most out of the way along with the fact that they can get a very even coverage throughout the room while not taking away much from the aesthetics of functionality of the room but the walls are just as efficient. With this said, I would suggest spacing the panels out rather than installing them one next to the other. This will increase the overall surface area of absorption and give you a bit more absorption per panel because the sound can hit the edges of the panels as well as the surface.
As far as what products to use, there are a few likely options. Each of these will have it’s own advantages and disadvantages. Choosing which is best for the room is ultimately going to be up to you and is usually decided by two factors, the budget for the project and the necessary aesthetic of the room.
Echo Eliminator Panels:
This is going to be the most cost effective panel of the lot. This is a board made from recycled cotton and has a surface appearance like felt; a soft, fuzzy texture. It is in stock in ten different colors and is sold in 2′ x 4′ panels. The most common issue or complaint is that it is not “finished looking” enough for the room. That is understandable as the aesthetic of the panel is not why it is suggested, it is the value. This product is just as absorbent as any but is usually about 1/3 the cost.
Fabric Wrapped Fiberglass panels:
This is one of two of the most decorative and finished looking panels that we offer. This is a pre-fabricated panel that is made by cutting a piece of fiberglass down to size, treating the edge with one of four profiles and wrapping it with a decorative fabric. They can be made into any size up to a 4′ x 10′ board and there are LOTS of fabrics to choose from. Because they are pre-fabricated and hand made, they are going to be the most costly option as well as the most expensive to ship. But, when the panels get to the site, they are the faster and easier to install than the product below. The cost for this option depends on fabric, panel size, and shipping needs to be quoted with size and quantity).
WallMate Stretch-Wall System:
This product is a site-fabricated high tension fabric system. We provide the pieces and parts and the panels are built on site. I usually use the analogy of a “canvas painting” to explain how this works. The WallMate system uses the light, non-rigid cotton as the acoustical core and rather than wrapping the cotton panels themselves, a track, or frame is installed on the wall- similar to a wood stretcher for a painting. The fabric is wrapped around the frame, not touching the cotton. These pieces can be shipped via ups and is usually about the middle of the road (between the un-faced cotton panels) and the fabric wrapped fiberglass panels above, but it does depend significantly on the sizes and shapes that you want to use in the room.
Sound Silencer Panels:
I would only suggest this panel if you are planning to use the look of the panel and/or you want to use it as a tack-board for presentations or something. It is about half as acoustical as the other three options and about half as absorbent but it does have it’s own merits. It offers a unique aesthetic that works very well in some contemporary settings, it is tackable, and it is very impact and abuse resistant. It is only available in 2′ x 4′ panels in the Charcoal and White colors.
Again, I hope this hasn’t confused or overwhelmed you. If it has, please feel free to contact me.