In the American economy, we see “value” mentioned frequently, and while the word “cheap” isn’t used, it’s often implied. No one wants to own cheap products, but no one wants to spend more than they should to get the performance they want. In the categories of sound and acoustical products, there’s a wide range of quality and price, from $99 “recording-studio-in-a-box” and “home-theater-in-a-box” offerings to multi-million-dollar custom-built studios and film-screening rooms. Stereo speakers can range from $30 a pair to well over $300,000 a pair. Where’s the value in this wide range of price points?
Definition of Value
Let’s check the dictionary (or thesaurus, shown on right) – value, n.
1. The regard that something is held to deserve; the importance, worth, or usefulness of something; the material or monetary worth of something.
2. A person’s principles or standards of behavior; one’s judgment of what is important in life.
Acoustic Treatments – Quality vs. Cost
Most rooms – recording studios, hi-fi setups, home theaters, and even larger performance venues – need acoustical treatments to maximize audio performance. If there’s ‘sound in air’, acoustical products will improve it. And in the acoustical-products category, we see a range of quality and price, but curiously, not nearly as wide as we see in other product categories. You can buy a “room kit” for $99 and get a box of one-inch-thick foam panels to glue on your walls (don’t – the glue lives forever but the foam does not). Foam panels will absorb a bit of the higher frequencies and will work about as well as the $99 “junk-audio-system-in-a-box”. Which is a decent cost-to-quality ratio for a $99 audio system – or, in actuality, a bad value.
Not that there’s anything wrong with $99 stuff if you’re starting out – the search for better sound must start somewhere. Hopefully, though, you’ve long outgrown the low end of the audio world, and for anyone who cares about sound, you owe yourself, and the investment you’ve made in your sound system, to consider the great value Acoustical Surfaces products represent. As we often say, your room is the final component in your system. For less than 10% of the cost of your electronics and speakers, you can greatly improve your system’s sound with acoustical room treatments. We offer a variety of highly-effective and affordable sound absorber panels and phase-coherent diffusors (the Curve Diffusor, which is also a low-frequency absorber). If you’ve moved beyond $99 audio systems, the cost of a well-treated room represents a terrific cost-to-quality ratio – an actual value.
Soundproofing and acoustical treatments are often neglected in the planning phase of commercial buildings and workplaces. Architects and design professionals focus on structural integrity and spatial function, but it’s only when people start to work in those spaces that acoustic problems are revealed. Always looking to trim budgets, business owners may question whether investing in soundproofing and acoustical treatments is really necessary.
There’s plenty of research, however, that shows that unwanted noise impacts workers’ health and productivity, and this will hit you where it really hurts — your bottom line. The World Health Organization calculates that excessive noise levels cost Europe annual losses in the range of $52 billion!
Soundproofing: Blocking External Noise and Ensuring Privacy
If you’ve ever worked in an office close to a railway, a densely populated urban center, or an industrial area, you can probably relate to the frustration and stress you feel when you’re forced to pause a conversation or meeting while a mile-long train clangs by, honking traffic and fire trucks screech past your window, or heavy machinery whines, crashes, and hammers all day.
Blocking external noise is crucial to workers’ mental and physical health, so it’s closely tied to the success of your enterprise. In fact, WHO has said that traffic noise alone is harmful to the health of almost every third person in Europe, and researchers in Hong Kong have found that “noise is probably the most prevalent source of annoyance in offices.”
Beyond that, most people would simply prefer their private conversations to stay private, but even more importantly, speech privacy and confidentiality is an absolute requirement in medical, legal, and business settings. Discussions behind closed doors are meant to remain behind closed doors, and they require protection from external noise and distractions — whether from the outside or inside of a building.
Soundproofing vs Acoustic Treatments
Soundproofing blocks sound from entering or leaving a space by changing structural elements to acoustically isolate one space from another.
Acoustic treatments, on the other hand, improve sound quality within a given space by controlling the way sound is reflected, absorbed, or diffused by walls, floors, and ceilings.
Soundproofing Offices and Conference Rooms
So, what’s the best approach to blocking external noise? Likewise, what’s the best way to keep sound inside a room — for privacy and confidentiality?
Start with the weakest points: windows and doors.
Windows and doors
Standard windows usually fall short in noise-blocking quality –– depending on the glaze and number of panes. Generally, solid-core doors are fairly good at blocking sound, but interior doors are often hollow-core and thinner, so they don’t block sound as well. The critical thing in both cases, however, is how well you seal the gaps between the doors or windows and the frames they’re in.
Sound is like water; if there’s somewhere for it to go, sound will find it. It can pass through, under, and around doors that haven’t been acoustically sealed. According to an article on Forbes, a 1 percent opening in a wall or doorway will reduce the effectiveness of that barrier by 50 percent.
Depending on the type of building you’re in, the external walls may or may not provide enough soundproofing from the outside — it’s a function of their thickness and density. Often, internal walls with no insulation and that share studs also transmit sound easily. Various approaches exist — from de-coupling internal surfaces to doubling-up on the sheetrock — that serve to both increase walls’ density and isolate them from external noise that may transmit through the building’s infrastructure.
Finally, sound can transmit to adjacent spaces via ceiling spaces and/or ventilation ducts, so you need to seal those spaces as well.
Cost-effective Soundproofing and Acoustic Treatments for Private Offices
Use our Door Seal Kits for the simplest way to begin soundproofing your commercial building or office space. They’re easy to install, and they offer the most effective solution for the price.
Products like, Noise S.T.O.P.™ Sound Barrier Acoustical Ceiling Tiles, combine soundproofing and acoustical treatment by incorporating a noise barrier on the back of the tile to help block sound from entering or leaving while also providing sound absorption on the front that helps control echo and reverberation within a space. You can also use Wood Wool Ceiling Tiles. These ceiling tiles reduce echo and reverberation through sound absorption.
Use high-performance products like Sound Silencer™ or FABRISORB™ acoustical wall panels that come in a wide range of aesthetically pleasing colors.
Soundproofing and acoustical treatments should not be overlooked in planning office spaces. They represent more than “mere comfort or luxury”; they should be seen as an essential investment in the health and productivity of employees and business professionals alike and, indeed, the bottom line.
Compared to the potential losses from not addressing noise problems, soundproofing and acoustical treatments are one of the best and most affordable investments you can make.