Tag Archive: acoustics

  1. Can Awful Acoustics in Restaurants Alter Taste?

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    Have you ever been to a busy restaurant that was so noisy you could barely hear your friend across the table? From an acoustics standpoint, restaurants are tricky spaces; the hard surfaces of the tables, bar, and floor are carefully designed to match the menu and overall aesthetic, but they can make a quiet Tuesday lunch sound very different from a packed Friday night.

    Positive young people enjoying a food and smiling at the tavern

    It’s no surprise that crowded, noisy atmospheres result in dissatisfying customer experiences. In a recent Zagat survey, noise level was the second most common complaint of restaurant goers after bad service. Additionally, a Consumer Reports survey of almost 50,000 readers reported that one in every four dining experiences warranted a noise complaint.

    Customers aren’t the only victims of sound pollution; the Occupational Health and Safety Administration (OSHA) monitors volume to protect employees from environments that could cause hearing loss over time. OSHA’s standards include a maximum noise level of 90 decibels per every 8 hours and 95 decibels per every 4 hours. Oxford University experimental psychology professor Charles Spence noted that noise levels in many restaurants hover around 100 decibels.

    restaurant 1

    Recent studies have found that not only do bad acoustics hurt our ears, but they can also affect the way we taste our food. A 2010 study in scientific journal Food Quality and Preference found that participants perceived saltiness and sweetness more strongly when eating with quiet or no background noise, compared to participants who ate the same foods with loud background noise. A 2012 University of Manchester study found that people enjoyed their food more when they also enjoyed the background noise (pleasant music, for example), while participants who ate with 80-decibel white noise in the background reported dulled flavor perception.

    We’re learning that existing background noise, and the acoustical products used to counter it, have the power to transform the dining experience. Acoustical experts should be consulted at the start of any restaurant building or remodeling to harness this power. Products like fabric wrapped fiberglass or echo elimination panels can minimize the noisy cocktail party effect we’ve all experienced.

    Acoustical Surfaces, Inc. has 35 years of experience in improving surface acoustics. Managing volume can be difficult in a continuously changing environment like a restaurant. At Acoustical Surfaces Inc., we offer a variety of mounted wall panels, silk metal, and ceiling-hung baffles to knock out the unwanted noise and offer a more pleasant experience for your customers and employees.

    To learn more about our acoustical surface offerings and our proven restaurant industry success, please contact us to consult an acoustical expert.

     

  2. What’s That Noise? Office Environments

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    This month’s edition of What’s That Noise? focuses on office environments—enclosed areas that depend on quietness to ensure the clearest communication possible.

    Office_acoustics_sound_barriers

    Millions of Americans spend 40 or more hours working in office buildings each week. Unfortunately, not all the time spent by office employees is productive, as the buildings they work in are a constant source of unsolicited noise.

    If you’ve worked in an office, or even briefly visited one, then you are well aware of the noises people encounter in these buildings—keyboard clicking, calls with clients or other employees, and loud music are a few prime examples. These individual noises are irritating and distracting, but they aren’t the biggest problem befalling offices today; sound transmission from room to room is the real culprit.

    Interestingly enough, the construction of office buildings is what promotes sound transmission. During construction, components like heating and cooling systems, water pipes, are run along the ceiling of a building. Next, walls are built and a “drop-ceiling” is installed to cover the surfaces. Finally, doors are installed and the rooms are finished. In each of these areas, very little attention is given to sound absorbing materials.

    People tend to assume that walls are the main source of sound transmission, but generally speaking, sound travels too fast (1,130 feet per second to be exact) to determine its precise location. Regardless of location, these sounds interfere with office productivity, and often cause confusion among employees.

    How Can I Resolve the Problem?

    It can be challenging, but the first step is to try and pinpoint the general problem area—your choice of noise abatement products will depend on the specifics of the room.

    For ceiling tiles, the Acoustical Surfaces team recommends two exceptional products: NOISE S.T.O.P.™ Sound Barrier ACT Tiles offer both high sound absorption (for echo and reverberation within a room) and are designed with a noise barrier on the back of the tile to help to block sound from entering or leaving an office; Barrier Decoupler  can be used on the back of STANDARD ceiling tiles to reduce sound transmission and contain intrusive noises.

    For office doorways, we recommend Door Seal Kits—these products are adjustable, durable, and are ideal for decreasing the amount of sound transmission through door seals. Our door seals are easy-to-install and available in several custom sizes.

    Finally, adding wall panels will help absorb echoes and reverberation throughout the office. Our NOISE S.T.O.P. FABRISORB™  fabric-wrapped fiberglass panels are custom engineered to provide high-performance noise reduction in any office area.  These panels can also be fabricated with a core of a dense, heavy vinyl that will offer the ability to block sound transmission as well.

    Learn more about our noise abatement and soundproofing solutions by contacting Acoustical Surfaces, Inc. today.

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  3. How Does Sound Work?

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    I think that people, in general, have a hard time understanding how sound works. I know it took me a long time, and I still only know the very basics. Maybe it is because it is unseen and unknown? When you are in a room that sounds great, you don’t even think about it. When you are in a room that sounds bad, you definitely notice it and want to do something to fix it. At least that’s how it is for me. Most people don’t even know that they can do anything about it.

    There are some great analogies about sound that helped me out a lot. Very generic, but they helped me to understand. If you are a visual person, like myself, you will really enjoy this video that helped me understand the way sound works in rooms. John Calder from Acoustic Geometry, our sister company, made a wonderful video that explains how sound works in rooms. He uses a Nerf gun to represent the path that sound travels along with some other fun props. I think it is worth a view, even if you already have a grasp on how sound works. It was produced so that even my mom (sorry mom) can understand what is going on.


    click anywhere on video to play/pause

  4. Summer Sound Series: When The Kids Are Away… Fixing School Acoustics

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    Gymnasium – School Acoustics

    The Situation

    School is out for summer, and we want to take advantage of the time to work on the acoustics in our gymnasium, classrooms, and cafeteria. What would you recommend?

    The Solution

    You’re in good company! Teachers and administrators researching acoustical treatment for classrooms, cafeterias, common areas, etc. often contact us for help, and summer and winter breaks are usually the best times to make improvements. Large common areas like cafeterias and gyms have different acoustical needs than most classrooms due to their size, and they must be approached differently. However, there are some common factors and things to consider that can be applied across the board.

    In order to find the right acoustical solution for your particular situation, a bit of planning and preparation is required to learn the advantages and disadvantages of different acoustical products and methods of installation. Some of these products are custom made and will require a 1-4 week lead-time, so you’ll want to make sure to allocate enough time for that. It’s always good to request product samples so that you can see and feel the differences between products to make the best choice for your situation.

    Taking the Edge Off

    In the interest of simplicity, I’m going to discuss the basics of “taking the edge” off of a large space, such as a gym or cafeteria. The goal here is to reduce the reverberation time (echo) in the room so that it is simply easier and more comfortable to occupy.

    I developed the following equation about seven years ago and have been using it ever since, with positive feedback from hundreds of customers. The idea here is not to try to achieve perfection, but rather to give you an idea of how to approach a room that needs acoustical treatment without having to hire an acoustical consultant.

    Assuming your room has hard (usually tile) floors, drywall or cinderblock walls and either a sheetrock or metal deck ceiling:

    .04 × (cubic volume of space) = approximate number of square feet of panels to put into your room.

    This is probably a lot simpler than you thought it was going to be. Awesome.

    The next two questions are always: “Well, where do I need to put the panels?”, and “What type of panels are you talking about?”

    Where Do I Put The Panels?

    The first question is easy to answer. The nice thing about acoustics is that in most elevations, sound travels in the ballpark of 1,116.43701 feet per second, which means that the sound in a room travels too quickly for the exact location of the panels to make any audible difference on the overall echo reduction. In almost all instances where one is just looking to reduce the echo, there is not going to be any overall performance differences between a wall or a ceiling mounted panel. Most of the time, in a gymnasium, it is best to put the panels directly onto the ceiling or high on the walls so that they are not hit as often with volleyballs, basketballs, etc.

    What Type of Panels?

    Now, when it comes to what type of panels, there are three panel types that are probably the most common for schools to install:

    1. Echo Eliminator recycled cotton panels
    2. Fabric-wrapped-fiberglass panels
    3. PVC or Sailcloth hanging baffle

    Echo Eliminator

    Echo Eliminator Cotton Acoustical PanelsThe Echo Eliminator panels are going to be the most cost-effective option; they are generally in stock in 2′ × 4′ panels and are available in ten different colors. They are easy to ship and install, but are also generally found to be less aesthetically pleasing than the other two options.

    Fabric Wrapped Panels

    Fabric Wrapped Fiberglass Panels – Edge OptionsThe fabric wrapped fiberglass panels are very decorative and finished looking, can be made in any panel size needed up to a 4′ × 10′ board and come in hundreds of different colors and fabrics. We can also print custom graphics on the fabric before wrapping for a premium price. They are, however, heavier, and can be more difficult to install.

    PVC and Sailcloth Baffle

    PVC Acoustical BaffleThe PVC and Sailcloth baffles are hung from the ceiling like a flag. They are also custom made with plenty of choices for both baffle size and color – so school colors (or something similar) can be chosen. The downside to baffles is that they cannot usually be used in rooms that have fire-suppression sprinklers. When they are installed in the ceiling, they will commonly inhibit the throw and coverage of the sprinklers, which can violate the fire code for the building. Check with your local fire marshal before getting too far down the design path for a baffle installation.

    As always, I’m happy to do what I can to help you make the best choices for both the type of panel as well as quantity. Feel free to contact me with the dimensions of your room and a few digital pictures, which are great aids for me to help you. Also, please feel free to include your personal or school address so that I am able to send you a few different product samples for your review. Finally, some schools have rooms that need to meet specific ANSI standards, and for these you can contact me directly and we can discuss your particular room further.