In this ongoing blog series, the acoustic experts of ASI will detail common noise concerns of different environments and offer solutions to resolve any issues. This month’s edition of What’s That Noise? focuses on gymnasiums—wide-open spaces that are highly conducive to generating echoes and reverberation.
Upon entering a gymnasium, the first thing that people notice—almost immediately—is the noise. At any given time, there are dozens of unwanted sounds fluctuating throughout these recreational facilities. Squeaking sneakers, booming voices and footsteps, and piercing music are only some of the sounds you’ll encounter regularly.
Gymnasiums aren’t limited to just exercise and sporting events; these multi-purpose spaces often serve as venues for banquets, concerts, performances, and business conferences as well. Regardless of their specific purpose, all gymnasiums are constructed similarly; they are always composed of wood, painted concrete or cinder blocks, and metal roof decks—all of which are highly reflective surfaces.
When you combine large gym spaces, reflective surfaces, and a lack of absorptive surfaces (e.g. carpet, furniture, drapery or ceiling tiles), this results in excessive echoes and reverberations. With little to no absorption in the room, sounds constantly bounce around until running out of energy.
This noise problem is especially troublesome when gymnasiums are for conferences or instructional events; speech intelligibility in the room suffers greatly since people hear sounds that have been reflected several times. This delayed response causes a lot of confusion, as people have difficulty distinguishing one sounds from another.
How Can I Resolve the Problem?
To facilitate appropriate noise abatement, many gymnasiums are treated with hanging baffles or absorptive wall or ceiling panels. Baffles are ideal for this application, but it’s important to observe and take note of the fire suppression sprinklers; installing baffles in a location that’s inhibiting the coverage of the fire sprinklers is a huge safety concern.
Acousitcal Surfaces, Inc. (ASI) has led the soundproofing industry for over 30 years. People frequently rely on our sound expertise to solve noise problems in various settings.
In gymnasiums, our Echo Eliminator™ Acoustical Panels are a great resource for noise abatement for walls or ceilings. These panels are cost effective, lightweight, and easy to install. Our Echo Eliminator™ panels are sold in 2×4 panels and are available in 10 different colors in both 1” and 2” thickneses. In addition to possessing exceptional absorptive properties, these panels are also Class A fire rated to provide added security. It is also important to know that these panels are generally in stock and because they do not need to be made/fabricated, we can generally ship an order in just a few days.
ASI’s PVC Wrapped Acoustical Baffles are also a popular choice for gymnasiums (with high ceilings and no fire suppression systems). These high-performance baffles are composed of heat-sealed polyethylene (PVC) with a fiberglass fill, making them absorbent enough to cut down reverberations. Our baffles are available in sizes up to 4’x10’, as well as various colors to compliment the design of you gym.
Large cities with large populations and lots of concrete are always going to be noisy, that’s just part of the game when it comes to living in the city. If you don’t like noise, it’s probably not the right place for you. But, even in a big city, people should be able to create quiet, comfortable spaces to unwind. Fortunately there are quite a few different products that can be used to reduce the amount of sound coming into a building.
RSIC-1 clips can be used for exterior walls to float the drywall off of the studs, allowing the sound pressure to be converted to heat by allowing the wall assembly to vibrate:
Green Glue and an additional layer of 5/8” drywall can be used to retro-fit an exterior wall to increase the STC rating of the assembly, and block more sound from making its way into the space:
Climate-Seal Window Inserts are a very effective, retro-fit way to reduce the amount of sound coming in a weak window. These windows snap into place and are held onto a metal frame that is installed around a window:
Gymnasiums are huge echo chambers. A gym’s noise production, transmission, and effects, also known as your gymnasium acoustics, can have a more negative impact than many realize. From the sharp sound of a coach’s whistle to screaming crowds that cheer on the home team, gym acoustics not only create noise levels that make communication difficult, but can also result in noise related hearing loss. Treating a gymnasium will also have the unexpected benefit of cutting down on noise throughout an entire building.
Why so noisy?
It’s all about echo and reverberation. You’re probably familiar with an echo, from the sharp slap of a book dropped in an empty hallway to your voice responding back to you as you yell across a vast canyon. Well, gym acoustics are a bit like that vast canyon. As noise travels in this “canyon” we get reverberation that is very noticeable in such a large, voluminous space. When reverberation occurs in a hard surfaced room (like your gym) the sounds can actually increase in intensity, lasting for several seconds. This can hamper communication and contribute to even higher noise levels as everyone gets louder and louder trying to be heard. (You can read more about reverberation and other acoustical terms here).
What to do and what to use?
Due to the typical room structure of a gymnasium, we recommend that gym soundproofing be focused on walls and ceilings. Adding sound absorbing materials is the best remedy and there are a variety of gym acoustic treatments available to help you improve your gymnasium’s acoustics.
One option is the Sound Silencer™, which can be applied directly to both walls and/or ceilings. This product is extremely durable and very effective at sound control management.
Another great choice is the Echo Eliminator™. These recycled cotton panels can be applied directly to a wall or used as a baffle, suspended from your gym’s ceiling. They come in 10 great colors, one of which is sure to complement your school colors! Check out this blog post describing one school’s unique way of soundproofing their gymnasium so that noise was reduced while also being visually appealing. The Echo Eliminator also makes attractive hanging acoustical baffles that may count towards making your school LEED® certified.
Church acoustics in fellowship halls or multi-purpose rooms are some of the more frequent rooms that we are asked for recommendations for acoustical treatment. These rooms have a few very common similarities that are the reason for the need for acoustical wall panels or acoustical ceiling panels. These rooms are often quite large so that a large number of people can use the room at the same time. They also commonly have cinder block or sheetrock walls, a vinyl tile or linoleum floor. If carpet is present, it is almost always a very low pile, industrial carpet.
How Many Panels Do I Need?
As far as echo and reverberation are concerned, the larger the room, the more square footage of acoustical treatment is needed to get the proper level noise control. Over the last few years, I have talked to thousands of people and a series of the same questions continues to be asked. “How many panels do I need?” This is a simple question that needs to be asked. The answer, however, is not as simple because rooms and the needs of rooms are always different. For simplicity’s sake, I know that rooms like this don’t need “recording studio” sound quality. They do need a noise control solution that takes the edge off so that when the room is filled with people the noise level is not ear splitting.
I’ve come up with a very simple equation to start with to answer the question above. This is not a guarantee or a necessity, but it is a generalization that I have had an extremely high success rate with. The square footage of paneling generally needed is found by multiplying the cubic volume of the room by 3%.
Again, there is not a right or wrong answer to this question but there are some tendencies or trend that I do want to explain. Although there are hundreds of different kinds of acoustical treatments (including wall panels, ceiling panels, cloud baffles, diffusers, etc.), when it comes to treating a room like this, this extensive list of options is just about always reduced to two different types of panels. These are our Decorative Fabric Wrapped Fiberglass Panels and our Echo Eliminator Panels.
The Fabric Wrapped Panels are custom made boards of fiberglass that are cut to size and wrapped with a decorative fabric. This option offers the most freedom of panel size and color which is very attractive to quiet a few people. The unfortunate part about the product is that because it is custom made and made by hand, it also comes with a higher price tag. This price tag often makes this option less attractive or simply not an option. Especially for a multi-purpose room where aesthetics isn’t as critical as it would be in a room like a sanctuary, our Echo Eliminator recycled cotton panels become much more attractive.
These acoustical panels are made from recycled cotton fiber and we offer them in nine different colors. They have an absorption rating that makes them an extremely efficient acoustical treatment. Because they are made from a recycled material, they are also very cost effective. They can be used as wall panels or ceiling panels and are most often glued directly to the structure with a construction adhesive and a contact adhesive. They are Class A fire rated, which is always important as well.
Where Should I Put These Panels?
My answer to this question almost always surprises people. For all practical purposes, to take the edge off of a room, the exact location of the acoustical wall panels or ceiling panels does not matter nearly as much as the square footage of panels introduced into the room. This leaves the end user with a lot of freedom to put the panels in a location where they will be most discreet.
The only two recommendations that I would like to pass along would be to space the panels out as evenly as possible throughout the room and, if the aesthetic works, space the panels out (rather than installing them one next to the other). Installing them throughout the room will give you the most even acoustical result and by spacing them apart, you will effectively increase the overall surface area of absorption and increase the performance of the panels as a whole.
In December of 2006, Dennis contacted me about the multi-purpose room at the Bon Air Church of the Nazarene in Kokomo, Indiana. He was collecting information about products and treatments for the room. We talked briefly about the room and a few of the more popular products that he might be interested in and I put some samples and literature together and sent them to him. We spoke about the advantages and disadvantages of the products and he took the information to the committees and decision makers of the church.
Like all projects that I have done with houses of worship, the project was discussed and questions were asked, and ultimately the Echo Eliminator panels were chosen due to the low cost of the product and the high absorption numbers. Dennis sent me the measurements of the room and based on the size of the room and the surface that were present, I used the following equation to help him start to figure out how many panels the church was going to need.
This multipurpose room measures roughly 55′ × 65′ and has 20′ ceilings. The equation that I used to determine the square footage needed is listed above.
Based on the numbers from above, Dennis worked with church members to come up with a unique and decorative pattern for the cotton panels. The church purchased 64 panels of the Light Gray, 110 panels of the Pure Blue and 20 panels of the Navy Blue. They also purchased the cutting blade to cut the 2′ × 4′ panels down as needed.
Most of our panels are adhered to the walls or ceiling of a room, but this type of installation is very permanent. Although most people are never going to want the echo problem to return, the idea of using a construction adhesive to install the cotton panels isn’t ideal. In this case, the installers used small nails to hang the panels. I do not know the exact details of how it was done, but they pulled it off very well.
We have installed our sound panels. I have attached a picture to show you the pattern we chose. I will be sending the saw blade back to you tomorrow. We have seen a significant reduction in echo, and we especially can understand speech much clearer.
We used nails to put up the panels. The color consistency was good, and they look good in this application. I would be interested in your thoughts.
Ok, I’ll admit it. I get my hair cut in a salon – but please don’t tell any of my buddies. I only go there because I’ve known the woman for years and she gives me a good deal.
Salons all seem to have similar characteristics. They contain hard floors that can be easily cleaned: concrete, tile, wood, etc. They usually have drywall and most spaces, at least newer ones looking to be hip, have a metal roof deck with exposed services (duct work, wires, pipes, etc). It looks great, but it causes a major sound problem. Especially with chatty employees and talkative clients.
I recently received an inquiry for a similar situation with a major sound problem. I would highly suggest reading my article on basic sound properties if this is confusing at all.
The room in question is ~30′ x 60′ x 16′ tall. From an acoustical standpoint, I would recommend between 800 and 900 square feet of acoustical paneling spaced evenly throughout the space. How did I come by this conclusion?
You don’t want to completely get rid of all of the noise, but “take the edge off” a bit. So, for that, the equation I have used very successfully in the past is as follows:
Cubic Volume x 3% = Square Footage Installed
So, for the room above, we get:
30′ x 60′ x 16′ = 28,800 (Cubic Volume)
28,800 x 0.03 = 864 Square Feet of Acoustical Paneling
I rounded up in this case because there doesn’t look to be ANY absorptive surfaces in the room as it stands.
There are two options that come to mind for this room: Recycled Cotton Panels and Fabric-Wrapped Fiberglass Panels.
The first product that came to mind would be a recycled cotton panel. Since the metal roof deck is exposed, you can get the cotton to blend in to the ceiling by gluing it directly to the under side of the corrugated metal deck. It will not be as decorative, or “finished looking” as some other products available, but by choosing the right color they should be mostly unseen. Only an acoustics geek, like myself, would notice them. I highly doubt that my wife would ever notice them. The great thing about these panels are not only that they are environmentally friendly, being made from recycled cotton, but they are also cost effective and easy to ship.
Alright, so if that doesn’t sound interesting enough, the next product I thought of would be a fabric-wrapped fiberglass panel. The name says it all, it is a board of fiberglass that is cut to size and wrapped with your choice of decorative fabric. The performance of these are going to be about the same as the cotton panels, but you have more freedom of choice when it comes to the size, shape, and color. These will be a bit more difficult to install as they are heavier and will require mechanical clips to hold them up. These are also going to be more pricey than the cotton panels as they are a custom product. Because they are a lot heavier and more fragile, they will also cost more to ship as they are almost always put onto pallets, crated, and shipped on a semi-truck.
These are only a couple of suggestions, but each situation is going to be different. What do you think? Do you have a better/different suggestion for a similar situation?
In the past few weeks or months, I have had a few inquiries about reducing the echo and reverberation in a home gym. The nature of a gym with it’s hard floors, concrete or drywall walls and (generally) metal ceilings are the epitome an echo chamber. They are always fairly large or very large rooms and are used by people doing loud things. So, acoustical treatment of the gym is usually necessary and always makes the room more comfortable.
There are usually three questions that people ask when inquiring about treating a gym. What product do you suggest, how much do I need and where do I put this treatment? I’ll do what I can to simplify my answers to these as I could probably go on and on.
What product do you suggest?
This question can provide quite a few different answers. Most of them revolve around the room itself. There are a variety of panels available that can easily be glued to the ceiling or high up on the walls. There are cost effective panels, abuse or impact resistant panels, and then there are custom panels which are typically available in a wide variety of sizes and colors.
If you are not worried about how the panels effect the look of the room, then by all means, why not go with the cost effective panels? If they perform well enough for your needs and you are not worried about how they look, they can be a great cost saver. One school gym used these panels in a decorative way, though, making a sweet checkered pattern with them.
If you don’t really care about how they look, but you are worried about them getting hit, then you may want to consider panels that are going to be abuse or impact resistant. These are going to take a lot of damage without showing wear or tear. Here you can read a success story about a home gym using impact/abuse resistant panels.
If the gym has a look you are trying to uphold and acoustical panels will not fit into the design, you may want to look into custom made panels. You will find these are going to cost the most, but they will be able to meet your acoustical and design needs.
How much do I need?
Unfortunately there is no “easy” answer to this question as the right answer depends just as much on your comfort level and the use(s) of the room as anything else, but I have developed a safe way to at least get an idea of what kind of coverage is going to “take the edge off” of the space. I’ve applied this equation to a considerable amount of different rooms and the result has always been acceptable.
Take the cubic volume of the space and multiply that by 3%. This will give you an approximate square footage of panels to install. So: Height x Width x Depth = Cubic Volume. Cubic Volume x .03 = Square footage of panels.
My Disclaimer: If you have a massive gym, this math will change a bit. The larger the room, the more panels are needed because of the increase in reflective surface area. So, call me with your measurements and I’ll help you out with the applicable math. In larger situations, I will use 4% or even 5% based on the actual size of the room.
Where do I put this treatment?
The treatment can really be placed anywhere you would like and have essentially the same result. This leaves the end user with a lot of freedom to install the panels in locations that will not be hit by flying objects, be out of the way of impact or damage, act as a decorative element in the room, blend into the room or be installed in areas that have the available surface area. This means that you can put the panels on the walls or the ceiling and it will sound the same.
If you had two identical gyms and you put 350 panels on the ceiling of the first gym and the same 350 panels on the walls of the second gym and you had a conversation in either with your eyes closed, it would sound exactly the same. So, the spacing, location and pattern is up to you.
If you would like to ask me questions about your situation, please feel free. I would be happy to do what I can to crunch some numbers for you, talk about the best product for your particular application and get you a quote or some product samples. If you have the (even approximate) measurements for the space and you could E-mail me a digital picture or two, it would be greatly helpful
Here’s a picture for inspiration. This is one of the coolest installations I’ve seen. I’ll add a story about this later.
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.
When someone has a noise problem and doesn’t know what, why, who, or how they begin scouring the internet looking for “soundproofing”. I have been getting a lot of calls lately from these people. They explain to me that they want sound that is being made within the room to stay in the room or they want to keep sound out of their space. We commonly begin talking about the room and the type of noise that we are dealing with in each particular situation.
A lot of people ask for pricing on “soundproofing foam”, sound absorbing foam, or sound proofing panels. They are sure that foam is the ticket because people have seen “egg crate” foam or other similar products as finish wall treatments in recording studios, on TV shows and in movies. This misconception is incredibly common – so if you are reading this thinking to yourself, “Well, self, doesn’t foam stop sound? Isn’t foam used for soundproofing a room? Everyone knows that, right?” Unfortunately I have to tell you that you are wrong. Foam does not stop sound, foam absorbs echo. Don’t feel bad. There are lots and lots of people out there that share this idea.
There are two sides of the acoustical coin, if you will. There are products that absorb echo within a room and there are products that will block or stop a sound. (There are some panels that will do both. These are generally called composites, but if I get into that now, things will be confusing so I am going to keep it simple.)
You Can’t Build an Aquarium With Sponges
I came up with an analogy that I have found useful in helping people understand this whole idea in a very generic way. Imagine you are building an aquarium. You want to keep the water in, right? I know I do, at least. What do you think will be more effective, glass panels and seals or pillows and sponges? Sound acts very similar to water when you are trying to control it. If you used sponges as the walls, they would fill with water and let all of it through to the other side. Now if, instead, you used thick glass and good seals, that would keep the water in place. Acoustical materials made from soft, squishy things like sponges are going to absorb. Dense, heavy, air-tight glass will block. That is the basics right there. Now you can impress all your friends by knowing this. Let’s dive more into the specifics.
Products that are designed and intended to absorb echo within a room are soft, light, fluffy products. They will generally feel soft to the touch. They are designed to soften up the surfaces within a room and reduce the echo in that space.
I like analogies, I think they help people visualize and relate to an idea, so here goes another one. Let’s say you are finishing a room in your basement. You have installed the studs that will frame the wall and you are to the point where you are ready for sheetrock. Instead of using sheetrock, though, you decide you are going to put up some 2″ thick “egg crate” foam on the studs. Keep in mind this foam has almost no mass or density, it is mostly air. After you’ve got this sound absorption material installed, you tell one of your helpers to go stand on the opposite side of the wall and begin talking. You will be able to clearly hear each other as if there were no wall in front of you.
Products that are designed to block sound from entering or leaving a space are almost always found inside the wall construction. These products are heavy, dense, cumbersome, or designed to decouple the wall so that one side of the wall doesn’t have hard surface contact with the either.
Remember that last analogy? The one in your basement? Let’s go back there. Now, instead of foam this time, you decide it would be a better option to use 9 layers of 5/8″ sheetrock soundproof materials on either side of the wall. Nine layers on the inside, nine layers on the outside. You send your help to the other side again and have them start talking. I would be willing to bet that you can not hear much of what they are saying because you have added so much mass into that wall.
You guessed it, I’ve got another analogy! Let’s head to the gym. It’s currently under construction because they are adding some real nice racquetball courts. Let’s check them out. The room is made out of concrete and is the size of a standard racquetball court – 20′ wide x 40′ long x 20′ tall. The walls of this room are two-feet thick. You clap your hands in the room and the echo seems to go on forever. Let’s have some fun in here. You have, in your hands 100 new super bouncy balls of varying colors. (You must have really big hands.) You throw them in every direction and they keep bouncing and bouncing everywhere through the room. After a few minutes, they eventually stop bouncing and hopefully you remembered to wear your helmet or you may be dealing with a big headache. Now imagine that you brought some 2″ thick foam with you. You line the walls, ceiling and floor. After that is done, you throw the same 100 super bouncy balls. This time when they hit the wall/ceiling/floor they don’t bounce. The energy from the ball was absorbed into the room, more specifically, the foam. A sound wave inside this room is just like that super bouncy ball. It will reflect, or “bounce”, of any hard surface but will be absorbed by a soft surface.
If you made it this far, I congratulate you for making it through my fairly crude examples. My intent was to help paint a picture to help you understand more clearly the general differences between absorbing and blocking sound (soundproofing). I’m sure there are lots and lots of people out there that are excessively smarter than I am who are shaking their heads because I did not touch on the technical side of things – explaining wavelength and frequency, etc. I don’t care. I am trying to simplify things to give those non-technical individuals a basis to begin educating themselves on their noise problem(s).
Of course, you aren’t going to be an expert in acoustics now. This is a start. For your next step, I would recommend finding an expert or at least someone who knows the specific products that you can use for your specific situation.
So, before talking with that person, I would have these questions answered:
Are you looking to block sound or absorb echo?
What are the dimensions of and surfaces in your room?
What is the room used for, what types of sound(s) are you looking to block/absorb?
(a high pitch-squeaky sound, voices, low frequency-bass type sound, all of the above)
What are your ideas as to the best way to treat the room, where to put product, or how to approach the situation?
I know this is not an all encompassing list, so I will not feel bad when you leave me a comment that I forgot something. In fact, I encourage it.
We are looking for some help in recommending and pricing some panels that will help cut down on the echo in our Family Life Center.
This room is used for contemporary worship on Sunday morning with live bands. The echo or “slap back” is challenging for the bands.
The panels will also need to be able to withstand the occasional basketball hit.
We actually set-up bands on the main floor in front of the stage and/or to the right of the stage.
The room is approx. 65′ wide by 100′ deep.
See attached photos.
My thoughts are to put up 8 panels across the rear wall.
Approx. dimensions for estimating;
2 panels 4′ wide x 17′ high
2 panels 4′ x 11′
2 panels 4′ x 9′
2 panels 4′ x 7′
We would want something that is neutral in color and appearance to blend in with the wall.
While we are at it, perhaps panels that would allow us to hang seasonal banners over them for decoration.
I’ve volunteered to come up with a plan that will then be presented to the property management team for approval.
Your help and consideration is greatly appreciated.
Feel free to call me with any questions.
Thank you for the description and pictures! Seeing a space like this is a great help for me as I tend to be a right brained person. I have a few things that I want to briefly explain, but if you have time, please feel free to contact me.
The first thing that I noticed was the physical volume and size of this room. The place is massive! I really like your idea of putting panels on the back wall (and it kind of reminds me of a cell phone commercial), we have the most bars in the most places? But, the thing that throws up a bit of a red flag for me is that although this is a good start and a great design, it may not be enough overall square footage to really make a noticeable dent in the acoustics and reverberation of the room. It’s a good starting place, and will help, but I wanted to share that before I got too far into it.
As far as treatment goes, three products came to mind, each having their own respective advantages and disadvantages. I will do my best to briefly explain each and if you would like, I would also be happy to get some physical product samples to you so that you could see them in person which is often a great help.
The Echo Eliminator panels are made from recycled cotton and are, by far, the most cost effective. They can be shipped in boxes via UPS and are in stock in nine different colors. The panels are 2′ x4′ and very easy to install. The disadvantage of this option is the aesthetic as some times people do not feel that it is “finished” looking enough. We are limited to 2′ x 4′ panels and the standard colors. Roughly, the 1″ panels are $4.00 per square foot and the 2″ panels are $5.50 per square foot (not including shipping or adhesives).
The Wall Mate system is basically a way to cover up the Echo Eliminator panels offering a more finished aesthetic. I like to use the analogy of a canvas painting here, where the wooden stretcher pulls the tension on the canvas. The advantages here are the use of the low-cost Echo Eliminator, the ability to make panels in sizes that are limited to the width of the fabric bolt, and the freedom to use one of hundreds of different color fabrics. The disadvantage is that this product requires the most site labor to install as these are all put together by the end user. There is a bit of a learning curve to get over, but once that is done it usually goes quite quickly. This is a more difficult product to ballpark because the cost will depend on the sizes of the panels that you are building, but you would have the square foot cost of the cotton plus $2.95 per linear foot for the track, and usually $14.95 – $16.95 per linear yard for the fabric (usually in 66″ wide bolts). Again, this does not include adhesive or shipping.
The Fabric Wrapped Fiberglass panels offer the same, finished aesthetic of the WallMate system but they arrive on site as prefabricated, ready-to-install panels. These start as 4′ x 8′ or 4′ x 10′ boards of fiberglass and one of four edges is cut onto the side (square, radius, beveled and half-beveled) before each is wrapped with a decorative fabric. The advantage of this product is the freedom of panel size (up to 4′ x 10′) and the freedom of color of fabric used. They are shipped ready to install, so the shipping is relatively easy. The disadvantage of this option is usually the cost. Because they are custom made panels, we have a good amount of labor and parts that go into their manufacturing. Additionally, because of the weight and fragile nature of the board, they are crated in plywood and shipped on pallets, so the shipping can be costly. Again, the price for this option will depend on the sizes and quantities of the panels along with the fabric chosen, but ballpark numbers are $7.50 per square foot for the 1″ panels and $13.00 per square foot for the 2″ panels.
So, I’m sitting at my desk one day happily making my way thru my afternoon at the office when in comes an E-mail from a really good friend of mine on the west coast.
Hey – I need some acoustical work done! We built a new addition to our Bike Shop and it’s all rattle-y and echo-y in there. Can you charge me an exorbitant amount to fix my problem, please? What info would you need from me to get moving? Or, do I need to find someone local? Shakka, Bra.
In my reply I asked him for the measurements of the space along with a few photos which would help me better understand the room that he was dealing with. He sent them along with
Attached is my totally awesome diagram of room dimensions and a couple pictures. Let me know if you need more pictures or of different details. Essentially, the room is a trapezoid – a square with one edge that goes out diagonal to elongate the store front on one end. It has 14.5 ft tall ceilings. Let me know what else you need. Thanks!
After a few more E-mails back and forth, I have a pretty good idea of the sound problem he is trying to fix. I’ve seen this before. Many retail locations built recently take advantage of the industrial look of an exposed concrete floor and an exposed metal roof deck. It’s a raw, hip look but the unfortunate result is awful acoustics and a terrible echo. If any kind of background music is being played or any work is done that generates much noise at all, the sound pressure VERY quickly fills the space and creates an uncomfortable work environment.
After putting together a box of potential product samples and literature, store manager Leif took over as my point of contact for the project. Leif asked many good questions about the relative difference between products, cost, colors, location, type of installation and mounting type. The owner of the bike shop wanted to get the panels installed near the ceiling of the shop and had a few different ideas about exactly how that was going to be done.
I actually met with our owner yesterday and, as we speak, am investigating some ways to hang the soundproofing. He doesn’t want to glue it to the ceiling but we’re looking at affixing it to a rigid board. We’d hang it between the steel beams where it would have been glued anyway but just below the ceiling itself. If the new cost of some extra materials clears we should be getting things rolling pretty soon. We wouldn’t need the spray adhesive as we’d glue all the pieces to panels on the ground prior to hanging. Have you ever seen something like this done? and, Hey Ted, I know you’re a busy man. Thanks for the samples I have a few last minute questions and would like to get some sound damping on the way. 1. How much does it add to the cost to have you install grommets, I assume it’s per grommet. Can we get up to 4 installed or was it just two or three. 2. Is there a significant difference in sound damping characteristics between the one and two inch material? Is the main reason for 2 the installation method? 3. Is it still realistic to be able to have these here by mid feb? We have a woman’s night, as I mentioned on the phone, that we are REALLY hoping to have them up for. I’ll get back to you tomorrow on a finalized color choice. Thanks again Ted for your time and consideration.
One very important factor that I always bring up when a baffle installation is considered is the fire suppression sprinkler system in the room. If the baffles are installed in a location where they are going to inhibit the throw and coverage of the sprinklers, not only is that type of installation not safe for the potential occupants of the room, the fire marshal would likely require removal and relocation of the panels. I made this very clear and it was decided that grommets would be installed along the 4′ side of each panel on site with tools that are available at the local hardware store. The final product choice was our 1″ thick, Burgundy Echo Eliminator panels which are made from recycled cotton fiber. A few important factors that made this a good choice were the economical cost for the product, the high acoustical absorption of the panels, the availability of nine different colors, and the fact that the panels were in stock. The bike shop was hosting a woman’s night and the goal was to have the panels installed for the event. A few days after I shipped the panels I received the following E-mail:
Hello all, I’m pleased to announce that we have installed the echo reducing material as planned in our North Pro Room. With some hard work and a lot of hours we were able to get the whole room accomplished in ONE DAY! I had great volunteer help from Lance, Gavin, and Andreas and used our orange “scaffolding” a tall ladder and a pre-planned attack to make it happen pretty efficiently. Attached are some pictures. The echo has been eliminated and the sound quality during normal conversation is remarkably improved. The material adds a nice look and a new dimension to the room. -Leif