Tag Archive: Success Stories

  1. Why Architects, Designers, and Builders should consider Acoustics from Day One

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    Architectural drawing

    Sounds and noises around us can have a profound impact on everything we do. The music we listen to, the programs we watch, and the work conferences or school classes we attend can be either positively or negatively impacted by sound quality and acoustics. Unfortunately, not all the places we occupy or visit are designed with our experience (or our ears) in mind.

    Because sound is generated everywhere, unwanted noise can also be everywhere. And this isn’t just an annoyance, it can change people’s lives. From a child’s ability to process and understand language to how well we manage anxiety, acoustics make an impact on nearly every aspect of our lives—for better or for worse.

    The Case for Better Architectural Acoustics

    In the 1970s, researchers studying noise levels in New York City found that in some buildings the noise from traffic was so loud that it was as if a vacuum cleaner was constantly running. This noise reached rooms as high as the eighth floor. It was so bad that it even inhibited the ability of children on the lower levels to learn!

    Jenny Safran, a developmental psychologist at the University of Wisconsin Madison, shared how abnormally noisy environments not only prevented small children from hearing words but prevented them from learning new words. This ultimately impacted a major part of that child’s development.

    Consider another critical area of life that’s affected: health. Hospitals should be optimized for rest and recovery, but research shows that noise levels in hospitals are increasing. And this could be affecting patients’ ability to recover. Nighttime noises that are above 55 decibels can affect patients’ ability to sleep and even increase their risk of heart disease. According to the Mayo Clinic, in some facilities, nighttime noises can reach over 100 decibels.

    Clearly, products and surfaces that can dampen noise levels can be greatly beneficial in all types of architecture. But, acoustics go much further than controlling noise levels. Think about the last time you were at a restaurant or auditorium. Did the speaker sound clear? Was the music diluted or unpleasant? Some of these details might seem small, but what do people look for in the places they frequent? The places we love tend to have one thing in common: an attractive ambiance. Great acoustics create ambiance.

    In a TED Talk titled Why architects need to use their ears, Julian Treasure shared the importance of using our ears when building. The problem is that it’s human nature to start with the eyes. This is understandable because aesthetics are core to good design. But, what we can’t see can contribute just as much to our experience.

    Design for experience, not appearance

    acoustical architecture design

    In many homes designed before the 1990s, you’ll find a lack of ceiling lights in the living room. Why would every other room, from bathrooms to bedrooms, have ceiling lights except for the living room?

    This trend was due, in part, to an architectural mindset of how living rooms should be lit. The problem? While this may function and look great in well-designed homes, many of us live in homes that weren’t designed by groundbreaking architects with limitless budgets and are, thus,  not lit in a pleasing way.

    This leads to a poor experience for homeowners who don’t know how to use light strategically. The result is usually an overly dark room with lighting that won’t work for anything other than watching a movie or having a conversation. In short, designing for appearance can lead you to ignore the other factors that contribute to an experience.

    To better understand the importance of designing for experience, think of a business owner. What do they want from their office space? Of course they want it to look great. But employee productivity and satisfaction rank pretty high up there as well. It’s scientifically proven that sound can hurt employee productivity. In fact, 70% of global employees say that office noise hurts them during the workday. The math is simple: higher productivity equals higher revenue. So, why are so many offices poorly designed?

    The answer is two-fold. Many don’t have the resources to build their own office and therefore are stuck with whatever is available and affordable. However, for builders, the downfall may lie in their understanding of how acoustics work.

    Architectural acoustics- Getting technical

    To understand acoustics, we need to understand how sound works and travels. Once we understand that, it becomes clear why we must control how sound moves through a space and how much of it reaches our ears.

    The first thing we need to know is that two types of sound reach our ears: direct sound and reflected sounds. Both sounds are useful and even necessary. But, since they work and travel differently, it’s likely they are coming at us from different directions. A room that’s not designed to properly manage those sound waves will produce destructive interference. Consider the following illustration.

    While that image may look cool, it probably also makes you a little dizzy. When you’re hearing the same sound repeatedly within microseconds of each other, the sound clashes. It’s easy to see how the sound quality could suffer. If you don’t take measures to correct poor sound design, you get sound that is distorted and perhaps even unnatural.

    The second step to creating natural sound is understanding the principles on which acoustic treatment tools operate. For example, two ways you can improve the sound in a building is through the use of diffusers and absorbers. How do these operate?

    A diffuser helps scatter sound. So instead of getting hit with sound within microseconds of itself, you’ll hear sound at more natural intervals. This reduces echo and distortion, creating more pleasing sound.

    An absorber, as the name implies, absorbs part of the sound and reduces the amount of distortion from sound deflection. Both diffusing and absorbing sound can help improve the sound quality of your building, but using both concurrently will give you the best, most natural sounds. How can builders make the right acoustic choices?

    The builder’s dilemma: choosing the right solution for your acoustic needs

    As a builder, it may be tempting to ignore acoustics in an attempt to save money. While this may be true in the short-term, the long-term benefits are compelling. Plus, planning for acoustics early in the building process is actually more cost-effective than you might imagine.

    How should acoustics influence your next project? Start by considering the use of the building. While it’s true that every building benefits from good acoustics, some buildings can’t function properly without them. Back in the 1960s and 1970s, there was an ‘open schools’ movement where public school classrooms were built without walls. It was thought that this would encourage students’ creativity. However, students could hear noises from every other classroom in the area. As you might expect, this trend only lasted a few years. Walls were needed to limit distracting noises.

    We may see that example and think that common sense should weed out ideas like that. Unfortunately, it’s easy for us to be blinded by our current agenda. When personal or business objectives take precedence over the experience the building will provide, everyone suffers.

    Starting with the purpose of the building will help you prioritize the essential building elements, which includes acoustics, ensuring that everyone who uses the building will have a good experience. For example, in a classroom, you’d limit sound distortion and background noises to ensure all kids hear the same information. Whereas, in a concert hall, you may want to enhance sound quality to ensure everyone is getting the same quality sound. After all, that’s what they are paying for.

    Another critical element is understanding the difference between acoustic treatment and soundproofing. Soundproofing is the action of blocking sounds from leaving or entering a room. Acoustic treatment’s purpose is to improve the quality of sound within a given space. The materials treat the room by reducing reverberation, echo, standing waves, etc. While acoustic treatment can control how much sound you hear, its main goal is to improve overall sound quality.

    Understanding the differences between soundproofing and acoustic treatment is important because, once the wall is closed and drywall installed, it can be significantly harder, and more expensive, to soundproof space. Confusing the two can give builders the wrong idea about cost, and scare them away from a comparatively cost-effective solution. It’s critical to recognize that reducing sound transmission from room to room is typically done in the walls, ceiling or floor — rather than on one of these surfaces.  The next step into picking a good acoustic solution is considering the source of the noise.

    Builders need to consider the noisy culprit when picking an acoustic solution

    Many different building elements could impact sound quality depending on the source of the noise; these building elements might even be the source themselves. For example, flat, hard surfaces and equal dimensions can be enemies to sound. They act as amplifiers and reflect sound strongly. In this case, you’d want to counter these types of surfaces with soft materials (absorbers).

    If it’s a mechanical noise issue, isolation is ideal. Machinery with moving parts will often introduce vibration into the structure at it’s points of contact. Vibrations can travel through a building like electricity traveling through a wire. Introducing rubber or spring isolators between the machine and the floor can often yield significant reductions to sound heard from a noisy machine.

    Other possible solutions to reduce machinery noise are to soundproof the room or to build an enclosure around the machine itself. Either of these will help to reduce the amount of airborne sound that is leaving the room. To do this effectively, you have to think about different factors like substance, mass, isolation, airtight seals, decoupling, and density. It can be a lot of work, but soundproofing the source is much less expensive than treating the entire building.

    Let’s go back to the classroom scenario for a moment. A classroom is generally a geometric space with walls and flooring made of hard, flat materials. These surfaces are going to naturally cause a lot of reverberation because sound can’t go through or be absorbed into the material. Add to the traditional architecture of a classroom the fact that kids are loud, and the sound challenges are clear.

    Looking at these examples, it’s clear that there isn’t one solution that can fit everyone’s unique needs. It comes down to understanding your noise problem, the use or uses of your room, and the distinct needs of your building; then determining which acoustical materials or products satisfy the important considerations. When builders start by identifying the noise source and then choose relevant acoustical solutions and building materials, they save valuable resources while improving the experience of all who use the building.

    Incorporating acoustics early allows you to blend beauty and functionality

    The best way to solve acoustic challenges is to start with the architectural design. Room layout plays a major role in controlling sound. As we’ve already discussed, flat, hard surfaces can create reverberation issues and ultimately reduce sound quality within the space. Incorporating sound-friendly materials into your design will improve room experience from the beginning and eliminate the need to make improvements later.

    For example, adding acoustical material after a building is occupied often requires disruptions to places of business. Additionally, finding the available wall or ceiling space needed for the product while working with the existing aesthetic of the space can get tricky. In contrast, when acoustics are part of the design from the beginning, they can be used as part of the design or installed in areas of the room where they are out of view. When done right, they even add to the visual aesthetics of your room. Consider the following image.

    Envirocoustic Wood Wool Wall

    As you can see in the photo, there are lots of acoustic panels all along the walls, but they don’t distract from the beauty of the room. Since they were an integral part of the design, they contribute to the elegance of the space.

    Another reason why builders should consider acoustics from day one is budget. Let’s say a builder is constructing a new call center. In the original design, they planned for and used ceiling tiles in the space. However, they later realized the materials they used were terrible for room acoustics. Not great for a company whose employees are talking on the phone all day. Now, they have to replace all of the ceiling tiles with material that is better suited for the acoustics in a call center. If the builders would have incorporated acoustics into the building plans from the beginning, they could have avoided the added costs of having to pay for extra labor and materials.

    Builders who incorporate acoustics early on improve their client’s experience, make the best use of their budget, and design better by designing for sound.

    Making acoustics easier for builders

    The building has come a long way over the years. One major improvement we’ve seen is the increase in eco-friendly buildings. Many builders take the materials they use seriously and often need them to be LEED-certified. At Acoustical Surfaces, we help our clients by providing materials that can help with LEED certification of a building.

    Our clients prefer pre-planning versus post planning. They value the fact that we support them throughout the project and not just after the fact. When our clients have easy ways to offer options for various acoustical surfaces and products that improve their customers’ experience, everybody wins.

    The spaces we work and live in are no longer a utility, but an experience. We see billion-dollar companies pouring money into a design for one reason: they want to create an experience. Incorporating acoustic treatment into the design makes it accessible to more people and improves everything about your space. If you’re interested in how acoustic treatment could improve your next project, talk to one of our experts today.

    Are you a homeowner? Acoustic treatment isn’t just for corporate spaces. If you’d like to see the options available for your home, check out Acoustic Geometry, our residentially-focused website.

  2. Church Acoustics in Fellowship Halls

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    Fellowship Halls & Multi-Purpose Rooms

    Echo Eliminator Recycled Cotton Acoustical PanelsChurch 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%.

    Height × Width × Depth × (.03) = Square Footage Needed For Room

    What Kind of Treatment Is Best For Me?

    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.

    Fabric Wrapped Fiberglass Panels – Edge OptionsThe 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.

    Echo Eliminator Cotton Acoustical PanelsThese 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.

    Echo Eliminator in Zig Zag Pattern

    Success Story

    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.

    The Room

    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.

    55′ × 65′ × 20′ = 71,500 (cubic feet) × .03 = 2,145 Square Feet of Panels

    The Solution

    Echo Eliminator Recycled Cotton Acoustical PanelsBased 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.

    Testimonial

    Ted,
    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.

    Thanks,
    Pastor Dennis R.

  3. How To Quiet Your Noisy Garage Door

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    I finally got around to installing your product. I wanted to thank you for the installation suggestion. The install worked great and so does your product. Even with a cheap, noisy, builder installed garage door opener the noise was eliminated. Not just in the upstairs bedroom but down stairs and in the garage as well. Thanks a bunch.
    Patrick

    Noisy Garage Door Opener Before Picture

    Before the Kit Was Installed

    After Garage Door Opener Silenced

    After the Kit Was Installed

    Other than a vehicle, a garage door opener is probably the most prominent noise source in a garage.  They are strong motors that often introduce a large amount of vibration into a structure. Depending on the location of the garage, this can be quite bothersome. The situation below illustrates a bit more challenging of a situation than most – simply because of the way this motor is mounted. Patrick contacted me and explained the situation and I asked him to send a picture of the opener, which he obliged. Knowing how the RSIC-DC04x2 clips mount, I did a quick photoshop alteration of  the picture illustrating that if a block of wood were bolted into the header, it would allow a surface parallel to the floor to which the DC04 clips would mount.

    Here is the spec page for the Garage Door Isolation Kit**If you want to be added to our list for monthly coupon for discounts , E-mail me your contact information**  This month is Green Glue, NEXT month (August) will be Garage Door Kit!!!

    If you would like to purchase one, here is the direct link to our online store.

    Noisy Garage Door Opener Picture

    Garage door After the kit was installed

  4. Marcoux Corner Studio

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    My name Josh Baesler. I am a member and part owner of A Cappella singing group Marcoux Corner. In January of 2008 we moved our center of operations from ‘my house’ into a new office/studio space. Ever since the group’s inception, we’d always recorded our own music, but up until then we’d used a very makeshift set-up in the house basement. This move, would be our first opportunity to actually build and drastically modify a space to suit the group’s recording and mixing needs. After doing some research on what our options were for completing this project, I approached Acoustical Surfaces. I was put in contact with sales rep. Ted Weidman, who was able to put together a package with what I needed to get the job done, and was within our ‘independent musician budget’. Ted and the entire staff we’re able to to answer all my questions and provide suitable acoustic solutions throughout the entire process. We were all very pleased with the results and have been enjoying our space and recording great music ever since!

    Thanks again!

    Sincerely, Josh Baesler
    Marcoux Corner


  5. TV Studio Acoustical Treatment

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    I get calls every now and then from people or companies that are researching acoustical panels for a TV or media studio of some kind. My most high-profile treatment to date is the set for the TV show The Biggest Loser, but unfortunately I don’t think they can be seen in any of the shots on the show.

    The sound quality in a studio is often just as important as the images captured by the cameras. There are usually two reasons why a studio would have an echo or reverberation problem: Size and Surfaces. To put it simply, the larger the room the higher the likelihood of one experiencing an echo within that room. Also, if a room is constructed out of all hard surfaces, it will also likely have an echo. Combine these two factors without any kind of absorption and/or acoustical treatment and the echo problem will be overbearing.

    Most of the TV or media studios that I have worked with have had at least one wall that was taken up with a green-screen or some kind of electronics. There are, however usually one or two fairly open walls along with some or most of the ceiling. It often surprises the people who call when I tell them that they are able to put the panels wherever they have available ceiling or wall space. In the studio that is shown below, they were able to treat all of the wall space that was not taken up by the green-screen.

    If the panels are not going to be seen or filmed by the camera, the studio can save a lot of money choosing some of the most cost effective, class A fire rated acoustical paneling on the market, our Echo Eliminator recycled cotton acoustical panels. These panels are made from 80% post industrial waste from the clothing and textile industry and are also some of the most absorbent paneling available. They are class A/1 non-flammable and are extremely easy to install. They are also the panels that were used on the set of The Biggest Loser and the studio below.

    If you have a similar studio that you are considering treating, I would be happy to discuss a few options with you and draft a quote for these or any of our other acoustical wall or ceiling treatments. There are a few pieces of information that would help me help you. These include the name, address, phone, fax and E-mail for your company or organization. I will also need to know the measurements (height, width and depth) of the room you are considering treating along with the surfaces within the room.

    Below are the pictures and E-mail that were sent to me after the panels were installed into the studio:

    Ted,

    Wanted to drop you a note to let you know the panels work great. We have shot 2 spots already and it sounds marvelous. Thanks for all your help. I highly recommend this product to anyone who needs this done. Easy to put up and you don’t need a blade. I used scissors to cut the panels and it worked perfectly.

    Tom Clark
    Creative Director-FMG Studios
    (c)770-757-1057
    (w)678-208-0667
    (Web) www.tomclark.biz

    Plug away my friend. Our site, www.fmgstudios.com is still under construction but we welcome the free plug. Maybe a link to our demo? I will attach it and see what you can do. Please put up my contact info as well. Don’t mind at all. I will also be spokesperson if you want some feedback for a client.

    Tom Clark
    [email protected]
    (c)770-757-1057
    (w)tomclark.biz

    Ted Weidman
    Acoustical Surfaces Inc.
    123 Columbia Court N.
    Chaska, MN 55318
    p. 800.527.6253 (ext.25)
    f. 952.448.2613
    e. [email protected]
    web. www.acousticalsurfaces.com

  6. Publishing Facility Solution

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    Hi, Ted,

    Well, we put up the panels and we took before and after pictures (attached). We put them up on one side and noticed a sense that the echo had gradually all shifted to the other side. By the time they were all up we really felt so much better in the space. Before they went up the space made me feel uncomfortable, like I just could not stand to be there too long. Not sure how to explain it, but it just did not feel comfortable and I think that sense was coming from the echo-ey chamber feeling the space gave. After we had some of the panels up, I felt myself relax and by the time they were all up, the space was comfortable and I knew I would have no trouble working there for several hours at a time. We called out before the panels went up and the echo was awful. No echo at all by the end of the project. Pat, my husband, came home today to report that a generator has to be on the whole time the machines are running and it is like there is a muffler on the generator because there is a panel behind it. He says the sound stays right there next to the generator rather than traveling all around the space.

    The other great thing about the panels was how easy there were to put up. Could not have been easier and they were just soft pieces of safe material so we did not get splinters or wear gloves. All we had was a level, a pencil and some liquid nails and they went up really quickly. The walls are a corrugated steel (extremely wavy and uneven) and we were worried that the panels would not stick, but no problem, we put the Liquid Nails down the protruding spines of the walls and the panels just grabbed and stayed perfectly.

    The sales people from Fuji/Xerox were in today and they were amazed. They have been recommending hanging fabric and they said they will not be doing that any longer.

    I am so glad I found you and your company and your wonderful product. Saved us time, aggravation and lots of money. You made us all smile.

    Thanks again,

    A.K.
    Franklin, WI

    BEFORE:

    AFTER:

  7. A/C Condenser Noise Problem Solved

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    L.B. from Chicago, IL writes:

    The owners of the apartment building next door installed 2 very noisy air conditioning units right next to our back porch. They are about 4′ away from our porch, just over the property line! We love our back porch and the noise made it almost unusable. To make matters worse, they are in an air space surrounded with hard walls, so the noise echoes all over, down our gangway. We couldn’t open any windows in the house without hearing. In fact, we could hear it with the windows closed. I was losing my mind! In desperation, late one night, while I couldn’t sleep, I did a web search for acoustical materials. I found your website and called the help line the next day. Ted listened to my problem and recommended the EXT-BBC-TR2 exterior grade sound blanket.

     

    The sound blanket is installed and has dramatically cut the sound. I can barely hear the units from our porch, even though they are just on the other side of the wall. The blanket has also reduced the amount of sound bouncing up to our upstairs windows. Now we can actually sleep with the windows open, even when they are running the AC – I can still hear it, but it is so much reduced, just a faint hum. Thank you for your attention and excellent service! I would certainly recommend you to anyone I know with a sound problem.