Social Hall Echo Problem

Hi Ted,

Sorry for the delayed response. My deacons and facilities manager have been discussing the sound panels and we’re concerned that 6 won’t be enough. Our situation is this: we have a 40′ x20′ function hall with a 40′ peaked ceiling and a tiled floor. The echo is huge. I thought that by putting 3 panels on each end we could reduce the echo a little bit but it’s entirely possible that we could spend all that money and not get any real results.

At this point, I’m not sure what to do. I should probably have someone come out and take a look at the facility. Is this something you do?

Pastor Curt

Pastor Curt,

I would feel very comfortable stating that unless the six panels did not make an audible difference AT ALL in a room that THAT’S big. I have been asked enough times “How many panels do I need”, that I have come up with a very quick and easy, yet surprisingly effective way to answer that question. In this case, however, I think that the numbers might come as a bit of a shock for you.

To determine the number of square feet of paneling needed to start to make a difference in the room, first start by calculating the cubic volume of that room. In this case, I am assuming that the average ceiling height is 25 feet above the floor

40′ x 20′ x 25′ = 20,000 cubic feet of volume

To start making a very little difference and reduce the echo a little bit, multiply that number by 1%:
20,000 x .01 = 200 square feet of paneling (25 count) 2′ x 4′ panels.

A “fairly noticeable” echo reduction = 2%
20,000 x .02 = 400 square feet of paneling (50 count) 2′ x 4′ panels

Ideal for a room like this considering it’s use= 3%
20,000 x .03 = 600 square feet of paneling (75 count) 2′ x 4′ panels

As far as the types of panels, there are generally two that find themselves in consideration and each will have it’s respective advantage or disadvantage which I will try to explain below.

The Fabric Wrapped Fiberglas panels are probably the most likely because they are the most finished looking and decorative. I have dealt with a lot of churches and know how things work pretty well with the decisions being passed down and voted on by committees. The big advantages of this type of panel is not only the finished, decorative look but the freedom of size (up to a 4′ x 10′ panel) as well as the freedom of color. There are literally hundreds of fabrics that can be used to match or accent the existing look of the room. The down side of these panels is generally the cost associated with them. Because they are custom made (by hand) there is a fair amount of labor that goes into the manufacturing process. We also have to order the fabric specifically for the order so that is involved in the cost as well. Shipping is done on a pallet on the back of a semi truck. These panels have an NRC (noise absorption coefficient) rating of .85 for the one-inch thickness which basically means that the panels absorb 85% of the sound that hits them.

Another option is the Echo Eliminator panels. These panels are much more cost effective and will absorb just about as much sound as the Fabric Wrapped Fiberglass panels but there are a few factors that come into play. I am limited to a 2′ x 4′ panel size and there are nine colors to choose from. The most common “issue” or “complaint” that a committee member or potential customer is that they are not decorative or finished looking enough for the existing aesthetic of the room. I completely understand that argument as the intent is to get the echo reduced while not breaking the bank. These are typically shipped in boxes via UPS ground which is generally cheaper than sending them on a pallet.

The last and up-and-coming product that I am providing to quite a few churches is a mix of these two and is called our WallMate Stretch-wall system. This is a site fabricated panel that uses the cost effective cotton as the core but a decorative fabric is stretched over it and the tension is held by a plastic track around the perimeter of the panel. The only limitation to the overall panel size is the width and length of the fabric bolt, so there are churches who have decided to make huge, uninterrupted panels spanning the room. This is a bit more expensive than the cotton but about half the cost of the Fabric Wrapped panels.


  1. Bapuji

    We suddenly found that the asbestos roofed, large hall did not give the trouble suddenly and surprisingly. It was after a few good rainy days. Could it be due to dampening of the roof sheets? Can we use it everytime by spraying well with water whenever we want to have a meeting?

    Do you think coconut/palm tree trunks that have the pith inside, cut longitudinally and placed with the flat surface against the wall will regulate the echo? Pl consider and respond.

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