When a room is too noisy, we usually just know it. It’s annoying!
However, the question of exactly ‘how much, too much noise’ can be a bit more complex. This, second in a series of posts on planning an acoustics installation, addresses how to begin the determination of how much acoustic panelling you will need. We talk about getting specific about your goal for your room acoustics (spoiler alert!) using the unit of measurement, “Reverberation Time”!
Once you’ve decided that you want acoustic treatment in a space (“How To Know When You Need Acoustic Panels In Your Room“) and you know what kind of effect you are going for (“What Kind of Acoustic Environment Do You Want?“), the next step is to express that goal in a way that will guide the installation planning. In other words, to acoustically quantify the goal.
So, you’ve decided that you want acoustic panelling in a space (see How To Know When You Need Acoustic Panels In Your Room). The obvious next question is “how much?”
The answer is … there is no single right answer! What matters is what’s right for YOU, based on who will be using the space and what they’ll be doing there. But there IS a right PROCESS for deciding. And as with all project planning, it helps to begin with the end goal in mind and then take the steps that will achieve the goal.
Specifically, for an acoustic panels intallation the steps are:
Qualitatively set the goal: What KIND of acoustic environment do you need?
Acoustically quantify the goal …
Calculate the starting point …
Calculate the amount of sound absorption needed to get from start to goal …
Check the results against available space and budget
… then design your installation!
Sounds simple, right? Actually, room acoustics for most business, restaurant and home spaces ARE fairly straightforward, but it’s a good idea to consult with a knowledgeable acoustics provider.
This post addresses the first step of the process. Later posts will complete the cycle.
What KIND of Acoustic Environment do you need?
It’s said that “noise is in the ear of the listener”. In other words, the difference between “sound” and “noise” depends on the when, where and who …
Although acoustics aren’t at the top of the list of most design project plans or decor considerations, we all immediately – and unhappily – know when we’re in a room that’s too noisy. It could be an office where unwanted sound is literally undermining concentration and memory, and distracting from the work to be done. Or a restaurant that’s just too loud for conversation — too many otherwise-great spots serve too much din with the dinner! Could be a home theatre where the expensive AV equipment isn’t giving the promised quality of sound. In any of these situations and many more, acoustic panels may provide results — and relief!
So, how do you know if a room will benefit from acoustic panels (or other acoustic treatment)? Easy – just run through this list of considerations!
Assess the noise
If you’re working with an existing space, it’s often a simple matter to answer the question: is the sound level inside the room conducive to its intended use and the comfort of the people using it? Is there enough sound for the space to feel “alive”? Or is there so much that the “sound” becomes “noise”? The occupants themselves will not hesitate to tell you the answer!
Even at the planning stage of a new project or renovation, it …
Summer shifting into fall touches our senses in several ways. Visually, the leaves change colour and the angle of the sunlight changes. We notice the temperature begin to drop and the winds picking up. Many of us will feel more alert and re-energized after the lazy days of summer, more engaged and inspired to action. And – welcome to many – we may hear … LESS!!!
Some of the sounds of summer are welcome but some of them are just noise. And noise can interefere with our comfort, our conversations, our sleep, our work and play and our peace of mind. Overall summer is a very noisy season. There are at least three reasons for this.
1. It’s a NOISE-MAKING time of year
Summer is the season of road repair, new construction and home renovation in the city: loud machinery, drilling, sawing and banging. Big trucks hauling materials. Of motorized boats and personal watercraft and kids having fun at the lake. Of people on porches and decks, on restaurant patios and the streets and sidewalks, talking and laughing. Of street festivals and concerts and fireworks. So much NOISE!!!
When planning a room – or even a whole new building – most people focus on what it will look like when completed. What is often forgotten is what it’s going to SOUND like!
But when the project is complete and the space is occupied, the acoustic experience can become very important if it is not a good one. And after completion is often the worst time to address the acoustics. Solutions at this stage are more expensive and unplanned treatments can interfere with the original design intentions.
Designers, architects, contractors and even the layperson, can create acoustically effective spaces, with a bit of forethought.
The best time to think about the acoustics of a space is at the planning stage. That’s when you can ensure the most appropriate construction methods, surface materials and layout, and avoid costly re-fits afterward. Consider the following: