The way a room sounds and feels depends a lot on the specific acoustic properties of the materials in the room — for instance, a concert hall’s acoustics are set up for natural reverberation that will enhance the orchestra’s music. Now, consider how listening to the same orchestra inside a high school gymnasium. Will listeners say they enjoyed the music in the gymnasium as much as the concert hall? Probably not.
Every venue has its own unique sound signature, something called an “acoustic profile.” Some rooms, like concert halls, are specifically designed for their acoustic qualities, but a vast majority of rooms are designed with only aesthetics and function in mind, not acoustics.
Most of us understand the difference speaker quality and quantity can make. For example, how does a movie sound on your laptop in comparison to a movie theater? Room acoustics, however, is about the way a physical space interacts with sound. The reason a movie sounds better in the theater, and the orchestra sounds better in a concert hall has a lot to do with room acoustics.
The shape of the room, the use of absorptive and reflective paneling, furniture choice and placement, ceiling height, and construction materials all play a vital role in shaping the acoustic profile of a given space. While the quality of the microphones, speakers, and sound system play important roles in how listeners perceive sound, the acoustic profile of a room can make or break the experience.
If you have a business or organization that frequently hosts meetings or conferences, good acoustics are critical. A room with poor acoustics makes it difficult for listeners to hear everything and pay attention. And if your employees or clients are having a hard time hearing everything clearly, your business operations can suffer as a result. A poor acoustic profile in a conferencing space reduces the amount of time until listener fatigue sets in and attendees start to check out. These problems can be amplified in situations where audio and video conferencing technologies are used.
If the room in question has parallel walls, lots of glass or other reflective surfaces, and little to no soft surfaces, chances are the acoustics are already problematic. Test out your room by listening in various locations. Ask a colleague for a few minutes of their time and try to have a normal volume conversation at opposite ends of the room or meeting table. Take note of how well you can hear, any distracting sounds, as well as what the surfaces and furnishings are like in the room. You’ll also want to pay attention to if you can hear noises from outside or other areas inside the building.
Once you’ve identified that your room has some acoustic issues, it’s time to make some improvements. Getting the best acoustics in your room depends on the type of room you are improving, and there are a few easy fixes you can try: one of the biggest components in acoustic room design is having plenty of acoustic absorption. But what is absorption and how do you use it in a room?
Sound waves in a room are either reflected or absorbed, depending on the structure and materials which they strike. The waves bounce (reflect) off flat, smooth surfaces like glass tables or large windows. Conversely, they are absorbed by soft, porous surfaces like fabric curtains or panels. One of the easiest and most effective improvements to the room’s acoustic quality you can make is simply to reduce reflective surfaces and increase absorbent surfaces.
Carpeting, upholstered furniture and curtains can all be added to a room as part of an overall room acoustics design. But to really cut down on sound reflection, specialized acoustic panels should be installed to improve the sound quality, and are available in many colors and styles to enhance to the overall aesthetics of a room. Acoustic paneling can be mounted on walls, hung from open rafters, replace existing ceiling tiles, and even incorporated into existing architecture to improve the acoustic profile of your space.
At home, improving room acoustics can mean better sound quality and more enjoyment when listening to music or watching movies in your home theater. It can mean hearing sound nuances and details more clearly as well.
At a business or organization, improving the acoustics of your meeting and conference rooms can even lead to better productivity and more business. Too often, little thought goes into designing meeting rooms, but some simple upgrades can mean your employees hear each other better in meetings; meaning better ideas, participation, and collaboration. Clients can hear and understand your pitches better — and you can hear your clients’ feedback, too. Better engagement and efficiency can result from a few simple acoustic upgrades for your rooms.
Sometimes simple, DIY fixes aren’t enough, and when it comes to acoustically treating a room, it’s best to call in the experts. Morefield Communications provides expert consultation and installation of acoustic upgrades, and so much more. Our friendly staff can guide you through every step of the process, and our trained technicians provide expert installation and speedy turnaround times.
Don’t get stuck wondering how to get better sound in your rooms. Contact Morefield Communications for dedicated, experienced help. With over 70 years of business and thousands of satisfied clients, our experience speaks for itself. We pride ourselves on giving you the best experience, keeping costs low and delivering results quickly. Our specially designed acoustic panel installation can provide the solution your business needs, with impressive results.
To find out more about our acoustic room design solutions, or any of our business technology solutions, call us today at 717.761.6170 or fill out our contact form online and we will get back to you.
Image Credit: Sound and Vision; Acoustic Products