Jul 24th 2017

Understanding Acoustic Design: Part 3

John Stein

In the previous parts of this series, acoustic consultant James Black takes a look at the common issues with acoustics and what specifically can be done to avoid these problems. In this final article, James explains the value in considering sound control before it's too late, and debunks the theory that acoustics are too expensive to take into consideration. (Want to see the whole article? Download the PDF here!)

Keeping Cost in Mind

Many projects – specifically education spaces like schools, libraries and museums – are on tight budgets. And when this is the case, acoustics often fall to the wayside. However, even with less money to spend, effective sound absorption can still take place. Even coverage of sound absorption on the ceiling is typically what is needed most.

“If the budget is minimal, ACT or black fiberglass sound board could be used, depending on the look the client is trying to achieve. Acoustical deck could be a good choice too. If it is a lecture hall or conference room, the back wall and at least one adjacent side wall should receive some treatment as well, from approximately 3 to 7 feet above finished floor.”

“Besides attenuating reverberation, these wall treatments mitigate annoying echoes off the back wall and flutter echoes. Sometimes diffusion panels or wall shaping can break up these echoes as well.” These are basic fixes and are mostly recommended for spaces on a budget.

Sound Investments

It’s also important to consider noise when choosing and installing building equipment systems. “Using low-noise fan-array air handling units with remote chillers may seem more expensive up front. However, in the big picture, once you consider the cost of upgraded roofs, sound isolation ceilings, silencers, etc., that are needed to mitigate noise from less-expensive packaged units, you may be paying as much or even more for an inferior result."

"In any case, do not locate the loud equipment directly over the noise-sensitive spaces. It seems obvious, but unfortunately this happens all the time.”

Acoustic Consultants Can Help Save You Money!

Working with an acoustic consultant early on can also help avoid easy mistakes. “But acoustic consultants are expensive!” you cry. This is a common misconception, as a good acoustic consultant brings value. Timely input from an acoustical consultant can prevent more expensive mistakes, such as wasted materials, post-construction changes and unsatisfied clients.

Sure, it’s possible to run up a significant bill for a full acoustic analysis of a space, but many acoustic consultants can take a look at drawings or photos and come up with quick and easy solutions for hundreds, not thousands of dollars. Taking advantage of this early in a project can save a lot of money later versus the cost of retrofitting to cover up unforeseen acoustic issues.

Need Some Help with Your Space?

We've got you covered! Kirei is dedicated to providing you with high-quality acoustic materials, made for all sorts of spaces and applications. From tiles, panels, partitions and more, our products can help reduce the noise in your open spaces. Give us a call at 619.236.9924 or email us at [email protected]! And download this whole article here! Remember, sharing is caring, so feel free to pass along this PDF to anyone you think may need some acoustics issues answered!

James Black has a Master of Science degree in Acoustical Engineering. He has worked professionally as an acoustical consultant for more than 11 years. Most recently, he was a senior consultant in one of the leading and international acoustical consulting firms, working on world-class projects. He now lectures at Montana State University and continues to provide acoustical consulting services. He can be reached at (858) 342-0986 or [email protected].