Sound is about harmony, getting the right noise to your ears at the right time! When looking at a noisy classroom, a busy reception area or an office environment filled with acoustic issues, there are many reasons to want to alter the sound of a room or even create quiet office spaces within open plan applications!
Acoustic Treatment vs. Soundproofing
First things first, you should understand the difference between soundproofing and acoustic treatment. Soundproofing is quite literally to reduce the amount of sound that can get into or out of a room. It’s like stuffing cotton buds into your ears. Acoustic treatment is about changing the quality of the sound in a room. If you really don’t want to hear your co-worker’s conversations, you’re into soundproofing. If you want the right atmosphere, that’s acoustic treatment. Both may be required, depending on what you want to do. Just don’t fall into the trap of thinking reducing sound is the same as enhancing sound.
The Clap Test
Figuring out what you need depends heavily on the outcome you desire. Luckily a good test to know if your space needs some fine-tuning. Stand in the room and clap your hands. Listen to the sound. Warmer, softer sounds suggest the room already absorbs and scatters sounds in a good way. Harsher, metallic sounds are reasons to look for improvements. There is always something extra you can do to make a room sound even better, but the clap test is a good way to get a sense of what the space needs.
The clap test will give a sense of the sound, but a visual inspection is just as important. Hard, cold surfaces are the biggest supporters of bad sound. Concrete, metal and glass bounce back sound without absorbing much of it, resulting in an echo effect. Wood, carpets and fabrics have the opposite effect, absorbing and scattering sound waves. Appropriate absorptive treatment of the walls and ceilings in the space may help dampen noise once it enters the space and create a quieter room environment. Thick pile carpets, Absorption Panels, plants and upholstered furniture in the space help achieve this.
Sound or noise will enter the space through the most significant flanking path (path where sound can penetrate) and that flanking path will typically hide the others until it becomes the most significant one. So, the process could become a tedious one where one flank treated leads to the next which in turn leads to the next. A brilliant example are Quiet Rooms in open plan office environments. The most sound-resilient glass in the world is useless if the frame and door does not do its job as well. Aluglass Bautech innovates with the use of engineered aluminium frames, seals and doors specially designed to enhance acoustic properties. The point is: if someone is trying to sell just acoustic glass to you, cut to fit existing frames and a frameless glass door, you will be wasting your money. Cut corners and you won’t hear any improvement.
Read about “The importance of the COMPLETE Acoustic Glass Partition System” here.
Open-plan Office Soundproofing Solutions
Open-plan offices can be a marvel, infusing energy into the workplace through shared spaces and natural light, but with that comes shared sound. People often complain about ambient noise (also known as background noise), as well as the concern that others can hear their conversations. Open environments tend to be both too loud and too quiet. How can that be fixed without ruining the ambiance of an open floor workplace? Two easy fixes are to create loud and quiet spaces: these are areas where employees can have noisy meetings or enjoy a bit of meditative thinking. Individual QUIET (or NOISY) areas can be surrounded by an Acoustic Glazing System (glass and framing!) with Acoustic Doors. Mobile Acoustic Partitions can also be used to create temporary zones inside an office space. This allows for the flexibility to create PRIVATE SPACES when needed and to park the partitions away, when an open plan office environment is required.