We often underestimate the thought that is put into creating a space that not only looks attractive and is functional but is also acoustically comfortable for those who attend the venue. It is important to understand the elements of an acoustical environment to create a space that is both aesthetically pleasing and productive.
Acoustics is the science that deals with the production, reception, and propagation of sound. When determining the need for any kind of sound distribution, whether it is musical or basic verbal audio, or to even minimize sound for quieter settings, many factors come into play: The most important being the venue itself. The venue can ultimately be any space designated to accommodate a group of people for the purpose of hosting artistic events, religious, cultural, or academic functions, sporting events or expos and trade show events.
Factors That Affect Acoustics
Factors that affect the acoustics of the venue include the size and shape of the room, the ceiling height, hard versus soft surfaces and noise sources.
As a rule of thumb, the larger a room is, the longer the reverberation time will be. There is a golden ratio in acoustics called “Phi” (named after the Greek sculptor Phidias) that states the ideal room size ratio for optimal sound should be 1.0 tall by 1.6 wide by 2.56 times long.
Many rooms have 10-foot ceilings. Using the golden ratio, a room 16 feet wide by 25.6 feet long would create a room proportion for optimal sound acoustics. A room outside of these proportions can be expected to have distortions or reverberations that are undesirable. This is why rooms with poor acoustic proportions sometimes have false walls added. Larger rooms with higher ceilings have a great potential to amplify sound.
The ideal ceiling height for sound to carry is 23 feet or taller. If your venue ceiling is shorter than this, consider that sounds will reach a lower ceiling and bounce back and be absorbed by soft surfaces such as carpeting. However, this should not be a problem for settings such as meeting rooms where an individual speaker is talking.
The taller the ceiling height and the emptier a space, the further sound travels. Eventually, the sound reaches an object and bounces off a solid object such as a ceiling or wall. This causes an echo (or reverberation) to occur. This can affect sound quality and diminish it. This is why concert halls have taller ceilings to allow sound to amplify, but softer surfaces and sound dampening panels to prevent reverberation.
The most common cause of poor acoustics in a room tends to be the types of surfaces in the room. Hard surfaces in a room, such as bare floors, walls, hard furniture, or any materials such as wood or metal can have an immense impact on the acoustics of a room. Softer surfaces such as upholstered furniture, chairs, carpeting, and sound dampening panels on walls and ceilings can all absorb sound waves rather than the harsh echoes caused by too many hard surfaces in a room.
Multiple sources of noise in a venue can also create an acoustic problem. Whether it is conversations, the sound of air conditioning, music, or any number of environmental noises, the number of sound sources should be considered when trying to reach ideal acoustic conditions.
Considering the purpose of a venue and all the factors that may affect sound within the venue is as important as the aesthetics of the room. Here at SES Integration, we are happily to help with this acoustic integration at the venue of choice. We can discuss how to alter the acoustics of the venue to ensure that noise is directed properly, and the dampening of excess noises as well.