Thursday, April 2, 2020

3 Simple Solutions To Improve Conference Room Acoustics

While the quality of room acoustics typically gets plenty of attention in venues where music will be played or recorded, and where stage plays or other theatrical presentations are performed, its importance shouldn't be overlooked in places like offices or conference rooms. Below are just a few of the many methods that can be used to improve the sound quality in offices and conference rooms to allow for improved audio during phone calls and meetings.

It's Not Just the Music

Just as room acoustics in a concert hall can make or break the presentation of a symphony orchestra, the acoustics in a meeting or conference room can make or break an important conference, conference call or video conference. When there's difficulty hearing and understanding an oral presentation, it's hard to take care of business as usual.

Speech is best heard and understood in rooms with a minimum of flat, hard surfaces that reflect sound. There are a number of ways to restore clarity in conference rooms, two of which are sound absorption and sound masking. The strategy used will be dependent upon the makeup of the room being considered.

Ceiling tiles and industrial-grade, thin carpet are often found in a typical office or conference room. A combination of one or both may be adequate for an individual or a small group to achieve an acceptable sound level. In a larger group setting, it is best to add Ambience acoustic ceiling tiles, wall panels, baffles or clouds suspended from the ceiling to tune the room acoustics. The benefit is an increase in productivity, creativity, and comfort.

Sound Proofing vs. Acoustics Improvement

If your meeting room is next to a noisy hallway, improving internal acoustics to make presentations easier to understand will have to work hand-in-hand with soundproofing the room from exterior noise. The same goes for noise that may be outside of the building the meeting room is in, especially if there are windows on the exterior wall.

Soundproofing windows doors can either be replaced with special soundproofing doors or, alternatively, you can enhance a solid wood door by using door frame seals.

3 Simple Solutions To Improving Conference Room Acoustics

Here are a few simple ideas to consider when trying to improve the acoustics in your conference or meeting room:
1. Counteract hard, flat surfaces with the addition of softer furniture and d├ęcor. Swap out hard chairs and install soft, cloth-covered ones. Add rugs or carpeting and sound-absorbing curtains or drapes.
2. You can mask external noise by incorporating “white noise” created by the use of a small water feature or a recording of soft background sounds.
3. Acoustic baffle panels hung from the ceiling or walls can act to reduce echo or reverberation in your meeting room. These hanging baffles can also add an aesthetic touch to the space. Acoustic panels can also be placed on doors to enhance noise reduction in your room.

Our team of experts are always happy to answer any questions that you have and help to guide you to the products needed to get the job done right. Get in touch!

Tuesday, March 24, 2020

Creating a Professional Recording Studio in Your Home

Music recording in a professional studio can be an expensive proposition, with studio time ranging anywhere from $50 to $500+ per hour at high-quality studios. Even if you're fortunate enough to find a budget studio offering low rates yet passable quality, it doesn't take long for the dollars per hour to mount up. This can cause you to rush when recording, leaving you with a less than enviable finished product.

One solution is to build your own home recording studio where you can put down song tracks any time the mood moves you, and not have to answer to anyone for the time and trouble song recording requires. Building a DIY recording studio in your home can be a challenging yet rewarding project, and for anyone serious about recording, it's something that can pay for itself in short order. You'll be able to play and record to your heart's content without having to spend cash by the hour. And, if you get good enough at recording, you may even be able to rent out your services to other like-minded musicians who would love to record on the cheap. Let's get started!

Location, Location, Location
To get started creating a professional recording studio setup, the first thing you'll want to determine is where in your house you'll be setting up your studio. Interior rooms will be easier to soundproof than rooms with exterior walls, especially if you live on a road with lots of traffic. Ideally, you should have a large room with high ceilings and lots of irregular surfaces. This will provide you with the best acoustics.

Noise is the primary enemy you'll have to deal with when setting up your in-home studio. This includes noise entering your room from outside which, when magnified through a microphone, will be LOUDER than you think. Some common causes of these exterior disruptions may include:
  • Cars
  • Neighbors
  • Neighborhood dogs
  • Birds
  • Plumbing
  • Rain
  • Wind
These noises can be effectively dealt with through the use of a variety of soundproofing techniques. Also consider that not only do you want to mitigate any noise coming into your studio room but also prevent the sounds you're making from affecting those outside of your space.

Effective Soundproofing
There's a wide variety of high-quality products available for providing effective soundproofing for your sound studio. If you've read the blog post, “Minimizing Noise Through Walls,” you've learned some of the many ways noise can enter into or escape from an enclosed space. It can travel through windows, doors, floors, ceilings, walls, vents and even through electrical outlets.

If you're setting up a bare bones room without any current soundproofing or acoustical treatments, you'll want to consider ways to handle all of the above-mentioned causes for unwanted sounds in your studio space. Fortunately, you have access to effective, affordable products for doing just this.

The above-mentioned blog discusses a couple of ways for soundproofing walls, both interior and exterior. Adding insulation to interior walls is not typical in the construction of standard homes but it is essential in any wall assembly. Building a room-within-a-room is the best option for optimal sound reduction. Unfortunately, this option will reduce the interior room dimensions at least 12” in width and length. There is, however, a more practical solution that only requires roughly 5” of floor space in each direction. This option isolates the walls by using isolation clips, Hat channel, Green Glue damping between two layers of drywall. There are several variables that determine the best option for each application. Let our team of experts offer the option that is right your studio.

To enhance and allow superior and professional sound, you will need to utilize an isolated ceiling system that consists of sound absorption, mass, isolation and damping materials. Contact our team of experts for a consultation – we are here to help!

Keep the sound from traveling through floors by applying a premium carpet, tile or wood underlay product. Treating floors with an underlay is especially important if your studio is on the second floor or above. Choose between mass-loaded vinyl and closed-cell foam. Keep in mind, the construction of the building will be a major factor in soundproofing, and while it is not always feasible to convert an old building to condo specs, there are always steps that can be taken to minimize the sound traveling through the floors.

It's important to seal doors in order to prevent against transmitting sound through the cracks and crevices that surround the door. This can be done by installing door frame seals to your already existing doors. For optimal soundproofing, consider installing acoustic studio doors, specifically designed for this purpose. Windows are also an important consideration and can be replaced with custom soundproof windows.

Don’t Overlook Acoustics
Once proper soundproofing is implemented throughout your designated studio space, it is time to consider the acoustics of the room. Reverberations can severely diminish the quality of recordings, and acoustics aim to manage it. Sound energy is converted to a quiet kinetic energy that creates a cleaner sound with the use of Acoustic Wall Panels. Consider options such as the Ambience Wall Panels, SONEX Panels or Whisperwave Wall Panels to enhance the quality of sound in the studio. The addition of Whisperwave Clouds suspended from a ceiling will serve to further improve the room’s acoustics and are always an excellent addition to any space, especially when high ceilings have created space for unwanted noise to reverberate.

Wednesday, March 11, 2020

Kinetics IsoMax Clips Installation Guide - Overview To Install on Ceilings and Walls

Installing the Kinetics IsoMax Sound Isolation Clips and Hat Channel is a simple process, but we all know that instructions can often be a bit tricky to make sense of. Below, we have broken this process down into simple steps for an easy-to-follow guide.

With these simple steps, you can forgo the difficult installation process associated with the standard resilient channels while protecting against inadvertently screwing through the furring channel and into a joist or stud when installing the drywall for optimizing wall and ceiling noise isolation.

Materials Needed:

Simple Steps:
1) Determine where you will be installing: wall or ceiling; and keep in mind that these clips are low profile to avoid taking up unneeded space.
2) Use a 4’ level to assess and mark your anchor locations, keeping in mind a few things:
  • Hat channel will be placed perpendicular to studs or joists
  • Vertical spacing between each channel should be 24" on center.
  • Horizontal distance between each clip should not exceed 48”
  • Channels must be overlapped a minimum of 6” to extend the length along long walls/ceiling to accommodate your needs

For Wall Installation:

  • The bottom row of Hat Channel should be a maximum of 3" from the floor to the center of the clip
  • The top row of Hat Channel should be a maximum of 6" from the ceiling

For Ceiling Installation:
  • The clips should be attached within 12 inches of perimeter and at the end of the furring channel
  • The outer hat channels should be a maximum of 6" from the perimeter
  • Secure the clips with a single screw (Tapcon for Masonry), beginning with one end only (reference image at left). Anchoring Recommendations: Wood or Drywall + Studs - #8 x 2-1/2" coarse thread screws
  • Steel - #8, 10, or 12 x 1-5/8" self-tapping Type S screws
  • Concrete or Masonry - 3/16" dia x 2-1/4" Tapcon or equal anchor

3) Insert the hat channel into the clip that is attached and place the other end of the hat channel in place before securing the second end with a single screw or Tapcon (for masonry)

Kinetics IsoMax Clips Product Information:
  • Reduces Structure Borne Sound Transmission
  • Weight Capacity: 36 lbs. per clip
  • Performance Range: STC 57 to STC 64 in lab tests
  • UL fire-rated for wall and ceiling assemblies
Our team of Sound Isolation experts are always happy to answer any questions that come up through the installation process, just give us a call at 866.768.6381.

Saturday, December 21, 2019

Minimizing Noise Through Walls

Dogs barking, neighbors yelling, loud music playing and traffic blasting by - these are all things that can be a real nuisance, causing stress and sleeplessness. If you're living in a home where these sound disturbances occur, finding ways to soundproof your living space can add significantly to the quality of your home life.

What's Letting All That Noise In?
Sound travels in waves and is transmitted through the air to our ears. All sound that we hear is classified as airborne sound, such as music coming from a radio, but may also be called structural sound, such as footsteps on the floor above or someone knocking at the door. These structural sounds are transformed into airborne sounds, which is what we hear.

Sitting in our homes, we may be inundated by sounds through a variety of means. They may come from outside through our doors, windows and walls, and from inside through our floors, ceilings, doors and interior walls. Sound waves reach us by following the path of least resistance. This could be around the perimeter of a door or window, through an uninsulated electrical outlet or through an air conditioning or heating duct/vent. Sounds also transfer through the solid structures of your home, such as the actual doors, windows and walls. In the following, we'll concern ourselves specifically with ways to minimize noise coming through walls.

How To Reduce Noise Between Rooms
Anyone living in an area where temperatures drop during winter months knows that the first line of defense against a chilly abode is to insulate the walls against the cold. This will also help keep your house cooler during the summer months. By insulating all the nooks and crannies that exist between the exterior and interior walls of your home, you're helping block temperature transference. The same holds true for sounds that, like heat or cold, travel along and through the paths of least resistance.

Start With Soundproofing Walls
While complete soundproofing should include walls, floors, doors, ceilings and windows, you should start with the walls, both interior and exterior. Soundproofing during initial construction is usually easier and cheaper than with a remodel, but good results can be obtained with either method if properly done. Effective soundproofing of walls can be achieved through several means and some are a bit more labor-intensive than others.

One simple way of doing this is by using our Mass Loaded Vinyl Noise Barrier (MLV). Flexible, limp and heavy, this specially designed material is incredibly effective at blocking, absorbing and deadening sounds. It has numerous applications and is easy to use – especially important for DIYers. This method isn’t as visually appealing as other options but can satisfy your need for quiet. Read more about Mass Loaded Vinyl (MLV) here .

For optimal soundproofing, the wall cavity should be completely filled with quality insulation, including all gaps and spaces between studs. This will also improve the fire safety rating of your home, serving as a means for slowing fire travel within walls. Properly insulating walls for soundproofing should include filling any gaps that could allow sound transference, such as electrical outlets, switches and even nail holes that may have been made for hanging pictures, etc. If you are building a new home or renovating, taking extra care during construction to ensure proper soundproofing throughout the process will make things easier (and quieter) in the long run.

Recommended Installation Procedure:

  1. Demo existing walls, if required. You want to have any sheetrock removed and frame exposed.
  2. Install UltraTouch Denim Insulation
  3. Install IsoMax Sound Isolation Clips
  4. Insert Hat Channel
  5. Attach a layer of 5/8” drywall leaving a perimeter gap not to exceed 1/4” 
  6. Fill gaps with Acoustical Caulk Sealant , applying a 1/4” bead of along edges of sheetrock and bevel edges of butt ends. 
  7. Apply Green Glue to a second layer of 5/8” sheetrock, at a rate of 2 tubes per 4x8 sheet. Offset the seams of the second layer from those of the first layer and fasten to Hat Channel, pressing firmly. 
  8. Finish as desired

This is a common sound isolation system for minimizing noise through walls and ceiling and is found to be a highly effective solution to lowering both structural and airborne noise. Our expert team is always happy to help guide you through making your selection – let us know how we can help !

Thursday, December 19, 2019

How Sound Affects Your Sleep Cycles

Waking up from a poor night of rest is all too common in this fast-paced world. Placing the blame on technology and busy lifestyles is certainly valid, but there's another issue that can also impact your rest. Ambient sounds from the surrounding environment can wake you every night of the week. Learn how sound affects your sleep cycles, and choose smart ways to combat this serious problem.

The Stages of Sleep

There are currently four defined stages of sleep. They include two particular kinds of sleep:
  • Non-REM
  • REM 
REM stands for “rapid eye movement.” The first three stages of sleep are non-REM types, during which you're lightly resting. Stage four is deep sleep, in which your eyes flutter underneath the eyelids.

A noise and sleep disturbance usually affects the first three stages of sleep. Your mind is still mostly aware of the outside world, which makes you vulnerable to wakefulness as the sounds ebb and flow.

It's much harder to disturb the mind in REM sleep, but this stage must be reached through a restful period in stages one through three.

Loud Sounds

A loud "bang" outside is enough to awaken anyone from a deep sleep. When stage four is disturbed, a person is rattled into reality. The heart might beat rapidly, which can be detrimental to vulnerable people with cardiovascular problems. It may be difficult to get back to sleep too.

Loud noises occurring during the other stages don’t cause as intense of a reaction, but they still stifle rest as the person opens his or her eyes and becomes aware of the outside influence.

If a loud sound awakens a person on a regular basis, the sleep cycles are greatly impacted. Bouts of insomnia can arise. Restful nights are now difficult to achieve.

Consistent Nighttime Disruptions

Your body needs time to move through all stages of sleep. Ultimately, you want as much time in stage four as possible. Frequent interruptions to your rest, however, stop this progress in its tracks.

If a sound awakens you in stage three, you must start again from stage one and move forward. It's possible to remain restless all night if sounds are constantly bombarding the room. Failing to reach stage four means that your body cannot really rest, and you wake up in the morning with a dissatisfied sensation. Feeling tired the rest of the day is common.

Sensitivity Varies Among the Population

It's difficult to address sleep and how sound affects it because of differences within the population. Some people simply sleep more soundly than others. A person who tends to wake up a lot during the night may be more vulnerable to sounds outside, such as traffic. These individuals would benefit from soundproofing their rooms. Wearing earplugs every night isn't practical.

Heavy sleepers may not wake up from the ordinary sounds found outside. However, loud noises can still startle them. These heavy sleepers might get away with a few hours of good rest, but they're certainly not immune. Consciously noting how you feel in the morning is a good way to ascertain how much the outside sounds are influencing a restful night's sleep.

Short- and Long-Term Effects on Health

The effect of noise on sleep can be considerable and affect your health:
  • Hormonal fluctuations
  • Cardiovascular damage
  • Metabolic issues
Your body performs a lot of damage control during restful sleep. If it's constantly interrupted, tissues cannot repair themselves. The body reacts with side effects that can be both immediate and chronic.

The short-term effects are usually centered around being sleepy and having clouded judgement. You might be irritable too.

The long-term effects can lead to weight gain, heart problems and other issues. Dealing with the noise disturbances is the best way to stop all of these issues from becoming major concerns.

Solving the Noise Dilemma

To avoid sleep-cycle disturbances, many people turn to white noise. Machines with specific sounds that play all night can help drown out those ambient disturbances.

If you can't sleep with any noise in your room, think about soundproofing your space. Specialized materials can be installed by professionals. Walls, ceilings and floors are all potential areas for soundproofing.

Depending on the materials, several decibels of sound can be eliminated from a home. Discuss your options with the experts because the investment isn't just in the property. Investing in noise reduction will only improve your health too.

Contact SoundAway Corporation today. Our team can help you with your acoustical options so that sounds are largely controlled. Discover a deeper kind of sleep with soundproofing products. The difference is felt in both your mind and body.

Monday, December 16, 2019

Outlining the Difference Between Soundproofing & Acoustic Treatment

A common misunderstanding is that the two terms “acoustics” and “soundproofing” may mean the same thing, when in fact, soundproofing and acoustic treatment are totally different. Their only real similarity is that they are both methods of dealing with sound. To simplify things, we have outlined the differences between the two and addressed some common questions to help you differentiate.

Here's a short explanation:
Soundproofing is a means of reducing or eliminating the source of a sound from the receiver of that sound, such as someone's ears. It can be thought of as “isolation.” Soundproofing is used to prevent sounds from either traveling outside of a defined space or encroaching into that space from an exterior area.

What is acoustic treatment?

Acoustic treatment is a method of changing the dynamics of sound waves within a given space and is designed to give listeners a clearer or truer listening experience. Application of acoustic treatments is often done to improve sound quality in music listening rooms, recording studios, lecture halls, concert halls, classrooms, churches, hospitals, restaurants, offices or any other space where critical listening or sound quality is important. The means for achieving this are vast and include options such as Acoustical Fabric-Wrapped Panels with both ceiling-suspended options and wall-hung applications.

Soundproofing Versus Sound Absorption

If you're experiencing noise problems, soundproofing enables you to block those noises to lessen the effect of sound waves either exiting or entering a defined listening space. If you like to play loud music, for example, but are getting complaints from neighbors who may not share your enthusiasm for high-volume hard rock or heavy metal, soundproofing can help. If you're setting up a recording studio in your spare bedroom at home and want to block out the annoying sounds of the traffic going by, soundproofing can be your answer here, too.

Soundproofing typically requires the application of sound-insulating materials – usually heavy, dense materials – to block out sound waves that might otherwise pass through walls, windows, doors, ceilings and floors. Using sound-insulating materials to stop sound waves from entering or exiting a defined space may not totally mitigate all noise disturbances but may have a marked effect on lessening them.

Sound absorption is an effective method of lessening certain noises and echoing effects within a space and is typically achieved by using soft materials capable of soaking up sounds as they hit the surface of these materials. Products used to achieve these results may include acoustic baffles, fabric wall panels and acoustic ceiling systems, among others. Whether it's excessive noise in an office environment, a bothersome echo (natural reverberation) in a theater or music hall or unintelligibly poor speech in a classroom or lecture hall, acoustic treatment using sound-absorbing materials expertly applied can vastly improve poor sound conditions.

Tuesday, November 12, 2019

Understanding STC & FSTC Ratings

Here at SoundAway, we're in the business of sound. More precisely, we deal with sound isolation and changing sound quality in specific spaces to best suit your needs. That space may be a large auditorium or concert hall where sounds need to be contoured to reach each individual section of the space, or a small piano practice room where sounds need to be attenuated to a volume low enough so as not to disturb individuals practicing in adjacent areas.

Sound Vibrations
Sound vibrations decrease in volume as they travel through the air, as is demonstrated by yelling to someone standing a block away from you and someone else 10 feet away. The closer to the sound source, the louder it seems.

In addition to volume reduction caused by increased distance, you can also affect sound loudness by introducing a physical barrier to block the sound. This barrier could be a wall, a door, a window or some type of panel. Each of these barriers will have a different effect on the sound it’s blocking, depending on the sound-blocking ability.

Human sensitivity to changes in sound intensity levels is also worth considering. Measurement of sensitivity to differences in the rate of change of auditory signal parameters is complex and must take into account duration, extent of change, and velocity of the changing sound. Here is what you can typically expect:
1 dB / generally not perceptible
3 dB / just perceptible
5 dB / clearly noticeable
10 dB / twice as loud (or half as loud if it describes drop in sound level)
20 dB four times as loud

There are Two Measurement Units of Airborne Noise:
  1. Sound Transmission Class (STC) – associated with tests carried out within a controlled laboratory environment. Laboratory tests results are generally higher than those performed in the field.
  2. Field Transmission class (FSTC) – associated with tests carried out in the field. This allows for more of a real-life measurement that factors in things such as background noise levels, surface areas, environmental factors, etc.
Requirements of the National Building Code allow for a minimum acoustic rating of FSTC 50. At this level, the soundproofing is acceptable but you may still be able to hear a neighbor who snores loudly. FSTC 55 is a bit more comfortable and the desired acoustic comfort is around FSTC 60.

Classification / STC / FSTC
Minimum code / 50 / 45
Minimum quality / 55 / 50
Medium quality / 60 / 55
High quality / 65 / 60

STC Ratings
In the soundproofing industry, the ability of a barrier such as a wall or a door to reduce sound volume from one side of the barrier to the other is measured by a standard called STC, which stands for sound transmission class. This is a standard used primarily in the U.S. to rate partitions in a building as to their sound-attenuating capability. These partitions include interior and exterior walls, doors, windows, floors and ceilings. STC ratings provide you with an approximate idea of how much airborne sound a particular barrier such as an interior wall could stop. Simply stated, sound volume ratings in decibels (dB), measuring how loud a sound is, are recorded on both sides of the barrier being tested.

If the noise you're measuring is 90 dB, which is the volume of a typical police car siren, and the barrier decreases the sound to 70 dB on the other side of the barrier, you're said to have a 20 dB transmission loss. Note that if the test tone used in the above example is altered in pitch (frequency or Hz), the resulting transmission loss figure may be totally different.

STC ratings, introduced in 1961 as a means for comparing various types of barriers (wall, window, door, floor and ceiling assemblies), are often used to compare different products from competing manufacturers. STC is determined by taking transmission loss figures at 16 standard frequencies falling between 125 Hz and 4000 Hz. The results are plotted on a graph to form a curve, and this curve is compared with standard STC curves the industry has adopted.

STC Examples - Expected Field Results
45 / Normal voice not audible, raised voice plainly audible
50 / Loud voice understandable, raised voice not audible
55 / Shouting voice understandable, loud voice plainly audible
60 / Shouting playing audible, loud voice audible
65 / Shouting audible, loud voice not audible
70 / Very loud music understandable
75 / Very loud music plainly audible
80 / Very loud music audible

Note: The International Building Code requires a minimum of STC 50 for floors, ceilings and walls in new construction.

Shortcomings of STC Ratings
Typically, STC ratings numbers run between 27 and 72. The higher the number, the better the soundproofing capability of the barrier tested. It is important to note that STC Ratings are measured on a logarithmic scale: the values are not linear. Therefore, sound measuring at 50 decibels is not twice as loud as a 25-decibel sound. Here are some useful examples:

STC 27 – Single-pane window glass
STC 46 – 1/2” drywall glued to a 6” concrete block and painted on both sides
STC 72 – 8” painted concrete block wall with 1/2” drywall on both sides, installed on independent steel studs, with insulation in all cavities

One of the problems that exists with accurate STC ratings is that frequencies below 125 dB are not considered. Unfortunately, many sound-isolation problems come from noise sources that are below this 125 dB threshold. This includes most sounds emanating from home theaters; noise from heavy equipment, airplanes and trucks; musical instruments such as guitars, bass guitars and drums; and certain industrial equipment. For this reason, it's a mistake to rely solely on STC ratings to determine sound isolation capabilities, especially where low-frequency sounds are involved.