Acoustics is something that is greatly important in an indoor environment. It might not be among the main aspects that you think about when considering the things that are important in regard to an indoor space, however, once you enter a room that has poor acoustics you instantly notice it.
Products such as acoustic panels and other forms of acoustic treatment can help to relieve this problem and make the space more desirable to spend time in.
Though, firstly, we should look at what acoustics are and how they work.
What are acoustics and how do they work
Technically speaking acoustics is a science of the effects, production, transmission, and control of sound and more. Therefore it all comes down to the way that sound works. When we speak our vocal cords create vibrations and the frequency, as well as the distribution of sound waves, make noises of various volumes, all of which act differently in an indoor environment.
When we speak, sing, or in general use our vocal cords the sound that we create tends to bounce around the room and is reflected by the walls. This means that in a room with poor acoustics the noise blends together with the signal we’re trying to hear and makes sounds less distinguishable from one another.
For context, noise is unwanted and unnecessary frequencies, and the signal is the one that you’re trying and need to hear.
It is important to note that the requirements for good acoustics are not exact and they vary depending on the space where you’re planning to do the acoustic treatment.
For example, a concert hall generally requires more reverb, therefore many concert halls choose and place acoustic panels or any other form of acoustic solutions accordingly. However, places like restaurants, lecture halls, and others need less reverb, however, some is still needed to reflect and reinforce the sound.
How do acoustics impact people physiologically
Acoustics have quite a powerful impact on us physiologically. Think of a scenario where you randomly hear an unanticipated sound, even though it might just be somebody sneezing or shutting the doors too loud you still get a little jumpy.
That is because unexplained and unanticipated sounds trigger the fight or flight response in us, and make us become vary of our surroundings, just like any other creature on the planet.
These unwanted sounds can make you more anxious and less prone to enjoying yourself in various environments. This brings us to our next point since many physiological aspects of sound are psychology-based.
How do acoustics influence people psychologically
As I previously mentioned, various sounds, and especially an overload of them can be anxiety-inducing. Spaces with little to no acoustic treatment can become stressful because the sounds are bouncing all around and are loading you with overwhelming stimuli which can make you feel confused and uneasy. Small spaces with poor acoustics can make you feel like you’re trapped in a box and can trigger claustrophobia.
Imagine you’re walking through a place that typically doesn’t have great acoustics. For this example, let’s say – a train station. They usually have high ceilings, lots of noise coming from the chatter and people around you, and on top of all that almost every moment there is some type of announcement regarding departing trains and more. Places like this can very easily a person anxious because you are overloaded with information that your brain can’t begin to decipher purely due to the amount of it. On top of that, if you are in a rush it only adds to the frustration and makes you feel even more uneasy.
On the contrary, think of yourself relaxing and listening to music or watching a movie at your home. There are a lot of things that absorb sound and make the place nice to spend time in. The carpet, the couch, the bookshelf, the blinds, and other things that you have at your home are great for reducing, absorbing, and limiting stress-inducing frequencies.
Though many times furniture and other things of such nature, might not be enough, and some unwanted sounds might still creep up on you whilst talking or consuming any media whether it’d be music or a film. All of this depends on the size and the dimensions of your space, sometimes you don’t need a lot. All you need is some form of acoustic treatment that is executed correctly. With the help of acoustic panels or other types of acoustics-improving solutions, you can make great strides in order to transform a flat or a house from just a living space into a home.
How would acoustic panels help?
The impact that acoustic panels provide can be immense. Though in order for it to be that way you need to know a couple of things. First off, there are more than just one type of acoustic panel, check out one of our previous publications about acoustic panels to find out more about the different types of them.
Acoustic absorbtion panels will absorb, and dispersers will reflect the sound and distribute it moderately around the room, which will also make the sound more vivid and lively. Also, remember that you should think about their placement, so they fulfill their function to the fullest extent.
Each type of panel varies from manufacturer to manufacturer. They have different properties and are better at absorbing different frequencies. Some might do good at absorbing mid-range frequencies, and some will excel with higher frequencies. However, for most acoustic panels, an additional layer of rock wool is required to be placed behind the panels for them to be at peak functionality.
We, 4plus, recently conducted an acoustics experiment at the Tallinn University of Technology, to test out how well our acoustic panels perform at their predetermined task – acoustic improvement.
The panels performed well in these experiments. 2 types of panels were measured to fall in the A category of noise reduction which is the highest you can go. The noise reduction coefficients weighted absorption coefficient for these panels ranged from 0.85-0.9.
The weighted absorption coefficient is a metric that is used to determine sound absorption in various ranges of frequencies. There have been many metrics over the years, however, this one has been most prominently used to detect sound absorption levels, especially in the EU, for quite some time and it is based on how human ears perceive sound, therefore being way closer to reality than its contemporaries.
Other test results showed that our panels performed greatly at absorbing mid-range and high-end frequencies. Human speech frequencies generally range from 500-200 Hz, therefore, these panels will fulfill their function to the fullest.
Having a supporting layer of pet felt and rock wool is needed to extract the maximum value from the panels because otherwise, they are more of an interior design piece with some acoustical properties instead of full-on acoustic panels.
This is a rather common issue, but it’s easily fixable so it’s nothing to worry about.
Acoustics is an important and sometimes underrated factor that many people don’t instantly think about, however, I hope that has changed for you after this blog post. They have a considerable impact on a person both physiologically and especially psychologically. Any space can receive a tremendous boost if it improves its acoustics. It will make you want to spend time there comfortably which is an important factor.
We’ve also covered the need for acoustic treatment and how it would help. Acoustic panels are a simplistic yet effective way to secure good acoustics, they’re easy to install, maintain and are also stylish. Is there anything more you need, right?
Written by: Pauls Paeglis