3 Questions to Determine the Best Acoustics Approach


Imagine a bustling emergency room. Nervous patients. Hustling emergency personnel, efficient nurses calmly gathering background information. The environment is tense and active, yet there is still a profound need for privacy and peace. Now, you’re in a classroom. The room is quiet, all eyes are on the teacher whose, clear, engaging voice captivates her audience. Finally, you’ve joined a group brainstorm. You and your colleagues are debating the best course of action. The environment is energetic yet respectful as others continue their work around you.

These environments are very different yet, each space is made better by its ability to control and manage the noise within.

So, how do we get there? How do we manage the acoustics in environments as diverse as these?

The answer is through Targeted Acoustics.

Targeted Acoustics: Managing Noise in A Diverse Environment

targeted acoustics education

Complex spaces require special considerations, new Symphony m High NRC and Symphony m Rx High NRC offer increased sound absorption and noise blocking for the highest levels of acoustic performance.

Targeted Acoustics is the strategic use of multiple acoustic ceiling panels or large format acoustical panels to achieve the right acoustic performance in each space without compromising visual impact or budget. Healthcare, office and education projects often involve multiple spaces with diverse acoustic requirements, and there is no one-size-fits-all ceiling panel. By targeting acoustic performance to the space, you avoid over-engineering and keep the budget under control.

To choose the right ceiling panel for a space, you need to determine the type of sound control required (absorption or blocking) and the level of each (minimal, moderate, high or maximum). However, to get to these answers we first need to determine three basic truths about the environment we are designing for.

1) The purpose of the space

  • What types of activities is the space intended for?
  • Is it a space for focus and concentration or will it be a place to socialize and collaborate?
  • Will it be a place for sharing information widely or one where privacy is valued?

Once you have answered these questions it is time to take a closer look at who will be using the space.

2) The people in the space

  • Will it be individuals or small groups? A dozen people or a hundred?
  • Will multiple people be communicating at once, or will one person be communicating to a group?
  • Will any of the occupants be elderly or hearing impaired?

Now that you know the what and the who, let’s take a closer look at the where.

3) The properties of the space

  • Is it large space or small space?
  • Are there a lot of hard, reflective surfaces like concrete and glass?
  • How does the space relate to the building and the environment? What spaces are near it and what activities will take place in them?
  • Are there sources of the sound besides the occupants to consider (e.g. HVAC systems, machinery, office or medical equipment)?

Understanding how the space relates to the environment around it will help to troubleshoot external factors that can derail an otherwise well thought-out acoustical plan.

targeted acoustics office

To create a unified look work with a broad line, like CertainTeed Symphony which makes it easy to target the acoustic performance to the space while maintaining a consistent design.

Layering components

Now that you have a clear end goal, you can begin layering on the components that will get you and your clients to the desired outcome. The plan will likely include a combination of sound absorption elements, which control background noise and help quiet the room, and noise blocking components, which limit the amount of noise leaking into adjacent rooms.

“By targeting acoustic performance to the space, you avoid over-engineering and keep the budget under control.”

Once you have broken down your acoustical needs, the right combination of ceiling panels, can have a dramatic impact on the design of the space and the experience of its occupants. For a consistent look choose a tile collection with a broad range of options, like CertainTeed’s Symphony collection which offers well over 100 options for the perfect balance of acoustic performance, design flexibility and budget control.

With the strategic use of multiple ceiling panels, you can achieve the right acoustic performance in each space without compromising the visual impact or the budget.

Robert Marshall is the Manager, Marketing Technical Services for CertainTeed Ceilings.

To learn more about developing a targeted acoustics plan download our free brochure or contact us directly with your design questions.

Looking to make a switch? We’re making it easy to find comparable CertainTeed products.

Plus, how to use clouds for quick acoustical improvement and time-saving wall assemblies that meet code requirements for sound and fire.

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