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Noise control: absorption, diffusion, or a combination of both?

How to determine the right solution for your space

It’s a sad reality that today, most of us expect to deal with noise. We have grown used to open offices, noisy public spaces, and ever-increasing traffic noise. What’s more, when working in a noisy environment such as educationpublic spacesoffices and medical facilities, you are potentially experiencing the Lombard effect.

Yet noise is taking its toll. Too much noise can lead to health issues, stress, insomnia and diabetes. That’s why effective noise control is a must.

Nothing beats employing an acoustic engineer to help solve noise issues at a business. However, if you want to understand the basics, the noise control experts at Avenue Interior Systems have put together this brief overview of what to consider.

Calculating acoustics: understanding the sound absorption coefficient

The materials used in a classroom, public place, office or medical facility influence its acoustics. Large glass facades, hard floors and walls, and bare tables and chairs all reflect sound. By contrast, soft materials such as seating upholstery, curtains or drapes, carpets and rugs produce a quieter atmosphere with a ‘muffled’ sound.

How much sound material can absorb is known as its sound absorption coefficient, alpha (aw). If the material’s sound absorption coefficient is 0, then it is reflective. If the sound absorption coefficient is 1, then the material is absorptive. However, absorption is different at different sound frequencies.

All sound absorption products are not equal. They must be porous enough to allow air molecules and sound energy to permeate, yet have enough density to prevent the same air and energy from coming back out.

How acoustic wall panels work

1) Sound diffusion

Materials don’t only absorb or reflect sound, they also can diffuse or ‘spread’ sound. This ‘spread’ is called sound diffusion, and relates to the surface texture of the material.

Diffusors randomly or accurately spread sound energy across an area. They do not absorb much energy. They work best in large open spaces where there is a distance between the diffusors and the listener.

A rough or uneven surface is a good sound diffuser. Soundwaves reflected from a rough or uneven surface are spread in many directions, which helps to dissipate or break down the sound energy. 

2) Sound Attenuation

Sound attenuation is an object’s ability to resist sound transmission through it. The higher the sound attenuation, the less noise will transmit.

3) A combination of both

Every space is unique, which means every space needs a different approach to its acoustics. A highly reflective room with long reverberation times needs more absorption, while a space that is ‘dead’ (or too quiet) can use less absorption, and more diffusion.

Talk to Avenue about soundproofing solutions for your space

Avenue Interior Systems’ products focus on sound absorption, and require the correct placement to ensure that your space achieves the best noise control result. For example, you may need a combination of wall and ceiling panels.

For more information on any noise control products, call the Avenue team on 1300 827 177.