Museum Acoustics

Acoustic Ceiling Cloud

We recently treated a small art museum in the city of St. Petersburg, Florida. The facility was moving from bamboo flooring to polished concrete, and the facility manager had concern for an increase in noise level (for a room that was already relatively loud). They host parties and gatherings as well, which leads to elevated speech and reverberation in the space.

Since artwork is on all of the walls, we needed to focus our acoustical treatment on the ceilings above. Acoustical Ceiling Clouds are an effective and aesthetic solution to absorbing unwanted noise in your enclosed space. While they may be more expensive than acoustical panels, they are also more flexible in their application – they may be hung along ceilings and exposed joists, up and out of the way.

The museum rooms had a moderate volume, and the measured reverberation time in the space was approximately 1.6 seconds prior to the floor retrofit. We calculated that the estimated reverb time would increase to 1.8 seconds with the concrete floor. Therefore, 2 moderate-sized clouds (4’x4’) were suggested for each room to bring the reverb back to the 1.4 second range. While still longer than preferred, the treatment would greatly reduce unwanted noise buildup during events and also make speech intelligibility more pleasant during smaller viewings.

We applied the 6 (total) ceiling clouds in a single morning, and the white light selected blended well with the white ceilings above. Overall, the project cost a total of approximately $3,000 and the lead time on the clouds was only a few weeks.

Acoustic Ceiling Cloud

Acoustic Ceiling Cloud

Acoustic Ceiling Cloud

Home Media Room Soundproofing

Soundproof Media Room

A common request we get is to soundproof sensitive areas of homes, from production houses to luxury abodes. The most sensitive areas tend to be Home Theaters, Master Bedrooms, and Home Offices.

In the case of a recent custom luxury home in Tampa, off of Westshore Boulevard, there was a client with standard 2”x4” stud construction with a few sensitive areas in the home.

Soundproofing the Home Theater

The Home Theater was located centrally in the home, and was located directly beneath the young daughter’s bedroom. The Open Web Truss Flooring provided little STC rating to the floor above. There was a substantial amount of batt insulation throughout the house, but as discussed in previous articles, this only yields a small amount of actual sound attenuation. The batting is primarily designed for thermal insulation, with a small improvement in STC rating.

After an initial site assessment, we determined the ideal product for this home would be the Wall Blokker Pro under the ½” Drywall.

Prior to installation, it’s critical to confirm that all framing and electrical inspections are complete. The soundproofing membranes stretch over the studs and staple directly into them, meaning any electrical or structural defects behind the sound-blocking materials will not be visible once installation has begun.

Because the theater is expected to create a fair amount of airborne noise upward, we also specified the material for the ceiling of the media room. This installation is the trickiest. If the drywall is ready, the material may be simply applied to the back of the drywall and lifted upward. However, if it is not, a 2-man crew with proper-sized ladders can apply it by hand. This typically takes 2-3 times longer than wall applications.

Tape may be applied sparingly on horizontal seams or when butt seams are not located directly over existing studs. Vinyl tape works best, but ultimately, the material is held in place by the drywall over top.

Remember – when soundproofing for structure-borne noise, apply the membrane to the floor above. When treating airborne noise from below, treat the ceiling of the lower floor.

Soundproofing the Home Office

A secondary concern of our client was the Home Office. In this case, the concern was incoming noise rather than outgoing. One layer of the soundproofing membrane was also sufficient to increase the STC of this wall from 32 to 41, a decrease of approximately 50%.

Before & After Photos

initial-room-2 initial-room completed-room-2

Commercial Acoustics – Florida Companies to Watch

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Commercial Acoustics has developed as an independent division of the Residential Acoustics soundproofing firm. Started just 3 years ago on the kitchen floor of a noisy apartment, the company began focusing on soundproofing curtains. After prototypes and patents were completed on a shoestring budget, they brought the curtains to market and haven’t looked back.

However, something strange happened as customers called in for soundproofing curtains – sound didn’t just come from their windows. Sometimes it came from neighbors & spouses, upstairs & downstairs, in the form of whistles and clangs. What quickly became apparent is that a single solution does not fit all problems, and other solutions needed to be developed. This leads to an underlying principle in the acoustical consulting industry – every solution MUST be customized for the problem at hand.

The company began developing soundproofing membranes for walls and floors, sound masking systems for open offices, absorption panels for noisy rooms, and even using ground-breaking technologies for consulting with city planners and developers.

After treating dozens of projects – from home studios to multi-million dollar condos and mixed-use multi-family developments – the company has now been named to Florida’s Companies to Watch list for 2016.

We continue to see the vast majority of properties either not meeting the sound attenuation portion of the Building Code, or simply not using practical, cost-free acoustical design approaches. In the end, soundproofing in residential and commercial applications only works if the owners and tenants agree that it’s needed. Most tenants do agree, and developers are willing to pay the price if they see a value-add to their properties and are reminded how and why to do the right thing.

To learn more about how Commercial Acoustics is disrupting the soundproofing industry, check out their automated acoustic tools or case studies within.

Demo – STC Ratings of Walls

Master Bedroom Soundproofing

While 1/2″ drywall is cost-effective, it often leads to marginalized sound attenuation in homes. Fiberglass batting and mineral may yield minimal increases, but they are primarily designed for thermal insulation, and do not have stand-alone STC ratings. For cost-effective soundproofing at home, soundproofing membranes and panels can offer a solution that meets your clients’ needs without exceeding their budget.

Listen below to the difference between walls with STCs from 30-50 for some of the most common residential construction assemblies. For sensitive areas such as Master Bedrooms, Bathrooms, In-Home Studios, and Home Offices consider adding soundproofing layers to further increase attenuation and prevent long-term noise annoyances.

HINT: Stand a few feet back or take a few steps to approximate real-world conditions.

1. Music Coming from Next Bedroom (STC=0) – Played at a standard volume of approximately 75 dBA

 

2. 1/2″ Drywall Each Side (ES) (STC=30)

 

3. 1/2″ Drywall Each Side (ES) with R13 Fiberglass Batting (STC=32) – Acceptable in Many Non-Sensitive Areas of the Home

 

4. 1/2″ Drywall ES with Mineral Wool (STC=34) – Rarely Acceptable in Custom or Luxury Homes with Sensitive Areas

 

5. 1/2″ Drywall ES with Wall Blokker Membrane (STC=37) – Sometimes Acceptable with Sufficient Background Ambient Noise in Receiving Room

 

6. 1/2″ Drywall ES with Wall Blokker PRO Membrane (STC=41) – Generally Acceptable

 

7. 1/2″ Drywall ES with Wall Blokker PRO Membrane ES (STC=46) – Very Little Sound is Audible

 

8. 7. 1/2″ Drywall ES with Wall Blokker PRO Membrane ES + R13 Fiberglass Batting (STC=48) – Ideal Construction for Luxury Homes in Master Bedrooms, Media Rooms, and Offices

 

How to Soundproof a Home Theater

Soundproofing a theater or other residential space is highly dependent on the expectations and requirements of the client. Two common areas that require additional soundproofing in many homes include the media room, primary lounge space, as well as an in-home office. Some clients also prefer soundproofing for their master bedrooms and other spaces throughout the house.

When soundproofing a space, the consultant must first and foremost determine the existing wall assembly and then how much it needs to be improved to achieve a desirable finish. For home theaters, we typically recommend STCs in the 55-60 range, with higher STC requirements for advanced surround sound and speaker systems.

These STCs can typically be achieved with soundproofing membrane sheets that are attached directly to the studs and installed on site. Under one layer of drywall, for instance, the Wall Blokker membrane can achieve an STC of 56 with 25-gauge steel stud walls. If 2×4 studs are used on the other hand, we would typically recommend a heavier membrane, such as the Wall Blokker PRO to approach an STC of 46. An additional layer would need to be employed on a wood stud system, either between adjacent drywall sheets or on the opposite side. Ideally, a staggered stud system could be used to allow additional decoupling in the system.

One job that we recently completed was a 500 sq ft Media Room with studs already in place prior to drywall installation (always consider soundproofing prior to drywall installation where possible). The material was ordered and delivered within 5 days, and the installation team needed only a few hours to completely apply the Wall Blokker PRO to the room. The Wall Blokker PRO is stapled into the stud headers, and draped along the studs, then stapled along the sides. It is critical to also install along the ceiling to ensure no flanking occurred through the gypsum board ceiling up and over the reinforced walls.

How Do I Soundproof My Theater?

All told, soundproofing a theater does not need to be an expensive and time-consuming process. With the right materials and a handy installation team, Wall Blokker PRO can be installed for a few thousand dollars within just a couple of days.