Luxury Theater Soundproofing

theater soundproofing

One of the most ideal uses for soundproofing membranes is when low-frequency reduction is critical to the performance of a system. This is especially true with entertainment and industrial venues, where low-frequency noise is generated from equipment and amplified speakers.

A recent case study with a luxury cinema in Dallas, Texas serves as a prime example. The client required an STC of 65 for the wall performance, but more importantly, needed attenuation above 20 dB in the 50-80Hz range. This is difficult, if not impossible, to achieve with conventional methods, including multiple layers of drywall on double metal-stud walls.

With gypsum-only assemblies an STC of 65 may be reached, but the attenuation (transmission loss) at 50 Hz is often around 8-12 dBs. Furthermore, this data point is not factored into STC performance, since STC only incorporates performance between 100-4000Hz.

Instead, we worked with the client’s architect to implement a hybrid solution with 1 layer of drywall on each side, and 1 layer of membrane applied directly to the studs behind the drywall. We used the INSUL software to model the system, and determined that this should provide a significant improvement in the low-frequency and broadband attenuation characteristics for the wall.

Once confirmed, we scheduled a test with Riverbank Acoustical Labs to run a custom test for this system, and received the results within 2 weeks. As expected, attenuation at the critical lower frequencies was 60-70% higher than the gypsum-only design. This is primarily due to the resonance of the wall, as the membranes provide a damping of the system while gypsum transmits sound energy through multiple layers if directly attached.

33 foot rolls were custom-produced and delivered to the job site to optimize the installation and maximize schedule recovery. Each roll was hoisted on the scissor lift and attached via 4 screws along the header track of the stud system. The lift was then lowered while the roll unspooled from the lift bar. This allowed the membrane to be installed at 3-4 times the rate of standard drywall.

The results were excellent – our client received a benefit in each of the cost-schedule-technical legs of the typical construction triad.

Cost: Significantly reduced drywall labor out-paced the increased cost of the soundproofing polymer membrane. Furthermore, the lighter-weight wall allowed further stud spacing, saving further material and labor costs.

Schedule: Since the drywall construction was on the critical path, it was essential to reduce it where possible. The membrane installed in each auditorium in less than 1 day, compared to 2 days for drywall. This allowed significant schedule recovery on the project that had been affected by inclimate weather.

Technical: Low-frequency attenuation was improved by 60-70%, especially in the “problem range” from 50-200 Hz. Furthermore, the STC was improved by 3 points overall.

Exterior Noise Control – Tampa Yacht Club

soundproofing acoustic model

The Tampa Yacht and Country Club was struggling with an exterior noise issue. While it is a beautiful venue with a history of hosting elegant events, this also led to large wedding parties that sometimes were louder than local neighbors appreciated.

While the club (TYCC for short) hosted parties for years with little issue, a changing noise ordinance code in the City of Tampa was on a collision course for the Board of Directors. The traditional code required dBA and dBC thresholds at the property line, while the new code added in another requirement; that the noise was not “plainly audible” 100 ft from the property line. This code change significantly increased the concern for violations, so they contacted Commercial Acoustics to help.

The club had a challenge from the start, since their outdoor patio was a preferred venue, with unique tiled floors and open lawn. When the band set up here, there was excellent line-of-sight to all of the guests, but no borders or perimeters to attenuate the noise prior to reaching the property line.

An initial assessment was performed to quantify the existing noise levels, which occasionally peaked over 55dBA at the property line at night. Note that these measurements are made as 10-second averages, so that peak noise impulses do not automatically constitute a violation. Over the course of the evening, as the guests grew louder and the band amplified their music further, the noise issues sometimes grew worse.

acoustical testing model
Tampa Yacht Club Acoustic Model

It was clear that the club needed a 10dB reduction at the property line to minimize risk of aggravating nearby residents. Our operations team found a number of suitable locations to support sound-reflecting membranes on a nearby fence as well as supported directly from the overhanging tent. Meanwhile, our lead consultant modeled the effectiveness of this approach, and determined the expected sound levels at the property line after implementation.

Following a morning install (just before a wedding), the results were measured that evening, and found to reduce the noise levels by 15dB directly behind the venue, and 12dB at the property line. The Blokker panels were also hidden behind decorative sheer curtains so that guests weren’t even aware they were there.

soundproofing membranes fence blokker
Fence Blokker Panels
acoustical testing
Acoustic Measurements at Property Line

Further operational suggestions were made to club management, including loudspeaker control processes and re-orienting the stage.

The TYCC executed the option to purchase the membranes after the initial rental period, and have used them in the field since with excellent results.

The issue that the Tampa Yacht and Country Club faced were not at all unusual from what many of our clients deal with – unexpected noise problems that arise with unique constraints, and that often require unique, but cost-effective, solutions.