Sound treatment is critical in faith and worship centers, as these locations tend to rely heavily on both speech and music. The centers must be properly outfitted with acoustical equipment to increase speech intelligibility while simultaneously enhancing the quality of musical components.
The equal importance of music and speech quality creates a challenge for architects and consultants working to achieve proper hearing conditions in worship centers. Consider these guidelines when working on worship center acoustics to create the perfect balance.
Develop a narrow floor plan with a high room volume to support lateral sound. In wider plans, sound tends to feel as though it is coming from far-away, which hurts acoustics.
Pulpits, podiums, lecterns or any other platform on which a speaker or performer stands, should be raised and near a wall.
Avoid Concave Ceilings
Ceilings should not contain any type of dome or other concave shapes. These types of shapes focus sound energy, weakening volume.
Seats should be arranged as close to the speaker’s platform as possible. Carpets and cushioning can be used in seating areas to improve absorption as well as reduce foot-traffic noise.
Sound Reflecting Materials
Any new building should be completed with sound reflecting materials such as concrete or thick plaster. Include multiple irregularities like bumps and indents to improve reverberance, diffusion and lateral reflections.
The choir, organ, and organ console (if present) should be clustered together to create balance. Refrain from using carpeting, cushioning and other sound absorbing materials in the choir area.
Minimize Background Noise
Mechanical noise can be seriously problematic during meditation, prayer and other silent moments in the worship center. Mechanical systems and pipes should be outfitted with soundproofing material and quieter systems should be installed when possible.
A central electronic sound-reinforcing system should be installed to enhance speech intelligibility and ensure the sound comes from the speaker’s location to create a sense of unity.
Proper speech intelligibility combined with musical clarity helps to create the ideal worship center environment. Consider these guidelines the next time you provide acoustical consulting or treatment to a worship center.
Did one of these ideas help you with a project? Let us know in the comments below!