Case Study – Naples Flatbread

commercial acoustics absorption panels naples flatbread

Naples Flatbread, a modern restaurant serving up artisanal flatbreads, recently discovered they were suffering from a sound problem. In addition to their restaurant services, the trendy location is equipped with a stage and offers live music to guests as they dine. Nearly all restaurants experience some type of soundproofing or acoustics problem, and hosting live music only adds to the need for expert sound treatment. Naples Flatbread found their sound solution with Commercial Acoustics.

Commercial Acoustics sent their acoustic experts to consult with the owners of Naples Flatbread. A clear height of 30′ combined with the number of sealed surfaces that restaurants require was causing something of an acoustic nightmare for the restaurant. The technicians analyzed the restaurant, considered its layout, and calculated the exact amount of absorption necessary for the space

Our acoustic experts determined that 75 acoustic panels would considerably improve the acoustics in the restaurant, effectively solving their sound problem. Commercial Acoustics manufactured all 75 panels, each measuring 2x4x2″. The experts then developed the ideal layout for the panels, installing 50 to the restaurant’s walls and the remaining 25 to its ceiling.

Commercial Acoustics was able to fully remedy the acoustic problem Naples Flatbread was experiencing. The restaurant is now the ideal location for guests to enjoy both their flatbreads and their live music events, without the burden of a noise problem.

Understanding Speech Privacy

soundproofing and sound masking for open offices

What is Speech Privacy?

Speech Privacy can be defined as the inability of an outside listener to understand a conversation between two or more separate individuals. Effective speech privacy is an essential aspect of any office as it allows employees to:

  • Conduct confidential conversations without being overheard
  • Ignore distracting conversations
  • Understand in-person and phone conversations more clearly

Measuring Speech Privacy

Speech privacy operates on a scale of 0% – 100%, where 0% means perfect privacy (no communication) and 100% means perfect communication (no privacy). Most offices aim to achieve a speech privacy level of 5%. At this level, most speech will be unintelligible to an outside listener, though some words may be understood.

Achieving Speech Privacy

In order to achieve the desired level of speech privacy, there must be a careful balance between the noise created by the speaker and the ambient noise in the room.

When the speaker’s voice is louder than the ambient noise in the room, the speech becomes non-private, rendering it intelligible to all those within earshot.

When the speaker’s voice is much lower than the ambient noise, the intended listener will be unable to understand the speaker.

When the speaker’s voice and the ambient noise are equal, speech privacy will be at its most ideal level.

Direct Speech Paths vs. Reflective Speech Paths

Open office plans allow for direct speech intrusion paths, meaning speech will travel directly from the speaker to the listener. These paths may be blocked with the introduction of screens. Screens can be anything that blocks the sound’s path including acoustical products, furniture and cubicle walls.

Enclosed plans allow for speech intrusion through shared walls and doors, flanking, and sound leaks (cracks) in the building’s structure. These paths may be closed by sealing sound leaks, installing carpeting and softer furnishings, and installing acoustic panels to walls and ceilings.

If you have concerns about speech privacy in a current building project, contact Commercial Acoustics or leave a comment below!

Restaurant Acoustics – Sarasota, Florida

restaurant acoustics commercial acoustics speaks

Determining the Restaurant Acoustics

Speaks Clam Bar in Sarasota, Florida opened 2 months ago, and with the high-end marble finish and tile floor, noted that they were experiencing sound issues. Specifically, they had excessive reverberation in their restaurant that made it difficult for patrons to converse easily. Losing what we call “Speech Intelligibility“.

This is a very common issue Restaurants and other entertainment venues encounter when they have many flat, reflective surfaces and large, open spaces.

By performing a basic reverberation assessment, and modeling, it’s easy to determine the exact issue in the space.

Acoustic Treatment for the Restaurant

After performing an initial site visit, Commercial Acoustics manufactured and installed custom acoustic panels per the client’s needs, and the reverberation time in the space decreased from 1.6 seconds to below 1 second. This is an ideal reverb time for restaurants that are looking for a lively, but intimate setting.

Acoustics for Schools

commercial acoustics school soundproofing acoustics

Imagine trying to learn integral calculus with the drumming of a mechanical room next to you. Or trying to memorize Shakespeare lines or capials in the Far East capitals the band plays a marching tune above. This is a situation that many students in our nation’s schools encounter every day.

Designing and building schools for the proper acoustics is a challenging task, but one that is critical to allow the students to focus on curriculum rather than be distracted by poor reverberation or cross-talk from neighboring classrooms and areas.

Unfortunately, there is very little regulation in this arena, leading designers and builders to wonder where to turn when questions arise. Luckily, with careful research and review, there are a few leading sources to determine best practices and guidelines, and they’re available to the public.

One of these is ANSI S12 American National Standard Acoustical Performance Criteria, Design Requirements, and Guidelines for Schools, Part 1: Permanent Schools. This standard provides numerous guidelines for designers, especially STC’s and IIC’s for how much sound walls should block between various room adjacencies. For instance, well classroom to classroom partitions need only to block 45 dBs, classroom to hallways require 50 and above and classroom to mechanical room require STC’s 65 and higher.

Furthermore, this ANSI standard provides reverberation criteria in both classrooms and auditorium or assembly settings. By providing an allowable reverberation range, often 0.4 – 0.6 seconds, the standard addresses the difficulties students face when trying to focus with poor room acoustics. Best of all, the standard is free and available for public download. Please find it here.

DoDEA Department of Defense Education Activity, similar to the ANSI standard but less specific, the DoDEA standard provides similar target ratings for walls and floors. It is a good reference for military and large government education facilities.

Once these target STC’s are determined by the designer the next step will be to decide exactly how to hit each rating. This is often best done with the help of a consultant or acoustical expert – and many suppliers (including Commercial Acoustics) offers design-assist support free of charge.

By referring to these public resources designers may benefit from past lessons learned and best practices encountered by those most experienced in the issues when acoustics fall short in our schools.

Guidelines for Worship Center Sound Treatment

acoustics for worship center

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.

Floor Plans

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.

Elevate Pulpits

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.

Seating

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.

Music

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.

Speaker Systems

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!

Auditorium Acoustics: 8 Factors to Consider

auditorium acoustics

Have you ever attended a lecture or a play in an auditorium and barely been able to make out what the speaker was saying? Chances are the problem was poor acoustics.

Next time you provide acoustical consulting for an auditorium, make sure to consider these 7 key factors:

1. Location

For new auditoriums, the building should be planned as far away as possible from any potential noise sources such as highways, train tracks or industrial areas.

2. Buffer Zones

Isolate the auditorium from the rest of the building and potential noise sources by creating buffer zones.

Hallways and lobbies should separate the main auditorium from restrooms, mechanical equipment, dressing rooms etc. Surrounding space should be used for storage or offices that will be empty while the auditorium is in use.

3. Doorways

All doors should be solid-core, with airtight seals to inhibit outside noise from slipping in.

4. Reverberation

To combat reverb in a large room:

  • Build with sound absorbing material and include sunken panels, undulations and other small irregularities in the walls
  • Sound reflecting materials should be used for the bulk of the building process (thick wood, thick gypsum, concrete)
  • Hang thick, fabric curtains along walls to minimize hard surfaces
  • All aisles should be carpeted to reduce foot-traffic noise
  • Always use fabric seating. Avoid metal and plastic.
  • Create a checkerboard pattern alternating between sound reflecting and sound absorbing materials along the ceiling.

5. Background Noise

Install sound absorbing duct liners and mufflers to reduce HVAC noise.

6. Balcony

Balconies should be included to reduce the distance between the farthest seats and the stage. The overhang should be of small depth and be fitted with sound absorbing material

7. Sound Systems

Speakers should be placed just above and in front of the proscenium opening or arch. The controls for these speakers should be positioned in a central location of the seating area rather than in a separate room in the back of the auditorium.

8. Orchestra Pits

If the auditorium has an orchestra pit, soundproof curtains should be installed that can be opened and closed as the conductor chooses to control the noise level.

General auditoriums play host to a wide range of performances and events which will have no chance of success if audiences aren’t able to hear them. Consider this list the next time you’re working on a general auditorium to create the ideal acoustics.

Have any other tips about auditorium acoustics? Leave them in the comments below!

 

Sofwerx – Tampa Bay, FL

commercial acoustics sofwerx absorption

Sofwerx was a Joint Venture between the Department of Defense and a local non-profit known as the Doolittle Institute. The focus is to develop a training and strategy group that could provide counter-UAV support for our troops.

The team was faced with an extremely aggressive task of converting an old, 33,000 square foot warehouse into an operational site in less than two months. While the architect and design team was busy planning layouts and aesthetics, they realized that there was one challenging element that had not yet been considered: acoustics!

The site had a number of unique elements:

  1. A large auditorium where drones and UAVs (Unmanned Aerial Vehicles) would fly and pilots practice. This was to be converted from the previous “sanctuary” – a large, open space that already suffered from substandard reverberation. To make matters worse, the team needed to remove all of the plush furniture which was helping absorb some of the current echo.
  2. An open office area where pilots, technicians, operators, and management could meet to discuss new counter-drone tactics. None of the office walls went to deck, and most of them did not even have ACT tiles. Furthermore, 90% of the staff were to work collaboratively on large tables out in the open “bullpen”.
  3. A machine shop was directly adjacent to a presentation room. While the machine shop was necessary to quickly manufacture replacement parts, it was to be used simultaneously to the rest of the space. With grinding and milling operations around 110dB, this threatened to make it very difficult to hold meetings immediately next door.

Ultimately, Sofwerx reached out to Commercial Acoustics to provide support in all 3 areas.

  1. Absorption panels were manufactured in-house and delivered to the site within weeks. Commercial Acoustics determined the amount of panels necessary for each space and designed the panel layout for optimal effectiveness.  Furthermore, the design team loved the concept of acoustic “teepees” or wings, hanging over 6-person desk spaces. These were uniquely designed, built, delivered, and installed within 30 days.
  2. A sound-masking system was installed and tuned in the main open office area to provide additional speech privacy. Where none of the office walls went to deck or had ACT, the masking system was the only sound solution that would be effective in that space; raising the background dB level and preventing confidential conversations from bleeding into the adjacent spaces.
  3. Finally, soundproofing membrane material was used in the machine shop, to attenuate unwanted noise prior to it reaching the presentation area. We also recommended that the high-NC machinery was moved to the exterior walls and a high-STC solid core door was installed, to avoid an untreated flanking path.

For these varying sound issues, none have a blanket solution and each environment and sound concern needs to be analyzed in order to find the appropriate solution. Our team was on hand to collaborate with the architects, interior designers and clients to ensure that the sound quality, code compliance, aesthetics, and time frame were met. By implementing a holistic approach, the client received great results, and on an extremely tight timeline.

If you found anything in common in this case study with your projects, let us know here and one of our acoustical specialists will reach out to you shortly.

Classroom Noise Distracts Students

classroom acoustics

Classrooms, especially grade school classrooms, are notoriously loud. We tend to credit the noise to students giggling with their friends and playing with their iPhones under their desks, but they may not be entirely to blame when it comes to tumultuous classrooms.

Think back to the last classroom you were in. What did it look like? Chances are there were tiled floors, cement walls, and endless rows of metal desks – the kinds of surfaces sound waves thrive on.

Sound waves deflect off of these hard surfaces, sending noise flying in every direction. This commotion makes it difficult for students to hear and encourages them to add to the chaos rather than strain their ears to listen. If you’re a teacher or educator looking to quiet your classrooms’ noise problem, you need to hear about these sound solutions.

Wreck the Reverb

Acoustic Absorption Panels are the simplest solution to any classroom noise problem. These durable panels can be installed in as little as fifteen minutes; perfect for teachers on a time crunch.

How It Works: Hang your panels around the room, placing a few on each wall. As sound waves are generated from students chatting, tapping their feet and clicking their pens, they will start to fly around the room and crash into any available surface. As the waves hit the panels, they will be absorbed by the acoustical fiberglass and fabric, silencing them and stopping them from further bouncing around the room.

Ease the Echo

Echo occurs as noise bounces off of a surface and returns to the listener as a secondary sound. Bare rooms with hard surfaces, like classrooms, are likely to experience a good amount of echo. For educators on a budget, absorption foam is an affordable solution with high-cost results.

How it Works: Absorption foam is a lightweight product made from open cell polyurethane, allowing for quick and easy installation. The foam can be hung along walls with any construction adhesive approved for foam and can be installed in less than fifteen minutes. The highly-engineered material traps sound waves as they hit, diminishing echo and improving the listening quality of the room.

Loud background noise distracts students and makes hearing difficult. Help your students succeed by treating the noise and providing a quiet learning environment you can all enjoy.

Have a question about the acoustics of your classroom? Let us know in the comments below, at Commercial Acoustics, we’re always here to help!

Marchman Technical College – Educational, Acoustical Absorption

acoustical treatment for school cafeteria

Noise control and sound privacy within educational settings are imperative. During the design process, target STC’s for walls should be discussed and mandated by the architect, but oftentimes topical acoustical treatment for larger spaces is held until after construction is complete. With the hard, reflective surfaces present within gymnasiums, cafeterias, and auditoriums, acoustical absorption is needed to maintain speech intelligibility and reduce reverberation.

The architects for Marchman Technical College consulted with Commercial Acoustics for their cafeteria space, where we supplied them with 100 PVC-wrapped baffles to absorb soundwaves. After installing the baffles, reverberation in the cafeteria space was significantly reduced and sound privacy was finally reestablished.