Isolating Vibrating Machinery

Commercial Acoustics Isolating Vibrating Machinery

From factories to schools to offices, nearly all buildings contain some type of mechanical equipment. While necessary to keep operations running smoothly, mechanical equipment tends to generate a lot of excess noise. These types of machines vibrate as they operate, creating a type of noise that can be both heard and felt by building occupants. This is because vibrations move from the machines to various building elements, traveling throughout the building’s structure and spreading noise as they go.

Constant vibrations rumbling in the background make for a distracting environment in which employees and students have difficulty focusing and are therefore less productive than they could be. This common noise problem can be resolved with soundproofing techniques like sound isolation. In this case, sound isolation means separating the offending equipment from the building’s structure in order to prevent vibrations from being transmitted from the machine to structural elements. Resilient mounts can be used for this purpose by isolating vibrating machinery from the building’s structure. This solution works best when equipment is located close to columns or load-bearing walls, as these structures offer better support for the resilient mounts.

Typically, mechanical equipment is bolted directly to the floor, allowing vibrations to easily jump from the machine and attach to structural elements, sending additional vibrations throughout the entire building. By relocating this type of equipment so that it can be mounted to a column or load-bearing wall with a resilient mount, structure-borne noise can be diminished. While machinery treated in this manner will still project some amount of airborne noise, the removal of the structure-borne noise is typically enough to render the remaining airborne noise unnoticeable.

Noise from mechanical equipment may seem impossible to resolve, but with the proper soundproofing techniques, the noise problem can be eliminated without much interruption to the building’s daily use. If you’re concerned about mechanical noise becoming an issue in one of your projects, reach out to Commercial Acoustics to learn more about resolving this type of 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!

Hotel Soundproofing – Hyatt Clearwater

Commercial Acoustics Hyatt Condo Soundproofing

The Hyatt Condo in Clearwater, Florida needed help soundproofing their ceiling on the penthouse floor. Directly above, dozens of patrons used the rooftop bar at night and during the weekends. While the penthouse suite affords the best views in the hotel, it is also the closest to the nightlife noise, and therefore often in need of additional soundproofing.

As we’ve discussed in the past, there is little regulation in STC and IIC ratings for soundproofing hotels. However, most of them have a brand standard that ranges from 55-60 points, and can be above 60 for luxury suites. By setting aggressive STCs and monitoring proper installation techniques, hotel management can expect to reduce customer noise complaints considerably.

The Hyatt Clearwater ceiling used a double-rack design with soffits to hide unsightly pipes and electrical, but this did not improve the sound attenuation rating of the assembly. Furthermore, treating the floor above was not an option, since the deck was already and completed, and beyond the waterproof limit of the hotel.

In order to achieve acceptable sound ratings, the client turned to Commercial Acoustics to provide soundproofing membranes that could be installed on the ceiling above. By implementing a heavy-duty soundproofing membrane along the ceiling, known as the Wall Blokker PRO, the team was able to provide significant decoupling of the ceiling while also adding additional mass to reduce airborne transmission. Ultimately, soundproofing installation on ceilings is the most difficult, and took a team of four almost one week to cover the nearly five thousand square feet. For best results, Commercial Acoustics recommends applying ceiling-bound membranes to the backside of drywall to expedite installation.

Commercial Acoustics Hotel Soundproofing Ceiling

Check here for more hotel and hospitality soundproofing case studies.

MLV Barrier: When to Use Mass Loaded Vinyl

Mass Loaded Vinyl MLV Sound Barrier Soundproofing

What makes Mass Loaded Vinyl (also known as MLV) effective and what are its limitations? While it’s been around for several decades there is still a lot of misinformation about MLV within the construction industry. First and foremost, it should not be considered a “panacea”. While effective in many assemblies, it may not be as effective in some.

Standard Mass Loaded Vinyl is known by many trade names, though it is largely the exact same product extruded from the same few manufacturers in the US. Some of the trade names include MLV BlokkerTuffMass, AcoustiBlok, and Vinaflex, but many others are similar or equivalent. The polymer is an extruded Polyvinyl Chloride (PVC) which is “mass-loaded” with a cheap filler, typically Calcium Carbonate or Barium Sulfate. When considering an MLV supplier, it is critical to ask for performance data (lab and field) and compare pricing. While these products typically cost around $0.30/sf to manufacture, the retail prices vary widely from $1.00-$8.00/sf.

The product is most useful on steel-stud walls that can benefit from some additional weight while not needing significant decoupling (i.e. double-studs or resilient channel), but can also be effective in industrial settings.

 

Pros & Cons of Mass Loaded Vinyl

Pros:

  • Pricing: Numerous suppliers of near-identical polymers makes it easy to shop around for best price
  • Field Performance: While many products test well in the lab, but underperform in the field due to grounding issues (i.e. Resilient Channel), mass loaded vinyl tends to perform near its lab value even when installation conditions are not ideal

Cons:

  • Installation Difficulties: Can be challenging to install due to high weight, flexible material. Installers should ask for detailed installation instructions and/or a complimentary site visit
  • Tear Strength: Low tensile strength makes tears common without proper support. Long sheets may require washers
  • Off-gassing: The plasticizers in mass-loaded vinyl can off-gas at room temperature over time, diminishing its acoustic performance

 

Tips when selecting Mass Loaded Vinyl:

NOTE/DISCLAIMER: Commercial Acoustics offers both PVC-based Mass Loaded Vinyl as well as Ethel Vinyl Acetate (EVA) soundproofing membranes, and numerous other types of soundproofing products (including acoustic gypsum, resilient vibrational products, and mineral wool, among others). By offering several approaches to achieve STC targets, and always supplying lab-tested supporting data, we believe that customers can compare apples-to-apples performance data with price comparisons in order to determine the best material for their projects.

For projects that have significant cost restraints, MLV might be the only option to increase the STC without breaking the bank. However, for long-term projects that can afford a 20% cost premium then Wall Blokker provides superior performance and results.

 

Consensus on MLV and Soundproofing Membranes:

Ultimately, Mass-Loaded Vinyl and other soundproofing membranes can be most effective when used in tested assemblies where STC performance is critical. Using MLV is often much more effective than double-stacking layers of drywall, but contractors and installers should be sure to ask for performance data (not just marketing material) and ensure that pricing is competitive.

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.

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.

Save Time & Money – Choose Wall Blokker Over Layered Drywall

Soundproofing is an obstacle general contractors face during both new construction projects and renovations. The mistake of installing 2 or more layers of drywall is commonly made when combating this issue in the hopes that the extra layers will provide a sufficient sound barrier. Multiple layers of drywall may muffle some sound but will not make any drastic impact on noise control.

Drywall, while an extremely useful building resource, is designed for the construction of walls, not for blocking noise. Typical drywall contains a solid gypsum core that vibrates as it encounters sound waves, allowing noise to pass through easily. Not only does layered drywall do little to block out sound, procuring and installing the extra material is expensive and time-consuming.

Wasted time and money can be avoided by installing Wall Blokker underneath one single layer of drywall. Wall Blokker is specifically designed to block airborne noise as well as decouple drywall from underlying studs to decrease structure-borne noise in both walls and ceilings. It is easy to install and requires less time and effort than purchasing and layering extra sheets of drywall.

Most importantly, Wall Blokker will reduce 75% of airborne and impact noise, something no amount of drywall can do. In addition to its impressive noise blocking abilities, Wall Blokker offers barriers against moisture and air, making it a 3-in-1 solution.

Choosing Wall Blokker allows for the construction of a significantly quieter structure with less material and labor than layered drywall.

soundproofing walls sound barrier

 

Stop Apartment Noise Disturbances Before They Begin

apartment soundproofing multifamily

From luxury suites to affordable complexes, one of the main factors to consider when building apartment homes is sound. Living wall-to-wall with your neighbors can make for plenty of noise disturbances so it comes as no surprise that a quiet and private living space is of value to most apartment dwellers, and they’re willing to pay for it. Yet many apartment buildings overlook this fact when designing their buildings and end up with dissatisfied tenants upset about excessive noise seeping in from neighboring apartments.

If soundproofing is considered during development these issues can be avoided, making the building a more compelling living space for potential renters.

There are many ways for developers to include soundproofing in the design of their apartment complexes. Below are 4 ways to protect an apartment from noise disturbances during the building process.

Insulation

Installing insulation is already a necessary aspect of building a living space, so why not use it to combat noise disturbances? This high-quality insulation is designed specifically with soundproofing in mind and can be used in both interior and exterior walls, ceilings, and attics. By replacing typical insulation with this soundproofing version, the building will become a much more desirable living location.

Sound Barriers

Another soundproofing option is to install a sound barrier below the surface of an exposed wall or ceiling during construction. High-quality noise barriers are able to reduce noise by up to 75%, keeping tenants from hearing their neighbors and their neighbors from hearing them. It also helps protect against unwanted moisture and improves HVAC efficiency, making it an extremely useful addition to any apartment building construction project.

Sound Dampening

One of the most common noise complaints from apartment home tenants involves their upstairs neighbors’ every movement. To stop this issue in its tracks, consider sound dampening during initial construction. The Floor Blokker can be placed onto bare floor surfaces and then covered with carpeting, reducing ceiling noise flow between apartments.

Decoupling

To greatly reduce sound in high-cost environments like luxury apartment complexes, decoupling is an option to consider. This system can be used to reduce noise and vibrations carried from one apartment to the next via walls or ceiling.

If precautions are taken early on, soundproofing can be seamlessly woven into the construction process. The reduced noise disturbances and increased privacy will not go unnoticed by tenants.

Have a question about one of these products? Leave a comment below and let us help!

Soundproofing Walls and Ceilings in Your Gym

soundproofing for gyms commercial acoustics

From SoulCycle to Barre to Zumba, it seems like there’s a new workout craze every week these days, and with all these fitness classes come new gyms on every corner.

Blaring music, loud equipment and stamping feet may pump you up while you work out but for the daycare center and office building next door, the constant noise can be problematic to say the least.

So what can these gyms do to combat noise complaints and keep their neighbors happy? Soundproof, of course!

Floors

Gyms are typically built with hard flooring to fight against damage from heavy equipment. This type of flooring may be great for protecting against dropped weights, but sound easily echoes off of these hard surfaces, creating a lot of extra noise, especially for your downstairs neighbors.

To muffle sound without sacrificing tough flooring, install sound dampening composites directly onto bare floors for an overall quieter structure.

Walls

Many gyms are located in places with thin walls, like strip malls, which do nothing to stop noise from traveling between facilities.

To stop noise from seeping through the walls and into your neighbors’ space, consider hanging “acoustical wallpaper,” which will suppress sound from moving through even the thinnest of walls. This one is easy to install and can even be primed and painted over, so you don’t have to sacrifice style when soundproofing.

Ceilings

If your gym is located in a multi-story facility, you’re likely irritating your upstairs neighbor with every class you offer.

By installing these noise-blocking panels to your ceiling, you will stop noise from escaping through to the floors above you.

If your gym is constantly fielding noise complaints from angry neighbors looking for some peace and quiet, it may be time to start soundproofing. By following these easy tips, you’ll be able to easily trap noise in and keep your bothered neighbors at bay.