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Acoustics: Using Your Expertise To Open New Doors

Feb 13, 2012 11:09 AM, By Peter Janis, President Primacoustic, a division of Radial Engineering

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I was reading an article this morning in a contractor magazine and was astounded by the assertion that somehow changing the PA system would magically improve the audio problems in a restaurant. This is not to say that a better sound system will not perform better, but it will not address the fundamental problem in the room: poor acoustics due to excessive reverberation.

Simply stated, when a room is over excited, it becomes uncomfortable. We all know what it is like to go into a restaurant and be unable to have a conversation with someone sitting across the table. This not only causes frustration during dinner but also guarantees the patron will never return. The problem is caused by hard reflective surfaces. As the room fills up and folks attempt conversation, the echo from the glass windows and gypsum walls resonates. To overcome this, we naturally speak louder and the problem worsens. Turning up the background music only makes matters worse. The solution is simple: mount some acoustic panels on the walls and ceilings.

Most commercial sound contractors are exceptionally well equipped at solving acoustic problems. Contractors understand how sound pressure and dispersion behaves when sound is being generated by a loudspeaker. The same applies to acoustics. You need merely understand some of the fundamentals and then apply common sense to your installation. No, we are not talking about building a multi-million dollar recording studio or concert hall; we are talking about reducing the reverberant field so that the room becomes comfortable to be in. As a rule of thumb, adding between 20 percent to 25 percent wall coverage will change a room’s behavior and bring the reverb time down to the point where reasonable intelligibility will be achieved. Strategic positioning of panels is easily worked out by looking at available wall space or by suspending panels from the ceiling. Mounting panels is easily done with impalers and suspension hardware.

Once you have one installation under your belt, you will find all kinds of new opportunities out there. Call centers, dog kennels, shooting ranges, community centers, houses of worship, hotel lobbies, and boardrooms are all potential customers. Best of all, unlike flatscreen TVs that are sold by Best Buy and Costco at or below your cost, acoustic panels are profitable. In today’s new economy, this is fundamental to any business’s success.

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