How acoustics can impact the indoor environment | That Sounds Better

How acoustics can impact the indoor environment | That Sounds Better

One of our key senses is hearing, we do everything we can to ensure our hearing is protected, from not listening to music too loud, to wearing ear defenders when using machinery. As we age hearing loss is more common, which is why creating a good acoustic environment can not only help protect your hearing, but also aid individuals already suffering from hearing loss.

Did you know that hearing is the only sense we cannot turn off, or, actively control? Looking back to our less developed world and humans as hunter gatherers, hearing was one of the most important senses, we were listening for leaves rustling or a branch breaking to signal an intruder or prey entering the area, this sense has not easily developed to our modern world. Our ears are constantly alert with the continuous noise we find ourselves surrounded by.

Take a moment to sit and recognise all of the individual noises around you. How many can you hear?

Our ears are able to listen to multiple sources of sound simultaneously, whilst our brain filters out the unimportant, allowing us to concentrate on the task at hand. This heightened sense experiences difficulties when sound levels are competing with each other, for example when trying to perform a complex report requiring a certain amount of concentration, with distractions such as colleagues having a loud conversation, or someone’s mobile phone ringtone. It is inevitable that you will be distracted by one at least of these sounds, whether that is a complete distraction or a minor one it can have a significant impact on your productivity.

It has been shown that on average it takes 15 to 20 minutes to recover from a distraction when working on a concentrated task, and another eight minutes to reach the same level of concentration you had, prior to being distracted.

Therefore, if you find yourself being distracted more than 4 times in your working day you'll lose over an hour of productive work, this can result in increased anxiety and job dissatisfaction. A poor acoustic environment has also been shown to cause headaches, increase stress levels and have a negative impact on mental health.

So how can installing acoustic panels help?

Acoustic issues are often caused by a lack of absorption within the room. Modern spaces tend to have a lot of hard surfaces such as hard wood floors and glass.
Installing acoustic sound absorbing panels will help to effectively absorb the sound waves from within the room, as a result reducing the excess noise and lowering the reverberation time, creating a calmer environment. Lowering the level of noise in the room allows the ear to relax and the mind to focus on a task rather than the distractions. This is also key for people with hearing loss.

Does your space need acoustic sound treatment?

Regardless of the functionality of your space; restaurant, office, club house or village hall, all will benefit from installing acoustic sound absorbing panels. You may think distractions from tasks are an office based problem, however distractions are everywhere. If you are a restaurant owner or manager you may have you noticed during a busy service with large bookings that the noise levels rise and become uncontrollable, this will not only be affecting your customers but also your staff. If staff are unable to hear customers placing orders mistakes are more likely to happen, resulting in unhappy customers, and unhappy customers are unlikely to return. Excess noise directly affects your business, the food and service may be the best there is but if customers are unable to enjoy the company they are with due to high levels of noise, they are unlikely to recommend your restaurant or even return themselves. 

How many times have you been to a restaurant and commented on the noise? Have you since returned to or recommended this restaurant?

Sporting club houses and Village Halls are often forgotten spaces with busy social calendars, these high volume spaces benefit greatly from acoustic treatment. When holding a presentation evening it is imperative that all members and guests are able to hear proceedings, if guests at the back of the room are unable to hear the speaker over the table in front having a conversation, you're less lilkely to get the same amount of ticket sales to the next event. Likewise, a formal dinner setting requires each table to be able to hear and converse without battling with neighbouring tables. Additional chatter and ambient noise in venues results in noise levels rising to uncontrollable levels, installing acoustic sound absorbing panels will not make the space void of atmosphere but make noise levels manageable.

How many panels should I fit in my space?

As a general rule we would advise 40-60% of the ceiling is covered with Solo™ ceiling panels, and 20-40% of the wall space is covered with Akusto™ One wall panels to achieve an optimum level of absorption whilst impacting on reverberation time. In simpler terms place 1 Solo™ panel to 1 desk or table of 4, with 1 Akusto™ One wall panel, however, if you are unable to fit both varieties then you should look to double up on your preferred system.

If you are fitting Akusto™ One wall panels to reduce echo then install on adjoining walls, if they are to absorb excess noise then fitting to opposing walls is recommended.

If wall space is limited in your office then the Akusto™ Screen is a great alternative, these double size freestanding panels can be placed in front of desks or on the ends of a bank of desks as well as surrounding noisy office machinery such as printers. To find out more about the Akusto™ Screen, click here read our dedicated blog. 

With the different fixing options available allowing for a variety of installations, whether that is installing on to a sloping ceiling or fixing to a beam, we can help to achieve a good acoustic environment in all spaces.

To find out more about how acoustics impact in the workplace click here.

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