5 Of The Best Acoustic Solutions For Sports Halls

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Sports halls need special consideration when they are being acoustically treated – meaning that the right combination of acoustic panels must be chosen.

This is for four reasons:

  • Sports halls usually have particularly poor acoustics due to their designs: high impact surfaces like concrete and brick are highly noise reflective and lead to prolonged reverberation times.
  • Sports halls are usually large cubes with no soft surfaces – making them harsh sound environments. Parallel surfaces, typically far away from each other, mean noise is efficiently propelled around the room for long times. It is not uncommon to find a sports hall with a reverberation time of more than 8 seconds.
  • The use of sports halls is not just limited to sports, particularly in schools. They are often used for exams, music recitals and assemblies. It is often wise to add excess absorption to the space to meet broad reverberation time brackets and decibel levels outlined under BB93 Guidelines.
  • High impact ball sports threaten to damage any panels that aren’t robust enough to deal with heavy impact.

Under the UK’s Building Bulletin 93 – the acoustic standard for British schools – sports halls are given a particularly tough criteria to meet:

For newly built sports halls reverberation time must not exceed 1.5 seconds (or 2.0 seconds if 280-530 m2).

For refurbished sports halls, reverberation time must not exceed 2.0 seconds, regardless of size.

A 2012 study from the London South Bank University found that only two out of nine dedicated sports halls / gymnasiums met this standard:

reverberation_times_in_school_sports_halls

Credit: London South Bank University

Sports halls and gymnasiums require the best performing acoustic treatments in order to achieve these standards:

Acoustic Wall Panels For Sports Halls.

With lofty ceilings, the best application for acoustic panelling is usually on the walls. Here are our top picks:

Ecophon Akusto Wall Panelling With Super G Finish.

Impact resistant acoustic wall panelling in a gymnasium

Manufacturered with a high density, 3rd generation glass wool, this acoustic wall panel from Ecophon is the perfect solution to reducing echoes in sports halls.

The panel is finished with a glass fibre fabric, making it impact resistant. Between the frequency ranges of 250 and 500 Hz, these panels have an absorption coefficient (how much sound is absorbed by a material) of up to 75%. In the higher frequency bands of 1000Hz and more, the panel can absorb more than 90% of sound that strikes the panel, making it a Class A absorber.

The panels come in a range of colours, making it easy to match the colour scheme of different sports halls and gymnasiums. It is also possible to digitally print to the fabric finish of the panel, giving logo and branding opportunities not afforded by other acoustic products.

Fabric Wall Panels

Similar to Akusto Super G panels, Fabric Wall panels consist of three elements: a track, a core and a fabric finish. The difference being that Fabric Wall panels are site manufactured and do not come as an off-the-shelf solution, but offer the same benefits as the Ecophon panels.

The core of the panels come either as 25mm or 50mm. The 50mm offers up to 90% sound absorption, while the panels in a 25mm depth offering Class B absorption of up to 80%.

With the soft, absorptive core sitting flush against the walls of sports halls and the panels having a naked backing, they are fully impact resistant and ideal for sports halls and gymnasiums with high impact activities.

The benefit of this solution is that you are able to choose almost any fabric you want to wrap the core with – giving you more design flexibility.

Rockfon VertiQ Wall Absorbers

Steel frames wall panels from Rockfon

The core of this wall system is made from stone wool – a byproduct of volcanic activity with excellent acoustic properties.

In a 40mm depth, the system offers a Class A absorption coefficient.

When installed using a 1mm thick steel frame system, the panels are fully impact resistant in accordance with rigorous testing.

The VertiQ system has the added benefit of being  easy and safe to demount using a demounting tool.

Acoustic Ceiling Systems For Sports Halls.

Lofty ceilings and mechnical services in sports halls makes ceiling treatments less desireable than wall treatments. If there is no room on the walls, however, consider treating the ceiling.

Ecophon Super G

Lofty acoustic ceiling system in a gymnasium

Ecophon also offer their impact resistant technology with ceiling systems. The Super G ceiling system differs from the Akusto Wall (Super G) panelling as it sits on a steel grid system, rather than a track and can either be suspended from the ceiling, or attached directly to the soffit.

The system is ideal for new build sports halls and gymnasiums looking to integrate acoustics during the construction phase. For acoustic considerations post-construction it is more cost efficient and simpler to consider acoustic baffles, or wall panelling systems.

Acoustic Baffles

acoustic baffles suspended from school hall ceiling

When treatments cannot be added to walls, and comprehensive ceiling systems are out of price range, acoustic baffles can be a suitable solution for sports halls.

Acoustic baffles, as opposed to the standard acoustic panel, are fixed vertically to ceilings. The benefit of baffles is that they can be installed without disturbing ceilings that house vital services.

Baffles also offer a degree of sound diffusion that acoustic panels suspended horizontally from the ceiling do not offer. Any sound not absorbed by the panels is diffused around the room when installed in a pattern. The effect is a scattered diffusive surface rather than a flat surface. This helps reduce flutter echoes in large spaces.

While acoustic baffles can look great in sports halls, creating a patterned ceiling, they are not commonly impact resistant. Therefore they should only be used in sports halls where mechanical impact is not a possibility, or where ceilings are so high that the panels would be out of reach.

In the UK, some acoustic baffle suppliers include Ecophon, Rockfon and Soundsorba.

Conclusion.

Sports halls are one of those environments that require special consideration when it comes to acoustics.

In the UK, strict guidelines around reverberation time in sports halls, particularly multi-use sports halls, mean sound absorbing panels should always be a consideration for schools.

Luckily, the acoustic technology offered by manufacturers nowadays means high impact panels can also offer supreme sound absorption and can create an acoustically comfortable space for multiple uses.

References:

  • Conetta, Robert. ‘Acoustics Of Indoor Sports Halls And Gymnasia’. http://www.lsbu.ac.uk/. N.p., 2015.
  • Hopkins, C. et al (2003). Building Bulletin 93. 1st ed.
[ebook] London. Available at: http://webarchive.nationalarchives.gov.uk/20130401151715/https:/www.education.gov.uk/publications/eOrderingDownload/BB93-Acoustic_Design.pdf
  • Soundonsound.com,. ‘Practical Acoustic Treatment, Part 3’. N.p., 2015. Web. 17 Aug. 2015.
  • By |2017-08-11T10:20:53+00:00August 17th, 2015|Reverberation Time, School Acoustics|

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