The effectiveness of acoustic panels is something often questioned by our clients.
While soundproofing a room is simple enough to test – just stand outside the treated room and listen for any noise escaping – reducing, rather than eradicating noise, isn’t so easily measured.
You can do the simple ‘slap echo’ test, but this is hardly the type of test you want to use to demonstrate your work.
Every once in a while, our clients will want us to show them just how effective sound absorbing panels can be for treating noise issues.
This one wielded surprising results.
Acoustic Solution Installation In A Busy Contact Centre
We won’t labour the details of this project, so here is the simple lowdown:
- This call centre for an affordable housing company can hold up to 35 phone operators at any one time.
- The operators were complaining of severe noise issues; with disruption between callers affecting speech privacy and call quality.
We were asked to conduct a full acoustic survey to analyse the sound environment before and after the installation of the sound absorbent panels.
To maintain independence, we employed the team at ASK Acoustics to test the sound environment.
Using interrupted pink noise signals and microphones in four positions in the office, the following was revealed before installation:
The panels used for the installation were Ecophon hanging acoustic panels and Ecophon Akusto-C wall panels. Both have Class A sound absorption capabilities.
Post installation revealed the following:
So What?The average reduction in all four measurement positions before and after the inclusion of absorptive panels was 11.8 decibels.
11.8 decibels doesn’t really sound like a big deal though does it? Especially when you consider initial decibel levels were as high as 65 decibels.
It may seem strange but 11.8 decibels IS significant. Very significant. To explain why, we need to consult some psychoacoustic theory:
‘For broad band noise, or sounds with several harmonics, it is generally accepted that a change of about 10dB in SPL corresponds to a doubling or halving of perceived loudness’
In Layman’s terms: The inclusion of acoustic panels in the office means that phone operators are now exposed to half the level of noise than before acoustic treatment.
Anyone who has tried to talk on the phone immediately next to someone else doing the same, knows just how frustrating it can be.
Throw another 30 people in the same room holding conversations; all of whom need to maintain speech intelligibility and privacy in a professional capacity, and you can imagine just how significant halving in noise levels would be.
According to Julian Treasure, Chairman of The Sound Agency, “sound affects us psychologically, cognitive and behaviourally, even though we’re not aware of it”. In the most bustling of environments such as offices, where we our brains are already working overtime, sound absorbing panels can be extremely effective at reducing the strain on ears and minds.
For a full technical explanation of how these acoustic tests were carried out, click here.
- Howard, D., Angus, J., ‘Acoustics and Psychoacoustics‘. (http://bit.ly/1uAVQ3R)
- Carter, J. ‘How your noisy, open-plan office is making you 66% less productive‘ (http://www.techradar.com/news/audio/how-your-noisy-open-plan-office-is-making-you-66-less-productive-1148580)