Making sure that a speaker's message is effectively heard is by no means solely a 21st century problem. Despite what some may say the idea of using sound absorption to soften or eliminate unwanted noise is nothing new. The apostle Paul dealt with it while speaking in Athens and other cities, and churches of all sizes still deal with it today. In fact, it dates back to medieval times when churches used ash-filled pots to absorb sound.
Of course technology has made enormous leaps since the dark ages, but the basics behind sound absorption still remain the same. The primary goal behind room acoustics is to absorb excess noise in order to improve the listening environment.
Thankfully today's churches have quite a few more options than just the ash-filled pots that medieval churches were stuck with. There are a variety of acoustical treatments and services that churches can use to ensure maximum sound quality. The following are some popular options to help ensure an enjoyable listening experience for your congregation.
What can be done to improve sound quality in sanctuaries and auditoriums?
Things like reverb, heating and air conditioning can quickly create a lot of unwanted noise. Acoustic baffles are a good option to soak up this noise.
These products can efficiently absorb sound in discreet applications. The baffles generally hang from ceiling structures and have two sides available to absorb sound in contrast to the single-sided wall-hung panels. Not only will baffles stop an annoying echo and quiet background noise, but they can also enhance the ambiance of an auditorium by giving its ceiling a truly artistic design. For churches that are in the market for hanging baffles, Perdue Acoustics, Tectum and Acoustical Surfaces specialize in these noise-quieting gems.
Much like baffles, ceiling banners also provide excellent sound absorption. They work best in and are the most cost efficient for facilities that require large amounts of sound absorption.
While providing noise reduction and beauty, they are also generally easy to clean because of their PVC covering. The ceiling banners are designed to hang vertically from or parallel to the ceiling to maximize effectiveness.
Of course, having their message understood is only half the battle for churches. It is also important to create an appealing environment that is welcoming to visitors and not a distraction from the pastor.
This is where the use of acoustical fabrics comes in. These fabrics are used to seamlessly blend in acoustic treatments with the rest of the sanctuary or auditorium.
More often than not, these fabrics actually add to the visual beauty of a church. When choosing them, however, it is imperative to choose the right type of fabric and use it correctly with the other materials that make up acoustic paneling products, such as the absorbing core.
If this is not done the right way, then the acoustics in the space will seriously suffer—even if the room is visually stunning. The element that absorbs the most sound of any acoustic panel is (by far) the unseen absorption core that the fabric is covering.
Generally consisting of semi-rigid fiberglass or acoustic foam, this core cannot be compromised. The fabric is the attractive face which must allow the sound to transfer to this core material. When looking into using acoustical fabrics, then, the main factors to consider are functionality, transparency and aesthetics.
Wall and Ceiling Acoustical Panels
The most popular acoustic treatments today are still traditional wall and ceiling panels. These treatments will help eliminate stray sound reflections from stage monitors, especially where feedback is a problem. The panels work well on side walls, back walls, or even suspended from the ceiling. Larger panels such as 48" x 48" x 2" or, 48" x 96” x 2" sizes work great in sanctuaries and auditoriums.
Many panel providers offer some type of artistic acoustic panels that can display prints of conventional artwork, photos or designs. Really anything can be displayed on these types of panels from biblical images and church logos to just about anything else that churches desire to decorate their sanctuaries with. Acoustical Surfaces, Perdue Acoustics and Tectum are industry leaders in the various types of panel production.
The continuation of this topic will focus on the latest in wall mounted acoustic solutions.