Taming the Cube with Cloudscape®

When the University of the Pacific reached out to help tame the acoustics of their makerspace called “The Cube”, many different concerns were underlined about the space, its uses, and the problems they faced.

The Cube exterior view
“The Cube”

These concerns covered more than just the room dimensions – size, height, HVAC, glass walls, etc…. there were functional requirements for collaboration, classes, and workshops. The overwhelming acoustic problems involved the near constant noises generated by the vast array of equipment in this space – sewing machines, large format printers, plotting cutters, 3D printers, scanners, and every other modern tool for allowing the creative minds at their school to create. It was a cacophony of stepper motors, fans, and moving parts – which made collaboration very difficult.

The vast array of equipment means a variety of different noises as well.

The other parameter that needed to be maintained was the ability to reconfigure the layout of the equipment without affecting the acoustic treatment in the space. This removed almost all of the walls in the space as possible locations for treatment. This left the ceiling as the only viable space left for treatment, but with an array of lights and exposed HVAC systems, there were few treatments that would be easy to implement and still be effective.

Glass walls and the need to reconfigure “The Cube” limited the locations where acoustic treatment could be installed.

The decision was made to creatively weave Cloudscape® Baffles into all the spaces available in the ceiling. Dodging duct-work and suspended lighting rails was made possible with careful planning and execution – and the results were immediately notable. (Also noticeable was that the baffles had very little impact on the lighting which is vital in any makerspace.)

Cloudscape® Baffles were carefully integrated around the HVAC and lighting present in the space.

“…The sound baffles you recommended finally got installed in my makerspace about two weeks ago and I wanted to send a quick thank you since they’ve made a very noticeable acoustic difference to the room, and it’s a lot more pleasant in here now. “

Chris Crawford – Innovation Spaces Manager (University of the Pacific)

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Sonora® Lite brightens a cafeteria with a splash of color.

Controlling sound in a cafeteria with a corrugated metal ceiling isn’t the easiest thing to do, but the Sonora® Lite panels can be direct mounted using clear mounting pucks. These clear pucks work like big transparent washers, allowing for a clean and easy install to any surface which you can screw in a fastener. Sonora® Lite panels are also an economical choice so you can get a lot of coverage for your budget.

This solution provided immediate improvement, and the students (and staff) were happy to have a better acoustic environment, along with adding some color to the stark white ceiling.

Adding color and absorption can be easy with the Sonora® Lite panels!

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Ken Fritz – 1942-2022

Kenneth E. Fritz

Back in April 2021, Acoustics First® Posted a blog about a listening room designed and built by Ken Fritz. This is an overly-simplified statement, as he not only designed and built the structure, but also the massive speakers, the high-tech turntable, and many of the other components. The next month, John Gardner, Nick Colleran, and Jim DeGrandis were invited to witness Ken’s masterpiece of a room in person – and now, a year later, Ken is no longer with us.

Nick Colleran standing in the “sweet spot” in front of the massive speakers. Notice the large cabinets in the foreground, which Ken was working on, even as ALS was beginning to take its toll.

Let’s back up a little bit. The history of this room goes back decades, and there is a common history between this room and the Acoustics First® HiPer Panel®. While Ken was finishing the structure back in the early 2000’s, he was focused on building a room that would help his speakers reach their ultimate potential. He had researched the geometry of the finest halls and theaters and their construction, but he was looking to take it one step further. When he was shopping for acoustic treatments for the space, he came across Acoustics First® – which was near his home. At the time, Nick Colleran and John Gardner were working on ideas for a new type of multi-layer, perforated composite, which would eventually become the HiPer Panel®. After the product completed development, and its patent was still pending, Ken’s room became the first installation of the new product.

Ken (left) and John Gardner reminiscing about the “good ole’ days.” Ken was always happy to talk about gear, music, and audio.

Ken consulted with Nick and John multiple times during the long construction process, his uncompromising attitude toward his space was always looking for the “best way, no matter what it took.” His bass traps were styled after professional mastering facilities, where the entire corner was recessed and filled with low-frequency absorption. His ceiling was modeled to direct the reflections toward the upper rear of the room, above the balcony. The speakers were hand built, as was his turntable – all of which were marvels of engineering and detail.

Ken designed and built his turntable himself – but had a scientific instrument firm engineer the table it rested on to remove all vibrations. Hidden by the fabric wall covering (behind the painting) are some of the earliest installed HiPer Panels®.

I will never forget Ken’s enthusiasm when he indulged in listening to his favorite recording of the “1812 Overture”, complete with Howitzer cannons. The magnitude of the sound would have shaken everything in the room, had Ken not meticulously isolated and anchored everything. The sound was pure and clean, even at 105dB (standing at the rear of the room – and balanced perfectly.)

Even at 105dB the system was clear and well balanced throughout the spectrum – this is no small feat – especially considering that the measurements were taken at the rear of the room.

But Ken wasn’t just about the music or the gear, he also liked to educate and learn. After listening to the recording, he went on to discuss how they had recorded the cannon shots, and even had an audio sample of the different “takes” done during the setup. This was Ken… he wasn’t just interested in how it sounded, but the process of how they got there.

We hope that Ken’s enthusiasm continues to inspire those who have an uncompromising love of music and sound, and that he will be remembered as one of the most fervent proponents of “following your dream.”

Thanks, Ken.

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NWAA Labs goes nuclear in Stereophile

Ron Sauro of NWAA Labs talks about his massive test facility, speaker measurement, sound diffusion, and more in this article in the August 2022 edition of Stereophile Magazine.

Ron Sauro shows off the current configuration of NWAA Labs’ massive Free-Field Chamber – complete with giant anechoic wedges and a 4+ meter arc of microphones, this room could also comfortably nest 4 football fields.

In the article, there is mention of the advances that Jim DeGrandis and Acoustics First® have made in the understanding of diffusion, the developing standards for testing in the ASTM, and their published research into modelling/simulations for refining new acoustic materials.

Read the Article Now!

For more information about this edition, and other editions of Stereophile, visit them at https://www.stereophile.com/

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FireFlex™ Wave – Cloud or Baffle

It’s good to have options in ceiling treatments. Some environments have high ceilings that benefit from vertically-hanging baffles, while other environments have lower ceilings in which clouds are more appropriate. In some cases the aesthetic will dictate which product would be best – but what if there was one product that could do both?

Fireflex™ Waves hung horizontally as clouds

The Fireflex™ Wave has a unique, undulating shape that adds visual interest along with acoustic absorption – but it has another feature which few materials can boast. Due to the Class 1(A) melamine foam construction, the corkscrew mounting hardware can be installed wherever it is needed – including on the edges.

FireFlex™ Waves hung vertically as baffles.

By installing the hardware on the edges instead of the face, you are given the option to also hang the Waves in a vertical orientation as baffles. The wave shape works well aesthetically in either orientation – horizontal or vertical.

In rooms with a lower ceiling, the horizontal orientation of clouds provides more headroom while the undulating shape optimizes the Wave’s surface area for absorption. In larger spaces with high ceilings, you can add more absorptive surface area by hanging the Waves as baffles, and provide a more organic look than you get with flat baffles.

When overhead acoustic absorption is required, turn to Acoustics First®.

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