The current crisis has forced a large portion of the workforce to operate out of their homes. Daily Zoom and Skype meetings have become a ubiquitous part of our lives. For many of us, this shift is only temporary. However, some companies are seeing the benefits of working at home, and are making plans to move employees to permanent remote positions.
I’m sure all of you have been on a conference call in which a team member’s audio is difficult to understand. This could be caused by a microphone or connection issue, but a large number of intelligibility problems are rooted in a room’s acoustics. Let’s take a look at some common acoustic issues in home offices and how they relate to conference call clarity.
Background Noise – Obviously, it’s difficult to understand speech when there is a lot of background noise. It is vital that you isolate yourself from extraneous sound sources as best you can. Some sources (TV, HVAC) are easier to control than others (traffic noise, pets, children etc.). Make sure your office is “closed off” from intruding noise. Remember, sound is a little like water; it will “pour in” through any openings, such as gaps around doors. If possible, install full perimeter seals and door sweeps to improve sound isolation in your office. If you have sound transmitting through a wall, ceiling or floor, you can consider adding a layer of mass loaded vinyl to the assembly in order to help block unwanted air-borne noise. You can then cover the mass loaded vinyl with SoundChannels® like in this blog.
Reverberation – In simple terms, reverberation is the sound energy that remains in a listening environment as a result of lingering reflections. The reverberation time (RT or RT60) quantifies how quickly an impulse sound decays in a space. Reverberation time is dependent upon the volume and surface materials of a given room. Large spaces with hard materials (tile, drywall etc.) have longer reverberation times, while small rooms furnished with “softer” materials (carpet, drapes etc.) sound more much more “dead”. Speaker phone conversations require a very short reverb time, for optimal clarity, somewhere in the .5s range (half of a second). You can reduce reverberation in your home office with the addition of “fluffy” or irregular furnishings, acoustic panels, rugs, curtains and plants.
Flutter Echoes – Flutter echo, which can be heard as an annoying “ringing sound”, is caused by parallel reflective surfaces. In certain critical listing environments, sound diffusers are used to alleviate flutter echo. Flutter echoes can greatly degrade conference call clarity. This phenomenon can occur between two walls or floor-to-ceiling. To control flutter echoes in your office, you should break up any parallel surfaces with furnishings and/or sound absorptive treatment.
Reach out to Acoustics First® for a treatment recommendation for your home office!
Sometimes a simple solution is the best solution. That is the guiding philosophy behind our new Sonora® Corner Bass Trap. Take one 4” thick, 6-7pcf sound absorbing fiberglass panel, back bevel to fit in a corner, front bevel for a nice finished look, throw in a few corner clips for mounting, and done!
The Sonora® Corner Bass Trap was born.
This bass trap lives up to the design aesthetic and functionality of the Geometrix® Quarter Round unit, but at a lower price point with reduced weight for an easy installation. Available in widths of 24” or 18”, standard length is 4’ with custom lengths available.
The Sonora® Corner Bass Trap is a great option for studios, theaters, or any critical listening environment where broadband absorption with enhanced low frequency control is desired.
When Sound & Communications needed some industry perspective on diffusion, they decided to go to the source. Acoustics First has been developing sound diffusers for decades, and has done some of the most comprehensive research on developing testing standards for diffusion and reflected acoustic energy with the ASTM.
Acoustics First’s chief science officer, Jim DeGrandis, covers why diffusion is so much more complex than absorption in the February 2020 edition of Sound & Communications.
Acoustics First would like to remind everyone that it’s the little things that matter…
…remember to wash your hands and stay safe.
The importance of sound in culture, entertainment, safety, communication, and in defining the human experience is many times taken for granted – but not this year! 2020 has been designated the International Year of Sound, and throughout the year will be many special events focusing on the impact of sound and educating people about the importance of sound in enriching our lives.
Kicking off this worldwide event was an opening ceremony held on January 31st, in Paris at Sorbonne Grand Amphitheatre – which included supporters from across the globe who came to celebrate sound! Acoustics First was there to support this launch!
There were talks from many prominent members of the acoustic and physics societies including:
Prof. Gilles Pécout (Rector, Académie de Paris)
Prof. Jean Chambaz (President, Sorbonne Université)
Prof. Mark Hamilton (President, International Commission for Acoustics)
Christian Hugonnet (President, La Semaine du Son)
Prof. Vincent Gibiat (President, Société Française d’Acoustique)
Prof. Michel Spiro (President, International Union of Pure and Applied Physics )
Dr. Shelly Chanda (World Health Organization Representative)
Marion Burgess (IYS2020 Co-Organizer)
Prof. Jean-Dominique Polack (IYS 2020 co-organizer)
Prof. Michael Taroudakis (Moderator)
They debuted a short film produced by the International Commission for Acoustics and sponsored by i-ince called “Sound of our Life” directed by Antonio Fischetti – which shines a light on the different ways noise and sound impact our lives.
There were two sound exhibits at the ceremony, showing different ways to use speaker arrays and for different reasons. One was for a driver and passenger listening to different music in a car, the other was a novel sound pillar that had different sounds travelling around the circumference.
There were also two cultural music events. The first was a musical interlude performed by Maxime Perrin (accordion) and Samuel Thézé (bass clarinet). The second was the “Révolutions Vocales” concert performed by Compagnie VocAliques, which was translated into English for this international audience.
Following the ceremony was a reception in the beautiful ballroom, where attendees could reflect on the ceremony and discuss the different events planned for this year.
Check out the Official International Year of Sound website at https://sound2020.org/
Acoustics First® is pleased to announce the latest addition to our ArtDiffusor® family of products: ArtDiffusor® Nouveau™. In some ways, these diffusive boards are the logical extension of our ArtDiffusor® Trim line. In other ways, they are the logical successor to the Art Diffusor® Model W. These robust diffusive planks (2.75” thick x 11.25” wide, nominal) can be installed to create 2’x4’ wooden quadratic diffusers in both ‘convex’ and ‘concave’ formats. Also, for architectural type applications, boards can be installed in larger arrays to create a rolling effect. Art Diffusor® Nouveau™ is an excellent choice for anywhere that optimal acoustics and great design aesthetics are a must. Available now!