Archive for category Diffusion

Improving your room’s acoustic system.

When RPN magazine needed an article to teach readers how to improve their room acoustics, they turned to Acoustics First® to get the scoop.

 

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YOUR ROOM’S ACOUSTIC SYSTEM – and How to Improve It

Ever wonder why some rooms sound better than others? What components contribute to
perception of sound in a space? What knowledge do you need to solve the sound problems that
you have?

The System

When people read the heading “The System,” there will be a great number who assume I am
talking about the “sound system” in a room – the speakers, amplifiers, signal processors, and
other electronic components that generally produce sound in a space. This is only part of the
acoustic system that creates the soundscape we hear when we are exposed to sound in a space.

Yes, sound comes out of speakers, and they are important, but the source of sound isn’t what
gives us a perception of the space we are in – it’s the space itself!

The walls, ceiling, floors, seats, sculptures, drapes, artwork, construction, and even people in the
space are all contributing to how we perceive that sound source in any given acoustic
environment. I’m not saying that the speakers aren’t important – but they are just the source of
sound.

If you have a room with a 5-second reverb time, it doesn’t matter what type of speakers you
have, any sound they make is going to continue to be heard for five seconds – as is every sound
afterward.

What does this mean? Even if you have the best speakers in the world in that room, it will sound
terrible (unless you are listening to Gregorian Chants…then it will sound awesome.)

However, if someone is speaking at a normal rate of speed, it will be unintelligible after the first 2
or 3 words – as those words will continue to bounce around with the sound of the next 15
words…like listening to 15 people all saying different things at the same time.

Your room is an acoustic system – from the sound source, to the ears of the listeners – as well as
everything in, around, and even outside of that room.

The Acoustician

Have you ever watched an acoustical consultant begin the analysis of a new space? It’s
fascinating. You will undoubtedly see them walking around the room while making noises –
clapping their hands, snapping their fingers, whistling, even talking loudly, shouting, and singing.

It’s as if they are bats using different sounds to figure out the characteristics of the room they are
in. They are, in fact, analyzing the room’s acoustic system. Where does sound reflect? Are there
echoes or flutter? What is the character of the reverb? They look at the structure, materials,
corners, architectural elements, floors, carpets, walls, windows, doors, ceilings and more.

Note: They begin this analysis WITHOUT using the speakers.

Why? If the room is bad, your speakers will not fix it.

What are they doing? They are listening. That’s it. Nothing fancy here – just listening.
I will say that many acousticians have done this so many times, in so many different spaces, that
they have an idea of what the room is going to sound like, without even making a peep – just by
looking at it. What are they looking for? What are they listening to? What can you learn from this?

Time to Listen

Everyone has a room where they dislike the acoustics. Go in there. Clap your hands. What
happened? Clap again. Snap your fingers. Make some noise – but make sure to listen. Where is
the sound coming from? Turn around, clap again. Walk to another area…clap.

As you walk around, you will hear the sound change. Turn your head. Is the sound coming from
the corner, the ceiling, both? Angle your ears in between two corners. Maybe that’s where it’s
coming from. Is there a large open balcony or a curved wall? Ask yourself these questions as you
walk around and listen.

Are any of the surfaces hard? What about the floor? Is the sound lingering over your head up in
the ceiling? Is there a defined slap off the back wall when you clap your hands? Is there a ringing
noise? Does the echo wash over you and linger?
Sharpen your listening skills. Map the room with your ears.

What Are You Doing in the Room?

This is an important question. For most uses involving speaking and understanding speech, there
are some good general targets. For example, for most rooms over 100m3 (15’ cube), a 0.8 to 1.7
second reverb time is ideal for many different functions.

However, keep in mind, some spaces may have special reverb requirements. If you’re doing
Gregorian Chants, a three to five second reverb time is still great!

Now, How Do You Fix It?

Most rooms are going to benefit from reducing the acoustic energy in the space. Absorption is
the most direct and easy to understand method – add soft stuff.

This sounds overly simple, but the initial experiments on calculating absorption were done by
moving around seat cushions – simple, but effective.

Fabric-wrapped absorber panels are today’s high-tech equivalent to the seat cushions. Curtains,
blankets, carpets, and other soft materials will also help to reduce the acoustic energy of a space.

Treatments like diffusers help to reduce focused acoustic reflections by spreading the energy
around. When sound hits a surface that is not flat, it will cover the entire surface, bending
around the corners and curves, and then bounces off in different directions.

This reduces what we refer to as ‘specular’ reflections – or direct, mirror reflections – which are
responsible for slap echoes, ringing, and flutter.

However, some hard, reflective surfaces in the front of the room can be beneficial to help
reinforce acoustic sound sources, like speaking, singing, or acoustic instruments.

Treating corners with bass traps can help to reduce bass buildup, as well as corner reflections,
which can cause other clarity issues within the listening environment.

Don’t forget…look to the ceiling for rafters and other elements that cause sound to bounce
around and put some absorption up there.

 

 

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The Legato®! Super-Customizable Sound Diffuser

Acoustics First® is pleased to announce the super-customizable Legato® sound diffuser!

Legato® Diffuser

The Super-Customizable Legato® Sound Diffuser.

Configuring the Legato® Sound Diffuser for your specific listening environment is so easy… anyone can become a “Legato® Master!” With over 41 different acoustic configurations for the Legato®, you can block out the frequencies you need, within seconds!

Legato®

Legato® in a Binary Array Configuration!

Create countless different sound diffusers and devices from one modular kit – quadratic, binary array, phase graters, Helmholtz resonators and MORE!

Ages 4-99. Only in Yellow. Not Fire Rated. Ideas included.

Buy your Legato® Sound Diffuser Kit today – and become the “Legato® Master” of your sound!

Only available on April Fool’s Day for those with a sense of humor. Not affiliated or endorsed by Lego®.

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The QuadraPyramid™ – A Multi-Faceted Gem

With all the Diffusers on offer from Acoustics First® these days, this gem is sometimes overlooked: the QuadraPyramid™. Here’s an install pic of a few in the ceiling of a control room at the University of the Pacific!

University of the Pacific

There’s a reason why various pyramidal diffusers have been used for decades. They work, and they work well! The QuadraPyramid™ is our own take on this classic design, using four offset pyramids to create 16 angles of reflection on a single unit. Also, when mounted directly to a wall, these diffusers can double as a ‘mid-bass’ absorber, like in the project studio below.

Spence Burton’s Project Studio

 

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Acoustics First® at ASA Victoria 2018

Fall is always a busy time of year here at Acoustics First®. Besides the AES, our folks have also been making the rounds with the ASTM and the ASA.  The ASA in Canada was particularly interesting, with much discussion about the use of computer modeling to predict the acoustic performance of sound diffusers. Our own Jim DeGrandis co-authored a paper with Dr. Hassan Azad and Ronald Sauro of NWAA Labs on using laboratory measurements to improve acoustic simulations.

The ASA also just released a promotional video for their meetings.

If you look closely, you can spot Jim 0:43 seconds into this short video from the ASA. Of course he’s instantly recognizable by his trademark hat!

Jim & Trademark Acoustics First® hat!

(Bonus: Dr. Azad shows up @ 2:09!)

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AES/NAB 2018 – Booth #553

AES 2018 Exhibition – Javits Center NY – October 17-19, 2018

Acoustics First® will be back in New York for the 2018 AES/NAB show, October 17-19.

So, if you missed last year’s show, here’s your chance to stop by the Javits Center (Booth 553) and say hi to Cameron & Jim!

Also, be sure to check out our wide array of Sound and Noise Control Products, including our State-of-the-Art Sound Diffusers!

Click here! Find us on the Floor!

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