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Sonora® LFC – Low-Frequency Control Panel

Bass frequencies are difficult to control… and there is sometimes a tendency to overuse standard, broadband panels to try to absorb everything in order to get rid of that bass. However, this method is unbalanced and has the side-effect of leaving a room sounding muffled and boomy.

Why?

Physics! High frequencies are easier to absorb than low frequencies. So, when you ONLY use broadband absorbers, they easily remove the high frequencies and leave more of the lows. Overusing broadband absorption in a large performance space can be a disaster – leaving an environment lacking energy and feel – many describe this condition as a room sounding “dead.” (Not good!)

So how can you treat the boomy bass without killing your rooms with too much broadband absorption? Can you just take out the bass? Unfortunately, it is impossible to ONLY absorb the bass, but we can LIMIT the amount of high frequency energy that we absorb to balance out the response.

Acoustics First® presents… the Sonora® LFC – Low-Frequency control panel.

Looks like a standard Sonora® panel on the outside, but it’s completely different under that fabric!

The Sonora® LFC looks like a standard Sonora® Wall panel, but looks can be deceiving! At 4-1/8″ thick, it is virtually indistinguishable from a High-Impact Sonora® panel – however the interior structure of the LFC is optimized to attack the bass frequencies and smoothly roll off the high frequencies. Let’s take a closer look at the performance difference between the Sonora® LFC and the standard Sonora® panel.

Standard Sonora® 4″ Panel in red vs. the Sonora® LFC in blue.

When you look at the performance charts, you will notice that the standard 4″ Sonora® panel starts to “roll-off” in the lower frequencies below 125 Hz – it still absorbs them, just to a lesser degree. We designed the Sonora® LFC panel to focus on those frequencies below 125 Hz – while allowing the other treatments to handle the rest! This allows you to use fewer broadband panels, and still have some high-frequency energy for diffusers to spread around – thus creating a more balanced acoustic environment.

The Sonora® LFC is an engineered solution using the same high-performance materials as our other products, but combining them in a way that optimizes them for Low-Frequency Control – hence Sonora® LFC! The magic is in the way those materials are used.

The optimized construction of the Sonora® LFC Panel!

All of the materials used in an acoustic environment have a function – “Diffusers,” “Absorbers,” and “Bass Traps” are all general descriptors of product functions. Some diffusers are also Bass Traps. Some bass traps are also broadband absorbers. Some diffusers use absorption for amplitude grating. By combining a dampened, resonant trap with multi-density fiberglass, the Sonora® LFC focuses on making acoustic spaces more balanced. For controlling the bass without sucking the life out of a room, the LFC Panel is an outstanding tool for refined Low-Frequency Control!

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Case Study: Swim RVA! Competition Natatorium (POOL!)

Swim RVA in Richmond, VA installed over 200 Cloudscape® Banners to help control their facility’s acoustics.

Athletic facilities, including indoor pools, can often tolerate longer reverberation times when compared to other large spaces, like event halls and theaters. However, sound absorptive treatment is often needed to improve PA announcer intelligibility, reduce ambient noise levels and facilitate clear communication between coaches and participants.

Swim RVA enlisted the help of RTW Media and Acoustics First® to improve the listening conditions of their large Natatorium which contains an Olympic sized pool. The massive volume (approx. 800,000 cubic feet) and abundant hard surfaces contribute to excessive reverberation and noise buildup. Water is an extremely sound-reflective surface, akin to polished concrete; which exacerbates these issues.

To address these problems, over 200 4’x10’ Cloudscape® Banners were installed throughout the ceiling. Cloudscape® Banners provide the most “bang for the buck” in reducing excessive reverberation and noise buildup. When festooned, they provide additional low-frequency absorption, which is needed in these mostly concrete-block facilities.

In the end, the client was extremely satisfied with the end results, both acoustically and aesthetically!

Is your indoor athletics facility too noisy? Contact Acoustics First® today for a consultation!

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S.A.M.M.™ – Smart Sound Management

S.A.M.M.™
Sound Attenuation Matrix Management
by Acoustics First®

20 Years ago, John W. Gardner developed the ASP™ Panel Technology to maintain optimal acoustic performance of our acoustic absorber product lines – like the Sonora® Wall Panels. Recent developments have been made to augment this earlier technology, and our Research & Development team has evolved this technology into the “information age.”

SAMM panel

Meet S.A.M.M.™, the smart way to manage your panel maintenance tasks.

S.A.M.M.™ Panels analyze the acoustic environment and use this information to track their exposure to sound pressure levels. This can be monitored real-time, either directly through the energy efficient OLED screen, or using any device with a web browser.

This technology allows more than just monitoring the acoustic environment. The S.A.M.M.™ Enabled panels have a HAL BIOS which runs a webserver daemon that gives you full-control of your panels and the acoustic environment…

… but this isn’t only for S.A.M.M.™ Enabled Panels!

After a simple firmware upgrade to your ASP™ panels, you will have full control over your entire acoustic environment – from anywhere in the world.

I am flattered that you have taken the time to reevaluate one of my lifetime projects. I owe all of my minimal knowledge… to my first professor… I LIRPA.

Dr. John Wesley Gardner

Watch the following video to see the history of the ASP™ panels developed by the irreverent, John W. Gardner, and their evolution into the Sound Attenuation Matrix Management Technology known as… S.A.M.M.™

The History of ASP™ Technology and its evolution into S.A.M.M.™

S.A.M.M.™ is Open Source

Acoustics First® values innovation, and we can all stand on the shoulders of giants. Customers can build their own implementations and create the ideal solution for their environment. While you can use whichever hardware that you have access to, here is the hardware our research team used to develop our in house integration.

Components:

Custom 3D Printed Housing (PLA)
SEEEDuino XIAO M0+ (MCU)
128×64 OLED (SSD1306)
SD Card Reader (SPI)
Electret MIC w/Adj. Gain (MAX4466)
LM386 Amplifier
5 Watt/8 Ohm Speaker
12mm Momentary Switch (Red LED)

Optional – 10000mah USB Battery
(Click the image to enlarge)

Source Code:

The S.A.M.M.™ Source code was written in PlatformIO to be compatible with the Arduino Platform. The MCU is the SEEEDuino XIAO M0+ with the ARM Cortex M0 processor.

The libraries used in this project may need to be changed based on your hardware selections.

Download Source Here.

S.A.M.M.™ Web Console

Experience the S.A.M.M.™ Web Console interface. View the real-time output of the first S.A.M.M.™ unit, installed in the Acoustics First® R&D LAB. You can view the current capacity of the panel, as well as the average sound intensity – and as a bonus – we allow users to PURGE the panel remotely!

View the S.A.M.M.™ Web Interface


Stay up-to-date with cutting edge advances in acoustics with Acoustics First®.

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Similar, Yet Different. Double Duty Diffuser™ Vs. Pyramidal

For this installment of “Similar, yet Different”, we will be going retro – The Barrel Vs. The Pyramid!  These two shapes are the historic foundations for modern acoustic treatments.  How did they come about? Why do they work? How are they different?

These two shapes have origins before written history.  The pyramids of Egypt may not have been renowned for their acoustic properties, but they certainly show the historical age of this shape.  The barrel is also an ancient shape, born from the pillars of historic temples and gathering places.  Both of these shapes have been used in architecture for the expanse of human history, and their acoustic properties have been studied in numerous environments, in many different applications.

These shapes are often referred to as “primitive.” The barrel, in its basic form, is a truncated cylinder – basically a segment of the cylinder. The pyramidal is, in this case, a modified/offset pyramid… a pyramid without equal sides.  Their differences begin with this fundamental variable – the pyramid has angled planes and the Double Duty™ is a large curved surface.

Symmetry vs. Asymmetry

Another simple difference is the fact that the Double Duty™ is symmetric and the offset pyramid is asymmetric.  The barrel primarily scatters sound across the curve of the face – sending acoustic energy in a wide arc. However, the pyramid’s facets are all angled slightly differently – reflecting in different directions.  This allows the pyramid to be installed in complex arrays which create more “random” reflections due to their different facet angles.  The Barrel is primarily a one-dimensional diffuser, and installs either horizontally or vertically.

Note that the Double Duty™ (barrel) scatters across the curve of the face while the Pyramid throws energy in different directions.

Diffraction.

There is another phenomenon that helps to contribute to diffusion – and that is diffraction.  Diffraction is what happens to sound when it hits a corner or edge.  Unlike light, acoustic energy is the physical fluctuation of pressure changes – which gives sound the ability to travel around corners.  This bending varies by the wavelength of the sound and the size of the object in encounters.  Both barrels and pyramids have facets which introduce diffraction, and while both can be made in different sizes, the offset pyramid has different sized facets on each device – contributing to more randomized diffraction at different frequencies.

Inverse Square Law

Without getting too heavy into math, as sound travels it decreases in intensity.  This is due to the fact that sound “spreads out” as it travels. It is produced with a finite amount of energy, so intensity drops as it covers more space.  Both the barrel and pyramid increase the rate that sound “spreads out,” which diminishes the intensity of the sound – however, they both do it slightly differently, however..

The Double Duty’s™ curvature leaves the wave primarily intact, but it increases the rate of expansion across the curve.  This redirection is very smooth and predictable, where the random facets of the offset pyramid break up the sound into sections which travel in different directions.  At the intersection of those facets, diffraction takes the reigns and scatters sound even further.

By increasing the rate of expansion of the wave, you decrease its intensity while also breaking up the wavefront which helps to reduce echoes and flutter.  Both the barrel and the pyramid are perfect for larger spaces, as those massive surfaces do a great job of controlling reflections from large wave fronts.  Also, due to their simple shapes, they can be made really big, which helps!

Absorption.

There is one more feature which is sometimes overlooked.  Because of the material of their construction, and the large volume of air behind them, these diffusers exhibit a certain amount of “bass trapping.”  The Double Duty™ diffuser got it’s name due to this characteristic.  It’s not just a diffuser, but also a bass trap.  The Pyramidal diffuser also exhibits bass absorption, though it is slightly less.

So there it is… the battle of the classics!  Sometimes, keeping it simple is the way to go!

 

 

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Lessons from 2020 – Acoustics and More.

International Year of Sound opening ceremony in Paris… Pre-COVID-19 restrictions.

On January 31, 2020, the International Year of Sound held its opening ceremony at Sorbonne University in Paris – where there was much optimism for the education and advancement in the understanding of sound and how it affects our daily lives.  COVID-19 was just starting to enter into the world vocabulary, and we all met with no masks, no social distancing, and no restrictions (France had only just identified a few cases that very week.)  Little did we know how the year would eventually evolve.  Lock downs, Zoom meetings, working-from-home, and the virtualization of our interactions brought to light some issues that many of us had taken for granted.

Our personal spaces have become full of sound, with adults working and doing virtual meetings, while the children are taking classes from home.  The dogs are barking, the toddlers are toddling, the neighbors are jamming, and we are all becoming keenly aware of our acoustic environments.  This is a situation that we didn’t know we were going to be facing at that opening ceremony in Paris.  Some people never considered having to work from home, much less having a home office and having to work from home daily.  Even if you had a home office, did you really consider what it looked like… or sounded like?

Adding Sonora® Panels improves acoustics and creates an interesting backdrop for those Zoom meetings.

This melding of personal space and workspace has created some conflicts.  When you want a quiet space to work, you may be competing with your child’s virtual gym class in the other room, or your neighbor upstairs trying their best to stay active while the lock down has closed the gym – but these aren’t the only issues.  Maybe earbuds hurt your ears, or you are using the microphone on your webcam and people keep complaining about how it’s hard to understand you.  Speech intelligibility declines in poor acoustic environments and the acoustics of your home office may now have become an issue to others… not just if you understand them – but if they can understand you.

Adding diffusers to make it sound more like a home theater.

And it’s not just work and school… we are spending much more time in our homes this year.  People are realizing that their TV’s are becoming home theaters, and the room maybe doesn’t sound that good.  We are asking more of our home environments – we are asking them to be our offices, gyms, theaters, workshops, studios, as well as where we eat and sleep.  Many are making improvements to their homes to block sounds from their offices, improve the sound within the home office, make a better sounding TV room, and acoustically treating the kids’ rooms – to hopefully improve sanity for everyone.

However, not everything is so easily solved.  If you are in a multi-family dwelling, your neighbors may have different schedules than you. They may be night-shift tech-support, or sales for a different time-zone, or work for an international company.  Maybe their home office is directly adjacent to your bedroom, or your home theater is causing them problems.  Some have learned to adapt with sound masking solutions, acoustic treatments, or improvising their own home-grown solutions to address sound problems.

So, 2020 has not been the year we thought it would be in January.  We have had to learn to compromise in the face of adversity to improve this situation for everyone – and it’s more than just making our home sound better for work or leisure.  This goes beyond our own walls, and our own ears.  Improving acoustics helps our neighbors work and their children learn.  We are helping our co-workers and our customers. We are making the best of a difficult situation – while looking to the future with hope and optimism.

Here we sit at the end of 2020… and the International Year of Sound has been extended into 2021. We have learned many lessons, and have had to solve problems we never thought we would have to face.  The world sounds very different now – we have found new ways to experience entertainment, new ways to work, new ways to play, and new ways to socialize.

Moving forward, we will need to integrate these solutions into our future reality.  The Year of Sound has taught us lessons through adversity that we would have never learned otherwise – and those lessons of hope, optimism, tolerance, ingenuity, and compromise will serve us well as we face whatever the future holds.

 

 

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