Posts Tagged reverberation

Reverberation, the Invisible Architecture

Reverberation: the Invisible Architecture

Cloudscape® Baffles and Sonora® Panels change the sonic architecture – making the space sound smaller and more intimate.

Ever wonder what gives us a sense of space? Obviously, our eyes visually tell us what’s going on, but there are other senses that contribute. Peak your head into a dark front hall closet, and even without seeing much, you can “feel” the close proximity of the walls and perhaps even the presence of the coats. Walk in to New York’s Grand Central Station, and you are confronted by a completely different sensation. Close your eyes, and the raucous environment tells you are in a large room with a lofty ceiling. Often times we take for granted the relationship that sound has to our spatial perception.

This sonic “sense of space” can be generally attributed to the room’s reverberation qualities. In simple terms, reverberation is the sound energy that remains in the listening environment as a result of lingering reflections. Reverberation time (RT or RT60) quantifies how quickly an impulse sound decays in a space. RT60 is how quickly the amplitude (volume) of short exciting signal decreases by 60dB in a large room. Reverberation time is dependent upon the volume and surface materials of a given room. Large spaces with hard materials (tile, drywall, etc.) like Grand Central Station have longer reverberation times, while small rooms furnished with “softer” materials, like the coat closet, sound much more “dead”.

Excessive reverberation is one of the most common acoustic issues that we encounter on a daily basis. As you may have experienced at some point, it’s difficult to understand what is being said when reflections from old information cover up what is newly spoken. In spaces where speech intelligibility is paramount, like classrooms or conference rooms, a short reverberation time (under 1 second) should be targeted.

That said, sometimes a long reverberation time is desirable. In spaces like cathedrals and orchestral halls, reverberation helps create ambience for the audience by sustaining musical notes, while allowing choirs and orchestras to blend more easily. These spaces may lack a sound system, and instead utilize the room to propagate sound. Rock venues, on the other hand, have amplified instruments, so a medium-short reverb time is needed to ensure that the music won’t become “muddy” and difficult to perform and enjoy.

There are a number of questions that an acoustician must ask when recommending appropriate treatment. These questions include, but are not limited to: Is there live music in this room? What kind of music is being performed? Is speech intelligibly important? What’s the audience size and where are they in relation to the sound source? So, the ideal amount of reverberation in a space is wholly dependent on the use of the space.

Listed below are the ranges of “ideal” reverberation times at mid-frequency (average of 500 and 1000 Hz) for a variety of rooms. The numbers are derived from David Eagan’s Architectural Acoustics (New York: McGraw-Hill, 1988), in which he breaks down rooms into Speech, Music and Speech/Music spaces. We hope you find this helpful.

Optimum Reverberation Times (T60)

“Speech” Rooms
Recording and Broadcasting Studio – .3 to .7 seconds
Classroom (elementary size) – .6 to .8 seconds
Conference/Lecture Room – .6 to 1.1 seconds
Intimate Drama – .9 to 1.1s

“Speech & Music” Rooms
Cinema – .8 to 1.2 seconds
Small Theaters – 1.2 to 1.4 seconds
Multi-Purpose Auditoriums – 1.5 to 1.8 seconds
Worship Spaces – 1.4 (Churches) to 2+ seconds (Cathedrals)

“Music” Rooms
Dance Clubs and Rock Venues (w/ Sound System) – 1 to 1.2 seconds
Semi classical Concerts/Chorus (w/ Sound System) – 1.2 to 1.6 seconds
Symphonic Concerts (Classical) – 1.6 to 2.3 seconds
Liturgical (Organ/Chorus) – 2+ seconds

Contact Acoustics First to have our acousticians help you find the ideal reverb time for your space.

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Baffled by Acoustical Ceiling Treatments?

Cloudscape Ceiling Baffle (CSBF15P) 4’x2′ x 1.5″

Acoustics First® adds more ways to get ‘Baffled’ and improve large room acoustics.

Acoustics First® has ‘amped up’ the Cloudscape® line of ceiling baffles.  These acoustical baffles reduce reverberation in applications such as gymnasiums, auditoriums, performance venues, theaters and restaurants.  They can be suspended from open truss and pre-engineered suspension systems or alternatively mounted direct to a roof deck or wall.  In addition to the standard 4’x2′ x1.5″ PVC encapsulated ‘echo-nomical’ baffle, Acoustics First® has expanded the selection to include three alternate finishes.  If you wish to upgrade the size of the standard PVC Cloudscape® Ceiling Baffle, we now have a 2″ thick option available in sizes up to 4’x10′, with some limitations.  If you wish to upgrade the finish, you can choose the durable rip-stop nylon sailcloth, product code CSBF2S with 9 color choices.  If sailcloth doesn’t ‘float your boat’, choose the fabric encapsulated Cloudscape® Baffle.   The CSBF2F is encapsulated in a sewn Guilford of Maine® FR701®  fabric and will coordinate with the Sonora® ridgid acoustical wall panels.  The acoustical ceiling baffles are extended even further with an offering of exterior grade fabric for outdoor applications.  Overall, you now have 4 choices of baffle configurations, more sizes and 96 finish options.  Additionally, all the 2″ thick options use environmentally friendly Ecose® glass fiber.  For more information or to receive a quotation, please contact Acoustics First® via email,, or call Toll Free 1-888-765-2900 (US & Canada).

Cloudscape Ceiling Baffle (CSBF2S) Sailcloth Finish

Cloudscape Ceiling Baffle (CSBF2S) Sailcloth

Cloudscape Ceiling Baffle (CSBF2F) Fabric

Cloudscape Ceiling Baffle (CSBF2F) Fabric

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