Acoustic BafflesA noisy workplace or any other building can make it difficult for you to be productive. There’s a solution, simpler than you may have thought.

Acoustic baffles are an inexpensive way to control noise in large spaces such as malls and offices. Sound not only travels directly from source to the ear but is also reflected off the ceiling and walls. This creates the background din that makes it quite impossible to focus on work or conversation.

Acoustic baffles are boards made of a material that absorbs sound. It reduces echoing and cuts down the busy hum.

The baffles are made of large pieces of lightweight wood or ply, which are coated with materials such as polyurethane or foam, and the inner layers are covered by polyester or fabric cloth for aesthetics.

They may have a clean surface or one with ridges. A ridged board has more surface area and is better but is also harder to hide as a part of ordinary décor. Thus it is sparingly used and usually found in movie theaters.

Usual Places to Install Acoustic Baffles

Wherever you find a large number of people gathering, there is scope for reducing background noise. The most prominent locations are –

  • Food courts
  • Shopping malls
  • Gym and fitness centers
  • Hospitals
  • School assembly halls
  • Cafeteria
  • Large offices
  • Subway stations
  • Auditoriums

 

Of course, they can also be installed in private homes to give vibrant reproduction of music from the sound system and television. The price of acoustic baffles has dropped significantly, and many use it for the acoustic reshaping of their living room.

Benefits Of Acoustic Baffles

Installation of acoustic baffles can help a workplace in many different ways. They would not be necessary if offices had permanent dividing walls and cabins. But the trend is toward an open area where one can work and also collaborate with colleagues easily.

There are two categories of acoustic baffles in use. They may be absorbers and diffusers. Absorbers try and deaden the sound entirely by absorbing the waves. A diffuser incorporates a part of the sound but reflects the remaining. This allows a lively atmosphere. Diffuser panels have tiny perforations, whereas absorbers have a plain surface.

Of course, this depends on the material and construction. If you employ acoustic engineers, they will use a measurement known as Noise Reduction Coefficient.  Usually, an NRC of 0.8 and above is preferable. 

Let us take a look at how acoustic boards help.

  1. Cuts down background hum – Ambient noise is quite bothersome. The sound created echoes, and reflection can cause loss of quality. In a restaurant or food court, it provides a pleasant dining experience for customers.
  2. Reduces stress – If one has to try and remain focused at all times, it is harder on the nervous system. Not only can it cause an error, but it also contributes to headaches because one has to try harder to gain concentration.
  3. Contributes to the ambiance – How many times have you been repelled by the blast of sound as you opened the door of a cafeteria. The clatter of cutlery and plates can be quite difficult to absorb. Different types of acoustic baffles can reduce this disturbance to a minimum.
  4. Contributes to aesthetics - Acoustic baffles are available in many hues. You can find one that perfectly blends with the background and allows your office to look more trendy and fashionable.
  5. Enhance safety – A quieter workplace is also a safer one. Workplace accidents are reduced when there are fewer distractions. In nearly every way, the installation of acoustic baffles makes your office a better place to work.

 

Common Types of Acoustic Baffles Installation

Although typically, the placement of acoustic baffles should be decided by an audio engineer, in practice, that is only done for movie theaters. The amount of sound emitted by the enormous speakers is too significant to design a theater without expert help.

For other areas, the correct placement of sufficient square footage of acoustic baffles suffices.

How can acoustic baffles be placed? We look at a few alternatives.

Vertical Installation -

This is by far the most popular way to use an acoustic baffle. It eliminates the sound waves ricocheting off the far walls. Most offices have a few dozen employees crammed into two thousand square feet, using their phones and computer keyboards to produce a background noise level of 70-80 dB.

This is the same volume of noise as produced by a lawnmower. The use of vertical baffles on walls can reduce the sound level to no more than 55 dB. This is still quite loud but not as disturbing as before.  

Ceiling Installation -

Hanging acoustic baffles are the next step. It is also quite easily accomplished but needs time. Acoustic baffles are hung like curtains and absorb sound from the room below. The arrangement in a geometric pattern adds to the design ambiance.

When used in combination with vertical installation, ceiling baffles can reduce sound to 40dB, which is the same as a loud whisper.

The difficulty with ceiling installs is that the cleaning becomes a problem. A ceiling baffle collects dust and grime from the area below and needs to be vacuum cleaned at least once a month. This would naturally require ladders.

To prevent an accident to people working below the fixtures holding them in place have to be checked at intervals.  

Horizontal Installation -

This is the least common type of install because of the lack of sufficient horizontal area in any room or hall. Of course, a possible way is to clad an entire false ceiling with sound-absorbent acoustic baffles.

This is a near-perfect solution for cutting down sound but also the most expensive. It also cannot be installed in a place that has to remain operational, such as a busy office, without considerable disturbance of normal operations.  

Conclusion

Most modern offices prefer open design. It helps cut back on space and improves communication. The drawback is that the number of distractions also rises.

By installing acoustic baffles on the ceiling or on the walls, you provide an area that is more conducive to productivity.

It is a small investment when you consider that these sound control boards are long-lasting and require no maintenance except regular vacuuming.