Consultant at JMS Acoustics. “For example, don’t
stick the conference room next to the copy room.”
“By incorporating specific acoustical products
in the design stage, teams can prevent needing to
shoehorn components around HVAC and sprin-
kler equipment after the fact,” adds Dave Inger-
soll, Business Development Manager at Sound
Seal. He also notes that it saves money to get an
acoustical team involved initially – labor rates will
generally be cheaper when specified early on, al-
lowing the general contractor to layer in acousti-
cal elements while installing walls and ceilings.
A building’s interior design can still be clean and
modern – you just need to consider the materials,
finishes, and intended use of the space. “The trend
in architecture is open space and open ceiling,
which looks great but is acoustically challenging
since the reverberation time is typically too long
because of the missing sound-absorbing materials,”
says Joerg Hutmacher, CEO at pinta acoustics, inc.
And don’t forget noise from mechanical sys-
tems. “Design HVAC systems to absorb sound
energy and reduce system-generated noise,” says
Marshall. “Often the engineering firm charged
with designing the HVAC isn’t focused on acous-
tic concerns, yet HVAC is a major contributor to
2) Diagnose the True Problem. Be sure to
assess the root causes behind acoustic complaints.
“It’s very easy to apply the wrong treatment to an
acoustical problem,” says Ioana Pieleanu, Senior
Consultant at Acentech. “Many people think, for
instance, that adding sound-absorptive treatments will solve a sound isolation issue.” Often,
Gary Madaras, Acoustics Specialist at ROCKFON, finds a variety of
causes for occupant complaints about acoustics.
■ Complaints about noise in open offices generally result from not
having high-performance, sound-absorbing ceilings, islands, or
■ Complaints about noise transmitting from one enclosed room to
another are mostly caused by leaks called flanking paths in the
ceiling system and walls. Noise can travel through open return air
grilles in the ceiling, through a common plenum above the ceiling
and back down, or through the open air return grille in the adjacent room.
Similar noise-flanking paths exist due to recessed lights, supply
air ducts, penetrations for sprinkler heads, loudspeakers, etc.
Flanking paths through demising walls are also possible and problematic, especially given the current trend of using lightweight,
demountable partitions and sliding glass doors with no perimeter
■ Complaints about unintelligible conversations over open micro-
phones in meeting and conference rooms result from not having
enough high-performance, sound-absorbing materials in the
rooms. Conference rooms with concrete, metal, and glass surfaces
do not work well due to excessive reverberation and loudness.
PINPOINT THE CAUSE OF THE COMPLAINT
AN ACOUSTICAL CEILING CLOUD provides sound control in a lobby
with many hard surfaces. The panels are perforated in an oval, straight-
slotted pattern and backed with a fiberglass infill.