Acoustics - Architecture, Engineering, the Environment →

Basics of Acoustics

Acoustics is one of the most fundamental and often overlooked aspects of
architecture and interior design.

It's critical to consider the acoustics of a space; not doing so can lead to design choices that are actively hostile to users. We’ve all been in restaurants where you can’t hear people on the other side of the table, and indoor pools where a dozen children sound as loud as low-flying aircraft.

At its most basic level, a designer must consider how much noise is going to be generated in a space and/or how much of that sound is going to travel between spaces. These issues are treated with different types of material using the following industry standard ratings:

Noise Reduction Coefficient:
measures a material’s capacity to absorb sound and thus reduce reverberation and sound build-up within a room. Fabric wrapped wall panels, acoustic foam panels, and wood fiber panels are typical materials used.

Sound Transmission Coefficient:
measures a material’s capacity to block sound moving through it from one space into another. Composites, with a dense material such as mass-loaded vinyl plus an absorption layer, work well to address sound transmission issues.

Or, listen to "Please Get Your Noise Out of My Ears"
(Freakonomics Radio Ep. 439)