Acoustics can make a lot of difference — whether at home, movie theatres, educational institutions or spaces like a meeting or conference room. Acoustics are essentially the total effect of sound in a room.
The acoustics in a meeting room can make or break a conference call, in-person meeting or video. Clearly, with little to no ability to understand each other at work, business is going to be adversely affected by an incomplete and disrupted workplace experience. Suffice it to say, the high sound quality remains essential for both in-person and virtual meetings. Seeking professional advice for acoustic consultation is great. You know you’d want to rope in the experts if you find yourself badgered with these questions.
- Does the audio quality fail to meet your expectations?
- Do you feel tired when spending long hours in video conference meetings?
- Is it hard to catch what people say in these meetings?
- Too much noise in your meeting room?
- Does the far end tell you that your audio is bad?
What causes poor acoustics in a space?
Before we delve into the benefits and solutions to improve the meeting room acoustics, let’s start by identifying the key areas and surfaces that lead to poor acoustics.
The easiest way to check for poor acoustics is to clap. If you hear a reverb/echo/hollow sound, the room’s acoustics are bad.
- Hard reflective/impenetrable surfaces like large screens, magnetic whiteboards, polished wood or concrete floor, glass walls and steel ceilings, that readily reflect sound.
- Distracting ambient noise from a high traffic area adjacent to your office location.
- Noises due to the movement of colleagues passing by the conference room, or seated just outside.
- The architectural design of the room or office itself. There may be an adjoining wall with another company or a department.
Acoustic considerations offer benefits in addressing issues related to sounds
How can better acoustic design help? For a fruitful discussion and less fatigue, speech intelligibility and acoustic absorption must be optimal in a meeting room. Proper acoustic solutions that are implemented with the help of expert AV integrators help reduce sound reflections from the walls and ceilings, while also cutting down reverberation and noise level.
Your first instinct may be to invest in high-end AV equipment, to improve acoustics, but it may not necessarily be the right solution. There is a wide choice of acoustic solutions that are striking or discreet, and popular as best-selling solutions for acoustic improvement, nevertheless seeking the help of expert AV system integrators is a more sensible thing to do.
They have a better understanding of the complex combination of the sound produced and have the sound knowledge to help you with proper advice, guidance and implementation. Besides, the experts understand that the carefully curated solution should be both functional and aesthetically pleasing to the layout of the meeting room.
Smart and effective acoustic applications also enhance speech privacy (by shielding the sound with acoustic barriers like dividers), improve focus, lead to better usability of the room and qualitative collaborations.
Want a productive meeting space? Start early to improve the meeting room acoustics
Several acoustic-improving solutions can enhance the meeting experience for the participants and save the inconvenience and lack of productivity that office workers experience due to audio problems in a workplace.
Consider a combination of sound masking and sound absorption options that can significantly improve the acoustics in a meeting room.
- Sound masking introduces an ambient sound (pink or white noise) to the space to mask the disruptive environmental noise, cut down the distractions and provide confidentiality.
- Sound or acoustic absorption refers to introducing products that trap the noise bouncing around your meeting room and eliminate echoes or reverberation that make it difficult to hear and understand the speech.
A smart mix of both would eliminate both outside noise and distortion along with the reverberation inside the room.
Let’s begin with sound masking options; soundproof curtains, white noise and solid brick wall.
- To block and contain sound you can use soundproof curtains made with heavy vinyl also called mass-loaded vinyl.
- Improve meeting room privacy/confidentiality by creating some soft background noise using a white noise machine or a small water feature to eliminate the possibility of speech overheard by the people outside the meeting room.
Other correctional soundproofing options include acoustic foam, hanging baffles, acoustic partitions and acoustic ceiling tiles.
- The acoustic foam helps in reducing the background noises and echoes by absorbing unwanted sound. These square or wedge-shaped tiles are usually attached to ceilings or walls. They absorb sound so that any noise you generate inside stays inside.
- Hanging baffles are the best-fit options for high ceilings that serve the dual purpose of cutting out the noise while remaining aesthetically pleasing to the room layout. These are noise-absorbing panels usually containing fibreglass, foam or cotton core meant to be suspended from the ceiling or hung on a wall.
- Acoustic partition/divider is usually a portable, lightweight and sound-absorbing wall, which offers flexibility to use this acoustical solution wherever in the office you need it.
- Acoustic ceiling tiles are made from mineral fibre and are one of the effective sound-absorbing solutions to reduce the transmission of noises.
The bottom line
As most businesses are willing to invest in technological advancement and the appearance of the workplace, sometimes the soundscape can stay neglected for a long time. It is critical to understand what leads to distractions, a noisy environment, increased stress at the fear of being overheard, privacy issues and the inability to hear and understand the speech.
By careful acoustic design of your meeting room, or by roping in expert integrators, you can leverage their experience at improving workplace communication and the office soundscape while building a welcoming and productive workspace.