Acoustics design has come a long way. Not only do architects and designers understand the need for good acoustics and soundproofing in home environments, schools, hospitals and even restaurants, they have new materials to work with. New acoustical ceilings and sounds insulating walls come in different designs, colors and shapes. These function as design elements as well as improving acoustics and sound quality in diverse spaces.
Soundproofing meets many needs
Soundproofing is important for number of reasons. In spaces like homes, schools, offices and hospitals, it can be important to block external sounds. In schools, external noise impedes learning and researchers are finding that it impedes healing in hospitals as well. In large public spaces like malls and restaurants, it can be important to dampen and absorb indoor sounds, so that people can actually hold conversations.
In sound studios and concert halls, the acoustical concerns are about sound quality. In such spaces, architects and designers strive to create conditions where external sounds are blocked and internal sound can be heard clearly throughout the space without echoes, distortion or interference.
Health consequences of noise exposure
Exposure to loud sounds also has well documented and adverse health effects. These could be loud and continuous sounds or even background community noise. Background community noise can actually lead to cardiovascular problems and learning deficits. The incidence of heart disease is found to increase when community noise levels reach 40 decibels (dB) or higher.
When it comes to exposure to loud noises, the health risks are evident. Exposure to noise at levels beyond 85 dB puts people at risk of hearing loss. This is about 15% of the U.S. population, or about 26 million people between the ages of 20 and 69 years.
Soundproofing by design
Soundproofing uses four different tactics often deployed in combination. Adding mass, damping, decoupling and filling air gaps can all help to soundproof spaces, keeping external sounds out. Designers and sound engineers use new acoustical products like ceiling clouds, decorative laminates, and marlite interior walls to achieve their goals.
Sounds insulating walls, decorative ceiling acoustic tiles, sound insulation panels and similar products can act a design elements while creating healthier and more productive spaces to live, work, study, heal and enjoy music.