3 common sound issues faced indoors by residents in the UAE.
When planning the architecture, it is ideal to consider how sound will travel in a space and what activities the place is designed for. Acoustic consideration is still not a standard practice for building construction in many places, including the U.A.E.
However, you can create a better sounding environment post construction. In this article, we have listed the three most common acoustic challenges in interior spaces and ideas for how to solve them:
1. Echo and reverberation
You may have experienced discomfort from excess noise at the mall, cafe, workspace and even at home which makes it difficult to follow a conversation, concentrate, and results in feeling tired or stressed.
When sound reflects in a space, it travels back to us with a delay and mixes with other sounds that we decipher as unwanted noise.
This prolonged and intensified sound effect is known as reverberation or echo and is one of the factors causing unclear sound and decreased speech legibility in a room.
For a given room, your aim is to have more sound absorption and less sound reflection.
Some materials in your space like curtains, carpets and soft porous materials are better sound absorbers whereas painted walls, gypsum ceilings and tile floors reflect almost all sound waves touching the surface.
To reduce echo and reverberation, install materials with high sound absorbing qualities specially crafted for this purpose. Sound absorbing panels of various types are great for this. Including Mute Acoustic Pictures and Mute Acoustic Felt.
For the best effect, you need to cover a large area, and preferably on walls, floors and ceilings (check recommended values). Make sure to install the sound absorbers close to the source of the sounds.
2. Environmental noise
Environmental noise can be created either inside or outside your space.
Sounds created by appliances like a vacuum cleaner, washing machine, A/C or the television are examples of environmental noise created inside your space.
An aircraft flying overhead, traffic, construction, wind blowing or loud neighbours are some of the examples of environmental noise from outside.
Both types of environmental noise are typical challenges for people living in the U.A.E.
Soundproofing your space is one of the best ways to reduce environmental noise. Soundproofing means to stop external noise from penetrating inside and avoid sound energy from leaking outside your space.
Check for cracks that let air pass through. Seal all air passages, e.g around windows and doors. For this, you can use rubber sealants or gaskets to make your space airtight.
If this is not enough, consider replacing your windows or doors, wrap sound insulation around AC ducts, and fill any hollow cracks to avoid sound waves passing through.
Materials like concrete, wood, metal and glass can let sound from outside to enter the room even after you’ve efficiently sealed air inlets. The sounds simply travel through the materials.
To reduce it, install sound absorbing materials like Mute Acoustic Felt directly on the surface. Sound absorbing materials include acoustics panels of different sorts. The higher the NRC (Noise Reduction Coefficient), the better is the effect.
You can also cover windows with heavy drapes, slide a thick carpet under movable furniture like chairs, table or bed.
If your dishwasher, vacuum cleaner or kitchen hood extractor is causing a great deal of environmental noise, consider replacing it with a low-noise alternative.
3. Sound privacy
Although containing sound within a room is necessary for any space, it is especially important for places where privacy is important.
Conference rooms, meeting rooms, classrooms, hospital examination rooms, even your bed room. Sound can be heard outside your space if the room has open passages to other spaces and is not soundproofed properly.
Hard reflective surfaces like concrete and glass also make it easier for sound to amplify, reverberate and spread outside.
Check for passages that allow the sound waves to travel outside the room. E.g. gaps between doors, windows and walls. Seal all gaps with rubber sealants.
Depending on the size and characteristics of the room, you will need to identify the hard-reflecting surfaces and cover them with sound absorbing materials. On average you need to have 1/4 of your surface area covered in absorbent materials.