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Presenting the best sound for your worship needs involves a two-pronged approach: while using quality equipment such as microphones and loudspeakers is an obvious component, the other, more overlooked aspect is the space where your sound is being created and shared. Knowing how to take control of your space’s acoustics using sound absorption techniques is the first step you should take when enhancing your congregation’s listening experience.
For houses of worship, acoustic problems most often occur in the sanctuary, fellowship hall, or other large areas where your congregation gathers together. These spaces are designed for physical practicality or visual aesthetics more than acoustic performance, which can cause echoes, reverb, and other undesirable sound distortions. This may lead to the misconception that your high-quality equipment isn’t performing as it should. Before going out and purchasing more equipment to attempt to compensate, assess whether there’s anything you can improve in your space to take control of your worship area’s acoustics.
HOW SPACE AFFECTS SOUND WAVES
The primary cause of acoustic issues in houses of worship is uncontrolled sound waves. Like water waves, audio waves move outward until they encounter an obstacle such as a wall, floor, or ceiling, which causes them to bounce back into the open space of the room. This continues until the sound energy eventually dissipates, and results in echoes that magnify, multiply, and muddy individual sounds. Because many worship spaces are large rooms—usually with high ceilings—this increases the reverb times and increases echoes. The result is often a jumble of various noises that make it hard to hear the audio you’re presenting (such as music or the spoken word).
Many public areas are designed this way—and for good reason. Traditionally, a cathedral’s sanctuary needed to amplify sound naturally. With today’s use of electronic sound systems, however, the high ceilings and hard surfaces counteract modern audio technology, causing problems with speech intelligibility, reverb, echo, and more.
Sound waves bounce most off hard, solid surfaces more than soft or porous ones (for example, a windowpane versus a heavy fabric curtain); therefore, a simple solution for dampening sound waves is to add products that are designed for sound absorption to effectively “soak up” the excess sound. Sound absorption focuses on reducing the reflection of sound within a space. This technique helps improve speech intelligibility and overall sound quality.
POPULAR SOUND ABSORPTION PRODUCTS
Of the types of sound absorption products available, acoustic panels are some of the most popular.
Constructed of a porous core encased in fabric, acoustic panels are available in various sizes, shapes, and thicknesses, providing flexibility for different installation requirements. They can be permanently installed on walls or ceilings, or even placed on the floor for temporary setups.
A variation on the classic panel, Bass Traps are designed as larger, thicker panels ideal for absorbing low-frequency sound waves. They’re generally placed in the corners of a room where low frequencies tend to pool.
- Primacoustic Cumulus Tri-Corner Bass Trap
- Primacoustic GoTrap Studio Gobo and Bass Trap
- Primacoustic London Bass Trap Kit
- Primacoustic MaxTrap Broadband Corner Bass Trap
Ceiling clouds are panels that are designed to mount to a ceiling. They can be suspended via wires or chains to suspend them from the ceiling to strategically cover areas where sound reflections are prevalent.
- Primacoustic Cloud Paintable Altos 48 Acoustic Panel
- Primacoustic Cloud Paintable Halo 36 Acoustic Panel
- Primacoustic Cloud Paintable Hexus 36 Acoustic Panel
- Primacoustic Nimbus Acoustic Ceiling Cloud
- Primacoustic Stratus Studio Ceiling Cloud
Instead of “soaking up” the sound waves, diffuser panels scatter them in multiple directions to better balance natural sounds in a room. They should be mounted on walls at specific reflection points.
Optimizing your acoustics is key to creating a comfortable audio environment. No matter what the size, shape, or style of your worship space, it warrants optimal acoustic treatment to enhance your sound. Get the most out of your music. Achieve clear vocal intelligibility during announcements and sermons. Easily converse with visitors and friends before and after the service or during a mid-service greeting time. The correct choice of sound absorption gear can help reduce echoes and reverb, improve intelligibility, control volume, and make your house of worship welcoming.
Consultation with acoustic professionals can help determine the appropriate quantity and combination of various products as well as the optimal placement of sound absorption solutions. For more information, reach out to Sound Productions at email@example.com or call 800.203.5611.