Planning for good room acoustics

It is vital to clearly specify your requirements for room acoustic quality early on in the building process. Acoustics in one form or another are either directly or indirectly represented in working environment legislation, building regulations, guidelines and standards. It may be that you need to set stricter requirements than those officially dictated in standards and regulations. Setting strict and carefully considered room acoustic requirements need not necessarily mean additional costs.

It can be a smart move to add several relevant room acoustic descriptors to the specification of requirement in order to ensure a good environment for the end-user. At the moment, building standards etc. almost exclusively focus on the room acoustic descriptor reverberation time, associated with the room’s reverberance. It is important to be aware that room acoustic comfort does not just mean a particular reverberation time.
Depending on what will be going on in the rooms, room acoustic properties such as sound level, reverberance or speech clarity may need to be given different priority.
  • Should sound levels be low?
  • Does speech need to be clearly intelligible?
  • Is a room full of reverberance a plus or a minus for the activity?
  • Does sound propagation need to be prevented, particularly in large open rooms?
These are the questions that need to be asked when requirements are being specified early on in the building process. In order not to constantly have to reinvent the wheel and in order to formulate the ideal requirements for you and your users, it can be a good idea to draw up your own sound policy.