The importance of noise barriers is becoming more and more apparent with the changing needs of today’s spaces. While used mostly in commercial and industrial areas, noise barriers are starting to be included in residential structures as well.
However, there are things to consider prior to deciding whether to install a noise barrier or not. While it is seen as a need, it may not always be so, given the kind of space or structure that you intended to have it added.
When addressing acoustic necessities, builders look into the following aspects:
- human perception of sound
- physical properties of the room or space
- the activity for which the room is intended for
These factors influence their decision in making sure that the acoustic quality of the space is met and how suitable a noise barrier is for the planned activities in the area. How these factors interact also have to be considered in the overall acoustical design, so that the right type of noise barrier can be added to meet these needs.
Noise barriers for ordinary rooms
Ordinary rooms, such as residential and office spaces are often subject to four considerations, and these are:
- auditory strength
- speech clarity
- sound propagation
The effect of wall panel noise barriers
Wall panel noise barriers have different effects on rooms and spaces. For instance, in an area where wall panels constitute a small amount of total sound absorption, the effect of these barriers is to reduce the reverberation time and improve speech clarity; however, it only has a slight effect on sound level.
Wall panel noise barriers are preferred in preventing disturbing echoes between parallel reflecting walls, or in reducing reflections from distant walls, like that of a real wall in a lecture room, wherein noise can interfere with speech.
Positioning noise barriers
It is often preferred to position noise barriers as close to the sound source, if possible. In the cases of classrooms, it is recommended to maintain a distance between the wall panel and the position of the student’s head. This is because if you sit too close to a wall panel, the acoustic environment can create unwanted sensations that may affect the overall ambiance.
Meanwhile, noise barriers are recommended to be placed also as close to sound sources, but at a certain distance above the floor to avoid risks of accidents due to mechanical impact. As wall panels, these noise barriers can contribute to better speech intelligibility and lower reverberation.
Area coverage of wall panel noise barriers
Not all parts of a room or space are intended to be covered by noise barriers. For rooms intended for educational purposes such as lecture halls and classrooms, the recommended coverage is from 10 to 25% of the floor area, depending on the type of acoustical demands of the room.
Meanwhile, for open-plan offices, noise barriers at the height of a seated person can help in preventing sound from traveling to longer distances, and as well create a more peaceful environment.
Smaller rooms, like meeting and conference rooms, can benefit from an 8-13% noise barrier coverage since these spaces require better speech quality and reduced reverberation time.
For industrial spaces, it is preferred to use as much of the available wall area, since the main goal is to reduce the levels of the space.