Materials and Sound

July 13, 2009

The selection of room surfaces can greatly impact the quality of sound in a space. For example, acoustically reflective materials, like drywall, marble floors, and glass, can create a “lively” acoustical environment where sounds continue to reflect around the space; this acoustical liveliness is the “reverberation” of a space. Too much reverberation can create an intensified volume level of activities and conversations, which may make busy areas bothersome or speech unintelligible. Alternately, selecting acoustically absorptive surfaces, like velour curtains, acoustical ceilings, or sound-absorptive panels, can create a “dead” sound with minimal reverberation.

The finishes and furnishings that architects and interior designers specify for a design contribute to the acoustics within a space. During the design, the acoustics of the space can be assessed to confirm that they’re appropriate for the use of the space, and whether changes to the finish materials need to be made.

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