October 21, 2020

How to Acoustically Treat a Gymnasium

Because of their typically hard and reflective surfaces, gymnasiums often have poor acoustics making it difficult to understand speech because of the echoes and reverberations combined with the high level of activity that usually occurs within them.

The average gymnasium has a reverberation time of around 3 – 7 seconds, resulting in a series of indistinguishable, non-directional reflections which are far worse than just a single echo. This can give the impression of omnipresent sound, which can be distracting at the best of times.

Combating gymnasium reverberations

A good way to tackle these reverberations would be acoustical wall panels, or acoustical hanging baffles. Hanging baffles which have two sides and their edges exposed to the sound can absorb it, making it possibly the best way to tackle gymnasium reverberations.

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At twice the surface size of a wall panel, a 2′ X 4′ hanging baffle also has the added edge area which gives an immediate advantage of contiguously-mounted wall panels. These two inch baffles have an impressive 18 square feet of absorption along with a coefficient approaching a 1.00 theoretical limit. Wall panels are limited to their front surface area for absorption purposes, so these can be a great addition that are also great value for money.

Once the baffles have been installed, you can then add wall panels for controlling any side-to-side reflections. This combats any annoying echoes from direct reflections. For gymnasiums, these panels should be high-impact in the case of damage (footballs etc.). Direct reflections are also broken up by seating or other objects in the room, so fewer wall panels may be needed.

Of course, a gym will most likely still sound like a gym, but when it’s acoustically treated it will sound better and clearer – not too dry. If a gym sounds overly ‘dead’ it can create what’s known as a sonic disconnect with the available visual space – think of dubbed or lip-synched music when performed to a live crowd. Not exactly appealing, is it? The acoustics should match the surroundings in order to create a comfortable place to train, so striking a balance is important.

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