Noise reduction

Solving acoustic problems in meeting rooms

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Let’s talk about meeting rooms. Walk into an office and you’ll find at least one—in most cases even more. They have become fixed inventory in almost any workspace. Typically, meeting rooms are equipped with a conference table, accompanying chairs, a flat screen, a flip chart or any other tools for presentations. However, there is one other common denominator for most meeting rooms. Poor acoustics.

Therefore, in this guide, we will help you solve acoustic issues in your meeting room. Inspired by a recent client case, we will:

  • Outline some of the typical challenges in meeting rooms
  • Help you make acoustic measurements
  • Propose possible solutions based on the findings

Are you experiencing acoustic problems elsewhere in your office? Read one of our other posts, a step-by-step guide to finding a solution for acoustic problems in your office.

Typical challenges in meeting rooms

Think of a regular meeting room with a medium-sized conference table in the middle. As people start talking, the sound waves from their conversations start traveling through the space and bounce against the first hard surfaces they meet—as illustrated in the drawing below.

Based on past experience, we’ve come across a range of challenges when treating acoustic issues in meeting rooms. Some of the most common are:

  • Hard surfaces (floors, ceilings, and walls)
  • Hard, non-absorbing furniture (plastic, screens, …)
  • Glass windows and/or doors
  • Typical small space where sound easily bounces back and forth
  • Reverberation from AV equipment

Now, let’s get to work and have a look at a recent client case that will help you get started solving your acoustic issues too!

Acoustic measurements: why, what and how?

To find the most suitable solutions for your meeting room—or any other space—it’s crucial to measure the actual reverb time. It will help you better determine where to apply acoustic solutions rather than placing them randomly.

Try measuring the reverb time in your space with the BuzziSpace RT60 app. It allows you to simulate acoustic improvements by adding sound-absorbing furniture. Download the app in the App Store, available for both iPhone and iPad, and the user manual in the download section.

— Getting started

To get started, you need to have a floor plan and room specs at hand. We received the following briefing from our client along with renders of the space.

  • Length: 9,20 m | 30.2 ft
  • Width: 5,41 m |17.75 ft
  • Height: 3,60 m |11.83 ft
  • Volume: 179,17 m3 | 6341.47 ft3

Choosing the right acoustic solutions

Measuring the actual reverb time in the meeting room, it is higher than the recommendations.

Taking a closer look at the results from the acoustic measurements, we conclude the need to apply solutions that balance low and high frequencies. Otherwise, we will not reach the recommended reverb time. If you need help getting started, revisit the RT60 user manual in the download section or get in touch with one of our acoustic experts.

— Wall-mounted absorbing materials

Let’s start with the walls. To prevent sound waves from bouncing back and forth against the walls, we’re proposing wall-mounted sound-absorbing solutions, e.g. BuzziBrickBack, BuzziBlox. And to further reduce sounds traveling through the space, BuzziFalls is a great option. The elegant, yet bold, cut-outs help spread sound transfers evenly in the room before they eventually hit the walls and is absorbed by the wall treatments.

— Soft, porous furniture

However, applying products to the walls is not enough to achieve the recommended reverb time. We have to apply additional products. These don’t have to be limited to acoustic panels.

Remember, this is a meeting room and must be set up in the function of the space. It is already furnished with a conference table, but rather than keeping the wooden benches, we propose to replace these with more soft, porous furniture, e.g. chairs with a soft core. With an upholstered seat, BuzziBounce offers a comfortable seating experience while absorbing excess noise.

— Ceiling elements and free-standing pillars

Finally, to bring down the high frequencies to the recommended level, we propose adding a few additional elements:

Ceiling applications to capture sound waves going upwards, e.g. BuzziPleat. Combining different suspension heights will prevent sound traveling further in a space like this with a high ceiling.

Free-standing acoustic pillars, e.g. BuzziTotem. The soft edges and round shape diffuse sounds while the upholstered acoustic foam body, without interference from a structural frame, absorbs sound in its entirety. Placing it in the corner will trap sound waves and keep them from bouncing back and forth in the room.

The result is clear! The new acoustic measurement now provides us with an acoustic rating within the recommended reverb time. The low and high frequencies have been balanced to an acceptable level, resulting in a well-balanced room.

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