Cafeterias in schools, churches, hospitals, offices, prisons, and more will serve thousands of diners over a week’s period of time. The venue takes on a social component as diners enjoy a break in the routine of their day. Cafeterias share a common acoustic challenge common to a variety of dining rooms…the presence of a number of harsh, reflective surfaces in the room which are cleanable, but highly reflective for sound wave behavior. These surfaces amplify the noise in the room produced by the voices of those dining.
These hard, reflective surfaces present in cafeterias facilitate ease of cleaning but are also a source of diminished sound values. The rooms become filled with echo. As multiple people begin to converse within a cafeteria, a portion of the sound produced by their voices will reverberate from the reflective surfaces throughout the room. These sound reverberations reflect back into the room, resulting in background noise that can interfere with sound quality within the cafeteria. As more diners converse within the cafeteria, background noise is heightened and people begin to speak more loudly in order to counteract higher noise levels. Understanding reverberation makes it easy to see how noise levels within a cafeteria are exacerbated as the number of people present increases.
What can be done to alleviate the issue of cafeteria noise? The goal in improving acoustics within a cafeteria is capturing excess reverberations such that background noise is cleared out, in turn allowing conversation among diners to return to normal levels. Treatments which serve to absorb excess sound reverberations are surprisingly easy to implement within a large dining area such as a cafeteria.
Sound absorption panels are the key to clearing out background noise in a cafeteria such that diners can enjoy comfortable, audible conversation. Treatments can be in the form of wall panels or coverings situated throughout the cafeteria, or the more common arrangement of absorptive ceiling panels suspended from above. Several products are available today to serve just this purpose, and treatments can be easily self installed. There is even some flexibility with regard to the positioning of each panel. In applying sound absorption treatments within a cafeteria, the quantity of panels present is more important than their positioning. This flexibility makes it simple to adapt a treatment to accommodate individual characteristics of a cafeteria, such as doors and windows.
With information about the size and unique characteristics of a cafeteria, a soundproofing consultant can provide invaluable guidance as to the quantity and type of sound control products necessary to achieve the desired results. Due to the individual nature of each sound control project, it is advised to consult with an expert prior to attempting to install a soundproofing treatment.