Similar to other social gathering venues, fellowship halls are faced with the common issue of sound reflections (echoes) interfering with the quality of acoustics within the room. When a group converses in a fellowship hall, particularly one containing several hard, reflective surfaces, the collective voices create reverberations that affect the quality of acoustics throughout the area. As these reverberations interfere with speech clarity, people naturally speak more loudly, creating a perpetual audibility problem that can contribute to an unpleasant atmosphere altogether. The absorption of these excess reverberations to eliminate background noise and improve speech clarity is the aim of many fellowship hall acoustical improvement projects.
Implementing an acoustical treatment aimed at controlling noise levels and improving the quality of acoustics within a fellowship hall involves first understanding the sound behavior being targeted. If you stand in the fellowship hall alone and yell your name, a portion of the sound energy created by your voice will pass through the wall and ceiling surfaces, while the remainder of the sound will reflect from the walls, ceiling and other surfaces back into the room. The time between the end of your shout and the introduction of the sound back into the room, when it is less than 0.1 second, is referred to as the reverberation time (while time a time lapse of more than 0.1 second is an echo). Reverberations occur so quickly that they are perceived as one prolonged sound.
The issue of sound reverberation in a fellowship hall can be easily alleviated through the implementation of a balanced combination of treatments designed to absorb sound reflections. Numerous types of sound absorption products are on the market, including panels that affix to or suspend from the ceiling, absorptive partitions which divide large areas into smaller ones and wall panels and coverings. Once the appropriate treatments are in place in a fellowship hall, they will serve to absorb reflections and shorten reverberation times, clearing out excess background noise. With the interference created by excess reverberations under control, normal conversation levels will return and attendees will no longer have to compete with excess noise to be heard.
The key to controlling reverberations and delivering speech clarity in a fellowship hall is implementing sufficient treatments without going overboard. While it is necessary to ensure that treatments are ample to control reverberations based on the room size and other contributing factors, over treating the room would provide no added benefits and incur unnecessary cost. An experienced soundproofing consultant can make recommendations based on the individual characteristics of the fellowship hall.