Controlling Gym Acoustics

Gymnasiums are typically oversized shoe-box shaped rooms that consist of 2 sets of parallel walls with a hard reflective floor and ceiling surface.   As sound is produced inside the room, the sound waves spread evenly like a pebble wave in a pond, traveling nearly 800 miles per hour, reflecting off these perimeter surfaces back into the room.   The resulting echoes cause severe spikes in background noise, raising decibel levels to discomfort, and compromising the gym’s ability to host events.   From crowd noise to clarity to speech and vocal commands, the gym is rendered unfriendly due to poor room acoustics.   On average, basketball court floor surfaces absorb less than 5% of the echoes in the room, while perimeter walls made of block, brick, or drywall will absorb up to 8% of the noise in the room.   The sound waves that do not absorb, reflect.   This spikes the noise problems inside the gym and will serve to compromise the gym acoustics.

Sound panel systems designed for treating poor room acoustics in a gym can be retrofit, wall or ceiling mounted, inside the room.   These acoustic panel systems work to capture the sound wave energy and convert that energy to kinetic energy, a mild unnoticed level of low-grade heat that dissipates out of the room.   These sound panel systems, if done correctly, can absorb up to 80% of the same level of unwanted echo, returning just a mild blend of background sound to the room.   In turn, clarity to the original sound is restored as the interference from the echoes subsides.  Crowd noise collapses, vocal commands are clear, the gym space converts to a multipurpose room able to host a variety of events more so than just gym class or sports events.  Gym soundproofing is all about controlling those echoes with effective sound panels that will better control those background ambient noise levels.

The key to the success in soundproofing a gym space lies in product selection and coverage amounts.   Perimeter wall panel treatments should target a set of acoustic panels evenly spaced around the upper third of the wall around the gym, using hardboard sound panels that are better able to withstand balls banging against them.   Ceiling baffle treatments are more popular due to cost, with acoustic baffles hanging vertically between the joists in the ceiling cavity space.    Rows and columns of sound baffle evenly spread throughout the expanse of the ceiling.  These baffles are often much softer than the wall panels.   Wall panels are wrapped in cloth, the ceiling baffles wrapped in a PVC vinyl skin.   Multiple color options are available for both, and both options are class A fire rated and approved for use in any gymnasium setting.

The coverage amounts on either treatment option will be the deciding factor as to how much of an improvement the soundproofing application will generate.   Careful consideration should be given as to the coverage amounts.   This is where your soundproofing panel supplier can help you quantify the coverage amounts and produce your quote, all based on the size, shape, and surface textures in your gym space.  Be careful to not under treat the room, as this will cause the decay in your sound values back, and leave too much echo in your gym space.

Soundproofing a gym is a replicate-able process.   Every gym with noise can have the same treatment applied, with the adjustment being made in coverage amounts based on the size of the room.   Over and over again, as gymnasiums across America receive their sound panel treatment, the noise shuts down and the room becomes a user-friendly space able to host a variety of events.   From the public speaker system to a coach’s voice, from gym class to the school play.   Improving the sound values inside your gym will reward your community with a facility better able to play host to the variety of events you can now host.   For questions related to the acoustics in your gym space and how to best treat your noise issues, call the help desk at NetWell Noise Control.  1-800-638-9355.   Or visit us online at 

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