Sanctuary Sound Management

For every seated member of your congregation, the goal is to deliver crisp, clear sound signals for the spoken word.   In addition, premium sound quality will also target both choral and musical arrangements that generate from both traditional and contemporary services.     Traditional services primarily host pipe organ and piano music, while contemporary services offer deeper frequency sound sources that include drums, bass guitars and chamber orchestra music.   Regardless of the sound source, whether music, choral or the spoken word, the goal is to eliminate the reverberating echoes in the sanctuary in order to deliver back premium clarity to original sound.

For new build or remodel scenarios, the starting point should focus on the shape of the room.   Note the difference between a fan-shaped auditorium and a shoebox-shaped gymnasium.   The auditorium will scatter sound wave reflections evenly throughout the space thanks in large part to the non-parallel surfaces, including floor and ceiling surfaces that slope towards the stage.   In contrast, most gymnasiums are built with 3 parallel sets of surfaces that will combine to deliver standing sound waves that repeat their energy paths over and over again.   With your sanctuary build, the goal is to angle your perimeter wall, ceiling and flooring surfaces to garner the same natural acoustic values back that a properly built auditorium will deliver.

If your sanctuary is an existing, finished space, the goal will adjust to the starting point.   Regardless of the direction of the surfaces, parallel or otherwise, the need for sound panels will be the next step in your sound management program.   Acoustic panels, wall or ceiling mounted inside your sanctuary, will combine to collectively capture and convert the unwelcome echoes from your space.   By lowering the level of ambient background noise, you are eliminating the competition for sound signals, which in turn raises clarity to original sound.   The spoken word is intelligible to all seated members of the congregation, delivering crisp quality sounds to the entire membership.   Sound panels are class A fire rated, decorative, durable, easy to self install, and can be placed as you wish around the perimeter wall or ceiling surfaces in the room.   The key to the sound values you are attempting to reach lie more in ensuring you do not under treat the space, then where you actually place the panels.   Simply place them along nice even site lines, and elevate them up and away from people who can bump into them.   The panels will capture as much echo up high on the walls around the sanctuary, as they will down low.   The panels can also either flush mount, or cloud mount (float) off your ceiling if you would rather.   Panel placement becomes more of a cosmetic design issue at that point, than an acoustic issue.   So long as you have the right amount of panel delivered to your doorstep, you will reach your sound management goals.

Sound panels should be 2” thick if you are a contemporary service, or can scale back to a 1” thickness if you are a traditional service.   The difference is the low bass frequency sounds that would stem from musical instruments in a contemporary service.   The thicker panels will capture 4X as much low bass echo as will the thinner panel at frequencies down under 125 Hz.   But for most traditional services, the frequencies do not dip that low, there’s no need to upgrade to the thicker panel, as the 1” and 2” thick panels perform equally at the mid and higher ranges of pitch.

Sound panels are shipped with clips designed to help you easily anchor them to your chosen surfaces.   For help in targeting your coverage amounts, getting color swatches sent, panel samples sent, and general help in messaging these tips on treating your sanctuary for premium sound quality, contact NetWell Noise Control at 1-800-638-9355.


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