How do Sound Baffles work?

Sound baffles are acoustic panels that suspend vertically off the ceiling to collectively capture and convert unwanted echoes from your room.   The goal with the application is to improve the room’s overall acoustics within the space by lowering the level of ambient echo, which in turn will generate greater clarity to original sound.   As a result, the spoken word is understood, the room is less loud, there’s lower levels of crowd noise, people no longer have to raise their voices over the background noise to be heard, and the room itself becomes far more functional and user friendly.

The key to the success of a sound baffle treatment is to ensure that you are not under treating the space.   There are simple formulas in the world of sound control that can equate the overall size, shape and surface textures of a room to the amount of sound panel the room should be receiving.   If the appropriate amount of panel is not introduced into the room, the decay in values back will accelerate…the more you under treat the space, the more echo you are leaving in the room.   A simple phone call to a reliable sound baffle supplier can help calculate your coverage amounts without coming on site, and easily quote the project.

sound baffles in zig zag pattern for echo control
Herring Bone Pattern for Acoustic Baffle Installation

Sound baffles are not always the right acoustic product of choice.   For rooms with finished ceilings, recessed lights, or low ceiling heights, perimeter wall panels will be far more popular than hanging sound baffles off the ceiling.   Most sound baffles measure 4’ wide x 2’ tall, which means you should have plenty of head room to suspend the baffles.   The ideal application is for rooms that have exposed joist metal deck ceilings.   From restaurants to gymnasiums, to industrial plants, office space, converted sanctuary’s, natatoriums and general multipurpose rooms, sound baffles are the most popular of methods for controlling echoes.   Chief among them would be gymnasium applications, but be sure that your ceiling height is at least 20’ so the baffles will not interfere with your sporting events.

As for placement of a sound baffle system into your space, if your room has a cathedral ceiling, pitched in the middle of the space, the goal would be to divide the baffles equally onto both sides of the room, placing them parallel to the spline of the ceiling.   In this case, the two angled ceiling surfaces are combing to “pinch” the sound wave reflections into the center of the room, meaning the echoes off the ceiling are actually criss-crossing to drive up decibel level exposure in the center of the room.   By placing your baffles parallel to the spline of the vaulted ceiling, you increase each baffles chance to capture and convert the echoes.

sound baffles controlling echo off metal roof deck
A White on White Ceiling Baffle Treatment

However, if your ceiling is flat, parallel to the floor surface, then the goal would be to stagger the placement of your acoustic baffles.   Create a unique pattern, facing baffles in different directions, to help increase their chance of capture and converting first wave sound reflections off the perimeter surfaces in the room.  Create a checkerboard or herring bone pattern if you can.   Again, the key to your success lies less in placement and more in coverage amounts….be certain that you are not under treating your room.   For the sound baffle count that is right for your application, call a trusted sound panel supplier for your quote.

The most popular of all sound baffles are those wrapped in PVC vinyl.   The reason is price.   These baffles are the least costly in the marketplace, often coming in 50% of the overall cost of the same baffle wrapped in rip stop nylon sailcloth, or textile cloth.   PVC Baffles are inexpensive to make, package, ship and install.   They will weigh just 2 pounds each, but combine to collectively capture and covert up to 80% of the unwanted echo out of the room.  

See PVC Sound Baffles Here

They are class A fire rated and waterproof. As for durability, be sure the baffles have a sewn edge, and not a heat sealed edge, which could lend the baffles to “popping” at the seams.   The sound baffles will come with grommets in the top 2 corners.   The client supplies their own wire or  plastic zip ties to thread through the grommets and suspend off the ceiling as they wish.

For more information on a sound baffle treatment for your space, contact NetWell Noise Control at 1-800-638-9355.

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