Soundproofing a Bar

Bars, nightclubs, and restaurants give people a place to meet, socialize, and relax.   The surrounding atmosphere has to be comfortable for the venue to succeed, with repeat business the key to the success of the establishment.    The variety of venues ranges from high energy dance clubs to casual bars that promote conversation among guests.   Their comfort levels rely on clarity to voice, and control of the reverberations stemming from the music.   Noise levels that bleed out of these rooms also pose a threat to the owner.

In July 2007, a new noise code took effect in New York City, for example, that imposed limits on the decibel level that may be emitted from late night clubs surrounded by residential homes.   Whether the club owner is motivated by courtesy, retaining clients, or adhering to regulations, the control of excessive noise is fast becoming one of the single greatest keys to the success of the bar business.

The goal of soundproofing a bar or nightclub is twofold. The first major objective is controlling the amount of noise generated by loud music and patrons that becomes audible outdoors and within neighboring homes and establishments. Additionally, club owners seek to improve the quality of acoustics experienced within their establishments.

Reducing the amount of noise that escapes a bar or nightclub involves isolating the area to better control sound transmission. Sound transmission refers to the tendency of a portion of a sound wave to pass through when it reaches a new medium, in this instance the walls, doors, and ceiling of the club. Ideally, treatments aimed at reducing sound transmission would target all openings as well as each wall, ceiling, door, and window of the bar or club, though improvement can be achieved without treating every means through which noise escapes. Several products are on the market for night club owners who seek to minimize sound transmission, and many can be self-installed.

One option in controlling sound transmission is to construct a second wall surface that is separated from the original, giving sound waves a space in which to collapse rather than transmit through the wall. A foundation for the second wall surface should be created through the application of a layer of soundproofing vinyl, such as dB-Bloc, to the entire wall surface. This technique adds density to the wall. The second wall surface can then be constructed by affixing a new drywall layer atop a series of horizontal furring strips. This combination of density and disconnection provides an effective remedy for sound transmission through walls.

Untreated walls are not the only medium through which sound escapes a nightclub. Windows and ceilings also provide means through which sound can escape. The need for window and ceiling treatments is determinant upon the goal of the project as well as the unique characteristics of the bar or club. For instance, specialized panels are available for treating drop grid type ceilings.

In addition to controlling sound transmission out of an establishment, many bar and night club owners wish to improve the quality of acoustics within. With the loud music and multiple conversations characteristic of bars and nightclubs, reverberations reflecting from the numerous surfaces can interfere with the intended sound and diminish acoustical quality. Numerous products are available to trap excess reverberations, from foam panels to free-hanging baffles to urbane suede panels in multiple colors designed to coordinate with existing décor. The appropriate treatment again depends on the goals of the project as well as the unique characteristics of each establishment, for instance, the presence of low bass tones.

Because of the individualized nature of each soundproofing project, it is advised to consult with an experienced soundproofing provider prior to implementing any soundproofing treatments to ensure that all variables are addressed.

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