Understanding Sabins

What is a Sabin?

A Sabin is a unit of sound measurement.   It measures how well one square foot of any surface texture in a room is able to absorb sound reflections.   As we discuss in our course on the NRC here at the NetWell Academy, all surfaces are ranked from 0 to 1.0 for their ability to absorb sound.   A ranking of “0” indicates a complete lack of absorption, while a ranking of “1.0” means perfect absorption.   This absorption coefficient is then used to assign an NRC value to any surface material.   The Sabin count is simply the sum total of the absorption coefficients in a room.   Stronger NRC values will deliver stronger Sabin counts, which in turn signal slower sound reflections, lower background noise and a more controlled acoustic environment.

The surfaces in your existing room already have established NRC values which are delivering a standing Sabin count.    If you’re here visiting this website, the indication is that the existing Sabin count in your room is just not strong enough to produce enough control over your background noise.   Our goal is to increase the Sabin count in your room, which will clear out the background noise, and deliver better acoustics to your room.    This is accomplished by adding more sound absorption products into your room that will serve to capture and convert more sound reflections than your current walls, ceiling and floor are producing on their own.   In turn, your Reverberation Time will decay, which will clean out your background noise and deliver better clarity to the original sounds you create.

A Sabin Example

The Sabin simply gives us the measuring tool we need to help define your room’s acoustic performance.  For an example, let’s compare drywall to the NetWell Pyramid foam panels:

Surface Material

# of Panels Panel Size Sq Ft Coverage NRC Sabins Delivered
Drywall 1 4′ x 8′ 32 sq feet  x .08 2.56
Pyramid Panels 8 2′ x 2′ 32 sq feet  x .90 28.8

In this example, we note how a single 4’x8′ sheet of drywall will add 2.56 Sabins of absorption into a room.    The same amount of coverage with the Pyramids will be 11 times stronger in absorption, adding 28.8 Sabins into the room.    If your room’s dimensions are 12’x18′, you might have 22 panels of drywall delivering 56.32 Sabins of absorption.  If you cover the drywall with the Pyramids, you deliver 633.6 Sabins.

What does this mean?

If you knew in advance how many total Sabins you should carry in your room, you could use that number and divide by the NRC value of our sound panels to determine the quantity you need for your treatment.   The Sabin becomes our measuring device for delivering your soundproofing treatment.    Suppose in the example above that our modeling targets the addition of 300 Sabins of absorption into the room.    This would be the equal to 84 Pyramid panels.

The Sabin Formula

The magic question here is how to determine the total Sabin count your room should deliver.   The answer lies in the size, shape, and surface textures of your room, in addition to the intensity and frequency of your sound source.    For small to mid-size rooms, we recommend our clients simply call our help desk at 1-800-638-9355 to configure this Sabin total.   For larger open-aired facilities, you can use the Sabin Formula.

The Sabin Formula has been used for more than 100 years to help acousticians measure Sabin counts in a room and prescribe sound control treatments.    By setting the device to deliver a standing Reverberation Time of under 2.0 seconds, the formula is able to determine the total Sabin count that should be carried in a room.    This figure can then be divided by the NRC value of the targeted NetWell product to determine the square footage you will require for your soundproofing treatment.  Please note that the calculator works for only large open aired facilities such as gymnasiums, sanctuaries, theaters, concert halls, auditoriums and arenas.    Results can vary per treatment due to the size, shape and surface textures of the facility.

To recap, every surface texture in a room has an ability to absorb sound reflections.    The Sabin is a tool that allows us to measure a room’s initial ability to absorb sound reflections on its own, and then helps us target the quantity of new sound control materials that will be required to deliver more favorable Reverberation Times.    Total Sabin counts can be configured using the Sabin Formula for larger rooms.   Clients with small to midsize rooms can call our help desk at 1-800-638-9355.

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