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What’s Acoustics anyway?

Published: Tue June 05, 2007  News Feed

Why do people buy acoustic products? For sure there has to be a reason for investing in sound control products, and that is simply the need to take the best out of our sound systems in our rooms. But in fact, the main question we should be asking is … why does sound need to be controlled anyway? This question will take us in the next minutes into a journey of sound characteristics and its behavior, especially those occurring inside an enclosed room, whether it is a Studio, a Home Cinema or even an Opera theatre.

Although people may not have conscious of the science facts behind sound, the truth is that most of us have already got into a place where we said or thought: “Such an awful sound in this place”, and we’re not talking about music styles… we’re talking about getting into a room and just knowing that there was something wrong with the sound of it, whether it is long echoes or simply confusing sound. This happens because sound is just like a light from a lamp in a room with a window. The path the light takes is not just the straight line between the lamp and the surface that’s in front of it (whether it is the floor or a wall), instead, light covers the whole free space of the room and even goes into other rooms through the window. So it is with sound. Whatever may be its source, sound will fulfill the whole room in all directions and even fly into other rooms through the floor, ceiling or walls, since sound waves can travel by any solid, liquid or gas material. Well, acoustics is simply the way sound is affected by the physical properties of the space where it is being produced, and this is why clients want good acoustics and therefore why acoustic products companies develop materials that will interfere with the physical properties of the space, so that in the end, we all come up with rooms with adequate distribution of sound, ensuring clarity of speech and “completeness” of music.

When considering the properties of a room, what we’re really trying to avoid are acoustic defects such as: reflections, flutter echoes, reverberation and standing waves.

Keep up with us and we’ll show you, how each one of these things occur in your own room, preventing you to benefit from the full potential of your sound system. Fortunately there are solutions and we’re also going to show them to you!

Reflections

Reflections are the acoustic phenomenon that happens in any kind of room, regardless of its shape, function or size, translating sound behavior when it encounters a plain surface.

As we’ve previously referred, sound doesn’t move only in a straight line from its source into the listener’s ears, instead, sound waves coming from a certain point, spread out in many directions, and when they encounter an obstacle, like a wall for example, they react by producing “counterwaves” as if they were being produced by another source different then the real one.

Reflections 1

Therefore, the result is quite simple to imagine. Instead of having a clear sound, the listener will feel a lot of confusion coming not only from its audio system but from the whole room itself, as we can see in the image above.

One of the main consequences that reflections can bring is echo, which happens when reflected sound clearly distinguishes itself from the direct sound.

In order to find a solution, science started from a simple question: “If the problem occurs right after sound waves get into touch with plain surfaces, and if that’s not a possible variable to change, what can be done to “catch” those sound waves and stop or diminish them?

Reflections 2

The answer would rapidly put foam and other materials in a privileged position on the package of acoustic solutions, namely those related to ABSORPTION. Acoustic absorption products made from special foam perform like energy converters, catching reflections (sound energy) from a sound source and by a resistive process turn them into heat energy, diminishing their strength and therefore allowing the sound in a given space become clearer, like we can see in the images above.

Reflections 3

But foam is not the entire solution, since its structure, shape, density and many other variables, have to be worked under a few engineering principles. Therefore, Science gave us the starting point - Vicoustic took care of the rest.

At your service is now a wide range of acoustic absorption products. The proposed absorption lines will allow you to take the best control over your sound system in a scenario of high acoustic performance, a variety of modern design alternatives and with the accomplishment of material legislation, including the one related to fire rating.

Resonating Waves

Resonating waves, usually occurring on low frequencies, represent the acoustic phenomena of sound waves that are exactly as long as the dimension of the room, or in half proportions of that (other standing waves happen in parallel of the original one). Resonating waves are louder and take longer to disappear and therefore generating more confusion especially when we consider that are at least 6 surfaces in a room.

Resonating

Resonating waves can be solved with Vicoustic Bass Trap lines.

Another way to treat reflections is DIFFUSION. Also on this field, Vicoustic presents you with the best commitment in the market between performance, price and design.

Diffusion products, act on reflected sound waves splitting them into smaller ones. Once smaller they move across the room but don’t interfere with the direct sound, and therefore preventing acoustic distortion, as you can see in the image.

Diffusion

When adequately treated, the whole effect of sound diffusion will also be the sense of complete room “fulfillment” and “spaceness”. And because perfect ambience is also about aesthetics, our engineers and designers have conceived a variety of diffusion products. Design will be a variable - good performance won’t.

It is important to note that complete room acoustic solutions will usually be the combination between absorption and diffusion products. Based on this and other rules, and also in order to simplify the whole process of choosing and applying acoustic treatments without having to recruit the services of an acoustic consultant, Vicoustic developed a set of SOLUTIONS combining Absorption and Diffusion products that you can select from the Filter Options of our Online Data Base (size and function of the room, and budget). Still, if you’re looking for a specific treatment or a consultant’s help, don’t hesitate on contact us.

Each one of these rooms was designed combining Absorption and Diffusion Panels as well as Bass Traps.

Rooms

Flutter Echoes, Reverberation

Flutter Echoes are reflections that keep hitting parallel surfaces in a room back and forth. Reverberation is the combination of not absorbed reflections bouncing in a closed room, and that once together, reinforce and extend the existing sound, even if its emission has already stopped. This means that in the moment when direct sound is fading from the listener’s ears, reflected sound appears making him get the feeling of continuity.

Both Flutter Echoes and Reverberation cause sound confusion. Fortunately both of them are also treatable with Vicoustic Absorption and Diffusion Products.

As we’ve shown along this document, Acoustic is a natural and easily understandable sound phenomena. Once contextualized, it will surely allow you to attribute greater value to an acoustic treatment, as not just an extra and perhaps dispensable element when considering the investment on a critical sound space.

 
 
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