Considerations when choosing acoustic absorbers

When searching for acoustic absorption products to treat reverberation problems within buildings it is quite easy to become overwhelmed by the vast array of solutions on offer and the technical jargon used to sell them.  Here are a few things to watch out for when approaching companies for solutions:

The cheapest quote is usually the cheapest for a reason – Check the thickness of the panel, its absorption class, core material etc.  Are the quotes you have received comparable? Sometimes further investigation is required to accurately compare like for like.  Usually when SRS’s quote is more expensive than a competitor it is because the competitor have quoted for a thinner, lower performing, lower quality product, or they have simply targeted a higher reverberation time.

What are the design targets? Any reputable acoustics company should be able to calculate the absorptive area of their panels that are required to achieve a particular design target using information on the dimensions of the room and the surface finishes present. Two useful documents that detail such targets are BS 8233: 1999 and Building Bulletin 93 (Acoustic Design of Schools). Close attention should be paid not only to average reverberation time but to also the frequency response that a given specification offers.  Even absorption across all frequencies is the ideal design goal.

Can the manufacturer substantiate claims of performance with acoustic calculations? If calculations are provided, are the practical sound absorption coefficients used?  These are figures between 0 (no absorption) and 1 (total absorption) at each octave, or third octave band centre frequencies.  Some companies will use random incident absorption coefficients which may have values greater than 1 and these will appear to reduce the required area of absorption.

How do you want the acoustic panels to look?  Some customers have a preference for suspended panels over directly bonded panels as they generate visual interest on the wall or ceiling they are installed onto.  SRS Sonata acoustic panels are available in a beautiful range of colours to give the desired effect.  We have even supplied and installed an acoustic ‘rainbow’ using out Sonata Vario suspended panels.  Click here to view the case study: Stanley Road Primary School

Do the acoustic panels need to be removed or relocated at any time?  Costs can usually be reduced by using a panel that is bonded into position, in fact we offer one called Sonata Aurio.  However, bonding the panels means they are very difficult to remove, should the room require redecoration or the panels simply need relocating. 

Beware – Despite appearances, not all ‘acoustic panels’ are the same.  All SRS Sonata acoustic absorbers use open-cell acoustic foam as the core material and are completely mineral and glass wool free.  This means that the panels will never shed any fibres or particles or require any significant maintenance during their lifetime.

If you have any questions about SRS’s range of high performance Sonata acoustic absorption products then please contact our industry leading technical department on 01204 380074 or