Room acoustics plays an important role in noise control and speech intelligibility in large spaces used for gatherings, eating, and presentations. Dining halls are no exception and the size of the space coupled with commonly used hard surfaced designs make for rooms with an unpleasant acoustical character. This case study outlines remedial steps necessary to correct poor acoustics once construction is complete.

The Challenge

Easterseals Camp Fairlee is located in eastern Maryland and is a facility that hosts campers for extended durations of time. Phoenix Noise & Vibration was contacted due to the loud noise environment that can occur within the camp’s dining hall when occupied. The loud noise environment can be very disruptive for campers and staff, making it difficult to communicate and uncomfortable for occupants.

A loud noise environment is often due to multiple hard reflective surfaces within a large volume space. The reflective surfaces allow for noise to build up within the space, causing the noise level generated by occupants and other sources to increase. In turn the occupants increase their voice level to communicate effectively. Phoenix Noise & Vibration was tasked with improving the noise environment of the dining hall so that campers and staff could comfortably occupy the space while speaking with one another.

Our Solution

In order to evaluate the existing conditions of the dining hall, Phoenix Noise & Vibration visited Camp Fairlee to conduct reverberation time (RT) measurements. RT measurements involve generating high levels of noise within a space and measuring the time required for the noise level to decrease by 60 dB after the sound source has stopped. The RT measurement allows the acoustician (Phoenix Noise & Vibration) to determine if the acoustical environment of the space is appropriate for its use and aids in designing remedial measures.

As determined by the RT measurements, the existing RT of the dining hall was much greater than that recommended for its use. To determine the amount of acoustical treatment required within the space to reduce the existing RT to within the recommended RT, a computer model was developed to simulate the dining hall’s finished surfaces and architectural features. The accuracy of the computer model was improved by calibrating the model to the existing RT measurements.

Virtual acoustical treatment was applied within the computer model to the dining hall’s surfaces to determine the location, amount, and type required to achieve the desired RT for the dining hall. Multiple factors must be considered when applying acoustical treatment to a space, which requires an understanding of the space’s use and its occupants.

The Results

Phoenix Noise & Vibration was able to provide Easterseals Camp Fairlee with acoustical treatment recommendations by specifying the proper location, amounts, and product types to reduce the RT within the dining hall to within the recommended level. Proper specification of acoustical treatment can help prevent the owner from implementing too little or too much treatment and not achieving the desired results, also minimizing potential overspending on treatment materials and installation.

Based upon feedback from Easterseals, the noise environment within the dining hall was significantly improved after the installation of the acoustical treatment. Staff and campers were pleased with the end result.

Quote From Client

“We hired Erco to install the prescribed sound panels. The end result is excellent. My people are very happy with the reduction of ambient sound. We have had a couple of groups use the dining hall before the Covid-19 hit and we definitely noticed an improvement. We look forward to opening Camp in the fall and having the dining hall full of people.”
“Thank you for the work you did that helped lower the ambient sound in the dining hall.”

John Shaw, CFM
Facility Operations
Easterseals of Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore

Project Details

Easterseals of Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore
Acoustics, Testing & Measurement
Easterseals of Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore
Easterseals of Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore
Easterseals of Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore
Easterseals of Delaware and Maryland’s Eastern Shore