Music School Refurbishment

E-mail: pod@space-pod.net

Tel: 01628 535 790

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Acoustic Music School Design & Construction

Space-pod provides a breadth of expertise in the construction of music school acoustics – ranging from new build construction to renovation and retro fit work.

Music rooms require special attention when designed to perform well acoustically. Musical activities range from playing, listening and composing in group rooms to orchestral performances in school halls, and a music room can be anything from a small practice room to a large room for rehearsing and performing music.

We obtain a full brief outlining the client’s acoustic requirements before starting the design of any specialist musical facility. We help our clients to deal the main problems associated with music school acoustics; noise transfer between spaces, unsuitable reverberation times, flutter echoes, standing waves, and high noise levels.

It is very important to understand that acoustic treatment is not the same thing as soundproofing — a common misconception. As a general rule, the things you do to improve the listening accuracy of a room usually has negligible effect on the amount of sound that leaks into or out of that room.

Professionally designed acoustic treatment can make a real difference to a workable space. We ensure that each acoustic treatment is appropriate to the room use and as a result, we are confident our clients will quickly see the benefits of choosing Space-pod as their acoustic design specialist.

Music School Refurbishment - What we do

Space-pod works on a number of applications from multi-use schools classrooms through to rooms dealing with electronic amplified sound in excess of 100db – i.e drum rooms.

We advise and assist our clients to overcome the main problems of music room acoustics through sound isolation, sound absorption, sound attenuation and restricting transfer through the building structure.

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Points to consider when designing music school environment:

Ambient noise

The minimum requirements for indoor ambient noise levels in music rooms range from 30dB to 35db depending on room use. To control the noise from mechanical ventilation, it is important to select quiet fans or air handling units which are connected to appropriately sized silencers (attenuators). Noise from hot water radiator systems should be minimised by good design and in noise-sensitive spaces, such as music performance spaces and recording spaces, hot water pipes should not come into rigid contact with the building construction.

Sound insulation

To avoid excessive noise transfer between music rooms, the minimum requirement specifies 55dB but these minimum requirements will not always prevent interference between adjacent rooms. The level of sound and possible disturbance between music spaces will vary depending on the instruments being played. Clearly, as the loudness of instruments vary, so the room-to-room sound insulation will also vary. Rooms for percussion and brass will inevitably generate high noise levels and should, if possible, be located at ground level to minimise the transmission of impact vibration into the building structure. Otherwise floating floor constructions may be required. Where sound insulation greater than 55db is required, it is advisable to separate the rooms using acoustically less sensitive areas such as corridors and storerooms. Where this is not possible, high performance constructions are likely to be required. Space-pod effectively build rooms within rooms to overcome excessive noise transfer.

Sound absorption Reverberation time, loudness and room volume:

In general, rooms for the performance of non-amplified music require longer reverberation times than rooms for speech. The volume of a room has a direct effect on the reverberation time (RT) and early decay time; so, the larger the volume, the longer the RT. To achieve this it is generally necessary for the volume of music rooms to be greater than for normal classrooms and this generally requires higher ceilings. If the volume of a room is too small, even with the correct reverberation time, the sound will still be very loud. It is therefore important to ensure that practice, rehearsal and teaching rooms are neither excessively reverberant nor excessively small for a given occupancy. Setting the floor and ceiling height is normally the first step in designing a music room. The floor area is usually determined by the number of occupants:  a typical suite of music rooms might consist of:

  • Large performance/teaching room: 85m2
  • Second teaching room: 65m2
  • Ensemble room: 20m2
  • Practice/group rooms: 8m2

Room shape and proportion will determine how the sound generated arrives at the listener. Geometry affects the distribution of standing waves, especially at low frequencies, and thus rooms which are uniform in size should be avoided. The best way to control these low frequency standing waves is to construct the room with the ‘golden ratio’ (1:25 : 1 : 1:6) and so non parallel facing walls are the ideal.
Acoustically absorbent material required to achieve the correct RT should be distributed evenly around the room. Where absorption occurs only in the floor and ceiling, there may be an over-emphasis on sound reflections in a horizontal plane. This often leads to “flutter echoes” which result in the actual RT being considerably longer than the calculated RT.

The solution is to distribute some of the absorptive material about the walls. To give a reasonably even distribution of absorptive material, acoustic absorption is often located at high level on the walls. To reduce this effect, acceptable solutions (depending on the size and use of the room) can be  the use of diffusion panels and bass traps, retractable curtains, acoustically absorbent seats with upholstered backs or thin pile carpet.

So there we have it, a basic guide to music school acoustics. The only thing you need to do now is call in the experts on 01628 535 790

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