Sound is a variable that affects us on a daily basis. There is a constant cacophony of sound that is with us 24 hours a day. Some sound is subtle in the background, and some noises are evident and can affect what we are doing.
In the residential construction process, materials generally are installed to control sound at different levels throughout the structure. In some areas it is more important to the end user than others. Let’s visit the two primary treatments of sound within the residential setting.
First is containment of sound, or keeping sound within a controlled space. The purpose of this, as related to today’s electronic technology, is to create an environment that is both peaceful and free of exterior disturbances while maximizing its use for entertainment purposes. Sound in this space needs to be correct to provide a more pleasurable experience. This concept is best represented in rooms such as a home theater or media room.
It is important to have an acoustically correct room as well as having the best audio/video equipment with which to produce it. I have seen numerous scenarios where no thought or planning was factored into the acoustical design of the room, and expensive audio/video equipment was installed with much less than desirable results. On the other hand, with just a small amount of acoustical planning and design, a very dramatic experience can be created using average or more affordable audio and video equipment.
The second component of sound control is isolation. When most people sleep, they like to be in a space where it is quiet and free of external noise. The most common spaces where sound control is important are bedrooms, offices, libraries and reading areas.
In everyday life there are many noises that can cause disturbances. This noise can be generated externally from power equipment, lawn mowers, vehicles and aircraft. With some forethought it is really quite easy to improve the effectiveness of sound control through utilization of sound-insulating materials and methods of construction during the building process.
A few elements of sound isolation should be considered when contemplating the residential construction process. Thicker walls with appropriate insulation will always help achieve a better level of sound control. Sound is very much like water; if there is a space for it to leak from one area to another, it will do so. By sealing possible leak points you can greatly minimize sound penetration.
One of biggest culprits in sound invasion is low frequency, or the deep, vibrating bass sounds. These frequencies are also the most difficult to isolate. To truly accomplish this they must physically be isolated from the actual structure of the residence. Since this is not practical in most circumstances, there are shortcuts that can be taken to minimize this effect. As one example, a loudspeaker designed to reproduce deep bass can be extremely invasive by producing undesirable vibration and noise outside of the intended space in which it is being utilized. To avoid this, physically isolate the speaker cabinet so it does not come into contact with any of the structural surfaces of the residence.
Many variables exist in the control of sound, both wanted and unwanted that can make a difference in what you hear. You will find that a qualified professional can assist you in many ways in creating a controlled, quiet and peaceful environment for your personal lifestyle. For a professional near you, check cedia.org and click on the dealer locater service.
Editor’s note: See article quiet-home products.