Q. How Can I Dampen Sound Beyond Acoustic Materials?

A basketball court which will also serve as a formal ballroom needs acoustical assistance.

May. 13, 2009 — by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

Q: I’m building a high end home ($5M+) which includes a separate building with a 1/3 basketball court, among other things. The court will have exposed furniture grade trusses. The court is designed in such a way that the moveable goal can be pushed back into a storage closet and the court will transform into a formal ballroom. What materials could be used to dampen the sound in this area beyond the normal and obvious acoustic materials? - Chris, FL

A. Steve Haas, president of SH Acoustics give us this response, courtesy of CE Pro.

Your situation is an interesting one. What you are trying to achieve is to reduce excessive liveness or reverberation caused by a large volume space and all hard surface materials, so that conversation and music events in the ballroom mode do not sound uncontrolled. Without magically shrinking the size of the room when switching from the basketball court to the ballroom, there is no way to accomplish this other than to introduce materials into the space that absorb sound. Whether they are pre-fabricated panels or a field-applied solution, it’s still the same approach - a sound absorbing core, like fiberglass or recycled cotton, covered with a sound-transparent finish - fabric, perforated metal, porous plaster, etc.

There are numerous panel manufacturers out there and also some very good field installers of stretched fabric solutions that you can find through a Google search. You don’t need diffusion in a space like this, but the things you do want are durability (so that a stray basketball doesn’t knock the treatment loose) and a thickness of at least 2. Anything thinner will not affect the bulk of speech frequencies and will make the room sound very “boomy.”

Dave M., a designer for RSI offers up additional advice:

Quiet Solution has a few products that could work. I would bet that the frequency would dictate the treatment. If you’re really spending that kind of money, I would hire an acoustician to help with your project.

Return to full story: