Reduce Noise in Your Conference Rooms

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Imagine you’re in your conference room, listening to a pitch for a potential partnership with your company, one that could make you millions of dollars. But instead of focusing on the numbers, you and everyone else are distracted by outside noise. Soon, your attention is no longer on the presentation but rather the annoying sounds coming in. The presenter leaves, visibly upset that she didn’t have your entire attention. The deal falls apart and millions of dollars walk out the door because your conference room was too noisy.

That can’t happen! Any scenario where the quality of your meeting is reduced because your conference room is too noisy is unacceptable.

How do you remedy this situation? This isn’t an easy fix. It’s not like adding conference room scheduling software; there are some things that are out of your control. The construction on the building next door isn’t something you can politely ask them to pause for an hour.

Soundproofing is a conference room solution and is a proactive measure that you can take so that you never have to deal with ambient noise affecting your meetings. Fully soundproofed conference rooms will reduce the noise coming into the conference room as well as the sound coming from the conference room. A soundproofed conference room will offer a peace and quiet for the entire office.

Soundproofing Vs. Sound Absorption

To completely soundproof your conference room, you’re going to need a combination of soundproofing products and sound absorption products. Soundproofing products contain sound and prevent it from traveling to other areas of a building. Meanwhile sound absorption products absorb the sound that bounces from open areas in your conference room. Sound absorption is what solves your poor acoustics, ambient noise, and that annoying echo.

If you’re looking for soundproofing products, you have two choices. There’s sound blockers and the sound absorbers.

Sound Blockers - In order to block sound, you need something that has mass and must be air-tight. It needs to eliminate vibration. Vibration is what causes the outside sound from coming through your walls.

Sound blockers products like Quiet Barrier HD have the mass needed to keep the sound from entering your conference room from outside areas. You can install sound blockers in the walls, floors, doors, and ceiling of your conference room.

Sound Absorbers - Sound absorbers, like Alpha Absorb, soak up the sound. These are best if you want to control the amount of sound that comes from your meeting room to the outside areas.

Unlike sound blockers, sound absorbers are light. You don’t need the same mass density to absorb sound as you do to completely stop it. This allows you more conference room design options since sound absorbers are added to finished walls, floors, doors, and ceilings.

Where Is Your Noise Coming From?

Determining where excessive sound is coming from will help you determine if you need soundproofing or sound absorption materials.

The needs of a 4th floor Manhattan office, where you can hear city life, will be different than if you’re located in a quieter suburban business complex that has no foot traffic.

The location of your conference room within your office also factors in. Does your conference room has an adjoining wall with a neighboring company? You might be more concerned with the noise going out rather than going in. Or your conference room is in a high trafficked area of your office and your meetings are constantly disrupted by the rustling of people constantly walking by. You’ll absolutely want a solution that prevents those kinds of sounds from coming in.

Knowing where your sound is coming from and what solution you’ll need will dictate what materials to purchase to soundproof your conference room.   

Soundproofing Options

Drywall - Soundproof drywall is more expensive than traditional drywall. It increases the mass density needed to block sound by adding layers of steel and gypsum board to the walls.

Mass-Loaded Vinyl - MLV is great for soundproofing your walls and floors. This heavy vinyl can be installed below the finishing layer of your walls and floors. Therefore you won’t see MLV, it’s under your rugs and tiles.

Soundproof Curtains - These are special soundproofing curtains. Don’t get these confused with regular curtains and acoustic curtains. Regular curtains will not block sound and  acoustic curtains improve sound quality in the conference room. Soundproof curtains contain the aforementioned mass-loaded vinyl, with materials like quilted fiberglass layered on top of it. These stiff curtains are hung from frames which makes taking them down easy.

Sound Absorption Options

You have more options for sound absorption since it can be added after construction. It’s visible to your meeting room, so the option to customize your design is important.

Hanging Baffles

Hanging baffles are particularly great if your office is a converted industrial building. They’re made of fiberglass and covered with acoustic fabric. The options to decorate the baffles are endless.

Acoustic Partitions

Acoustic partitions are just like hanging baffles, but they’re placed on the ground. If the meeting room manager needs to, he can simply move these partitions. They’re light, so it’s not a hassle. These too can be decorated as you’d like.

Acoustic Foam

Foam is often associated with soundproofing. It’s terrible at keeping outside sound from creeping into your meeting room. But it’s a viable solution for your sound absorption needs. It can be as easy as peel-and-stick. The drawback is that it’s not going to look as beautiful your other options.

Rugs - It’s not just the walls of your office that affect the acoustics of your conference room. Your floor plays a role as well. Many offices have minimal carpeting or no carpeting at all (usually exposing plain concrete). Sound will bounce off those floors and amplify the noise. Not what you need.

An easy solution to this problem is buy a rug. That’s it, just buy a large rug for your conference room and place it on the ground. The rug will help absorb the sound and keep your conference room quiet.

There are plenty of options for soundproofing your conference room. You first have to identify where the sound is coming from. Then you have to choose whether you’re most concerned with sound coming in or sound leaving. The options to solve both sound problems are out there.

Photo Courtesy of iKobe!