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Teaching Space Acoustics

There may be an increase in the use of unusual teaching spaces as schools adapt to new challenges. For instance, the use of sports halls, foyers and other reverberant spaces as classrooms will present acoustic problems. Long reverberation times make it difficult to understand speech if you are more than a metre or two away from the person talking. This is because the sound energy bouncing around the room masks the words being spoken.

The solution is to reduce the reverberation time by the addition of absorption to improve intelligibility. We measure the current reverberation time and calculate how much absorption is required to bring it down to an acceptable level for the room concerned. An acceptable level varies depending on room volume.

We recently undertook a project for a school’s large sports hall. The school had been given estimates based on predictive calculations alone indicating a reverberation time in excess of 6 seconds. When we measured the actual acoustics of the room we found these to be inaccurate and would have resulted in the installation of unnecessary quantities of absorption. It turned out that there was absorption hidden from view in the ceiling mounted heating system resulting in a time of 3.9 seconds.

We set a target reverberation time of 2 seconds in line with BB93 guidance for a room of this volume and type. In fact, we bettered this and brought it down to 1.6 seconds which you can see in the excerpt from the report below.

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Rooms for Zoom (or Skype or Teams or…)

Video camera for meetings

Enforced working from home has created a surge in the use of online meetings. This is likely to increase the frequency of such meetings in the office environment as we transition to the new normal.

At home you do the best you can with the space you have but we have all seen the effects of poor lighting, sound and broadband connections. Back in the office you have an opportunity to make some changes to your conferencing hardware and room environment that will yield benefits in sound and video quality. This will result in more effective communication and less meeting fatigue.

Essential elements that need to be considered are:

  • Lighting
  • Acoustics and audio
  • Hardware
  • Furnishings and room finishes

All of theses can have a significant impact on near and far-end participants’ meeting experience. Get in touch so we can work with you.

Church Service Streaming

Lots of recent interest about this for obvious reasons. However, the usefulness of live church service streaming will extend beyond COVID-19. It could become a permanent add-on to all services and be available to anyone unable to attend for any reason.

Technically it can be as simple as a laptop or iPad (or even your phone!), your existing broadband connection and streaming to a platform such as YouTube or Facebook. Admittedly, quality may not be the best it could be at this end of the scale but an investment in some dedicated hardware and a good broadband connection, along with some advice about sound and lighting, will dramatically improve quality and the viewer’s experience. This simple schematic diagram outlines the basic structure of a streaming facility.

Just recently we have been helping churches to improve the quality of the most simple set-ups by taking a feed from the church sound system and connecting it up to their iPad or laptop. Being able to utilise dedicated microphones at the lectern and pulpit and especially wireless lapel microphones can dramatically improve the sound quality that you stream.