The Book of Acoustics

Chapter 4.0 Treatment placement

Once you’ve identified the types and combination of treatments a given space needs, it’s time to install them. But where exactly should they be placed? Ideally, placement decisions are made in consultation with a professional acoustician. Proper placement is critical to achieving desired performance. The ideal positioning depends on a variety of factors including room type and shape, activities, problem areas, as well as the location of objects, materials and furniture.

Visualise the path the sound wave travels

Imagine you’re holding a bouncy ball in your hand, and let this ball represent a sound wave. Now, look at the space in front of you. If you were to throw this ball from the direction of a sound source— such as a voice—what path would it travel? What obstacles would it encounter? Would it get trapped bouncing (reflecting) back and forth between parallel walls? Would it escape out the window?

This exercise may provide some initial clues about what spots might require treatment.

Basic principles

  1. Spread them out
    Acoustic panels grouped together in one area of the room usually don’t achieve the desired effect. Consider the path sound travels and place the panels accordingly.
  2. Address parallel surfaces
    Parallel surfaces can cause excessive reflection and echoing. Be sure to spot these trouble areas and treat them.
  3. Place them level with the noise source
    Consider the location of the noise you wish to mitigate and add treatment close to that source. For instance, to absorb some of the sound of talking voices add treatment at the eye level of people in both seated and standing positions.
  4. Treat corners
    Sound can easily build up in corners of rooms and ceilings. Spot these areas and add treatment.

The Book of Acoustics

This is a handbook for architects and interior designers who want to create acoustically beautiful spaces that make people feel happier, healthier and more productive.