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SoundScapeIssue 0232the geometry of a room and the surfaces within it all contribute to its acoustics - with too many hard surfaces and poor design, the soundscape will soon become stressful and not fit for purpose. However huge improvements can be made using a few simple solutions Tim Spencer, technical manager, Rockfon explainsAbsorbing

SoundScapeIssue 0233When sound becomes noise, people get irritated and stressed. This is not only true in schools, but also in offices, hospitals and other public buildings. Poor acoustics can affect pupils' ability to learn, employee productivity and patients' ability to heal. Increased knowledge regarding the effect of a positive indoor environment has resulted in new regulations and recommendations for working environments. The most recent being the AIS Guide to Office Acoustics www.acousticguide.org. In many buildings, regulations have been introduced to ensure good acoustics, fire safety, ventilation and hygiene. Creating a modern, comfortable environment that complies with relevant regulations can be challenging, however. Good acoustics will depend on the specified use of the room and balancing a number of factors, including sound pressure levels (how loud it is); reverberation time (the amount of echo in a room); speech intelligibility and sound insulation (noise levels between rooms and the effects of noise from outside to inside, e.g. rain noise). Reverberation affects how well speech is understood and typically occurs in rooms with hard reflective surfaces. If noise levels are high enough in a classroom, students lose concentration, teachers have to speak louder and speech intelligibility and cognition diminishes. Young children are especially vulnerable to this but all ages suffer similar reactions.The main determinants of reverberation are the geometry of the room and the amount and distribution of absorbent materials. Utilising acoustic ceiling tiles, wall absorbers and/or baffles and islands will reduce reverberation and enhance speech intelligibility. For example, in a standard classroom of 130-250m3, the installation of an appropriate acoustic ceiling with high sound absorption will reduce reverberation time to a sufficient level to create good speech intelligibility. This is just one of the reasons why specialist acoustic solutions should always be used in new build and refurbishment projects, providing practical, technical solutions that work in old and new buildings alike. There are numerous issues to take into consideration when renovating older Absorbing ideas