Our Conference Rooms…
…are coveted spaces for collaboration. Here is what we know about conference rooms: they have evolved from a closed-up in-person meeting, to a modern collaborative workspace, filled with whiteboard walls, large flatscreens and a myriad of devices connecting to Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Google Meet or plain old telephone conference calls.
What we need to do is create a sonic space that allows for the free form of your team to collaborate without the impedance of intelligibility obstructing their time.
While office walls and interiors are generally constructed the same, with video/conference/collaboration rooms there are distinctions:
What We Know
What we have is room filled with hard surfaces that reflect and bounce sound all around the room – you get that “room boom” sound.
In order to fully engage video and telephone collaborators, they need to see and HEAR the room’s participants and conversations.
Design vs. Function
Modern conference rooms also serve an important style aspect. And because of increased visibility while video conferencing, the decoration and lighting of the room is as important as ever. Many of these rooms have a glass wall, large windows, curated artwork, whiteboard paint covering an entire wall (or two), plus the video conferencing equipment dominating one surface.
With all of the eye-level surfaces accounted for, what can we do?
The Solution: ASC Coffered Ceiling
The only surface in the room remaining is the ceiling. It is punctuated with lighting, air conditioning vents, sprinklers, speakers and security sensors.
Fortunately ASC has been called in to work on these rooms many times before. We’ve implemented a unique sound control system for this application: The ASC Coffered Ceiling.
It is a rectangular grid of strips of sound absorbing units, called SoundPlanks, that when installed looks like an architectural design element. The system contains built-in flexibility to deliver a pattern that compliments the existing ceiling grid. Each Acoustic Coffered Ceiling grid is sized and lined out so it fits between all the mechanicals already mounted in the ceiling.
How it Works
The CofferedCeiling system has additional unique properties besides being able to interlace between existing mechanicals.
It provides a unique crisscross pattern which alternates sound absorbing strips and hard surfaces of the ceiling. This pattern is typically fairly tight, with the coffered “beams” being approximately 3’ long. The ceiling is mostly reflective directly above the large board room table and the people sitting or standing at the table.
The acoustics of the ceiling is a tight grid of alternating sound absorbing and reflecting surfaces which act together to subdue but not deaden the ceiling reflections. The ceiling sounds perfectly natural, calm and peaceful while still supporting conversations across the table, in the video and voice conferencing microphones across the length of the room.
Crosstalk Control: Two Different Kinds of Sound Reflection
Sound bounces around a hard surfaced room in all directions. Add multiple groups of people all trying to talk to each other, and the noise floor quickly rises to deafening levels. As each party has to talk louder to be heard, the noise rises. This is called, in acoustical terms, the “Cocktail Party Effect”. For the purposes of noise control and speech intelligibility, sound reflection is either vertical or horizontal.
As each separate conversation takes place in the room, sound reflects horizontally, jumping across the room. This is what we define as crosstalk. In some circumstances, it’s actually easier to hear the conversation from across the room, instead of the one right in front of you.
Any large, flat ceiling will reflect sound horizontally, including T-bar ceilings. Add polished hard floors and large areas of glass, and the reflections are magnified greatly. Slow down the horizontal sound reflections through ceiling-mounted, distributed absorption and diffusion.
This is the reflection we want to retain, as this creates a bright ambiance. Even though each party hears a good amount of direct sound, without the vertical room reflection, it would sound hushed and two dimensional. This is not desirable in most venues except perhaps libraries
The ideal acoustic approach seeks to retain as much vertical reflection of vocal frequency sound as possible.
The ASC Coffered Ceiling
Applied to the ceiling in a grid pattern, the acoustic effect is a calmer, yet locally lively sound within the room.
This unique grid keeps the cross talk and vertical reflections contained, prevents the latent reflections from being heard by meeting participant AND those attending via video/audio.