Conference Rooms2021-02-12T17:52:42-08:00

The Conference Room…

…a coveted space 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 services (POTS) 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

  • Conference rooms tend to be narrow and long, perfect rectangles with parallel surfaces, and thin walls: these amplify the reflections and sound distortion

  • The table acts is a large flat and dense reflective surface

  • All modern conference rooms have 1 or 2 50-75″ TV’s mounted on one one wall

  • The most attention to sound will be a speakerphone, and a connected video camera with an array of microphones

Room Boom

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 rooms participants and conversations.

Design vs. Function

Modern conference rooms also serve an important style aspect.  With so many of them enabled for video conferencing, the decoration and lighting of the room is as important as ever. Many of these have a glass wall, large windows, curated artwork, whiteboard paint covering an entire wall or 2 and 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

Acoustic ceiling panelsThe 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 ceiling system for this application: The ASC Coffered Ceiling.

It is a rectangular grid of strips of acoustic material called SoundPlanks that when installed looks like an architectural design element. It is specifically designed to follow symmetrical spaced apart patterns of the existing ceiling grid.

The 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 outlining hard surfaces of ceiling. This pattern is fairly tight, with the coffered beams being approximately 3’ long. The ceiling is 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.

Coffered Ceiling Product Page

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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.

Horizontal Reflection

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 reflection is magnified exponentially. Slow down the horizontal sound reflections through ceiling-mounted, distributed absorption and diffusion.

Vertical Reflection

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.

You get less noise, and more focused sound.

Enabling the entire meeting group to focus LESS on WHAT is said and MORE on what IS said.

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