A Primacoustic Ceiling Cloud is, in many ways, the ideal acoustical device. They’ll absorb energy via the front panel; absorb more from the rear side; and are easily mounted from the ceiling, where they quietly go about their job, out of the way of windows, doors, and art. Placed correctly, they’ll help reduce stress in the workplace, by improving the intelligibility of conversations, and controlling the level of ambient noise.
The term ‘intelligibility’ refers to a person’s ability to comprehend what is being said in a given room. For instance, everyone knows how unpleasant it is to go to a restaurant that is so ‘loud’ that it makes having a conversation impossible. The reason for this is simple; as more and more people converse, the hard surfaces of the walls, glass and tables reflect the energy back into the room where it echoes without any means of escape. Outside, sound is lost into space as there are no reflective boundaries. In the restaurant, as the ambient sound level increases, people naturally speak louder in order to be heard above the din. The louder they yell, the worse it gets. And often, you simply won’t go back.
But this problem isn’t limited to restaurants. Hotel lobbies, airports, gymnasiums, classrooms… all of these spaces suffer from the same problems. And then when announcements from the PA are dispatched, they are impossible to understand. The solution is simple: introduce some form of absorption into the space.
The science built into acoustic panels is simple: sound - in the form of vibrations – passes through the acoustically transparent fabric and penetrates fine glass wool filaments causing them to vibrate. This is known as a thermo-dynamic transfer, whereby acoustic energy is transformed into heat.
The absorption performance of Primacoustic's 1.5" ceiling clouds is remarkable when compared to urathane foam of the same thickness. Unlike foam panels that have virtually no effect in the lower mid range where the human voice tends to sound "boomy", a Primacoustic panel delivers 90% efficiency.
The added benefits of suspending acoustic clouds from the ceiling, creating an air space behind the panel, are remarkable. With the Cloud suspended a few inches below the ceiling, the sound not only penetrates the front face of the cloud, but as sound echoes off the room walls, some of it will be absorbed by the back side too. This simple trick of exposing more surface area can double the performance of an acoustic cloud.
The overall low frequency absorption performance is further augmented by the air-space behind the panel. The air space behind panel acts like a bass trap, effectively increasing the low frequency absorption. In fact if you create a 12" (30cm) air space behind the Cloud, you will likely enjoy as much as an extra octave of low frequency absorption/
The Acoustic Bell Curve
For the most part, the science of acoustics is really based on good old fashioned common sense. And although this may seem obvious, you can start with the notion that the more acoustic panels you put in your room, the more energy you will absorb. This in itself makes solving the problem easy: put a single panel up in a gymnasium and nothing will happen. Put few hundred panels up and you will no longer have any echo.
The acoustic bell curve basically presents this concept in a graph whereby the X line shows the number of panels hence cost, while the Y shows effectiveness. At one point along these lines, you will find the acceptable balance to suit your needs. For instance, if you want to keep some ambiance in the restaurant, then maybe apply 10% absorption. If, on the other hand, you want your hotel lobby to be quiet, you may want to apply 35%. There is no rule that says you cannot start with some panels and add more as you go. In fact most folks start by looking at what wall space and ceiling space they have, and then combine wall panels with ceiling clouds to create a balance that works for them.