Gyms, we’ve all been in one before or have used one where sound always echoes, right? Gyms are typically a larger open space with surfaces like hard metal ceilings, with walls covered in large areas of drywall, and a hard rubberized floor. These building materials are considered to have low absorption coefficients, in other words; they are highly reflective and do not absorb sound well. High ceilings also contribute to the excessive echoing of space as they provide sound a longer path of travel.
How are these sounds created?
These physical characteristics of a room will increase the amount of time a particular sound will remain audible, even after the original sound source has stopped. These characteristics are especially bad when you consider the gym environment; consisting of loud music, clanking of metal weights and energetic instructors teaching a class. The solution to this problem is to add more absorptive material, which will help reduce the excessive sound that would otherwise linger in the room.
What can be done to fix this problem?
To fix this issue, you have a couple of options. You could lower the ceiling by installing an acoustic ceiling (ceiling tiles) or add broadband absorptive materials, such as ceiling clouds or baffles and also install wall panels to large open areas of drywall.
Absorption materials come in different forms, be careful as some are not certified (Class 1/A fire/burn and smoke) to be used in public assembly spaces. We recommend high-density glass wool (6lbs/ft3). It is dense enough to absorb lower frequencies and not too rigid to reflect high frequencies. The right amount of coverage in the ceiling is also important; we recommend a 40% of the overall treatment required for the room to be installed on the ceiling; the rest (60%) should be placed on the walls.
Are there wall treatment options?
Wall treatment is available in various sizes and these can be mixed to create a more aesthetically friendly design, we recommend a 2” thick panel for gym spaces. Treating the walls is important and should always be considered, especially if they are parallel to other walls. Without absorption, sound will reflect back and forth between them creating that annoying echo you are trying to get rid of. However, at times covering the ceiling with acoustic treatment could be the only practical solution. In this situation, 100% of the acoustic treatment will have to be installed on the ceiling. This can be challenging, primarily due to lack of usable space and ceilings obstructions such as lighting, ducts, air registers, speaker, sprinkler heads…etc.
A combination of horizontal ceiling clouds (Nimbus) and vertical ceiling baffles (Saturna) would be a good compromise. The Nimbus will take care of reflections between the ceiling and floor; the Saturnas will reduce the sound travelling from side to side within the ceiling area. Staggering the height of the Saturna is recommended.
Sometimes, you may have to choose one or the other based on the situation. Lowering the Nimbus from the ceiling will provide another advantage, and that is of dual absorption, by using the back of the panel to absorb any stray reflections that reflect back from the ceiling. You will also increase the panel’s absorption performance in the lower frequencies.
Care should always be taken when embarking on this type of project, it is especially important that you do not violate any fire code regulations. You should always check with your local fire Marshall and inform them of what you are planning to install. Your team at Primacoustic is here to help ensure that everything is done correctly and to code. Contact us today for a free quote and together, we can stop the echoing in the gym!