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Village Hall Acoustics - Noise Control for Community Halls
Village Hall Acoustics
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Community Village Halls can often be used as multi-purpose spaces but more often than not they are built with no considerations for the internal acoustics. We have tested some spaces where their use for childrens clubs was unbearable due to the excessive noise buildup within the space. These types of community spaces may be used for sports activities, clubs, film shows, dance, disco, concerts and presentations etc. Each of these activities ideally requires specialist deisgn but it most cases this would not be affordable so it is wise to at least design these spaces for speech requirements, as these are slightly more critical.
More often than not the reverberation time in village halls can be higher than 4.0 seconds at 1kHz when it should really be in the region of around 1.0 seconds for speech and around 1.5 seconds for music. With a 4 second reverberation time speech intelligibility will be almost non-existent and the reverberant sound pressure levels with a space full of children would almost make ones ears bleed. It would certainly be higher than the noise at work regulations would allow, without hearing protection, for a prolonged period of time.
The graph on the left shows measured one-third-octave band reverberation times for a village hall that had a volume of only 400m³.
The graph on the right shows our predicted reverberation time after acoustic treatment against actual measurements after installation. We actually compared several different reverberation time formulas and, as is shown, the calculations we made were extremely accurate down to about 500Hz. The panels eventually used were only 30mm thick and at this depth their test data started to roll off in the 500Hz band but the actual end result far better than predicted below 500Hz.
In this particular application, with careful panel placement and design we managed to use only 50m² which, considering
the volume and total surface area of the space, is impressive.
Other Design Points to Consider
Community Halls usually have a level floor which means that direct sound from a stage will tend to get attenuated as it passes over a seated audience. The deeper the rows the more the attenuation. Stage end reflections will help to reinforce the sound as will angled reflectors, diffusers and acoustic shells. It therefor follows that a wide stage within a wide hall with a shallow seating depth is better than a long thin hall with deep seating unless raked/tiered seating is installed when required.
Larger halls may require stage speakers but in the even of amplified music the building envelope should be designed to provide for adequate sound insulation so as not to cause annoyance to local residents.
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