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Acoustical study of wood

When it comes to architecture and design, there's nothing like wood. The right wood can make a building look rustic, elegant, chic, or somewhere in between.

 

Wood also forms the backbone of most buildings. Whether it's a house built with light frame structures or a building built with large-scale timber structures, wood is integral to the structures we live with day in and day out.

 

In addition to the appearance and strength of the wood, it can make rooms and buildings sound loud. Incorporating wood sound-absorbing panels into your design and taking full advantage of the acoustic properties of wood is a great way to make your environment look, feel and sound good.

 

Enhanced acoustics

 

A lot of music is made of wood -- the bodies of stringed instruments, some percussion instruments and almost all drumsticks, as well as the reeds that make woodwind possible -- so it's not surprising that wood is also often used in architecture for performance venues and lecture halls where sound quality is extremely demanding.

 

Does wood reflect sound, or absorb it?

 

Wood's acoustics are so good because there are so many different types and treatments of wood. A wooden acoustic guitar produces sound because of the resonating cavity formed by the body. A block of wood makes a distinct sound when struck. A wooden acoustic board can do several things.

 

Fabric wrapped wood sound-absorbing panels are a very effective sound-absorbing device, while wood sound-absorbing diffusers do a good job of disrupting sound waves to improve acoustic quality.

 

Wood sound-absorbing wall panels allow sound waves to reverberate and travel through the venue, with better sound quality than you'd get with concrete or steel and glass.

 

So when you ask, "Is wood good for acoustics?" The answer is a resounding yes! But it's not just for performance venues. But it's not just for concert halls and lecture rooms. The acoustic properties of wood make it the perfect choice for any design or architectural job.

 

Acoustic design

 

When building with wood -- whether light frame or large wood -- consideration of sound quality and transmission is an important part of the design phase. There are four types of sound that require good design to solve.

 

The airborne sound of a speaker or a person speaking, or the thump of something falling or a neighbor moving around, are the types of sounds most people can easily identify.

 

However, the designer should also address the side sound, which is made through tiny cracks and holes, and the reverberation of sound. Reverberation is caused by sound waves bouncing off a surface, creating a muddy, latent noise that distracts and forces you to turn up the volume of the sound you really want to hear.

 

By understanding the acoustic properties of wood and combining these advantages, the acoustic landscape of a building can be controlled without sacrificing the warmth and atmosphere that wood brings in favor of something that looks more lifeless like steel or concrete.

 

Light frame acoustics

 

Light timber structures are often found in residential and office buildings. Thus, a major acoustic priority for lightweight frame architecture is to keep airborne and percussive sounds in one area from disturbing people in other areas.

 

Building with materials with high STC (Sound Transmission Grade) grades is the best way to meet these needs. Using high-quality partitions and using isolation pads under the floor are just some of the techniques that can reduce sound movement.

 

There are also lightweight partition solutions and soft floor finishes or floating hardwood structures that serve the same purpose. However, because wood is a very flexible building material, and because different woods affect a variety of acoustic properties, designers can choose from a wide range of sound solutions when building with wood.

 

Bulk wood acoustics

 

While not as common as light frame architecture, large timber buildings have their own acoustic advantages and challenges. Because this type of building uses thick, high-quality wood to build walls and floors, the airborne and percussive sound problems that light-frame buildings might encounter are less severe.

 

This is not to say that measures should not be taken to mitigate these potential problems. Separating the two sides of the wall with a decoupler and adding a sound barrier behind the wood are effective strategies to address these sound types.

 

Attention should be paid to where the walls meet the floor and ceiling. These are the places where flanking sounds can seep in. It is also important to check the reverberation of rooms in such buildings.

 

The acoustic properties of wood can be a bit tricky. Although wood absorbs some sound, the flat surface of the wood wall can cause reverberation. Make sure your designers understand the NRC (noise reduction factor) rating of the materials they plan to use.

 

Incorporating a wood acoustic diffuser or two into the planning of a large wood project is a good way to control reverberation. Understanding the physics required for sound to pass through wood will help your team make choices when choosing materials.

 

Wood Sound: What is the best soundproof wood or the best sound-absorbing wood?

 

The physics of sound can be complicated. Anyone who hasn't studied acoustic wood and how the sound of wood affects people's ears in the environment will have a lot of questions.

 

To get the best answers to these and other questions, work with experts. Let the ASI architecture team assist you, they are good at creating the best Spaces for sound. The last thing you want is to work with a contractor who doesn't know anything about sound and is happy to charge you for "soundproof wood" or something equally disreputable.

 

With the right design and construction expertise, you'll have a space that feels warm, warm and elegant, and sounds good, too. Contact an expert to see how loud the woods can be.

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