Overcoming the Acoustic Enemy: Excessive Noise and Reverberation

Sound can radically alter human experience on every level. Most of us can recall occasions when unpleasant noise or poor audio quality ruined our experience or change our perception of people or their organization. It should therefore come as no surprise that poor acoustical design can result in devastating business losses, in terms of profits and people.

If you’re thinking that it’s a stretch to make that assumption, consider this: sound is one of the five senses and critical to customer experience. Poor audio quality can cultivate feelings of frustration, irritability, stress, and distraction, which can lead to a negative perception of your brand.

These harmful effects of poor acoustic design are only being exacerbated by the irreversible trend towards virtual meetings and remote workforces, which will likely worsen as augmented and virtual reality permeate the soundscapes of commerce and culture. Lest you presume better gadgets will solve this problem, even audio-equipment manufacturers admit that higher quality audio equipment is only a band-aid and cannot overcome poor acoustic design.

Facing the Acoustic Enemy

The two most common acoustic enemies are excessive noise and reverberation. Noise levels from outside often penetrate inside commercial spaces because walls, ceilings, and floors are built without consideration of the acoustical comfort of future tenants.


wavy acoustic ceiling


Reverberation or echoes are simply soundwaves bouncing off surfaces and each other. The effect gets stronger in built spaces that are full of hard materials (metals, glass), flat surfaces, and voluminous areas (vaulted or exceptionally tall ceilings).

Enter heroic architects, designers, and builders to defeat cacophony with sonic weapons of absorption, reflection, and diffraction.

Soft materials neutralize sonic pollution. Using a variety of softer materials will reduce reverberations by absorbing soundwaves. For example, you can use premium 100% wool felt and/or a more economical PET acoustic felt to neutralize noise in your commercial space.

Non-uniform and jagged spatial design starves rebellious reverberations. Designers can use various textures, shapes, and architectural products to reflect and diffract the acoustic enemy’s soundwaves into divided factions, retreating in innumerable directions and frequencies. Felt products used in acoustic design can include ceiling baffles, clouds, and grids, as well as surfaces and room dividers.

The baseline noise level of a commercial space can be affected by many factors beyond the control of those responsible for designing the interior space, such as elevators, building mechanics, nearby traffic, airports, or HVAC systems.

The designer must also consider whether the space will have single or multiple intended uses. Will it be an open office floor plan for creative collaboration, or segmented for quiet concentration? What about architectural structure of the building? Is there a drop ceiling and, if so, is there an open or ducted air return system? Is the sprinkling or lighting system equipped to hang ceiling baffles?

There are always solutions for every design challenge, but the best solutions always balance design challenges with the client’s priorities regarding function, aesthetics, budget, and schedule. Naturally, the best interior designers creatively align the brand’s aesthetic style, character, and messaging into acoustically designed spaces.

Contact CSI Creative to learn more about our acoustic felt solutions.