Interiors 1,917 views Dec 03, 2019

The importance of acoustic sound testing in a space should never be underestimated, especially when it comes to open-plan commercial offices writes Genghis Akay, Director at Planet Partitioning. With substandard acoustic performance one of the cardinal errors of a poorly-designed office, how important is it to test sound levels in life-like scenarios?

More to the point, if an office’s acoustic performance is below par, it can have negative repercussions on employees, affecting concentration, productivity and health. Considering employees’ wellbeing is at the heart of every business, how crucial is it to test a space’s acoustic performance for the sake of its occupants?

Test as true to life

Whilst there are computer-simulated assessment tests available which can provide an estimate of a space’s acoustic performance, it isn’t necessarily conclusive or reliable. In most cases, these tests will not account for what happens in reality.

Considering every item in a space can affect acoustic performance – from the kinds of glazing seals to the method of construction – it is crucial to test acoustics in conditions as close to its real-time use. For instance, in some testing locations, glass partition framework is buried into the ceiling and the floor. But what happens if the framework is exposed? How will this discrepancy – between testing design and real-time design – affect the space’s acoustics? Products must be tested in true-to-life scenarios to ensure there are no discrepancies between when the product is tested and when it is installed. By selecting a testing centre which analyses the real-time performance of a space, clients achieve an accurate picture and ensure noisy acoustics are kept to a minimum.

As well as being more or less true to real-life use, acoustic testing must also be without influence or bias. Prior to product installation, it is essential for all acoustic testing to be executed by an independent body, in which testing locations are UKAS-accredited (United Kingdom Accreditation Service).

Installation phase

When it comes to product installation, flanking sound transmission is an important consideration when it comes to partitions. Flanking sound transmission is when sound passes over and is not absorbed by objects. Sound that passes around objects is more disruptive for occupants, and tends to be more present in spaces with flimsy or weaker partitions.

In these kinds of spaces it is crucial to strike the right balance. If companies install a sophisticated acoustic performance glass partition between a raised access floor and a suspended ceiling, the raised access floor and ceiling must be treated properly to combat flanking sound transmission.

Essentially, it is about taking a holistic snapshot of how the space will perform to ensure acoustic levels are kept to the correct minimum. Without installing the right products, the quality of the whole space will be compromised. All of the components – from the services, to the partitions, to the type of surface – have to work in harmony within the space to assure acoustic performance.