An architectural acoustics, or building acoustics consultant, is the specialist who knows soundproofing. First, let me explain what soundproofing is. The dictionary definition is: "impervious to sound; to cause to be soundproof". I think this definition is somewhat circular.
In order to clearly explain the term, I am quoting from Master Handbook of Acoustics, Sixth Edition (2015) by Everest & Pohlmann (McGraw Hill Education), page 321:
“The construction of walls, floors and ceilings is fundamental to any architectural endeavour. When the space within will be acoustically sensitive, those elements take an additional importance. In addition to structural integrity, these partitions must work as sound barriers to isolate the interior space from exterior noise, and to isolate the exterior from interior sound. To satisfy this acoustical requirement, these structural barriers must be designed and constructed in ways that are considerably different from typical building specifications.”
All buildings have some inherent level of resistance to the penetration of external sound and the transfering of sound from room to room. However, there is always a residual level of sound transfer into a room. This, in acoustically sensitive spaces, may be unacceptably high. The engineering and construction effort aimed at reducing the level of unwanted noise or sound in a room or a building is called “soundproofing”. It is a sub-specialty of building acoustics. Building acoustics is a branch of acoustics science. This is the business of an acoustics company. The specialist who is an expert in this discipline is called an architectural acoustics consultant, a building acoustics counsultant or, more nerrowly, a soundproofing consultant.
Building acoustics tasks done by an acoustics company
In a nutshell, building acoustics and soundproofing involves these activities:
- Establishment of acoustical objectives for a building project.
- Determination of specific sound transmission loss requirements for components of the building structure.
- Understanding of acoustical performance of different building assemblies.
- Working with an architect and a structural engineer in designing the elements of building structures that will meet acoustical performance as specified for the project.
- Acoustical tests to ascertain a specific level of performance.
Other elements of architectural acoustics that are usually considered separate from noise proofing are:
- Designing acoustic treatment for interior spaces in order to meet acoustic requirements for speech communication. Examples: office spaces, restaurants, classrooms, etc.
- Designing performance halls, lecture halls, theatres, etc. to meet specific acoustic objectives for music performance, and in some cases also for speech..
Who is an architectural acoustics consultant?
An architectural acoustics or building acoustics consultant is an engineer or an architect with the specialized knowledge and experience that includes soundproofing. His job is to execute the activities identified above, implementing soundproofing measures in a new building construction, or in a house renovation. He helps homeowners, builders, architects or general contractors to make sure that soundproofing is done correctly. He is often employed by a soundproofing company.
A soundproofing consultant makes it his business to keep current on trends and new developments in the field of soundproofing. He is informed about reference materials and tools published by manufacturers and government agencies, such as Canadian Construction Materials Centre (CCMC) operated by National Research Council of Canada.
There is no generally accepted terminology for this function. A soundproofing consultant is sometimes referred to as: a noise proofing consultant, a building acoustics consultant, an architectural acoustics consultant, a noise control consultant, or more broadly as an acoustics consultant, an acoustical engineer, or an acoustician. This specialist usually works for an acoustics company or a soundproofing company.
Anyone who desires to construct an acoustically sensitive space, such as a:
- a quiet bedroom
- a home theatre
- a basement apartment
- a multi-unit building where neighbours would otherwise disturb each other
- a commercial facility in a residential neighbourhood
- and a multitude of other situations
- should hire an acoustical consultant before engaging a soundproofing contractor. Use the button below to request a quote from the author of this blog.
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