Architectural Acoustics Consultant?! Who is He?

Architectural acoustics consultant for home theatre

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.


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 is acoustically sensitive, those elements take additional importance. In addition to structural integrity, these partitions must work as sound barriers to isolate the interior space from exterior noise and the exterior from interior sound. To satisfy this acoustical requirement, these structural barriers must be designed and constructed in considerably different ways from typical building specifications.”

All buildings have some inherent level of resistance to the penetration of external sound and the transferring 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 to reduce 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 consultant, or, more narrowly, a soundproofing consultant.

Building acoustics tasks done by an acoustics company

In a nutshell, building acoustics and soundproofing involves these engineering 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 a professional engineer or an architect with the specialized knowledge and experience that includes soundproofing. His job is to execute the abovementioned activities, implementing soundproofing measures in new building construction or house renovation. He helps homeowners, builders, architects, or general contractors ensure soundproofing is done correctly.  A soundproofing renovation company often employs him.

A soundproofing consultant makes it his business to keep current on trends and new developments in soundproofing. He is informed about reference materials and tools published by manufacturers and government agencies, such as the Canadian Construction Materials Centre (CCMC), operated by the National Research Council of Canada.

There is no generally accepted terminology for this function.  A soundproofing consultant is sometimes called a noise-proofing consultant, a building acoustics consultant, an architectural acoustics consultant, a noise control consultant, or, more broadly, an acoustics consultant, an acoustic 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 psychologist's office
  • an accountant's or lawyer's office
  • a commercial facility in a residential neighbourhood
  • and a multitude of other situations -

- should hire an acoustical consultant before engaging a soundproofing contractor.  

In Ontario, an acoustical consultant must be a Professional Engineer registered with Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) and holding a Certificate of Authorization.

You can use the button below to request a quote from this blog's author.

Beware of pretend consultants

Some construction companies claim to specialize in soundproofing.  Take such claims with a grain of salt.  A free contractor's quote is not a substitute for proper engineering advice. It is illegal in Ontario to offer consulting services without Professional Engineers Ontario (PEO) authorization.

Some contractors offer to test the level of soundproofing or noise.  Such tests are useless because contractors usually do not have accurate instruments and do not follow engineering standards for noise testing, for example

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About the Author Ivan Koval

The author is the publisher of the Soundproofing.Expert website. He is a soundproofing and building acoustics consultant working in Toronto and GTA, Ontario, Canada. Telephone (416) 471-2130

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