About Noise Control

Noise control is an active or passive means of reducing sound emissions, often incentivised by personal comfort, environmental considerations or legal compliance. Practical and efficient noise control is wholly reliant on an accurate diagnosis of what is causing the noise, which first involves finding the source of noise. Once the source of noise has been found, the focus is reducing the noise at source by engineering means.

The most common noise sources can be divided into aerodynamic (fans, pneumatics, combustion, etc) and mechanical (impacts, friction, etc). Effective noise control focuses on reducing the noise from these sources as close to the source as possible. Noise control for aerodynamic sources include quiet air nozzles, pneumatic silencers and quiet fan technology.

In architectural acoustics and environmental acoustics, noise control refers to the set of practices employed for noise mitigation. Within architectural acoustics these practices include: interior sound reverberation reduction, inter-room noise transfer mitigation and exterior building skin augmentation. More specific architectural noise control methods include the installation of acoustical gypsum, ceiling tiles, ceiling panels, carpet and draperies. In the field of environmental sound, common noise control practices include: design of noise barriers, development and enforcement of noise abatement legal codes and urban design.

Types of noise control

There are four basic principles of noise control:

  • Sound insulation: prevent the transmission of noise by the introduction of a mass barrier. Common materials have high-density properties such as brick, concrete, metal etc.
  • Sound absorption: a porous material which acts as a ‘noise sponge’ by converting the sound energy into heat within the material. Common sound absorption materials include open cell foams and fiberglass
  • Vibration damping: applicable for large vibrating surfaces. The damping mechanism works by extracting the vibration energy from the thin sheet and dissipating it as heat. A common material is sound deadened steel.
  • Vibration isolation: prevents transmission of vibration energy from a source to a receiver by introducing a flexible element or a physical break. Common vibration isolators are springs, rubber mounts, cork etc.

Materials used in architectural acoustics

Acoustical wall and ceiling panels can be constructed of many different materials and finishes. The ideal acoustical panels are those without a face or finish material that interferes with the acoustical infill or substrate. Fabric covered panels are one way to maximize the acoustical absorption. The finish material is used to cover over the acoustical substrate. Mineral fiber board, or Micore, is a commonly used acoustical substrate. Finish materials often consist of fabric, wood or metal. Fabric can be wrapped around substrates to create what is referred to as a "pre-fabricated panel" if laid onto a wall, and require no modifications. Such fabrics are generally acoustically 'transparent, meaning that they do not imped a sound wave [1]. Prefabricated panels are limited to the size of the subas "on-site acoustical wall panels" This is constructed by "framing" the perimeter track into shape, infilling the acoustical substrate and then stretching and tucking the fabric into the perimeter frame system. On-site wall panels can be constructed to work around door frames, baseboard, or any other intrusion. Large panels (generally greater than 50 feet) can be created on walls and ceilings with this method.

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