McIntyre Group

How is Sound Absorption Rated?

Customers in need of sound absorption for any environment —pre- or post-construction — need to understand how acoustic panels are rated. Why? Because there are a number of factors that play into it, and the higher the rating the higher the cost. It’s not something you want to have to do twice.

So, this edition of the Acoustic Influencer from McIntyre is for customers. It’s a quick guide to understanding the rating system and what it means for you.

The ratings

All sound-absorbing materials are given a rating between zero and one, with zero being the worst and one the best. But there’s no such thing as a one rating, because nothing absorbs 100% of the sound it encounters. You’ll often see rating like 0.5 or 0.6.

The rating systems

There are two main ones: Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC) is the most common; Sound Absorption Average (SAA) is another. If you’re dealing with an installer who can’t or won’t give you these specifications, try another installer.

Who calculates ratings?

Every material undergoes testing in a specialized lab by a third party. Tests expose materials to sound waves at different frequencies and angles and measuring the amounts of sound energy absorbed.

What impacts ratings?

Every material starts out with its rating, but modifications will impact that. Factors like thickness and density, surface treatment and designs. Manufacturers and suppliers have the relevant test data and specs.

What rating is needed?

Most new builds come with rating specs, but for post-construction work it’s best to consult a sound technician or designer. They can test any space and measure needs. Testing includes the same methods as what’s done in the lab.

The Acoustic Influencer gets a one rating, because it absorbs all questions and observations at a rate of 100%. If you have either, please comment below and share.

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