Architectural Acoustic Consultants

Architectural Acoustics

Room Acoustics
Building Acoustics
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Architectural acoustics is the science of noise control within buildings; it includes room acoustics and building acoustics. The first application of architectural acoustics was in the design of opera houses and then concert halls. More widely, noise suppression is critical in the design of multi-unit dwellings and business premises that generate significant noise.

Architectural acoustical design solutions include:

- Concert halls
- Auditoriums
- Churches
- Conference Rooms
- Theatres
- Cinemas
- Music rooms
- Music Studios
- Broadcast
- Sporting arenas
- Schools
- Hotels
- Atriums
- Office spaces
- Call centres
- Houses and apartments

Room AcousticsBack To Top

Room Acoustics is the science of controlling a room’s surface based on sound absorption and reflection. Speech intelligibility can be hampered due to excessive reverberation time. Sound reflections create standing waves which produce natural resonances which, in turn, can be heard as either a pleasant or annoying sensation.

In order to predict acoustic values when planning spaces, we use dedicated software technology to perform the following:

- Room Acoustic Modelling Design
- Ray Tracing
- Auralization
- Predicting Absorption Performance for Perforated Facings

Acoustic Modelling Design

Subsonic Designs uses 3D acoustic software to calculate the acoustics of the interior of a room. This method is far more accurate and faster than human calculation. We are able to investigate all factors of acoustics without the risk of errors. The acoustic volume simulator allows us to import technical drawing files from other software programmes to calculate and render the acoustic modelling of the space, taking into account of all the surrounding materials. Having a data base of all the technical acoustic data from leading suppliers around the world, this is an indispensable tool in our work. The design department can prepare acoustic studies for existing rooms or for rooms which are still in the development stage. We can compare different materials from our material database to achieve the best performance, for example floor coverings, type of seating, wall coverings and ceiling.

The architectural components we study include size, shape, surface orientation, materials as well as background noise level, all of which influence intelligibility. Our design sector prepares a technical drawing of the room, using an acoustic volume simulator programme in order to optimise the placement and quantity of the materials to be used, shape of the room, size and layout. The objective of the solutions we propose is to control the acoustic energy by ascertaining the reverberation / frequency time balance (RT60), the type of noise source and the level of acoustic pressure, and the correct absorption / reflection balance in order to optimize intelligibility levels in a room.

We also have a loudspeaker data base from all the leading suppliers to help us plan spaces where audio is a prime importance’s such as churches and concert halls.

For existing spaces; using the survey conducted by our Room Acoustic Analysis department, our technical staffs prepare the best solution on the basis of several factors: technical solution, surroundings, client empathy, aesthetic aspect and cost.

Ray Tracing

Ray tracing is used to study the propagation of the sound rays. The paths of individual rays released in/into a room are traced until they reach predetermined limits. We are thus enabled to predict the propagation of sound in room, for example, the design of reflectors in an auditorium.


The process of converting the acoustic and electro-acoustic data generated by our software into an audio signal which can be heard and evaluated, Auralisation is a further service provided by Subsonic Designs. This presents our clients with the opportunity to hear and experience the internal acoustics of a room before any physical acoustic work is undertaken.

Room Acoustic Analysis

Subsonic Designs carries out various types of acoustic tests. These detailed surveys allow our most demanding clients the possibility of having the interiors of their sites surveyed rigorously with a view to the future development of a project by our staff.

Room Acoustic Analysis is an essential tool for acoustic volumetric study which is the only method of accurately determining the true acoustic situation of a room.

It is the only way of accurately determining the real acoustic situation of the room. The measurements determine: the reverberation/frequency time (RT60), acoustic pressure, signal/noise relationship, RASTI (Rapid Speech Transmission Index).

These values are recorded in order to be interpreted when preparing solutions.

“These measurements are made according to the following standards:

- ISO3382 (room acoustics)
- IEC 60268-16 (speech intelligibility)”

Building Acoustics

To ensure a space functions optimally, it is vital that noise/sound transmission be controlled as it moves from one space to another. When planning spaces, we use dedicated software to predict and minimise sound transmissions between building spaces, exterior noise and noisy equipment. This capability is of great use when assessing proposed building designs for office buildings, hotels, apartments and when rendering green star auditing for acoustics. Based on this assessment we can recommend suitable designs that will meet requirements, thus resulting in a cost saving method as there is no need to over design.

Subsonic Designs provides Green Star auditing for acoustics. As part of this, we provide the relevant documents to justify points achieved under the ‘Internal Noise’ credit. This includes an external noise survey (at design stage) and an internal noise survey (at project completion).

Building Acoustic Design

The main noise transmission path for the building exterior to the interior and vice versa is via roofs, eaves, walls, windows, doors and penetrations. Sufficient control ensures space functionality and is often required depending on building use, ‘green’ building and local municipal codes. Therefore, it is important to provide a suitable design for a building to be constructed close to a high volume roadway, or under the flight path at a major airport, or of the airport itself. This is based on a noise spectrum of the proposed facility’s environment.

Controlling noise transmission from one building space to another is to ensure space functionality and speech privacy. The typical sound paths are room partitions, ceiling panels (such as dropped ceiling panels), doors, windows, flanking, ducting, floor slabs, roof structures and other penetrations.

A key area that Subsonic Designs focus on is to include all the components that make up a construction. Subsonic Designs does not only use the performance data of one particular component (which only tells one part of the story) but we look at all the different components that will determine the performance of a separation, We also design accordingly to the type of noise sources that will transmit between two areas. This is the only way to accurately design a separation.

“Therefore, Subsonic Designs uses specialised software to determine the mitigation of sound between spaces and noisy equipment too. We are able to calculate according to standard ‘ISO EN 12354’ the following:

- Airborne sound insulation values (room separations)
- Impact noise levels (rain noise)
- Façade sound insulation values (exterior noise)
- Noise emission levels of noisy enclosures (mechanical room)
- Reverberation times in rooms”

“Our software capability:

  • We have a multi-catalogue interface with a material database
  • Built-in multilayer engine allows the prediction of the sound insulation of multilayer solutions
  • Formulas to model custom designs
  • Information for every pair of enclosures, separation, flank and transmission path.
  • Acoustic Quality assessment
  • Noise emission maps
  • 3D modelling Room spec to determine the applicable legislation limits to verify the building compliance
  • We are able to import floor plans to use as a template
  • Auralization with a number of different types of noise sources such as bathroom noise, vacuum cleaner noise, TV and music noise. This allows us to assess the discomfort levels experienced from a type of noise source”

Building Services Noise Control

Occupied spaces need the continuous delivery of the requirements for human habitat- air, water, power and a controlled thermal environment. Noise and vibration are often the by-products of these mechanical processes. Therefore Building services noise control is an important aspect Subsonic Designs looks at.

Inadequate control may lead to elevated sound levels within the space which can be annoying and reduce speech intelligibility. Typical improvements are vibration isolation of mechanical equipment (once the vibration path is controlled, then the airborne path can be treated), and sound traps in ductwork. Sound masking can also be created by adjusting HVAC noise to a predetermined level.

Typical equipment that produces noise is:

- Generators
- Water pumps
- Any other building service infrastructure component that emits sound.

Building Acoustic Analysis

The purpose of Building Acoustic Analysis between areas is to determine discomfort levels cause by air-borne noise and structural physical propagation. Subsonic Designs determines the values of discomfort with precision. Furthermore, we prepare explanatory reports which propose solutions that fit legal requirements.

Measurements taken are:

- Field Sound Transmission
- Noise Insulation
- Impact Insulation
- Ambient Noise levels


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Michel Batista

cell : 072 259 7046
fax : 086 668 4098

Johannesburg / Pretoria
1383 Winged Foot Place

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