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Author Topic: Reducing echo in multipurpose facility?  (Read 2495 times)

jcims

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Reducing echo in multipurpose facility?
« on: October 07, 2004, 02:38:33 am »

Our church is a 'multipurpose' facility where the main sanctuary is effectively a basketball court with carpet.  I really don't know much of anything about how the shape of a room affects the acoustics, but i feel safe in assuming that the 25 foot high block walls at each end are conspiring against me. :P  One of my favorite things to do is stand in the center of the room and clap, then just sit there for 2 or 3 seconds while the energy imparted to the room from my colliding hands races back and forth between these two walls at mach 1, audibly passing my ears about 8 or 9 times in the process...

Science demo aside, what can I do about this?  Accoustic paneling of some type is probably the answer, but it has to be at least somewhat durable, as church league basketball can get a little jihad...not to mention the missed full court lobs, errant football passes, foul kickballs, etc.  One thought was to simply run carpeting up the walls, possibly to 8-12', then do something a bit more sophisticated above that.  Another thought was to hang some large banners/flags/etc a few inches off the wall.  Am i correct in assuming that the hottest spot on the wall would be the area that directly reflects sound from the main speakers (flown above center stage) into the congregation (which would be an area on the wall about 10-14' off the floor)?

I guess the other question is just a realistic expectation of what it's going to do to the overall sound levels in the room.  Even if we glued 1500 sq ft of that funky egg crate foam stuff to the walls, would the overall effect be noticable? (This directly translates, of course, into whether or not the congregation will be happy that their $X,000 was well spent)  My hope would be that i could increase the volume in the main speakers w/o so much feedback, and that the overall 'volume' wouldn't increase, but the clarity of a single source would make (primarily spoken word) more understandable.

Thanks in advance for any tips!!!
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Bob Rich
Calvary Baptist Church
Marysville, Ohio

i0ushephf

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Re: Reducing echo in multipurpose facility?
« Reply #1 on: October 07, 2004, 04:43:05 am »

You could try hanging up fabric, it's probably more expensive than egg foam, but will look better... Have someone make a nice golden cross on it, or something like that...  Smile
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Tom Young

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Re: Reducing echo in multipurpose facility?
« Reply #2 on: October 07, 2004, 08:28:14 am »

The church needs to hire the acoustic and sound system consultant that they didn't hire when the place was designed and built.

The sound system energy hitting the walls may not be (and doesn't have to be) a source for destructive reflections.

Placing any treatment on the walls without careful design and selection of treatment material will yield little and uneven reduction in reflections and you'll still have poor intelligibility.

Overtreating will kill any sense of congregation/envelopment during services and will diminish aural excitement in competitive sports.

How the ldspkr system is aimed is an important factor in this.

The consultant needs to be experienced in acoustics and sound system design for this type of space and for the intended purposes.  Such specialists (and to be clear: I am one of them) are few and far between because it is not a large market. Unless you are lucky enough to have one nearby, expect to need the services from someone who is at some distance.  These days, distance consulting has proved to be an effective solution. It is possible that only one site visit (at the end) is necessary. Prior to that, all info is communicated electronically.

I strongly advise you to consider this and spend this money only once.
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Tom Young, Church Sound section moderator
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jcims

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Re: Reducing echo in multipurpose facility?
« Reply #3 on: October 07, 2004, 10:53:17 pm »

Actually we did hire a consultant, and he did a fine job putting the system together, documenting it, finding good quality gear at a reasonable price.  But, as i'm sure you're aware after running into what i imagine are countless instances of this same situation, it has become clear over the past few years that he was into wires and pots and power, and not so much into waves and reflections.

It may not be entirely fair, as the building architect had put the plans together before the consultant was hired, and with folks fighting the $12k sound system budget as it was, adding another few thousand for reducing echo and improving sound quality was probably not going to happen...  We came out of a very small building that had no such problems, and as a rural church, we didn't really have direct experience with any other large venues and some of the sound issues that could arise if the investment isn't made.

At this point, i would say that 80% of the congregation wouldn't really think it's a big problem, because the room sounds just like you would expect it to...  I just know it could be better, possibly much better, and feel that it's probably time to start doing something about it.

Thanks for your input.  I'll take a look around locally to see if there is anyone in the area (we have a few fairly large venue churches in central Ohio).  If i come up dry, would you mind if i contacted you offline to qualify the work and see if you would be interested?

Thanks
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Bob Rich
Calvary Baptist Church
Marysville, Ohio

Tom Young

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Re: Reducing echo in multipurpose facility?
« Reply #4 on: October 08, 2004, 08:32:20 am »

"Actually we did hire a consultant, and he did a fine job putting the system together, documenting it, finding good quality gear at a reasonable price. But, as i'm sure you're aware after running into what i imagine are countless instances of this same situation, it has become clear over the past few years that he was into wires and pots and power, and not so much into waves and reflections"

Certainly.  Acoustics and electroacoustics as applied to worship and performance spaces are each pretty complex and complicated specialty disciplines.  There are not that many who do this type of work and do it well.

"Thanks for your input. I'll take a look around locally to see if there is anyone in the area (we have a few fairly large venue churches in central Ohio). If i come up dry, would you mind if i contacted you offline to qualify the work and see if you would be interested?"

I have done a reasoably large church project in central Ohio (The Chapel in Akron) and I also designed and optimized the sound system at Schuster Performing Arts Center in Dayton.

I would not mind your contacting me off list.
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Tom Young, Church Sound section moderator
Electroacoustic Design Services
Oxford CT
Tel: 203.888.6217
Email: dbspl@earthlink.net
www.dbspl.com

Karl P(eterson)

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Re: Reducing echo in multipurpose facility?
« Reply #5 on: October 08, 2004, 11:36:26 am »

Tom and Jxxx(?)

It's also important to keep in the back of your mind that depending on the situation (room, size, people, etc) - If the gentleman was only given 12K in total (as J implied) what they have may very well be the best (or close to it) they could have had (at least at that time) for what they were willing to spend.

I know a project or two I have been involved in at that price bracket. The aim shifts a bit from doing a class job all the way around, to doing your best while running damage controll. In any case, on those projects, while I wouldnt exactly say they were steller by any meens, they got just what they wanted (and paid for).

Karl P
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Tom Young

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Re: Reducing echo in multipurpose facility?
« Reply #6 on: October 08, 2004, 11:51:24 am »

Understood.  And that budget is a bit stretched (!).

But one qualification that comes only from experience is to know when to walk away, if the job cannot be done reasonably well or to your own standards.  Hard to do when you're in need of income, but harder to recover from when it tarnishes your reputation.
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Tom Young, Church Sound section moderator
Electroacoustic Design Services
Oxford CT
Tel: 203.888.6217
Email: dbspl@earthlink.net
www.dbspl.com

Karl P(eterson)

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Re: Reducing echo in multipurpose facility?
« Reply #7 on: October 08, 2004, 07:43:43 pm »

Well I assumed (and maybe wrongly so) that that requirement had already been satisfied enough to warrant continuation of the project. It is of course possible that it wasn't, in which case this is obviously one of those examples where you shouldnt take such low budget jobs for fear of this conversation happening about you latter.

Karl P
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jcims

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Re: Reducing echo in multipurpose facility?
« Reply #8 on: October 08, 2004, 10:04:24 pm »

Unfortunately, the consultant in this case went out of business within a year after doing this install.  So, my guess is he was taking any work he could find to try to keep it going.  I do consulting  in somewhat of a niche element myself (computer security), and fully agree with Tom that it's often better to walk away from a gig that has a potential to smear your name than to take the work when you know the quality will be artificially compromised due to arbitrary budget figures/timelines/etc.  That being said, payroll trumps professional ideology when you've got mouths to feed...  
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Bob Rich
Calvary Baptist Church
Marysville, Ohio

Karl P(eterson)

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Re: Reducing echo in multipurpose facility?
« Reply #9 on: October 08, 2004, 10:23:21 pm »

Mr Security, Meet Mr Network Infrastructure Consultant, your best friend - or your worst enemy, depending on the day.

In any case, I understand the issue, i was just saying, in certain cases people get just what they want (and are willing to pay for). But your right, in certain circumstances food trumps most everything.

Karl "ssh" P

List of days and there meanings:

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