When a sound wave hits a surface, part of the energy is reflected, the material absorbs part of it and the rest is transmitted.
Implications of poor sound absorption
- Difficulty concentrating: Sounds come at the listener from all directions at more or less the same volume level. The direction of the sound source cannot be determined. The result is disorientation, which makes it hard to concentrate
- Poor speech intelligibility: Reflected sound interferes with other sound sources, making speech inaudible or difficult to understand.
- The Lombard effect: When the sound level is practically the same everywhere in the room, people talk louder and louder to make themselves heard.
Benefits of good sound absorption
- Controls the ambient sound level
- Prevents echoes and their side effects
- Increases speech intelligibility
The quality of sound absorption is determined by the layout of the space and the materials used.