Reverberation problems in the assembly hall of St Peters Public School in Sydney’s inner south have been solved by the unobtrusive installation of baffles of soundproofing material between ceiling beams in a simple operation proposed by Pyrotek Soundguard .
“The 1200mm long baffles of Sorbertex 3D are only 550 deep, virtually the depth of the beams, so do not intrude into the overhead space in the hall. And with their attractive non-oven black polyester facing, certainly do not detract from the décor,” said Pyrotek Soundguard’s Philip Cadwallen.
“Fifty four of them hang on horizontal wires tensioned by turnbuckles throughout the 20 x 10 metre hall.”
The solution was an ingenious option given that the large windows in the hall inhibited the more usual approach of lining the walls with decorative-faced soundproofing materials. Nor were floor coverings an option in a hall often used for activities such as dancing.
“We had to take due care not to remove so much of the reverb from the space that it sounded dead, a difficult task that had to be done by ear,” Philip Cadwallen said.
Passing judgment on the success of the measures, teacher John Berry, said: “Now there is much less echo; and voices sound more focussed than previously.”
John, who was the school’s project coordinator on the job, adds anecdotal evidence of success.
“Following installation, our kindy teacher put on an assembly item unaware of the measures taken. It was not until she was shown what had been done that she confessed she had wondered why her children had been so clear on stage.
“Up till then, the reverberation was so bad that we would have difficulty understanding what people were saying. Even normal audience movement was enough to interfere with the clarity of voices on stage.
“We had always been unhappy with the hall acoustics. The space is cavernous and full of hard surfaces that reflect noise; and with large windows, there is little space on the walls to install absorptive materials.”
A small school with big ambitions for its pupils, St Peters Public School urges its student “to learn to learn, to care, to cooperate, to appreciate, to make choices and to learn about technology”, admirable goals frustrated by garbled communication, which, in the school hall at least, students no longer find baffling—due to baffles.