Posted in education on April 15, 2016 5:53 pm EDT

3 Design Techniques to Help Reduce Sanctuary Sound Bleed

Simple sound isolation methods used in the design of a worship space can mean more effective ministry in the entire church.

Shown here, Houston's First Baptist Church.











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TAGS: acoustics, architectural design, avl design, sound isolation, worship space,


By Ed Van Herik

One of the common issues with church acoustics is the need to isolate the sound generated in the sanctuary from adjacent spaces. Often, the sanctuary is part of a larger building, which may house a nursery, meeting rooms and offices.

“Often just re-arranging a space can save construction costs. Acoustic isolation design is very difficult to correct after the fact and is also difficult to monitor during construction.”

—John Storyk, Founding Partner, Walters Storyk Design Group, Highland, NY

“Isolation is expensive, and there aren’t that many magic bullets to be had in this area,” says John Storyk, founding partner of Highland, N.Y.-based design firm Walters Storyk Design Group (WSDG). Storyk points out that it is much easier to handle the issue up front by taking a realistic look early in the design process at what the sound levels will be in the sanctuary and what the sound levels need to be in adjacent areas.

“Often just re-arranging a space can save construction costs,” Storyk says. “Acoustic isolation design is very difficult to correct after the fact and is also difficult to monitor during construction.”

The goal in sound isolation is to prevent or reduce the sound vibrations from traveling through walls into other rooms, which is commonly measured by a scale called Sound Transmission Class, or STC. In general, the higher the STC rating, the lower the sound transmission.

There are several commonly used methods to reduce sanctuary sound from filling nearby rooms, including:

1. Double walls: Since the sound needs to vibrate the wall itself to transmit sound to the next room, doubling the wall mass, perhaps with two sheets of drywall instead of one, will reduce the traveling sound as well.

2. Dampening materials and insulation: Acoustic panels are meant to absorb sound and are often added to assist in channeling sound within a sanctuary. They also limit the amount of sound vibrations that can travel beyond the room. Also, adding loosely packed insulation between walls helps to reduce sound vibrations as well. Material can include standard insulation materials like fiberglass or recycled cotton.  continued >>