Acoustics In A Box™ Systems for School Cafeterias and Gymnasiums

Return to: Acoustics In A Box™ Overview

School cafeterias and gymnasiums are nearly always multi-purpose rooms that get used for all kinds of events in addition to their primary uses as cafeteria and sports venue. Few of these spaces were built with any consideration for the quality of sound and because they usually feature hard surfaces on floors, walls, ceiling and furniture, they nearly all reverberate so badly that announcements are practically unintelligible and conversations are difficult to understand, especially when these rooms are filled with participants who are all trying to talk with their seat mates. The problem with these rooms is nearly always too long a reverberation time. That suggests that the cure is to shorten the reverberation time, and that in a nutshell, is exactly what Acoustics In A Box™ sound absorber panels are specifically designed to do. (For more on the problem of excessive reverberation, see our White Paper.)

The addition of Acoustics In A Box™ sound absorber panels, properly mounted using the patented black hole™ mounting system, can greatly improve the sound quality by shortening the reverberation time of virtually any room. In general, the more panels installed, the shorter will be the reverberation time of the room and the better it will sound.

In school cafeterias and gymnasiums, Acoustics In A Box™ panels are generally installed on the walls using down sloping, vertically oriented panels spaced about 2-8 feet apart on all walls where there is room to do so. If the room is especially "boomy" with heavy reverberation in the low frequencies, additional down sloping panels can be installed in ceiling to wall corners, and/or side sloping panels can be installed in wall to wall corners to provide effective bass traps that will go a long way toward curing the boominess of the room.

The Acoustics In A Box™ system is quite simple to use, by design. Ideally, a 14' x 20' room would call for 8 panels, a room that would seat 25 people would need about 16 panels, one that would accommodate 50 people would need about 24 panels, and beyond that, a good starting place would be about 8 more panels for each additional 50 seats.

In most rooms you will find natural limits to the number of panels you can install due to conflicts with doors, windows, artworks and other decorations and furniture. Accordingly, the most effective way to begin is to examine your room and identify the number of places you have where the 2' x 4' panels can be installed. The panels should be mounted so that the bottom of the panels are at about 6-7 feet above the floor, or if the room is not tall enough to accommodate this position, then mount the panels about 6 inches down from the ceiling. If you need more panels than you have room for, you can substitute horizontal mount panels which you may be able to install above doorways or windows, and you may also be able to install some additional panels on the ceiling.

If after considering these general principles, you simply do not have enough spaces where you can install panels, you will get better results by choosing the 2" thick panels instead of the 1" standard panels. The 2" panels are about 25% more effective in absorbing sound across the audible spectrum, at about 25% greater cost, so they offer a significant improvement potential for those with limited wall or ceiling space to work with. The 2" thick panels are also highly recommended if you have a lot of boominess to contend with as they offer greater bass frequency sound absorption.

Though many cafeterias and gymnasiums do not have accessible ceiling locations, if you do have a hard surface flat ceiling, installing additional panels on the ceiling, either ceiling sloping or hanging baffles, or a combination of both, can provide considerable reduction in the reverberation time of your room.

One more thing: Acoustics In A Box panels are easily damaged if struck by a basketball or other object, and once broken, the panels perform their function very poorly. In sports venues like gymnasiums the simple solution is to buy a few extra panels so that you can replace broken ones when that inevitably does happen. These panels are quite inexpensive, especially when you consider the cost of alternative treatments.

See some small room configurations to help visualize a typical Acoustics In A Box™ installation. For your room, the configuration will almost certainly be drastically different, but these sketches may help.

To order, please choose the components you need here, then send us an email: or give us a call to place your order: 1-918-478-5500

Or, if you have more questions or need suggestions, please provide us with the following information and we will respond with a recommendation and a quote:

  • Room purpose (vocal presentation, music presentation, group meetings, other (please specify))
  • Description of the acoustic problem you are trying to remedy.
  • Room dimensions (length, width, ceiling height)
  • Ceiling type (hard surface, acoustic tile, cathedral)
  • Seating capacity of the room

See Also: Acoustics In A Box™ Overview

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