Why acoustic blinds and curtains are replacing acoustic panels
Acoustic blinds and curtains are a natural fit in most modern spaces, giving architects and designers the freedom to create visually appealing rooms with exceptional acoustics.
Modern architecture and interior design prioritises big spaces, clean lines and hard surfaces. But these features often come at a cost to our acoustical environment.
Without sound absorption, the spaces in which we live and work can easily become echo chambers. In these environments, noise builds up, sound becomes muddied and speech becomes difficult to understand.
These characteristics are particularly undesirable for ‘high intelligibility’ spaces, such as classrooms, recording studios, video conference rooms and media rooms, where the ability to hear and record sound is all-important. But they can be no less frustrating in homes, where excess noise and unintelligible sound can significantly impact homeowners’ enjoyment of their living spaces.
Architects and interior designers need to strike a balance between aesthetics and acoustics when it comes to modern building design. While there an increasing number of sound-absorbing solutions available for them to implement, it’s clear that acoustic blinds and curtains offer a design-first solution that improves the natural aesthetics of modern spaces while also overcoming the acoustic challenges so often associated with them.
Rethinking sound absorption
Acoustic panels have traditionally been the method used to improve sound absorption in a given space. These large, soft-furnished panels are applied to floors, walls, ceilings and partition surfaces to reduce reverberation and echo.
While acoustic panels have proved effective at absorbing sound, there is a design trade-off associated with them. They come in a limited range of styles and colours, and are usually available in set sizes so can’t be easily configured to the space needing acoustic treatment.
Acoustic panels are typically added after a space has been built and an acoustic problem has been discovered, which means they rarely fit the aesthetic of the space. Furthermore, consideration is rarely given to whether acoustic panels will actually solve a specific noise problem. Without using an acoustic consultant to determine the type of solution required, more panels may be needed than originally expected, which can further impact a room’s aesthetics.
Where acoustic panels fail to make the grade isn’t that they provide inadequate sound absorption. It’s that they can compromise the artistic vision of architects, designers and homemakers wanting to create functional and attractive spaces.
Why choose acoustic blinds and curtains?
Acoustic blinds and curtains have emerged as a solution that can add to a room’s visual appeal while also addressing that most common of acoustical problems – a high reverberation time.
When the features of a room cause sound waves to reflect off surfaces such as walls, ceilings, floors and furniture, sound can continue to echo in a way that affects speech clarity and intelligibility. Reverberation time refers to how long it takes for a sound to cease after the source has stopped emitting the sound.
Window furnishings such as blinds and curtains are a natural fit with most interior spaces. But unlike traditional window furnishings, acoustic blinds and curtains combine natural materials with unique fabric construction to maximise sound absorption.
Scientifically tested to global standards, fabrics used by Acoustic Blinds and Curtains have sound absorption ratings up to a Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC) of 0.75. When installed as a finished curtain, this makes them comparable with the NRC offered by leading acoustic panels. However, the effect of installing an acoustic curtain or blind can be greater than indicated by a single number. The ‘wave-fold’ heading of an acoustic curtain can further enhance the effective absorption of sound, for example, and they can be readily adjusted by acoustic consultants to achieve optimal reverberation time reductions as needed.
The smart choice
Whether designing a high-intelligibility environment or a liveable room space, good acoustical design is critical. Just as important is that any acoustic treatment used complements and enhances the space in which it is used. Available in a range of premium colours, styles and fabrics, acoustic blinds and curtains are the right choice when aesthetics matter.
For a simple, cost-effective alternative to acoustic panels, acoustic blinds and curtains offer the best of both worlds – an effective sound-absorption solution and exceptional visual appeal.