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Working from home: How to Reduce Home Office Echo

Working from home sounds like it would be perfect. It’ s a comfortable space, and you enjoy working while your dog naps beside you. Then you take a call from a client who says, “I can’ t hear you; are you on a speakerphone? There is a lot of background noise and an echo.’ The background noise is an embarrassing situation. Your phone call’s poor quality is due to the reverberation of sound, also known as an echo. And it’ s a growing problem for many people who find themselves now working from their home offices.  

Other client-facing professionals who’ ve worked from home for years already know this is a problem you need to solve. Today’ s home office spaces often have large open areas and many hard surfaces. Windows, flooring, concrete, and even drywall cause echoes. Echoes make it challenging to get any work done. Besides, they create an unpleasant work environment. However, there are numerous creative and attractive solutions to help prevent or resolve sound problems. To improve the acoustics of a room, it’ s essential to know a little about the science of acoustics to choose the best solution.

For example, when a gong is struck with a mallet, it creates vibrations. Strumming strings on a guitar creates vibrations. And vocal cords vibrate, resulting in speech. These vibrations create a sound wave that travels through the air in the form of small changes in atmospheric pressure, alternating higher and lower than the static pressure. Loudness is the physical response to sound pressure and intensity. Our ears vibrate similarly to the sources of the vibration, causing us to hear different sounds.

Sound quality is determined by frequency. Measured in hertz (Hz) units, frequency is the number of complete vibration cycles above and below the static pressure in a unit of time. Our ears notice pressure changes at a rate of 16 times per second or more. Sound travels directly from the source to the ear. Indirect sound bounces from a surrounding surface. Part of a sound’ s energy is absorbed when this happens. Sometimes, the reflection of sounds enhance the quality and tone of music and speech. Delayed reflections or many sounds reflected at once cause echoes, which makes it difficult to understand speech.

A portion of sound energy is lost when it bounces from a surface. The part of the energy that is not reflected in the sound absorption coefficient. If a surface reflects 80% of the sound energy, then the sound absorption coefficient is 0.20.  If you snap your fingers in a room one time, the sound will continue to bounce off surfaces until all energy is lost through absorption. This is described as the reverberation time. Reverberation time is determined as how many seconds it takes for a sound to die out to one-millionth of its original energy (60 dB).

A room’ s reverberation time is affected by the dimensions and porous properties of the room’s surfaces and items. Reverberation impacts speech intelligibility and the pleasure of listening to music. It also makes rooms noisy. The best reverberation time is based on how a room is used and its size.

Sound-proofing melamine foam is available in glue-up wall and ceiling panels and baffles. Melamine foam is excellent for absorbing sound. The maximum noise reduction potential when installing foam panels in a room is from 4 to 6 decibels, resulting in a reduced noise of 20 to 30%!