Small Classroom Acoustics – A Case Study

The Windsor Road Christian Church in Champaign, IL was founded in 1977 with only a handful of members. Thirty-five years later, the number of members has grown to more than 900. The church continues to expand to meet this growth and now hosts many social groups and activities including youth and adult ministries, Sunday school, and weekly seminars.

During a recent renovation, the WRCC converted an unused space into two classrooms to be used by student ministry classes, weekly home school groups and meeting space for non-profit organizations.

Identified Problem – Hard Surfaces and Harsh Sounds

In order to keep renovation costs to a minimum, the Windsor Christian Church did not install carpet over the existing tile floors in the rooms. These floors, coupled with the room’s bare walls, were a cause of concern for some class participants. They noted that the sound echoing off of the room’s hard surfaces created a feeling of loudness and harshness to speech in the rooms.

Bare floors and walls created reverberation problems

Mark Aardsma, owner of ATS Acoustics and a attendee of the church, suggested to Mike Simmons, WRCC’s Administrative Minister, that acoustic panels might be an easier and more cost-effective solution than adding carpet.

Treatment Provided -Microsuede Acoustic Panels

After completing a room analysis, ATS calculated that twenty 24′ x 24′ acoustic panels in 2 ‘ thickness would be an effective acoustical treatment for the size and shape of the two classrooms. The WRCC decided on the peat color from the ATS Microsuede fabric selection. ATS Acoustics donated these panels to the church.

Installing Acoustic Panels in the Small Classrooms

ATS Acoustic Microsuede Panels have a Noise Reduction Coefficient Rating of up to .90, meaning they absorb a large percent of the sound that reaches them, greatly reducing the amount of echo in the classrooms. The panels were installed in groups of four. Twelve panels went into the larger of the two rooms and eight panels were installed in the remaining room.

Results – Improvement in Speech Intelligibility

Finished Installation

Since installation, class members have noticed an improvement in speech intelligibility. Reverberation time has been reduced and there is a significant overall noise reduction within the rooms.

Mike Simmons highlights that, “the panels have helped create a better learning atmosphere for the students, church community and other organizations who use the facilities.”