Featured Project: St. Catherine Greek Orthodox Church

Featured Project: St. Catherine Greek Orthodox Church

Wave Engineering recently had the pleasure of working with St. Catherine Greek Orthodox Church near Denver, CO to enhance the acoustics of their sanctuary. We used EASE acoustical modeling software to investigate changes to the surface finishes and shape of the room in order to maintain speech intelligibility and improve projection from the choir loft. As part of our analysis we also had the opportunity to research optimum acoustics for Byzantine chant, which is a key component of Greek Orthodox services. As you can see in the photos, the sanctuary is a beautiful space with multiple arches and domes, which also made it tricky to model in the software. Fortunately, Tim Politis with 1ine Studio provided a detailed SketchUp model of the room as a starting point. The EASE model allowed us to look at many different acoustical metrics in addition to the traditional reverberation time, and we were able to map the effect of different options across the seating area. This better informed the changes to the choir loft. We also used EASE to create auralizations of the different options, and we presented these on headphones to the church representatives so that they could hear and evaluate the changes. One of the elements we modeled was how much the reverberation would change with occupancy since the pews are not padded. Listen to the speech and chant clips below to hear the difference between the empty room and fully occupied, for example. Audio files: Speech – Unoccupied Speech – Fully Occupied Speech – Chant Unoccupied Speech – Chant Occupied For a complex room, 3D acoustical modeling provides a wealth...
Are Your Video Conference Room Acoustics HD-Compatible? (Part Two)

Are Your Video Conference Room Acoustics HD-Compatible? (Part Two)

In a previous post, we discussed ways that the acoustics of a conference room can affect the audio quality of the video conferencing system. Here in Part 2 we will go over some general recommendations on designing the room to get the best sound from the system. Good Design Principles The three main pillars to good acoustical design for a video conference room are: 1. Low background noise 2. Low reverberation 3. Microphones located close to the talkers If you can provide those three items in all conference rooms, you can achieve the natural, immersive sound quality that your HD video conference system is capable of. Background noise The HVAC noise in the conference room should be less than 30 dBA or Noise Criteria (NC) 25. Most building HVAC systems will exceed this level unless care is taken to add lined duct, locate equipment away from the room, and use low air velocities. Many conference rooms have a glass wall looking outside or into a corridor or lobby area. Intruding noises like traffic or people talking outside the room can interfere with the conference too. Some conference areas are not even divided from the rest of the open office area, which is not a good idea for video conferencing. Reverberation An ideal conference room should have a reverberation time around 0.5 seconds. This is not possible in a room with a lot of hard surfaces like glass, drywall, concrete, or exposed metal deck. A reverberant room makes speech sound muddy and makes the background noise louder. Soft, sound absorbing materials are needed to control reverberation, and they should be...
Are Your Video Conference Room Acoustics HD-Compatible?

Are Your Video Conference Room Acoustics HD-Compatible?

There are many market factors driving the growth of video conferencing, and manufacturers like Polycom and ClearOne have responded with better technology. These modern video conference systems offer bigger displays, higher resolution video, high definition audio quality, integration with mobile apps, and so on. However, if this advanced technology is installed in a poorly designed conference room, the results can be disappointing. A good conference room design and system installation takes into many factors, including lighting, background color and patterns, camera and video display locations, microphone and loudspeaker type and placement, background noise, and room acoustics. This post will focus on ways that the room design can enhance or reduce the audio quality of the system. A follow-up post will provide more detail on good room design principles to get the best audio quality possible out of any videoconferencing system. The advent of HD audio quality Traditional video and teleconferencing systems relied on telephone connections for communication, which inherently limited the audio quality. For example, landline phones are filtered to a narrow range of frequencies that are most important to speech intelligibility. As a result, voices can still be understood, but they don’t sound as natural as they would if you were in the same room with the person. Compare these two audio files to see if you can hear the difference in quality: unfiltered audio  audio with telephone filter As we move away from landlines to cell phones and VOIP systems, there are other ways that audio quality can be compromised. High quality digital audio requires a lot of data and causes network congestion. Phone systems try to...