Thursday, August 30, 2012

The 2012 Summer Olympics recently completed in London, England featured the best athletes from around the world competing against one another on a worldwide stage.

Recently a group of students from Olathe East High School in Olathe, KS had a similar experience of competing against the best of the best from around the United States at the National Technology Student Association (TSA) competition in Nashville, Tennessee. The team secured their spot in nationals after placing second in the TSA state competition in May.

Mac Wendling, Ashlee Foster, Brittany Sook, and Emma Cole competed in the Construction Renovation category which involved renovating an existing living area into a recording studio. ADG helped the students with advice on architectural acoustics and noise control concerns. Olathe East continued their role and achieved 4th place in the national competition!

Congratulations to Mac, Ashlee, Brittany, and Emma on their success – here’s to hoping that we have four future acoustical consultants to look forward to, but good luck in whatever future endeavors that they may pursue!

For more on TSA, visit

Wednesday, February 22, 2012


The following comes from the American Institute of Physics website:

Curious about whether the treble range was indeed more important for singing than for speech, Brian Monson - a research scientist at the National Center for Voice and Speech at the University of Utah - teamed up with researchers from the Department of Speech, Language, and Hearing Science at the University of Arizona to test what sort of information lies within the treble range for both spoken and sung words. The researchers recorded both male and female voices singing and speaking the words to the U.S. national anthem, and then removed all the frequencies below 5700 Hertz. When volunteers listened to the high-frequency-only recordings, they were able to identify the gender of the voice, the familiar passages from the “Star-Spangled Banner,” and whether the voice was singing or speaking the words.

“This was definitely an unexpected result,” says Monson, who notes that the traditional view of speech would not have predicted that such specific information would be carried in frequencies above 5000 Hertz. The results may help explain why it can be especially difficult to understand cell phone conversations in trains or at cocktail parties. In loud environments, the low-frequency range can become cluttered with noise and the higher frequency signals that might serve as a back-up in face-to-face communication are cut off by the cell phone transmission. The scientists’ studies may also have implications for the design of hearing-aids and may help guide the quest to produce synthesized speech that sounds natural. “This started off as a scientific study of the art form of singing, but the results can tell us surprising information about human communication in general,” Monson says.

You can read more at:

Monday, November 7, 2011

Speak-up, I Can't Hear You Over All This Dining Noise!

Recent news broadcasts have illustrated issues relating to noisy restaurants. According to the reports, noise is the number two complaint patrons voice after poor service. Restauranteurs explain that the success of their enterprise is partially dependent on a lively, boisterous atmosphere making the diner feel a part of the action.

The hustle-bustle is highly desirable. Noise measurements made in the noisy eateries showed levels around 80dBA with some as high as 100dBA (which can be excruciatingly loud). Loud noise can also impact the surrounding neighborhood, where residences are located nearby, or adjacent tenants.

Many times, the crux of the noise issues coincide with the age of the diner. The youth have no issues with the loud environment but older baby-boomers (who tend to have larger dining budgets) are finding it offensive.

Earlier this year Zagat posted some information relating to this topic for venues in New York City, which is an indication that this topic is gaining serious attention.

Numerous local KC restaurants have contacted ADG over the years with similar issues. All are commonly looking for a solution to maintain a happy balance amongst their clientele.

Interestingly, in our 25 years of consulting, we have never been called to a restaurant because they were fielding complaints due to the space being too "dead" or lacking in liveness or reverberation. With the exception of a few cases where a noisy piece of equipment was causing problems, all of the complaints were because the restaurant space was lacking in sufficient sound absorbing finish materials.

Most restaurant spaces lack sound absorbing finish materials which, if selected and installed properly, will help control reverberant noise levels. Common materials used include: fiberglass wall and ceiling panels or clouds, spray-applied acoustical plaster, or mineral fiber batt insulation concealed behind an acoustically transparent facing such as perforated sheet metal or a woven fabric.

Barriers can impede the transmission of loud sounds in areas where this is desired, shielding banquet rooms or adjacent tenants.

Sound systems for customer paging or background music can also be designed using many high-quality loudspeakers in lieu of a few that must blare to cover the seating areas. Clever zoning can tailor the sound system levels to adapt to the varying occupancy levels.

From a patron's perspective, not much can be done to treat their favorite nightspot to be more acoustically friendly. But these practical solutions can minimize the problems:

- avoid sitting at or near the bar,
- avoid areas where a large party has gathered,
- sit as close as possible to the person you are communicating with,
- sit outside,
- request that management turn down the volume of the music.

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Musings from the Audio World

1. We encounter thousands of individuals in the audio portion of our acoustical consulting activities because of their passion for music. They are musicians, touring acts, or just an otherwise ordinary person who has a passion for music. It appears strange that we do not see this as it relates to the video portion of our work. Interesting that our ears command the passion over our eyes. Typically, the eyes are served first in most other aspects of everyday life.

2. How do we, as consultants, ensure each project has the best qualified sound or audio-visual contractor? There is more to contracting than simply installing sound reinforcement or audio-visual systems. Items such as project management separate the men from the boys. We always strive to have the most qualified on each project and find it challenging to maintain this goal. While specifications are (and should be) very stringent, minimally qualified (or unqualified) contractors always manage to win some projects because they offer the lowest price. Remember the old addage: "the thrill of a low price is long forgotten when dealing with the pain of project completion."

O.K. Back to designing...

Saturday, May 7, 2011

A Legend Passes...

Hello again. Sorry for the long time between posts. We'll try to do better.

We would like to mark the passing of a giant in our industry. Warren E. Blazier Jr. - often described as "the Acoustical Consultants' Consultant - passed away in February 2011 at the age of 87. While he may not be a household name to many in the general public, in the fields of acoustics, noise and vibration control, and probably speech and hearing and sound, Warren Blazier was a household name. He was an ASHRAE (American Society of Heating, Refrigeration, and Air-Conditioning Engineers) Fellow and Life Member. He served on several standards and technical committees, including SPC 171P, Method of Testing Seismic Restraint Devices for HVAC&R Equipment, TC 2.7, Seismic and Wind Restraint Design, and 2.6, Sound and Vibration Control, on which he served for more than 25 years, contributing to seven successive editions of the ASHRAE Handbook on that topic. He received a Distinguished 50-Year ASHRAE Member Award in 2008 and four awards related to best paper presentation at ASHRAE conferences. He was also a prolific author of numerous book chapters on HVAC systems noise and vibration control as well as a variety of research and application papers for refereed industry publications.

Probably Blazier's single greatest accomplishment though was in the creation of RC (Room Criteria) Curves which rate indoor ambient noise levels produced by HVAC systems according to level and frequency across the human hearing range. Traditionally, Leo Beranek's NC (Noise Criteria) Curves had been (and still are in many circles) the standard for indoor noise criteria rating systems. But RC curves have garnered a significant following in the acoustical consulting industry over the years and today remain the primary system of noise rating recommended by ASHRAE.

I personally never met Blazier, but knew him professionally through his writings and technical work, and that is the way the great ones get remembered longest. Warren Blazier was one of the great ones.

* The head scratcher entry of this post delves into the animal world. From, an English cat has a record-setting purr, according to Guinness World Records. Smokey, a gray and white tabby, reportedly purrs at 67.7 decibels, which is about as loud as conversational human speech, or two to three times louder than a usual cat purr.

Some folks have a lot of time on their hands.

Monday, November 22, 2010

soundBites - The Official Blog of Acoustical Design Group, Inc.

January 27, 2011

Welcome to the NEW (well, perhaps INAUGURAL is the better word) ADG BLOG!!!

Hopefully, you found your way to this BLOG via our new website, which is intended.  Our hope is to provide some current, and perhaps more human, illumination to Acoustical Design Group.  The website will tell you who we are, what we do, how we do what we do, etc. – the kinds of things that websites for professional service firms do.  The BLOG will try to tell you a bit more about us, beyond the usual connection we have with our clients via the range of projects we work on.  We would like to show you a bit more of who we are away from ADG; what we do when we’re not thinking about sound and audio visual systems; what’s going on with sound issues in the news (it happens more often than most people notice).

To start the ball rolling, we should mention the name of our company, Acoustical Design Group, Inc. We are consultants in acoustics, which, as I often say to people who give me that quizzical, “What’s THAT?” look after I tell them what we are, is “…sort of an architect or engineer of sound...”

We have been in business since 1986, operating out of our home base of Mission, Kansas (a suburb of the Kansas City Metro area).  We have worked all over the nation and throughout most of the world, with projects at one time or another in most of the world’s continents (we haven’t yet cracked that tough Antarctic market!).

Our credentials – why we know what we tell people to do with sound on their projects – can be found formally addressed in our website, but in brief, we come from backgrounds in architecture, engineering, electronics, and technology commonly linked in the areas of acoustics, noise control, vibration control, sound systems and audio visual systems.

So…what does that mean…what are the key deliverables? Well, more on that will follow in days/months ahead, but basically we work with the architect and engineer “looking over their shoulders” as the design documents are developed with an eye (or more apropos perhaps, ‘an ear’) toward the control of noise between spaces, the acoustics within a particular space, or the ambient noise levels caused by building services or outside noise sources (you know - planes, trains, and automobiles with an occasional emergency generator thrown in for good measure).

The sound and AV (sometimes referred to as the “electronic”) side of our business works with the architects and building owners in defining what sound and audio visual systems’ needs they have and how that is married to the budget they have available for the project (think of coordinating your eyes with the size of your plate when you hit the buffet line at lunch – it’s tough sometimes!). 

Once those answers are found, we design those systems, preparing contract documents and interpreting bids from qualified sound and audio visual contractors.  We also make sure we are on-site after these systems are installed and commissioning of the technical systems is undertaken by our staff, making sure that the systems are in working order for their first major use.

As somebody wiser than I once opined, it’s better than breaking rocks (come to think of it…ballistic demolition IS something I always wondered about as an alternative career…).  But that is who we are and what we do.  With this BLOG, we look forward to bringing you a little closer to the world of sound and what it all means.

Check back often and let us know what you think or what you want to read. This should be FUN!

(And how about that NEW website!)