Room Acoustic for Beginners: An Easy-to-Understand Guide

January 9, 2023

Room acoustics is frequently perceived as a mysterious and complex subject, but it can be simplified by breaking it down into fundamental principles. In this article, our Global Acoustics Ambassador, Pascal van Dort, explains some of the basic theories on how to improve the acoustics of your space.

We feel what we hear: The impact of sound on our well-being

We feel what we hear: The impact of sound on our well-being

Sound has a profound impact on our lives, including how we communicate. There are four main ways that sound affects us: physically, emotionally, cognitively, and behaviourally.

Physically, sound affects our bodies because we are 70% water, which makes us good conductors of sound. Our hearing is our primary warning sense. Any sudden or unexpected sound can trigger a fight or flight response, which can increase the heart rate and change our breathing.

Emotionally, sound can change our mood and emotions both positively and negatively. Music is a well-known example of how sound can affect our emotions, but other sounds, such as bird song or the sound of the ocean, can also have a calming or soothing effect. On the other hand, loud or abrasive sounds can be unsettling or stressful.

Cognitively, the sounds around us can impact how well we work or think. Loud or distracting sounds, such as music or conversation, can make it difficult to concentrate or focus. On the other hand, a quiet and peaceful environment can help improve productivity and cognitive function.

Behaviourally, we may tend to move away from unpleasant sounds and towards pleasant ones. Noise can also cause stress and negatively affect our behaviour, making us less sociable and approachable.

Understanding how sound affects us can help us design our environments in ways that enhance the positive effects and minimise the negative ones.

The subject of room acoustics is often seen as intimidating, but it doesn't have to be. While it does have some complex scientific and mathematical elements, there are also some basic principles that can help you understand how sound works and how to address any acoustic problems in your space. In this article, our Global Acoustics Ambassador answers some of the most commonly asked questions about acoustic design to demystify the topic and give you a better understanding of how to solve your acoustic issues.

First of all, in order to understand a room’s acoustics, it’s important to understand how sound travels.


Why are acoustics important?

Let’s start by defining acoustics as “the quality of the room that determines the audibility and the fidelity of the sound in the room." The level of architectural (room and building) acoustics can have a huge impact on your overall health and well-being.

Excessive noise and poor acoustics can affect productivity in various ways. It can disrupt communication and concentration, lower morale, and make workers less productive [1]. According to one study, "noise, in addition to causing nuisance and disturbance in an office environment, is a primary cause of a reduction in productivity." [2]

Hospitals with poor acoustics can raise patients' blood pressure and heart rate [3]. On the other hand, good room acoustics in educational settings can improve students' attention, performance, and understanding and reduce the strain on teachers' voices [4].

According to a survey by the Leesman Index, 76% of office workers consider noise to be an important factor in the workplace, but only 30% are satisfied with the noise level [5]. By creating a work environment with good acoustics and reducing distracting sounds, a number of benefits can be achieved in the office, such as: [6]

  • 48% increase in employee focus
  • 51% drop in employee distraction
  • 10% fewer errors made
  • 27% reduction in stress level

Although we are all affected by noise, we often pay little attention to it. But by taking acoustics into account at the beginning of the design process, we can minimise the presence of a bad acoustic indoor environment. Sounds perfect, right?



Which materials can be used to absorb sound?

In recent years, there have been many advancements in technology for improving sound quality. There are three main categories of sound-absorbing materials: porous, membranes, and resonators. Porous materials such as mineral wool like stone wool, natural fibres, and foam are commonly used to absorb sound. They are soft, light, and have good sound-absorbing properties.

The ability of a material to absorb sound is measured by a weighted sound absorption coefficient (αw), which is expressed as a percentage. For example, a coefficient of 0.01 represents minimal absorption (1%). Meanwhile, a coefficient of 1.00 represents complete absorption (100%).

At Rockfon, we are the world's leading acoustic solution provider. Our mission is to turn noisy spaces into comfortable spaces with a significant impact. Our goal is to help people create, focus, and thrive in a peaceful environment. Sounds great, doesn't it?



  1. “Environmental Noise: Valuing Impacts On: Sleep Disturbance, Annoyance, Hypertension, Productivity and Quiet.” 2014.
  2. Hedge, Alan. 2016. Ergonomic Workplace Design for Health, Wellness, and Productivity. Google Books. CRC Press.
  3. Hagerman, I., Rasmanis, G., Blomkvist, V., Ulrich, R., Eriksen, C. A., & Theorell, T. (2005). Influence of intensive coronary care acoustics on the quality of care and physiological state of patients International Journal of Cardiology, 98(2), 267–270
  4. J.A. Castro-Martnez, J. Chavarra Roa, A. Parra Bentez, and G. González (2016). Effects of classroom-acoustic change on the attention level of university students Centro Interamericano de Investigaciones Psicológicas y Ciencias Afines Interdisciplinaria, vol. 33, no. 2,
  5. Leesman Index (2019): The Workplace Experience Revolution, Part 2, Second Digital Edition
  6. Sykes, David M., PhD., 2004, “Productivity: How Acoustics Affect Workers’ Performance in Open Areas”