Field Report: Acoustical Solutions AlphaSorb


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In May 2013, Liberty University's Victory Radio Network moved its facilities from a historic house on the school's campus to a storefront space in a nearby shopping center. The project was a welcomed change. Leaving a house-turned-radio station and relocating in a building that was specifically designed for broadcast fostered an environment for implementing much needed improvements. The most noticeable feature in the new studios is the acoustical treatment. Victory FM worked with Acoustical Solutions on the installation of AlphaSorb acoustical wall panels. This product improves the acoustical properties of each studio by leaps and bounds and it provides a visual component that is fun to look at.

Acoustical Solutions AlphaSorb

The Victory Radio Network facility houses four studios used on-air and for production. The master control studio is visible from the street. Behind it is the production studio, followed by production control, and the programming/engineering office, which is used for production as well. The long, narrow layout of the building lends itself to the studios not being perfectly square, but square enough to create standing waves and resonance. Consequently, the studios have skewed walls offset by about 8" each. This design allowed us to forego the installation of corner traps. The walls however, are drywall, making reflections an obvious problem. Acoustic treatment of some sort was in order, but we didn't want to take away from the fresh clean look of the new studios. Plus, we wanted the entire facility to have a uniform look that displayed the station's burgundy color. AlphaSorb was the perfect solution. Plus, when we learned how easy it is to install ourselves, AlphaSorb was even more attractive.

The product

Michael Binns from Acoustical Solutions in Richmond, VA, visited our studios and took meticulous measurements of each wall, painstakingly noting the placement of windows and doors. We wanted to cover each wall from floor to ceiling and make the panels fit perfectly. Acoustical Solutions custom-cuts the AlphaSorb panels and assigns numbers to notate where each is to be placed on the walls. Each panel can range in size up to 4' x 10.' We specified 1" thick panels because it worked well with the trim package on our studio windows. Panels are available in 1" and 2" thicknesses with beveled, mitered or radius edges. The edges come either natural or chemically hardened. They are made of rigid, highly compressed fiberglass insulation covered by Guilford of Maine 100 percent Terratex Polyester fabric. It is Class 1 fire rated.

  Performance at a glance  
  ■ 1" or 2" thicknesses
■ 48 available colors
■ Mounts with Z-clips or impaling clips
■ NRC rating from .85 to 1.15
■ Contains primarily post-consumer recycled content
 

Because AlphaSorb is primarily used to reduce or eliminate audible reflections on wall surfaces, the NRC (Noise Reduction Coefficient) is important. Simply put, the NRC rating indicates how much a frequency is not reflected back into the room once it comes into contact with the acoustic material. The NRC rating for the 1" thick AlphaSorb is .85, which means on average, the wall panels will absorb 85 percent of frequencies between 125Hz and 4kHz. The NRC rating for the 2" thick AlphaSorb is 1.15. As would be expected, the reflection dampening ability is excellent. When guests walk into a room surrounded by the panels, they immediately comment on the attenuated reflections. Conversely, the rooms aren't "dead." Frequency absorption is just right for a broadcast facility without making the room stuffy.

A full-sized panel is very lightweight and easy to move. One cubic foot only weighs 6-7 pounds.

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