Assuming you’re working with an architect and approaching all aspects of the design seriously, you should consider hiring a Professional Acoustical Consultant, which is someone with a degree in acoustics. How do you find one? You can hire Auralex, which employs degreed acoustical consultants, or you can visit www.ncac.com, the official website of the National Council of Acoustical Consultants. Naysayers take note: Auralex only gives rational, objective advice regardless whether we’re being hired as acoustical consultants or not, and regardless whether the client ends up turning into a customer and makes the decision to implement Auralex products.
An effective acoustical design is absolutely critical—probably more so than any other component of a facility’s design, given the intent of the space—and ensures that the message is accurately communicated to the congregation. It does no good whatsoever to design a beautiful house of worship, only to have its design compromise the effectiveness of the delivery of the message. There is at least one famous house of worship that has spent eight figures on new sound equipment in an effort to try to tame the acoustical problems that were inherent in the sanctuary’s design. It probably goes without saying, but they have not been able to accomplish the desired goal. A member of the Auralex staff was recently in this house of worship and said he could almost not hear the message due to the low volume level the staff had to use in order not to excite the room’s bad acoustics. Obviously, this proves our point: the better you can get the acoustics from the get-go, the better off you’ll be in the long-term, both monetarily and spiritually.
We have been quite successful over the last 40 years at retrofitting houses of worship, but you should understand going into your new project that retrofitting is generally more expensive than designing acceptable acoustics into the facility in the first place. Plus, based on a given facility’s design, acoustical compromises often have to be made when retrofitting a house of worship. Never has the age-old adage been more appropriate: “Get it right the first time.” Or, “If it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing right.” Or, “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.” Or…, well, you get the picture.
There was a church in the Midwest that literally did not use their new multi-purpose room for 8 years because of the horrible acoustics in the space. They came to Auralex, we got ’em into just a few thousand dollars of treatments…and now they pack the room with a few hundred screaming teenagers for highly amplified contemporary Christian music concerts every Saturday. Are they happy with Auralex? They told us to drop by for dinner any time we want.
If your group simply doesn’t have the money to hire an acoustical consultant, don’t lose too much sleep. Auralex is standing by to help get you the best-sounding room your organization can afford, and we promise to do our best to make the process as painless and inexpensive as humanly possible. We’re realists.