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Effective Open Office Spaces: What’s Sound Got to do With it?

Noise solution for open office spaceOpen, collaborative office space seems to be the new way of life for most businesses. With walls, cubicles, and partitions stripped away, the idea is that:

• Employees benefit from free-flowing brainstorming and communication with colleagues

• Business objectives and pursuits become more innovative

• Expenses tied to office equipment, construction, and utilities dwindle

 

 

What’s not to love? Heck, the offices of Google and Facebook basically pioneered this unfastened environment. The trend has caught fire and it seems as though (most) businesses around the world don’t believe in closed-door, work-place barriers anymore.

 

The downside? Noise.

 

Yes, the challenge that comes attached to an exposed environment is the acoustics. So, back to our initial question: What’s sound got to do with it? Well, quite a bit.

 

Conversations, phone calls, meetings – and that co-worker that always plays his music too loud – combine to create distractions and a clutter of noise in today’s open office. But before you decide this open office layout just ain’t workin’, look up. Your ceiling is about to become your solution.

 

Drown out echoes and excess noise with high-quality, eco-friendly acoustic ceiling baffles. A wide selection of cover material will help add style and customization to your sound absorption efforts. Choose from:

• Standard or designer acoustic baffle fabrics, which give your space a simple yet sophisticated look

• Custom color or custom image acoustic baffles, which are perfect to place company colors, logos & quotes on

• Acousticolor™ sound baffles, which match any Sherwin-Williams shade

 

At Audimute, we help businesses of all shapes and sizes find the right solution for their unique sound problem. Unsure which solution is best for your open office? Contact us today. In less than 15 minutes, one of our sound solution experts will be able to understand your space and recommend a solution.

 

Shop our vast selection of acoustic ceiling baffles. Here’s to your quieter open office environment.

 

Sound baffles for open office

 

 

Sound Health and You: Noise Induced Hearing Loss in Adults

Noise Induced Hearing Loss in AdultsSound, as wonderful as it is, can be harmful to your hearing at high intensities. We bet you already knew this. But even sound that is extremely loud for a just a moment can be damaging. According to the National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders (NIDCD), powerful, intense sounds can damage sensitive structures in your inner ear and cause noise-induced hearing loss (NIHL).1 To bring awareness to this condition and other sound-related issues, we’re kicking off a three part series called Sound Health + You.

 

 

Noise Induced Hearing Loss

While hearing loss is most commonly attributed to aging, noise induced hearing loss happens to children and adults. According to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention, approximately 15% of adults between the ages of 20 and 69, and 16% of teens ages 12 to 19, have reported some degree of Noise Induced Hearing Loss (NIHL) caused by exposure to loud noise without wearing proper hearing protection.2

Sound alarming? That’s because it is.

There is no grading scale for what can cause hearing loss; it can be a one-time exposure to an intense sound, such as an explosion, or by continuous exposure to loud sounds, such as working in a factory, working with power tools, or even listening to music through head phones at a high volume every day.

“It is the sum of all of your exposures to sound throughout the day and evening that add together to damage hearing when that total becomes excessive,” notes Janet Ehlers, RN, MSN, COHC and Pamela S. Graydon, MS, COHC of the CDC.2

NIHL is the only type of hearing loss that is completely preventable. Noise induced hearing loss in adults is commonly attributed to work environments. Understanding the health hazards of over exposure to loud noises is the first step to protecting your hearing.

 

 

Tips for Hearing Health

• Wear earplugs or sound cancelling headphones when involved in a loud activity

• If you can’t reduce a noise or volume, move away from it

• When listening to music, use the 60/60 rule: use 60% of the maximum volume for no more than 60 minutes a day

• Have earplugs on hand for your children when planning high-volume activities

• Talk to family, friends, and colleagues about the risks of loud noise exposure

 

Noise Induced Hearing Loss Signs and Symptoms

Symptoms of noise induced hearing loss in adults and children may go away in minutes, hours, or days after the noise ends. It’s important to recognize the signs early so you are able to avoid exposure to other loud noises while your ears are already impaired, as this can cause more severe damage.

Symptoms of Noise Induced Hearing Loss

• Feeling of pressure or fullness in your ears

• Muffled or distorted hearing

• Ringing in the ears when in quiet places

• Difficulty understanding phone calls

• Inability to hear someone talking three feet away

If you’re experiencing trouble hearing in your home, or simply wish to improve sound quality, call an Audimute Acoustic Sound expert at (866) 505-MUTE for personalized advice on soundproofing and acoustic solutions for your space.

Resources: 1 National Institute on Deafness and Other Communication Disorders. “Noise-Induced Hearing Loss.” Retrieved on April 12, 2016. https://www.nidcd.nih.gov/health/noise-induced-hearing-loss#1. 2 Ehlers, Janet, RN, MSN, COHC and Graydon, Pamela S. MS, COHC. Center for Disease Control and Prevention. “Even a Dummy Knows October is Protect Your Hearing Month.” Retrieved on April 12, 2016. http://blogs.cdc.gov/niosh-science-blog/2012/10/11/protect-hearing/.

Sound Induced Hearing Loss in Adults

Create a Soothing Healthcare Environment

Sound issues in hospitals

Hospitals, emergency rooms, doctors’ offices, and other healthcare facilities are wild with activity at all hours. On top of this, healthcare settings are built to be sterile. This means that most surfaces are made of hard, non-porous materials, such as cement, concrete, ceramic, linoleum, vinyl, etc. All of these surfaces don’t play nice when it comes to acoustics, enabling sound travel, echo, and heightened noise levels.

But with the sensitive and stressful environment that healthcare facilities foster, it’s beneficial to staff, patients, and visitors alike that the acoustics are transformed into soothing, pleasant sounds.

 

Acoustic panels in hospitals

The Importance of Acoustics in Healthcare Settings

A healthcare environment’s acoustics play a critical role in promoting:

     • Healing

     • Rest

     • Comfort

     • Safety

     • Well-being

     • Speech privacy

Poor acoustics have the power to negatively affect a patient’s and/or a patient’s family physiological and psychological state, according to Ceilings & Interior Systems Construction Association’s report on Acoustics in Healthcare Environments.1

 

Designing a Better Acoustic Experience and Environment

Sound pressure, background noise, and reverberation time are all acoustic issues that plague most healthcare facilities. At Audimute Acoustic Panels, we’ve addressed all of these issues with healthcare approved fabrics.

What do we mean by this? HC fabrics are bleach-cleanable, a necessity in the healthcare environment. And while bleach-cleanable fabrics are great, it is truly the acoustics that make all the difference. Whichever sound solution you choose, we can help you blend it into your environment so it’s nearly invisible, or we can help you customize your baffles, clouds, tiles, or panels to fit your facility’s style.

• Take your sound solution up high and hang HC Acoustic Celling Clouds and baffles from the ceiling.

• Make your walls more aesthetically pleasing by adding Custom Image Acoustic Panels or tiles to patient rooms and hallways.

 

Not sure which solution is right for your healthcare facility? Contact us today to speak to one of our sound solution experts.

 

Shop our vast selection of acoustic ceiling baffles and clouds and acoustic panels and tiles.

 

Resources: 1 Ceilings & Interior Systems Construction Association. “Acoustics in Healthcare Environments.” Retrieved on April 14, 2016. http://www.cisca.org/files/public/Acoustics%20in%20Healthcare%20Environments_CISCA.pdf .

Sound Health and You: Age Induced Hearing Loss

Age Induced Hearing Loss solutions at homeAge induced hearing loss is a serious life altering condition, where one in three people over the age of 60, and one in two people over the age of 85, experience some type of age induced hearing loss.

 

Although it’s common, it’s not an easy adjustment to make. Recognizing the symptoms right away can make for a smoother transition into managing hearing changes with age.

 

Because so many factors can contribute to hearing loss as you get older, it can be difficult to distinguish it from noise induced hearing loss. While there is no single cause, it is most notably caused by changes in the inner ear that occur as you grow older.

 

 

 

 

Common Causes of Age Induced Hearing Loss

• Diabetes

• Poor circulation

• Exposure to loud noises

• Use of certain medications

• Family history of hearing loss

• Smoking

 

 

Hearing Changes with Age

Many people who experience hearing changes with age feel like a burden to family and friends talking around them, and begin to isolate themselves. Adding acoustic treatments, such as fabric sound panels, in social spaces at home can diminish sound clutter for cleaner room acoustics and more intelligible conversation for everyone. Incorporating acoustic treatments into these spaces early after the first signs of hearing loss can make the transition easier for everyone.

 

Symptoms of Age Induced Hearing Loss

• Muffled or distorted hearing

• Difficulty understanding phone calls

• Increasing TV and radio volumes higher than normal

• Feeling of pressure or fullness in your ears

• Ringing in the ears when in quiet places

• Inability to hear someone talking three feet away

If you or someone you know is experiencing trouble hearing at home, or if you simply wish to improve sound quality, check out our fabric sound panels or call an Audimute Acoustic Specialist at (866) 505-MUTE for personalized advice on soundproofing and acoustic solutions for your space.

 

 

 

 

 

How Jazz Created a Company

Did you know April is Jazz Appreciation Month? It was created at the National Museum of American History and is intended to stimulate and encourage people of all ages to participate in jazz – to study the music, attend concerts, and listen to jazz on radio and recordings and more.1 In honor of jazz, we’re going to round out April with an interview from the company’s founder and president, Mitch Zlotnik, an avid jazz drummer, who gave us a candid look into his history with Jazz and how Audimute, and ultimately One Wish (Audimute's parent company), was born.

 

 

Q: How did you become interested in Jazz?

A: I’m a very passionate drummer. I have been playing the drums since the seventh grade. I was always interested in Rock music, but I started listening to a lot of Contemporary jazz. I moved back from college and needed to decide whether to rent a house or an apartment. I couldn’t have my drums in an apartment, so I went with the house. I started jamming with friends. People that we knew ended up asking us to play at events and One Wish was born.

 

Q: Why One Wish? Why that name?

A: Our Sax player named the band One Wish. It’s actually the name of a jazz song by Hiroshima.One Wish Jazz Band Playing

 

Q: What do you love the most about Jazz?

A: The free form nature of the music. Jazz is funky, it only takes one note to impress someone. You can change the flavors of jazz in order to change the emotional impact of the song. Jazz music has standards, but, solos make the difference. One of my favorite things about the people of Jazz was their willingness to play together and teach fellow musicians. Jazz players are virtuosos with a strong discipline, but are always willing to teach and allow others to improve their skills. A group of jazz musicians that have never played together, but can play the same song, can come together and put their own spin on those standards to turn them into solos.

 

Q: What was your most memorable time in the band?

A: Playing with the band and other musicians was always a good time, but some of the most memorable times were opening up for George Benson and The Rippingtons. We also shared the stage with Michael McDonald and Fourplay with Bob James which was very cool.

 

Q: When did you become interested in acoustic solutions?

A: I needed to find a way to be quiet, to stop people from calling the cops so I started creating variations of the products that we have today at Audimute. These products gave me the clarity of sound and allowed me to perfect my form, ultimately making me a better musician. The products gave me anticipated results that were intentional & consistent.

One Wish Jazz Band with Michael McDonaldQ: How is One Wish the band like One Wish the company?

A: An extraordinary focus on the customer and their experience is the underlying commonality between One Wish the band and the company today. A close second would be a work hard/ play hard value and remembering to add an element of FUN in everything you do. "This is life. It's not a dress rehearsal."

 

 

Mitch still plays the drums in his free time, but creating sound solutions for his customers is just as satisfying as playing for him. He considers it an art form, a creative process.

 

Resources: 1 The National Museum of American History. “Jazz Appreciation Month” Retrieved on April 17, 2016. http://americanhistory.si.edu/smithsonian-jazz/jazz-appreciation-month

 

 

Sound Health and You: How Loud is Too Loud?

Damaging sound levels

Whether it’s noise induced hearing loss or hearing changes with age, sound intensity and volume plays a prominent role in maintaining or altering hearing health.

Our lives are noisy and undeniably surrounded by sound. With so many sound frequencies hitting our ear drums, it’s important to know at what level sound becomes damaging.


So how loud is too loud?

Everyone experiences sound differently, making pain from noise volumes subjective. However, just because a sound doesn’t initially hurt someone’s ears doesn’t mean it isn’t doing irreversible damage.


According to Hear the World Foundation, “even low noise levels can trigger the release of stress hormones, leading to increased blood pressure. This in turn can lead to aggressive behavior and tensions in interactions with other people, as well as an increased risk of stroke, heart attack, and tinnitus.”1

Bottom line, sound levels affect us in many ways – most of which are overlooked.

Common Sound Pressure Ratings:

Sound level intensity is measured in decibels (dB). When a sound increases by 10 dB, our ears perceive it as twice as loud, meaning 50 dB is twice as loud as 40dB. A normal conversation rating is 60dB. Here are eight common sound pressure ratings:

     • Normal conversation - 60 dB

     • Heavy city traffic - 85 dB

     • Motorcycles - 95 dB

     • Metal shop – 100 dB

     • MP3 player max volume - 105 dB

     • Chainsaw – 120 dB

     • Sirens – 120 dB

     • Firecrackers and firearms - 150 dB

Using an adapted example from Hear the World Foundation, imagine you and a friend are standing 3 feet apart:

     • At 70 dB, a conversation can be held at normal volume

     • At 90 dB, conversational voices must be raised

     • At 100 dB, a conversation must be shouted

     • From 105 dB and above, conversation is no longer possible1

The maximum recommended sound level intensity time per day is 8 hours at 85 db, roughly the sound of a busy street. For every 3 dB noise pressure increase, that maximum exposure time is cut in half, meaning at 95 dB (around the recorded level of factory work) the recommendation is only 4 hours.

So how can your hearing be protected?

Protect Your Hearing

Wearing protective gear like ear muffs or installing soundproofing and acoustic treatments can make all the difference in the longevity of your hearing health.

Do you live in the city? Do you live near an airport, fire station, or factory? Do you work in a repair shop, manufacturing plant, or around loud machinery? You can block or absorb sound waves before they’re able to reach and injure your ears with powerful solutions like:

     • Acoustic panels

     • Acoustic tiles

     • Acoustic ceiling clouds and baffles

     All of these sound solutions can be completely customized to fit your space, style, and needs.

Want to incorporate soundproofing into a space you’re building? Check out Peacemaker®, Audimute’s versatile sound barrier. Made from recycled rubber, Peacemaker offers both the professional and DIY builder an easy to install, reasonably light, and very effective noise barrier.

It’s impossible to always avoid dangerous sound level intensity, but it is possible to protect yourself from it.

If you’re ready to protect your hearing health at home or work, but you’re unsure where to start, call an Acoustic Specialist today at (866) 505-MUTE for personalized advice.


Resources:

1 Hear the World Foundation. “How Loud is Too Loud? When Does Noise Become Dangerous?” Accessed April 26, 2016. http://www.hear-the-world.com/en/hearing-and-hearing-loss/noise-how-loud-is-too-loud.html.