The most effective way to dampen noise is to tackle the actual source of noise. This could be, for example, mechanical measures such as equipping compressed-air outlets with sound dampers or using noise-dampened circular saw blades. It could also involve reducing the spread of airborne noise. This is generally achieved using sound-absorbing and sound-insulating materials in various combinations and of various types.
Identifying the source of the noise
What is generating noise in the premises? Machines? Compressors? Hammer strokes? Colleagues talking on the phone? There may, of course, be several sources of noise that altogether create the undesirable noise level. Therefore it is important to identify these sources in order to devise a good acoustical damping solution.
Check the ceiling
The ceiling is part of the workplace that often creates a so-called acoustic reflector. This means that sound is reflected against the ceiling and amplified out into the room. Therefore it is always useful to take a look at the actual ceiling in the room that needs acoustical damping, especially the ceiling around the source of the noise. Where possible, you should install ceiling sound absorbers to eliminate acoustic reflections. This will make a big difference to the noise level in the room.
Walls and ceiling have been lined with sound absorbers to eliminate acoustic reflectors.
Check the walls
Just like the ceiling, the walls around a noise source form acoustic reflectors. The sound is reflected back and forth between the walls and amplified out into the rest of the room. Where possible, you should therefore install wall sound absorbers to eliminate such acoustic reflections.
Installing wall and ceiling sound absorbers around the noise source is often a cost-effective solution. Sometimes this is enough to achieve a comfortable acoustic environment. With loud noise sources, however, additional measures are needed.
Check the work flow
In order for acoustical damping to function in purely practical terms, it is important to analyse work flow/traffic around the noise source. All measures must be designed with regard to this so as not to disrupt work.
Screen off the direct noise
Once walls and ceiling around the noise source(s) have been lined with sound absorbers, what remains is screening off the direct noise, i.e. the noise that reaches the listener directly without rebounding from walls or ceiling. There are a number of options here: acoustic-damping walls, movable acoustic screens or acoustic-damping curtains. The needs and look of the workspace will determine which of the options will work best (the work flow is a major factor). Perhaps a combination may be preferable.
Acoustic screens dampen direct noise from hammer strokes.
With extremely loud noise sources, it may be desirable to construct an “enclosure” with sound-insulating walls and roof (doors are also available) around the cause of the noise.