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The Acoustic Design of the Church

Author:Leeyin Acoustics  Date:2018-06-12  From:  Hits:6

Overview of the acoustical environment of the church

The church is an important venue for Christian worship and religious ritual. Different from other acoustic spaces, the church must be required to deal with the reverberation requirements of languages and music under the premise of harmonization of acoustics, architecture and churches. In terms of acoustics, its measures cannot violate the architectural aesthetics and some religious concepts. In addition, the long reverberation of the church helps to praise the lyrics and chanting of poetry. At the same time most foreign churches use organ accompaniment, but long reverberation seriously affects the clarity of the language, excessive reverberation can be detrimental to the deployment of church missions. The churches in China generally do not use organ accompaniment, which is primarily biography, more biased towards language, so the reverberation time can be slightly lower.


Acoustic design indicators

Based on experience, the best reverberation time in modern churches is 2s-3.5s.


Acoustic design content


1.Body design

The plane of the church passes through the four main stages of the St. Tents, the Greek Cross, the Latin Cross and the Modern Church. Modern church returns to the flat rectangular form of the long tent. Due to the religious nature of the church space, architecture and acoustics are not well suited to change its planar body shape in this situation. The early church used the Basilika style, the ceiling is in the form of a wormhole with a convex profile, which developed into large round arches in the mid-century, symbolizing the universe. Double vaults emerged during the Renaissance. The further development of the church is the multi-rib arches and flower arches.

 

The development of the church is also gradually approaching the acoustics. The first large dome roof, smooth and hard concave surfaces can cause severe sound focusing. The double heart arch is more scattered than the focus point before. However, the acoustic focusing phenomenon is still not resolved, and the language intelligibility is still poor. The multi-rib arches and flower rib arches further destroy the sound focus and enhance the diffusion of sound energy. Modern churches pay more and more attention to internal acoustics, the roof began to reform from curved surface to planar surface, which resulted that the sound focus is resolved, evangelical intelligibility has also been improved. But there are still architects and church designs that still use domes. We still have to perform necessary acoustic measures on the dome to avoid acoustic focusing. Specific measures will be mentioned below.

 

According to all aspects of acoustic considerations, the length, width and height ratio of the church should be 1:0.5-0.6:0.5-0.7, among which the length is valued in the 20-30M.

 

Reverberation time control and placement of sound-absorbing materials

 

The church is essentially a space of belief, the long reverberation of the church makes the sound thick and strengthens the solemnity and strength of the spirit of worship, giving worshippers spiritual cheer. The short reverberation makes the church more silent, increase psychic distance to listeners and then make them feel tedious, affect the psychological communication between the two, it will also weaken the sense of participation and reunion of believers. At the same time, short reverberation requires more sound-absorbing materials and will bring more decoration costs. At the same time, excessively complicated decoration materials will dilute the sacredness of this place. In summary, our church should still ensure that the reverberation time of 2s-2.7s is better.


2.The ceiling

If conditions permit, the ceiling should be a flat top from an acoustic point of view. If the ceiling is dealt with full sound absorption, it is easy to greatly reduce the reverberation time and affect the sense of reverberation. You should do partial sound absorption while ensuring preaching intelligibility. At the same time, because of the larger space in the church, high-frequency sound attenuation is faster, sound absorption is mainly the low and medium frequency bands especially low frequency, too strong low-frequency sound will affect language intelligibility. The ceiling is generally a continuous overall effect, it is recommended to use AGG seamless sand absorption system for sound absorption, which realizes the appearance requirements of the overall model and effectively solves the sound absorption requirements.


If the ceiling is a dome, there are three solutions in general in order to avoid acoustic defects:

 

1.Sound absorption method

As the name suggests, it is to lay sound-absorbing material on the surface of the concave surface to absorb sound energy. To cater to religious decoration, AGG (seamless modeling) and poly sand board absorbing materials are better. Because of the superior performance of this material, it perfectly meets the decorative effect of the church, and remains the sacredness of the church.

 

2.Defocus method

Cut the concave surface into a smaller scattering area, turn geometrically focused emission into diffuse emission, a bit like a flower rib arch surface. However, the dimensions of the segmented component must be equal to the wavelength of the absorbed frequency, and component styling should reflect the ingenious combination with religious art. The flaw is the difficulty of the practice, higher costs, but it can perfectly fit the decorative effect of the church.

 

3.Sound transmission method

Suitable for use when the dome is high. The dome uses AGG acoustic coating or metal micro perforated panel finish, the perforation area is 10%-20% of the total area, so that the transmitted sound energy is absorbed by the absorption material. The dome is no longer a curved acoustic reflector and focusing is no problem. This method is to take into account the decorative effect and cost-effective method. However, attention must be paid to the durability and religious artistry of the perforated surface material.


3.Wall surface

We call the wall near the main sacrificial area as the front wall. In the main festival area, the altar is the audio-visual center of the believers. In some of the main festival areas, there are various shaped and craftsmanship round sculpture and high sculpture in the upper and front walls. These complicated facilities can uniformly diffuse the sound energy in a certain degree. But at the same time, it is easy to produce or have long delay reflections in the back row, which affects the clarity of the language. There are generally two solutions: One is to use embroidered fabric with religious art on the lower part of the altar, which can absorb early reflections brought by the front wall. Another is that when the decoration of the front wall is not too complicated, the front wall can use AGG sound absorption module, and leave a 50mm cavity on the back, and choose to fill 25mm glass wool, which will not only absorb sound but also add a dignified atmosphere to the main festival area.


4.Rear wall

The back wall is also a place where acoustic defects can easily occur. If the sound path difference is more than 30M, then we should prevent echo and uneven sound field caused by wall surface. Set up sound-absorbing material on the bottom of the back wall. to cater to the decorative effect of the church, the use of AGG sound absorption module is recommend, which can play a good sound absorption effect. The upper part of the back wall should mainly process with diffusion, GRG plasterboard can be used to make religious art modeling in order to meet the decorative effect.


5.Sidewall

The two side walls occupy a large proportion of the wall area of the church, which is related to the narrow and long body of the church. The reflection of the side wall is an important factor to enhance the fullness of music. Therefore, the side wall can use a large high abstract painting, which can not only perfectly fit the religious art but also has the effect of diffusion. Or enhance sound energy diffusion by adding structural pillars and protruding decoration by GRG. To ensure the clarity and reverberation time of its language, you can also use the thin-plate resonant structure in the lower part of the side wall with 50mm cavity and 25mm glass wool, which can keep the appearance of the front and rear walls clean and consistent.


6.Christian District

The Christian community is the main force of sound absorption throughout the church. Due to the larger number of people attending each worship, it may cause large deviation of sound quality in full-field and empty-field environments. Therefore, the high-back benches and ottomans in the Christian community should be wrapped in soft fabrics. The central aisle of the Christian community leads to the main altar, it is a fixed channel for the Lord’s ceremonies, weddings, and funerals. Usually a thick carpet will be laid in this aisle, which can enhance the solemn atmosphere, increase the amount of sound absorption, control the reverberation time and avoid the adverse effects of strong ground reflections on sound quality, but also relieve the footsteps of believers during the ceremony.


Acoustic advice

Modern churches generally introduce electro-acoustic systems, but electro-acoustic systems generally only increase the volume of aids during the sermon (especially in larger churches) and try to improve the clarity of the language.


However, the solemnity and sacredness of the church will be destroyed by the introduction of the electro acoustic system. Therefore, churches that need to introduce electro-acoustic systems generally require that the speakers be arranged so as not to disturb the space image of worship. As a result, the speaker needs to be combined with the lighting, decoration and construction in the best acoustic position.


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