Have you ever stepped into a classroom and just knew that it was the perfect learning environment? That’s not just the result of mystical architecture and quiet students. It’s the science of ANSI standards for classroom acoustics at work.

ANSI Classroom Acoustics Standards

Students in classroom.

If you have a classroom of your own and struggle with being heard or hearing your students, you’ve come to the right place. In this article, we’re going to discuss everything you need to know about ANSI standards for classroom acoustics and how to meet them. Let’s dive in!

Understanding ANSI Standards for Classroom Acoustics

Sound, speech, and silence all play pivotal roles in effective learning. From the ground up, classroom designs can magnify or muffle the richness of these acoustic experiences, depending on how they’re treated and which materials were used to build them. The ANSI S12.60-2002 standard forms the backbone of these designs, to help ensure that each word spoken in the learning environment is heard with perfect clarity.

Why the Background Noise Limit Matters

At the core of the ANSI standard is the stipulation for background noise in an unoccupied room: a one-hour average level of 35 dB A-weighted. Essentially, to meet the standard, the sound inside a room can’t exceed a certain level – 35 dB A-weighted. This isn’t an arbitrary figure.

This standard ensures that all distractions and noise produced in or near a classroom remain minimal, including HVAC systems, computers, projectors, outdoor sounds, and sound from neighboring classrooms. If an unoccupied classroom can stay below 35 dB A-weighted for an hour, it will meet the ANSI standard, which is an essential level for creating an acoustically optimal learning environment.

The Balance of Reverberation

Reverberation time (RT60) is another focal point in classroom acoustics standards. Imagine teaching or learning in a huge cathedral with sound echoing all around. That might sound enchanting, but it’s not necessarily the best place to learn algebraic equations.
Overly reflective surfaces amplify echoes, which muddies speech clarity and makes it difficult for students to hear and understand what’s happening. The right balance ensures a pleasant acoustic environment without compromising speech intelligibility.

Prioritizing Special Needs

It’s also crucial to acknowledge that while classroom acoustics standards benefit every student, they’re indispensable for some. Students with auditory processing disabilities, hearing impairments, learning disabilities, or those who speak non-native languages can find it extremely difficult to learn in an environment that is loud or distracting. It’s in the best interest of the students and their teachers to ensure their learning environment is optimal.

The Greater Impact on Learning and Teaching

When students can hear clearly, their comprehension and retention rates increase. They’re more engaged, and they contribute more actively in discussions, and learn at a higher level. Teachers also benefit from an optimized environment, need to make fewer repetitions and experience less vocal strain. Ultimately, adhering to the ANSI standards for classroom acoustics means weaving a soundscape where both teaching and learning thrive.

The Classroom Acoustics Playbook: Soundproofing and Sound Absorption

Classroom with empty chairs

Classroom with empty chairs.

Navigating the world of classroom acoustics can be a lot like mastering a new language, but here’s the good news: achieving perfect classroom acoustics is much easier than it sounds! With a blend of the right strategies and top-tier products, you can turn your classroom into an oasis of crystal-clear communication. Here’s how:

Start with the Classroom’s Rear Wall

It all starts with the rear wall, located opposite the teacher’s desk. This is a breeding ground for echoes and sound reverberation. Your goal is to combat these with absorption materials. Reflective surfaces cause sound to ricochet and meddle with comprehension, especially for students at the back of the class.

That’s where the AlphaSorb® Fabric Wrapped Acoustic Panel comes in. It’s the perfect product to help absorb sound and elevate speech clarity in your classroom. Plus, it comes in a variety of colors and styles, so you never have to worry about it clashing with your classroom décor.

Fiberglass Sound Insulation: Benefits and Comparison

AlphaSorb® Fabric Wrapped Acoustic Panel Edge Styles – Square, Beveled, Mitered, Rounded (not available)

Shift Your Gaze Upwards: The Classroom’s Rear Ceiling

Next, you need to focus on the rear part of the ceiling. While you might be tempted to treat the entire ceiling, that’s not entirely necessary. If you focus your energies on the rear part of the ceiling, you’ll ensure a balance in the classroom that’s ideal for learning.

The best possible product for this job is the SONEX® Contour Ceiling Tile. Blending sound absorption with an elegant design, this tile scatters sound to help diminish echo and amplify the overall audio quality in the process.

Sonex® Contour Ceiling Tile by Pinta Acoustic, Inc. - Cafeteria Application

Sonex® Contour Ceiling Tile by Pinta Acoustic, Inc. – Cafeteria Application

Don’t Forget the Upper Side Walls

For a thorough acoustic makeover, you can’t neglect the classroom’s upper side walls. This area can be responsible for letting in sound from the outside, which can be super disruptive. To accomplish this, we highly recommend the SONEX® Contour Panels. Not only do they tackle echo and reverberation, but their distinct design and unmatched acoustical abilities make them ideal for every classroom seeking auditory excellence.

Shown here at The Manor House, the Sonex® Contour Acoustic Panels by Pinta Acoustic, Inc. are direct mounted to the ceiling to improve the room acoustics.

Shown here at The Manor House, the Sonex® Contour Acoustic Panels by Pinta Acoustic, Inc. are direct mounted to the ceiling to improve the room acoustics.

Taking Your Soundproofing Up a Notch

While sound absorption refines the audio landscape within, soundproofing is your shield against the external cacophony, and we’ve got just the tools to help!


PrivacyShield® Window Seal Kit

PrivacyShield® Window Seal Kit

Beautiful as they are, windows can sometimes be responsible for lots of noise leakage, especially if they’re near bustling streets or playgrounds. Fortunately, the PrivacyShield® Window Seal Kit is tailored to block those sounds and leave your room noise and distraction-free. It’s also quick to install and doesn’t block the light, so you don’t have to worry about changing your room’s lighting.


Acoustic Door Seal Kit

Acoustic Door Seal Kit

Doors can be responsible for a lot more noise than you’d think, so if you want to improve your classroom’s acoustics and meet the ANSI standard, we recommend installing the PrivacyShield® Soundproofing Door Seal Kit (Complete Set). Simple to install, this door seal kit is perfect for classrooms.

Meet ANSI Standards in Your Classroom with Acoustical Solutions

Transitioning to the gold standard of acoustics doesn’t have to be complex. With Acoustical Solutions, you have a trusted partner by your side, and with our extensive suite of acoustic treatments, you can transform your classroom into the perfect learning environment.

Contact us today to learn more!

To learn more about how Acoustical Solutions can solve your noise control problems, use our contact form, call one of our Acoustical Sales Consultants at (800) 782-5742, or visit us on the web at acousticalsolutions.com.