Gretna United Methodist Church sanctuary using custom designed AlphaSorb® wall panels to reduce the echo while looking completely unique.Soundproofing a church sanctuary can be a challenging process. You must balance the acoustics of the spoken word, the choir, and live musical content.

The contemporary worship service space has provided new challenges to the design community; from the architect’s original design, all the way to the sound mixer’s ability to present a clear and meaningful sound to the congregation. Today’s sanctuaries have higher attendance volume and a larger variety of services from the traditional to the contemporary. The spoken word is still very important, and the choir still wants to project a full sound. There are often performances of updated musical content by live instruments (acoustic and electric drum kits, electric guitars, keyboards). Yet we still want an intimate environment for the service and pleasing sound quality to accentuate the experience. To achieve this, you need to have a certain level of acoustical control. We can help soundproofing a church sanctuary with a good sound reinforcement system that meets your needs. You can’t have a good sound system without good room acoustics.

Key Factors to Look at When Soundproofing a Church Sanctuary:

  • What is the design look you are trying to achieve in the sanctuary?
  • What is the proper reverberation time for the room to sound good? 
  • Do you have a budget in mind for the job?

Here are some basics for sound control and Soundproofing a Church Sanctuary:

  • ClearSonic IsoPac B (Drums not included)

    ClearSonic IsoPac B (Drums not included)

    Having a facility that has low noise levels from the mechanical systems, using NC curves in the original design. You can treat noisy duct work with a number of materials including Pipe and Duct Lag, Pipe and Duct Wrap, Flat Foam Duct Liner, and Plenum Return Silencers.
  • You need a Sanctuary that has a Reverb Time (RT 60) around 1.25 to 1.5 seconds. This will reduce excessive reverberation to achieve good speech intelligibility for the spoken word. For the wide variety and types of music performances, this will produce a clear, full sound. Rooms with high ceilings and lots of hard surfaces tend to have higher reverb times. Adding absorptive panels like AlphaSorb® Wall Panels or Whisperwave® Ceiling Clouds into the space can help lower the overall reverb time.
  • An elevated sound mixing position in the rear center. This should be open to the sanctuary for good control of the sound reinforcement system.
  • The stage area needs to be able to project sound from the choir yet have sound control for the musical instruments and music and sound reinforcement equipment such as amplifiers, monitor speakers and microphones. If the praise and worship band is using an acoustic drum kit, a drum shield or drum enclosure should be employed in order to limit the amount of sound being projected from the kit to the audience. A similar sound panel setup can be used to quiet onstage guitar, bass, and keyboard amplifiers, as well as horns and other wind instruments.
  • Side walls that are splayed from front to back to prevent standing waves and flutter echo from upper side walls (or acoustic treatment especially on upper side walls in rectangular shaped spaces.)
  • An acoustical treatment on the a rear wall, ceiling and balcony front does not cause slap back echo and excessive reflective sound energy. A back-wall section left untreated also reduces speech intelligibility and clarity of music, for the members in the rear section of the sanctuary. AlphaSorb® Wall Panels are the most common treatment option for this section of the room.

The Process

Church of Christ at Mountain View

Church of Christ at Mountain View

These goals are best implemented in the original design, but can be achieved after the facility is finished. You can do this in steps to meet your budget, starting with treatment that achieves the most results per dollar. 

Typically, you start with the rear wall/ front balcony area (moving back to front) for general room sound control. You would then move to the stage area to control sound from musicians. Don’t get caught in the trap where you don’t do anything, because you can’t do it all at once. The first square foot of acoustical treatment is the most effective. 

Whether the room is a sanctuary, fellowship hall or gymnasium, there are sound control materials to meet your needs.