Keeping the Sound from Going Over the Fence

Colleges and Universities become integral parts of the community in which they reside. Community residents often feel a sense of pride for the school that backs up against their homes. They might use the library to study in, walk along the campus paths, or attend a sporting event. Despite being some of the school’s most dedicated fans, residents would rather not hear the marching band during halftime of a football game or the screams of fans as a home run is hit… if they are not attending the game. Colleges and Universities can work with the design team and take steps to keep the residents happy and comply with noise ordinances.

Defining the Operating Parameters Early in the design process, it is important to not only define the areas of the project that require audio coverage but the areas of the project that audio should not cover. At Acentech, our system group often uses predictive modeling and evaluates multiple design options before finding the right solution. We are able to design systems that maintain appropriate speech intelligibly and audio coverage in the stands, while not exceeding the noise ordinance outside of the stadium.

Once the system is installed and operational, the next task is to develop a standard operating procedure to maintain these levels without upsetting the community residents. In order to do this, our acoustics team will perform a series of diagnostic measurements to establish a relationship between in-stand sound levels and levels at the property lines.

We can also perform measurements at various locations in the surrounding neighborhood to ensure that the sound system is meeting the requirements at each location. We use remote monitoring systems in the surrounding neighborhoods to ensure that the sound levels from the system comply with the project expectations, generally by keeping system sound levels to within 10 dB of the ambient.

Even with a standard operating procedure, an issue arises when you introduce human variables to the mix (no pun intended). While the noise ordinance and sound system components will remain constant, the system operators may change frequently. For many University level sporting events, students are operating the systems and they are most likely unaware that they need to be conscious of the community’s noise ordinance.

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