Advice for improving acoustics in case of hearing impairment or hypersensitivity to noise (hypercusis).

Improving Acoustics in Case of Hearing Impairment

Acoustics in case of hearing impairment
It is a well-known fact that as we grow older, our sight and hearing capabilities may start to deteriorate. Less well-known, is the fact that people that suffer from age-related hearing loss or presbyacusis suffer from bad acoustics to a much higher degree than people without such an issue. This is the reason why elderly people often turn up the volume of their radio or TV. However, this doesn't make the radio or TV more intelligible. Quite the opposite, it results in even more reverberation, which has consequences that are every bit as bad: nuisance to the neighbours.

Proper acoustics is also very important for people that suffer from hyperacusis (hypersensitivity to sound). In this case, it's not about improving the intelligibility, but rather about diminishing sound reflections. Bad acoustics can even be experienced as painful in case of hyperacusis. For this target group, the acoustics should be as 'dry' as possible (a room with as much sound absorpting surfaces as possible). So, there is an similarity between people with presbyacusis (age-related hearing loss) and hyperacusis (hypersensitivity to sound).

The Acousticshop often receives customers with this combination of problems: bad hearing and bad acoustics. One of our customers, called Els, came to our shop with a similar case. Her mum suffers from presbyacusis and was not able to follow any conversation anymore after she moved into her new home. The furnishing and materials that were used in the interior resulted in an acoustic climate that was that bad, that certain frequencies were practicly inaudible to her mum, even when using special hearing aid.

The solution
In order to make speech intelligible again to her mum, it was necessary to reduce the number of hard reflective surfaces by changing them into soft absorption surfaces. This can be done in several ways, of which the most common one is to provide the room with curtains and carpet. This is a good starting point, but it is not sufficient, especially in case of age-related hearing loss. Products that are designed to optimally absorb certain frequencies, absorbtion panels, need to be installed.akoestiek gehoorprobleem

In the case of Els and her mum, we recommended installing more absorption panels than we usually do in cases connected to reverberation: an amount that equals 60% of the floor space instead 30%. By the way, absorption panels do not always need to be mounted against the ceiling. A combination of applying wall and ceiling panels is even better, to the degree that this is possible of course, it is no hard requirement. On the pictures you can see the living room of the customer, with Akotherm Facet panels mounted against the ceiling. The customer wanted a product with a bit of texture, since the ceiling was finished with quite a rough layer of plaster. Akotherm Facet panels have a nice wave strucure at the visible side, making them ideal for this type of room.

Akoestiek overgevoeligheid geluidEls installed the panels by herself. This can be done very easily by spreading out some Stauf adhesive paste on the panels or the substrate (not at both sides). The panels directly adhere to the ceiling, rendering additional tools unnecessary.

Comment on the end result
I went to the shop myself, where everything was explained to me in a clear manner. I purchased 29 panels and the corresponding adhesive on the spot. The result was mind-blowing. From heavy reverberation in the living room at every sound to a tangible absorbing soundwave. Before installation, my demented mum wasn't able to hear me, even with hearing aid. After placing the panels, she can hear me clearly, even when I talk softly. The panels even improved the room from an aesthetic point of view, so I decided to order 5 additional panels online. It wasn't necessary anymore in order to improve the sound, but it looked better.

Product selection
On our Acoustic Panels page you will find our products for improving the acoustics. We recommend applying products with a minimal thickness of 40 mm. Especially the more basic products such as Akotherm Facet and Akotherm GG with these thicknesses score very high when it comes to absorption values. Products like Flamex Facet and Silent Office also absorb well, these panels suit the interior better. The finishing, colour, and various dimensions give these products a higher aesthetic value, which facilitates combinations with the existing interior.

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Questions? Contact
Do you have any questions concerning this topic? Please feel free to contact us.