Lacking for any specific consideration of acoustics, many workplaces simply sound bad. Hard surfaces like drywall, glass, tile, stone and hardwood floors combine with arbitrary dimensions to create boomy, boxy sounding spaces where sound bounces around a lot. This creates a muddled sound that can make it more difficult to understand conversation. Sadly, this is also true of a lot of meeting small spaces and home offices.
This acoustic reality impacts how we work, especially the quality of our communications. Speakerphones and conference phones suffer in sub-standard acoustic environments. Intelligibility of conversation can be significantly degraded. You may not notice, as you are in the space and accustomed to that environment. However, the person at the far end of the conversation may find it more difficult to understand what you are saying.
There are many things that can be done to improve the acoustic environment of a small office or home office. Often acoustic treatment is not considered for practical reasons. It can be too costly, aesthetically inappropriate or otherwise unacceptable to landlord, partners or spouse.
Over the holidays, while catching up on some reading online, I stumbled upon a thread in an audiophile forum that pointed out a novel acoustic treatment product; Mio PaperForms 3D wallpaper. This product looks very interesting. Very interesting indeed.
These formed paper shapes aim to provide acoustic diffusion a range of frequencies that cover human speech. The more formal approach to this would be to use a quadratic residue diffusor (QRD.) Such acoustic treatments are better suited to music applications, but they are much more complex and costly to make or build. They are also less aesthetically acceptable in a home or work environment.
At $54 for twelve pieces, each one square foot, PaperForms are startling affordable for what it purports to do. It may well be the most affordable and attractive acoustic treatment product that I’ve ever encountered. While it comes in a variety of contours and colors, it’s paintable, so it can be made to match any décor.
For some time I’ve wanted to undertaking making a set of 3D QRD (aka Skyline) panels for use in my office. It’s something that I’ve had in the back of my mind for years. I was reminded of this earlier this year when I noticed that there’s a large QRD panel on the set of AMC’s The Talking Dead.
There are numerous plans for such things available online. My office doesn’t truly require such a thing, but I ‘m drawn to this sort of woodworking project. In addition, I think it would be very attractive if made from nice wood and finished in a quality manner.
That said, these PaperForm things might be a different approach to take. They could be that difference between just thinking about it and actually getting it done.