Acoustic Rafts Or Acoustic Baffles?
We regularly get asked which is the most effective acoustic ceiling treatment, Rafts or Baffles? The answer is both, however, there are certain environments where we recommend the use of one over the other.
Baffles effectively absorb sound, and most importantly, offer better style than a suspended ceiling and can be used to work in a wide range of spaces. There is a misconception that architects tend to put baffles in places that are less aesthetically pleasing. This is not the case! When done right, baffles can remain hidden in plain sight and keep the focus on the key design features of the space without disrupting the flow or aesthetic.
When specifying baffles, the spacing is arguably the most important factor. We’ve seen projects where they didn’t have enough baffles, so the acoustic performance was poor. Many space baffles every metre to save money, however, that will not provide much in the way of acoustical control. We recommend spacing baffles 300mm apart. Secondly, baffle depth does matter! You need to hit the minimum depth of 300mm to be effective.
Sound can pass through baffles, hit the ceiling, and come back down causing discrete reflections. If you want to treat those reflections, baffles may not be effective unless they are oriented in a particular direction. For example, baffles could channel the sound from one side of the room to another. To resolve this, we recommend you install the baffles in two or more directions, in a grid-like pattern or use our Suspend Acoustic Absorber range which is in effect a grid of baffles.
Acoustic rafts are easier to specify because it is hard to find a space that is NOT a good application. Acoustic ceiling rafts are suspended horizontally, come in a variety of styles, sizes, and shapes, can boost ceiling design capabilities, and hide distracting ceiling fixtures.
For example, Alpha & Absorb Rafts were created with difficult ceilings in mind. Rafts help absorb sound within an open space and reduce reverberation, no matter the ceiling type. Ultimately, the height of the cloud is less critical, as it is more important to make sure the clouds fit architecturally.
So, which one!
Ultimately, the type of space will dictate whether baffles or rafts are best. For instance, you’ll likely want to avoid baffles in conference rooms. Microphones on the table will pick up direct reflection vertically from the table and treatment above. Placing rafts strategically over the center of the room and conference table will help focus the acoustical control where it is most needed. On the other hand, lobbies and reception areas are great candidates for Baffles due to having more flexibility with where the sound-absorbing ceiling systems can be placed.
In other settings, there may not necessarily be a right or wrong option. Rather, the decision between baffles or clouds may simply come down to which complements your design best. In a bustling restaurant, it’s all about quantity; the more acoustic products the better. Open offices are a prime example where all treatments are going to be useful, because one of the main issues with low or no partitions is managing privacy. Remember, the ceiling is strategic and the primary starting point, but don’t stop there! The walls may also require acoustic treatments to achieve ideal sound levels.