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Why Is Acoustic Panel Placement Important For School Sports Hall Acoustics?

Why Is Acoustic Panel Placement Important For School Sports Hall Acoustics| Prism Acoustics | Birmingham, West Midlands

Why Is Acoustic Panel Placement Important For School Sports Hall Acoustics?

School sports halls are often the largest learning space that a school has available. They are designed to house multiple activities including a variety of different sports, assemblies, performances and to act as exam halls.

Because of their size, school sports halls have a high reverberation time which needs to be managed to maximise the potential learning outcome for those using the space.

Prism Acoustics have been blogging about the importance of properly placing panels to improve sports hall acoustics.

Read on to find out more…

The Sports Hall Design

Sports halls are built to be high usage spaces designed to take a lot of impact from sports equipment such as tennis balls, basket balls or footballs. They have high ceilings and are often built with solid breeze block walls and wooden flooring that is durable against the impacts that they inevitably take.

The size of a sports hall causes a high reverberation time. Sound takes longer to fade away which, when being used a teaching space, can make listing to instructions harder. This is because when there is a high reverberation time, speech intelligibility is weaker because of the echo created by the large space.   

Absorption Placement

Absorption comes in many forms; highly absorbent panels, perforated wood and plasterboard, even some blockwork can offer a lot of absorption. In large spaces, such as a sports hall that placement of the absorption is often more important than the quality of absorption.

Ideally, 25% of the total absorption in the room should be evenly distributed over two adjacent walls. This should be located no higher than 75% of the room height.

Absorptive Acoustic Panels

When using absorbent acoustic panels, it can be tempting for developers to not place panels there to avoid them being damaged by impacts from footballs and other sports equipment.

Instead, acoustic panels are often put much higher up where they are less likely to be hit. While this protects the panels from damage, it does little to reduce the reverberation time or improve speech intelligibility and can result in a highly distracting flutter echo!

The Regulations

BB93 Design regulation states that for sports hall acoustics the maximum reverberation time of the TMF (arithmetic average of the reverberation times in the 500 Hz, 1 kHz and 2 kHz octave bands),  should be between 1.5 – 2.0 seconds (depending on the floor area of the room).

  • <280 m^2 = 1.5s
  • 280-530 m^2 = 2.0s-((530-floor area)/500)
  • >530 m^2 = 2.0s

These regulations are met and managed through careful acoustic design throughout the sports hall to ensure that it is suitable for all-inclusive learning where everybody can reach their full potential.


Placing absorption in the appropriate places is vital to optimising sports hall acoustics. The reduction in reverberation time, provides improved speech intelligibility, making sports halls a better learning environment for all.

Regulations such as BB93 design lay out the expectations for sports hall acoustics which guides the decisions made by developers as they create educational spaces with optimal acoustics.

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About Prism Acoustics

Prism Acoustics are leading acoustic consultants based in Birmingham in the West Midlands.

Prism work alongside architects, designers and developers, offering acoustic consultancy on a range of projects in the following sectors:

  • Educational 
  • Healthcare 
  • Residential 
  • Industrial
  • Commercial  
  • Sound monitoring and acoustic modelling for live events.

Prism is currently developing the next generation of acoustic prediction software, using virtual reality to demonstrate how the sound will carry before development work has even started! We can carry out environmental noise surveys and will work alongside you to ensure that your acoustic needs are met to the highest standard.

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