Kaiser Chief’s new room conversion

Old Chapel Studios, Leeds: Acoustic Wall Panel Case Study.

When sourcing sound absorption materials for the ambitious plan to convert a disused church into a recording studio and rehearsal space, SIG 360 turned to CMS Danskin Acoustics and their SuperPhon range of acoustic wall panels. It goes without saying that the sound absorption panels had a considerable job of work to do given the reverberant nature of a space originally designed to enhance the unamplified sound of choristers.

The SIG360 team provide energy efficiency guidance on new and retrofit projects. They were tasked with improving sound attenuation between the rooms of the Old Chapel, a music studio used by rock band Kaiser Chiefs that also facilitates workshops for people with learning disabilities.

Having heard about the community work held at the Old Chapel and its renovation plans from British Gypsum, SIG Insulation’s Leeds branch offered its products and services to the project. Working with the Old Chapel’s Director, Mark Hubbard, the insulation experts assisted in the refurbishment of five studios, a classroom for the workshops and office space on the floor above.

To ensure the most appropriate products were used, SIG Insulation brought the SIG360 team on to the project, as well as acoustic consultants KR Associates, who carried out a series of tests including 3D modelling, background noise surveys, and airborne and reverberation testing.

“We can now have singing lessons in one room and a rock band practising in the next.”

The results of the testing enabled SIG360 to specify the most suitable products for the new studio, including SuperPhon wall panels and Regupol acoustic underlays from acoustic experts CMS Danskin, as well as acoustic insulation and flooring products, all supplied by SIG Insulation.

The refurbishment was also supported with products provided by British Gypsum. The high ceilings and exposed brickwork of the building, which was formerly a church, meant specialist systems were required to improve its acoustic performance.

As well as isolating noise within the individual studios, one of the main criteria of the refurbishment was to maximize the sound quality for the musicians, while also controlling reverberation for the comfort of the occupants in the office above.

To improve the level of sound insulation within separate spaces, British Gypsum’s SoundBloc – which boasts a reinforced core and greater density when compared with standard plasterboard – was specified for the walls.

For the ceilings, Eurocoustic ceiling tiles were chosen for their Class A sound absorption classification, the highest possible grading. This ensured reverberation was kept to a minimum.

Speaking on the project, Steven Marshall, Business Development Manager at SIG360 said: “This was an unusual project that required us to not only meet the acoustic requirements of Approved Document Part E of the Building Regulations, but to also go above and beyond”.

“While the focus was mainly on acoustic performance, we also specified an acoustic ventilation system to allow a constant flow of fresh air, and well-sealed windows to provide daylight while preventing the transmission of excess sound whilst the band is practicing.”

Paul Mackler, Area Sales Manager for British Gypsum, commented: “Achieving high quality sound insulation within older buildings can be particularly challenging, and requires specialist products for the specific needs of the site”.

“By using SoundBloc and Eurocoustic ceiling tiles, we were able to ensure the finished space offered the best environment for both the musicians recording and the office workers.”

The Kaiser Chiefs’ drummer, Vijay Mistry described the new studio as a professional space, rivalling some of London’s top studios. He added “We have positioned some of the acoustic panels behind the kick drum and the improvement in sound is brilliant. We also positioned more panels behind the amps to steer the sound back into the room.”

Mark Hubbard, Director of the Old Chapel said “We do a lot of work with people with learning disabilities at the Old Chapel, and the improved facilities have already made it much more comfortable and usable, allowing us to take on more work with young people in the future, and making it accessible for schools”.

“Most of the problems we originally had were caused by noise travelling between studios, however with these acoustic improvements, we will now be able to have singing lessons in one room and a rock band practising in the next.”

Work started on the project in February 2016, and was completed in March.