Sound Diffusion Explained

What is Sound Diffusion
When a sound wave hits a smooth flat surface it will bounce off that surface at the same angle at which it reached it. For example, a sound wave hitting a glass panel at 45 degrees will bounce off it at 45 degrees. But when a sound wave hits an uneven or irregular surface it will reflect off each part of that surface at the angle in which it hit therefore dispersing the waves in multiple angles, evenly disseminating (or diffusing) the sound through the given space.

Is Diffusion the same as Absorption?
No, this is a common misperception. However it isn’t a case of diffusion versus absorption – both are important for a pristine listening and acoustic experience.

Diffuser products don’t absorb sound in their own right, they scatter the energy of the sound wave whereas absorption products will soak up the energy and contain it (preventing it from returning into the space). Absorption products remove sound energy, diffusion products scatter the energy.

The Benefits of Sound Diffusion in the Workplace
Sound diffusion solutions are particularly effective at removing dead spots in a space. Sound waves travel in straight lines, continuing until they hit a surface that changes their direction. This means a rectangular room, for example, will have sound waves bouncing off between walls which will often create flat spots acoustically – areas of the room where the echo (reverberation) is not so obvious.

Diffusers eliminate these dead spots by dispersing sound throughout the room ensuring that all areas of the room benefit from an even and regular level of sound without the dead spots. Diffusers don’t absorb or remove the sound, so still leave the room with a ‘live’ feel.
Diffusion products will enhance speech intelligibility and maintain sound clarity as a result of making “use” of the sound energy by spreading it out. When used in conjunction with absorption products, diffusers are extremely effective because they essentially make it ‘easier’ for absorption products to soak up sound.

Where Should I Implement Sound Diffusion?
Where to place sound diffusers is dependant on what you want from your listening experience. The purpose of the room is the biggest factor in the placement of diffusers.

The best place to put diffusers are the primary reflective points in the space. Analysis of the use of the space, the source of the sound, the surface finishes etc are all considerations that influence this. Where you have reflection without diffusion you will end up with reverberation (echo) that generally speaking contradicts the acoustic experience.
Sound Diffusion Products
Mellow Acoustic Timber – slats are effective sound diffusers – the apertures between the slats help to scatter the sound waves in numerous directions. This product also contains absorption as has Mellow acoustic polyester on the back – as a result, this product is extremely effective at enhancing speech intelligibility and creating acoustic comfort.
Mellow Ceiling Grid – again, apertures and angles can be incorporated to send sound in various directions. And being Mellow polyester this product will actually absorb sound too.