Archive for October 15th, 2007

The Tent Is LIVE, With The Sound Of Music (And Chatter)

Monday, October 15th, 2007

For outdoor events, a party tent is the essential piece of equipment. Light to moderate rain, wind, heat, or chill that would otherwise defeat your months of planning become non-issues. Unfortunately, unless you know what I’m about to share, the tent itself can create an insurmountable problem.

Today’s party tents are typically made of plastic – practical because they are light-weight, rain-proof, and quick to install or take down. But plastic tents also have an acoustic characteristic which – if unaddressed – will ruin your party.

The same dense property of plastic that repels moisture makes it incapable of absorbing sound. So, sound waves – be they conversations or music – simply continue to bounce around like so many Flubber-filled balls. For those inside a plastic tent, parties get very loud very fast. As guests speak up in order to be heard over the music and other conversations, a quantum increase of the decibel level occurs. Soon, the noise is actually painful, nobody is having fun, and your party flops.

What can you do? Try these 3 steps:

1.) Turn down the music. In the open air, where soundwaves can disperse in every direction, music projected through a speaker at 100Db (roughly equivalent to jet engine noise) drops to almost half that decibel level at 50 feet. At 100 feet, the racket is only about one-quarter of its original intensity. But inside a plastic tent, audio meters placed at both 50 and 100 feet away will register only a slight drop. The sound is carried by the plastic tenting with (literally) stunning efficiency. Instruct your band or deejay (who probably set the volume at its usual level of 11 on a scale of 1 to 10) to cut back 50% for starters.

2.) Leave the tent sides open. If weather permits, don’t seal yourself into what will become an audio torture chamber. The plastic ceiling will still be a noise conductor, but most of the soundwaves will escape out the sides.

3.) Hang sound-absorbing fabric. Sound waves cannot pass through a thick curtain. Place fabric behind the stage or buffet tables. Not only will it be decorative, it will be functional as well, serving to “soak up” excess sound. For best results, place your curtains at 4 opposing spots. (Picture your tent being intersected by an “X.” Hang the drapes at each point of the letter.)

You go to the trouble and expense of renting a tent to avoid problems with weather at your party. Just a little additional time and planning will ensure that the tent remains your “solution,” not a new and separate problem.