Acoustifence Reduces Pickleball Court Noise By More Than 50 Percent
Written by PickleBall.net
April 04, 2013
Acoustifence soundproofing material placed around a pickleball court reduced noise by 10-12 decibels in a sound meter test conducted by USA Pickleball Association president Bill Booth on April 17, 2012 at the Country Roads RV Village pickleball courts in Yuma, Ariz. This represents more than a 50 percent reduction in sound as perceived by the human ear the report concludes.
Even as one of the fastest-growing sports in the United States continues to gain new participants and fans every day, pickleball is disturbing some neighbors and communities who don’t want the courts around because paddle noise has become a nuisance issue for some people living close to the courts.
For decades, the game of pickleball was little known outside the Pacific Northwest United States. Since its inception in 1965 as a backyard pastime, it is now an organized sport represented by national and international governing bodies. While people ages 6 to 70-plus play pickleball and even compete in local, regional and national tournaments, the main driver of the recent growth is the 55-plus demographic who have taken a liking to the sport. They view it as a way to exercise, burn calories, socialize, and get outdoors. More and more pickleball courts are being built in community parks and especially into 55-plus housing developments. Some communities are converting sporadically used tennis courts into pickleball courts or painting additional lines on tennis courts so pickleball can also be played. Pickleball is played on a smaller court size than tennis but has a similar court design.
More courts, participants, tournaments, and attention to the game has brought on more public complaints and even noise or nuisance related lawsuits attempting to stop play on existing courts or stop construction of new courts.
Racquet and paddle sports like tennis, badminton, and table tennis (ping pong) each produce a unique sound when the racquet or paddle hits the ball. In pickleball, there is a “ping, ping” sound made when the paddle hits the ball because the sport uses medium-sized, solid faced wooden, composite or graphite paddles and a hard plastic perforated ball (resembles a Wiffle ball) that is larger, stiffer and less resistant than a tennis ball. The noise generated by the game is louder, sharper and at a higher pitch than tennis which generates a deeper “thwack” sound that registers far lower on a sound meter.
Pickleball paddle noise is in a sound classification called impact noise – noise that occurs when an object collides with another object. It is a high frequency noise that is at a frequency that our ears are most attuned to. Through Acoustiblok’s analysis and modeling efforts of various pickleball noise related projects, the company says there’s one limiting band of approximately 1.25 Khz (1250 hz) that spikes when the paddle hits the ball. Acoustifence blocks much of the noise and reduces it to below a nuisance level for nearby neighbors, becoming barely perceptible among other outdoor background noises such as automobile, airplane, human, and machine noise.
Unlike often tried natural sound barriers such as fences or shrubs, the Acoustifence material does extraordinarily well in not only blocking direct sound, but also has a tendency to reduce sound from reflecting off it. Acoustifence is a revolutionary heavy mineral filled viscoelastic polymer sound deadening material which is only 3mm (1/8 inch) thick. It’s made in the United States and compared to other soundproofing alternatives, is an economical way to reduce outdoor noise.
The ultraviolet (UV) tolerant Acoustifence is hung via grommets onto the top line of existing chain link, panel, security or support pole fencing systems. It comes in 6 X 30 foot-sheets and can be easily cut and shaped into custom sizes with a craft knife. On solid structure fence surfaces, Acoustifence can be installed by nailing, stapling or gluing. Acoustifence is one of the most effective first steps in reducing outdoor noise. The amount of noise Acoustifence reduces however is much related to other reflective structures in the area.
Country Roads RV Resort is a 55-plus gated community which boasts 150 acres of lavish, mature landscaping and 1294 privately owned home sites. The Acoustifence testing was conducted by USA Pickleball Association president Bill Booth. Tests were made using a Sper Scientific Digital Datalogging Sound Meter (model 840013), a S-Type Composite Extreme Paddle, and New Dura Fast 40 outdoor balls. Tests were made with the tester attempting to hit the ball with maximum force for a worse-case scenario. A series of readings were taken both through the Acoustifence sound curtain and with no sound curtain. Readings were recorded with the meter at 50 feet from the point of impact. In the first case, the reading was even taken through the sound curtain next to a nearby home at a point 42 feet from the sound curtain. The paddle was 8 feet inside the court for a total of 50 feet. The second set of readings was recorded inside the court at a distance of 50 feet from the point of impact.
With no sound curtain, readings ranged from 64.2 – 71.8 decibels for an average of 68 decibels. Through the Acoustifence sound curtain, the meter readings were between 54.7 – 59.2 decibels for an average reading of 56.7 decibels. The report concluded that an 11.3 decibel reduction in sound was achieved. This represents more than a 50 percent reduction in sound as perceived by the human ear by nearby homeowners. That reduction in sound takes the pickleball noise from being annoying to someone to being just barely perceptible, the report conclusion stated. The report also recommended that the Acoustifence product be installed on the inside of the pickleball court if the fence posts are outside the court. The report went on to say that homeowners near the Country Roads RV Village pickleball courts who had the most complaints and lived closest to the courts reported a significant reduction in sound level from having the Acoustifence material up. He said that his wife often does not realize that they are playing on the court. At times, ambient noise significantly exceeded paddle noise.