The Science of Sound
QuietStar Industries tailors innovative, practical solutions for every acoustic need
The concept of sound is both fascinating and deeply technical. It is a form of energy comprising three basic properties—pitch, loudness and tone—that transmits through solid, liquid or gas by way of vibration. In the built environment, the ability to control sound, or acoustics, is an important consideration in designing spaces that fulfill their intended purpose.
In addition to a building’s functionality, the science of architectural acoustics focuses on human comfort. Professionals called acousticians can offer input on specialty products and design methodologies to boost occupants’ concentration and productivity as well as facilitate better communication or improve privacy, among other acoustic goals.
This is where QuietStar Industries, Inc. (QuietStar) comes into play. With offices in both New Jersey and Massachusetts, the company sells and installs a broad range of noise-control products for a variety of applications. Its staff possesses over 200 years of combined experience in this niche market and serves as a vital resource to acousticians, who in turn share their insights with architects, QuietStar’s primary customer base. QuietStar then assists the architects with making appropriate product selections.
QuietStar is adept at tailoring innovative, yet practical solutions to enhance desirable sound and mitigate unwanted or excessive noise. “We’re experts at acoustic doors, sound barriers for noisy equipment, modular sound rooms and more. Customers appreciate our ability to help them implement acoustic solutions correctly so that the products meet their full potential,” says Steve Dutton, who along with Bob Schmitt founded QuietStar in 2006. Schmitt eventually sold his stake in the company to current Co-Owner Craig D’Anna, who began his career at QuietStar in 2011 as a Sales Engineer.
The Leadership Team
Dutton and D’Anna have worked in the acoustics field for decades. Both have engineering backgrounds and similar career experiences working for manufacturing businesses specializing in acoustical product solutions.
After receiving an environmental engineering degree from the University of Massachusetts, Dutton moved to Austin, Texas, to work as a Sales Engineer in a plant that manufactured acoustical systems. He quickly moved up the ranks and, within seven years, was promoted to president. He served in this role for five years, then left to work with Schmitt, a business colleague who recruited him to form QuietStar because he admired Dutton’s professionalism and ethics.
D’Anna earned his mechanical engineering degree from Stony Brook University in New York. He worked for various custom door companies in North Carolina during his early career days, then eventually moved back home to New York when he was hired as the business manager for an acoustic materials manufacturer. He stayed with this company for nearly 12 years before transitioning to the QuietStar team.
According to Dutton and D’Anna, their unique personalities balance well in running their business. Dutton is very outgoing and passionate about deepening relationships with industry partners and customers, whereas D’Anna is your quintessential engineer who is rivetted by the technical aspects of product design and implementation. These individual strengths harmonize perfectly in an operation where the client’s experience and satisfaction are top priority.
A Knowledgeable Staff
Every member of the QuietStar team has the necessary expertise to devise sensible, cost-effective sound control packages for any project type. Whether the client needs to address poor interior acoustical conditions to achieve a quiet, comfortable space, or perhaps isolate excessively noisy equipment or machinery, or even solve outdoor noise challenges caused by traffic or other sources—QuietStar usually has a solution.
“Our QuietStar sales personnel are engineers who are experienced in all aspects of the business, including acoustical, aerodynamic and structural disciplines,” Dutton says. “These team members are trained to help devise configurations of sound control products that will fit your space, time and budget considerations. Also, our products are delivered and installed by factory trained and certified craftsmen, making QuietStar a turnkey provider of noise-reduction solutions.”
QuietStar’s skilled staff analyzes factors such as sound transmission, reverberation, absorption, reflection, diffusion and vibration to recommend the best products for each unique space. The company represents brands such as IAC Acoustics, Sound Seal and Mon-Ray and its product line includes sound control barriers, sound control doors and windows, sound-controlled enclosures, air-moving device noise attenuators, and sound-controlled architectural rooms.
“We have developed a strong customer base because of our performance and the relationships we’ve developed over the years. Most of our work comes from referrals and repeat clients.” Craig D’Anna, Co-Owner, QuietStar Industries, Inc.
With a primary service area consisting of greater New York and New England, QuietStar caters to clients in the institutional, commercial, educational, industrial, municipal and residential markets. Customers who call on QuietStar never have to deal with the stress of call tiers and management segmentation. That’s because every employee has the in-depth knowledge needed to handle customer inquiries from beginning to end, a sort of “cradle-to-grave” customer service approach, according to company leaders.
“When you call us, you’re going to speak with someone. We’re going to talk with you, meet with you, and walk you through what we have to offer,” D’Anna says. He adds, “We have a website, but that’s not really how we market our services. We have developed a strong customer base because of our performance and the relationships we’ve developed over the years. Most of our work comes from referrals and repeat clients. Even the manufacturers we represent will forward leads to us.”
The company’s creative approaches to solving real-world design challenges is another reason clients trust QuietStar with their business.
A Shift in Perception
The field of acoustics is grounded in mass law, so the science and physics elements do not change. What has shifted, however, is people’s perception of noise pollution and how it can negatively impact their daily lives.
“The industry started out requiring noise-reduction solutions for safety reasons or sound isolation products for music recording and other purposes. Nowadays, people understand that even basic noises can be nuisances. While these noises may not be unsafe to be exposed to, they can be disturbing or distracting,” Dutton says. “The broader use of our products these days is to enhance people’s quality of life, not just their safety.”
He points to gyms and fitness centers as a burgeoning market for noise-reduction solutions. Sound isolation, in particular, is being integrated more frequently in the design of these facilities.
“This industry trend really started with SoulCycle, one of our national accounts. Sound isolation has become paramount in these gyms because they blast a lot of music, and they’ve got neighbors to consider in most locations. A typical build-out involves a minimum of two sound control doors, usually the front door to the studio and the exit door at the back of the studio. This model is being used by similar facilities as well,” Dutton says.
“Podcast rooms are also growing in popularity. We’ve consulted on a number of these types of spaces, both big and small. We’re currently working on two for a company owned by Sony,” D’Anna says.
Acoustical needs have also changed in the music industry, as recording studios are more often being added to people’s residences. “Today’s music recording studios are very different from what they used to be 20 years ago. Back then people were designing and building their own custom studios. Now, many individuals are putting these studios in their houses or apartments. To get the proper noise isolation, they have to consider the design of the windows, the doors and the room in general,” Dutton adds.
Unique Challenges & Creative Solutions
Achieving a desired quality of sound is not just a science—it’s an art. Time and again, QuietStar’s technical experts have been called on to help provide creative solutions to address complex or challenging design scenarios.
On a private middle school project in Manhattan, for instance, the team’s input into the design strategy of modular practice rooms helped to circumvent inaccessibility problems. “New sound rooms were about to be installed in this hundred-year-old building. The architect wanted the interior windows to line up with the exterior windows looking onto the street. I asked the architect, ‘How are you going to clean the building windows when you’re basically walling them off completely?’ The architect hadn’t really thought of that. So, we engineered a special acoustic window that maintenance workers could remove to clean and access the core building,” Dutton says. Then there was the issue of how to access the ceiling-mounted heaters above the practice rooms for service and maintenance. “These rooms are not really made to access from the inside because they’re soundproof,” Dutton explains. “The architect suggested we install a ceiling hatch to access the building’s heating and air conditioning systems. However, there was not a lot of room in the ceilings to fit a hatch. We ended up developing an acoustic hatch that was integrated into the ceiling light, which could be removed to access the mechanical systems above the space.”
At the end of the day, Dutton says, everyone got what they wanted. “While we probably sacrificed some acoustic integrity making these modifications, the project team was happy with the final result because we resolved several accessibility issues before construction began,” he adds.
A Valuable Project Partner
QuietStar has been involved in a number of high-profile projects, including for the US Open and Bloomberg, as well as on jobs for prestigious higher education institutions such as Princeton University. On occasion, the identity of the project owner is not divulged due to the end user’s celebrity-level status. The company’s remarkable work portfolio shows just how much clients value and trust QuietStar’s capabilities in this niche field.
Leighton Mitchell, Director of Facilities Administration for NYU’s Tisch School of the Arts, agrees that QuietStar is a valuable partner to have on any project.
“QuietStar has been providing quality acoustic control products to the Tisch School of the Arts for many years. Whether it has been one-off sound attenuating solutions in our older spaces in Manhattan or providing multiple acoustic doors for new recording studios in our new facility in Brooklyn, QuietStar delivers great products and great customer service. I’ve worked with Craig D’Anna personally, and he is always extremely knowledgeable and dependable, and helps us understand our needs better to provide great solutions,” Mitchell says.
A couple of years ago, the QuietStar team was chosen to work on the SiriusXM corporate office and sound studio in New York City. “They were short on space and room, so they decided to do a ‘combination room.’ Basically, this is a room where the studio and control room are built in the same space with just a common wall separating them,” Dutton explains. This type of “suite” layout is usually terrible for acoustics, he adds. Despite the space constraints, QuietStar came up with a design that achieved the owner’s acoustic goals. “We custom-engineered an Accutone2 sound enclosure room manufactured by IAC Acoustics. Ultimately, the two rooms were not physically connected, but still were very close to being connected, which worked out well.”
Impressed by QuietStar’s innovation, SiriusXM requested that the team replicate this space at a new facility in Los Angeles. “They wanted us to do what we did in New York on a bigger scale. It was the largest contract in our company’s history, and we successfully completed the project this past January,” Dutton says.
‘We Love What We Do’
The company’s leadership enjoys working in a stimulating environment where the job at hand changes day to day.
“It’s fun. It’s always something different. We could be meeting with an architect, supervising an installation at a job site, loading or unloading a truck, helping one of our team members solve a problem they haven’t come across before, or talking to an acoustical consultant,” D’Anna shares. “We love what we do because it keeps us on our toes and makes us think. Plus, everyone working here gets along really well. I think we all enjoy the nature of our work.”
With a focus on people’s aural comfort, the QuietStar team plans to continue providing innovative product solutions that exceed clients’ expectations. The end result: a symphony of services that make spaces sound as great as they look.