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What are Acoustic Panels & What do they do?

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acoustic foam tiles in bedroom

There are some myths about what acoustic foam panels can do. They are often recommended for soundproofing, but this might not be the best option. Acoustic panels do have many benefits, but are they right for you?

Let’s talk about the function of acoustic foam panels.

What Are Acoustic Foam Panels?

An acoustic panel is a method to absorb sound in a room. Each panel is made of acoustic foam, which is light and porous enough to absorb sound waves. They are usually covered in fabric to easily blend in with your home decor.

You can install acoustic panels to eliminate background noise and reduce the number of reverberations and echoes. They can vary in size and shape, with thicker panels absorbing more frequencies of sound waves.

Although sometimes called soundproof panels, acoustic panels shouldn’t be used for soundproofing. They can remove residual sounds in a room, but don’t block much noise.

You might see these panels around the walls of auditoriums, restaurants, offices, and music venues. They are very useful in improving sound quality and removing unwanted background sounds.

What Do Acoustic Panels Do?

Acoustic panels improve internal sound quality, lowering background noise and absorbing reverberations.

In an office space, the average noise level is 60-80 decibels, but acoustic panels can lower this down to 45-55 decibels. This can ensure that every person is comfortable because they are working in a quieter space.

Acoustic panels can also improve the comfort of homes. You can simply place a few panels on the walls to dampen any annoying reverberations.

The best part about this method is that you don’t have to completely cover the wall for the panels to be effective. Don’t worry if you’re short on wall space.

In small rooms, sound waves will easily bounce off the walls. Acoustic panels can be useful in absorbing this extra sound and improving sound quality.

What is Acoustic Foam Made Of?

Acoustic panels are made from acoustic foam. This foam is usually a polyurethane material with open cells. You can purchase panels with varying colors, thicknesses, and textures to best suit your needs.

When you look at acoustic foam, it might seem similar to the foam in mattresses or pillows. However, it has a much different cellular construction. This makes sure that it can absorb sound.

Because it is made from open-cell polyurethane foam, acoustic foam can reduce echoes and deaden sounds. A foam that is denser or thicker will be able to absorb lower-frequency sounds. Although regular foam does absorb some level of sound, it won’t be as effective.

Each panel of acoustic foam has a different texture. Brands may cut their panels in wedges, pyramids, squares, or other shapes to maximize sound absorption.

Acoustic foam has a greater number and size of cells in each inch of its material. This is called pores per inch, or PPI. Regular foam has a 60-70 PPI, whereas acoustic foam has a PPI of 80. This means that acoustic foam has more cells to interact with sound waves. There is more material to absorb unwanted noise.

What is the Best Acoustic Foam?

1. TroyStudio Acoustic Studio Absorption Panels

TroyStudio

The TroyStudio Acoustic Studio Absorption Panels offer great sound absorption with an appealing visual structure. The panel’s design was created by professional acoustic engineers, being the ideal solution for improving sound quality.

These absorption panels can be installed in many different settings. Whether you need sound control in a recording studio, home theater, classroom, or office, these panels maximize sound absorption.

Made from a polyurethane material with a periodic groove structure, the TroyStudio panels have much better broadband absorption than other brands. They are also environmentally friendly and fire retardant.

You won’t have to worry about a complicated installation process. Each panel is easy to cut to any size needed. They also come with a spray adhesive that makes sure your panels last a long time.

Features

  • 12-inch by 12-inch panels
  • 2 inches thick
  • Polyurethane material
  • Innovative groove structure for reverb control, noise reduction, and echo reduction
  • Eco-friendly

We Like

  • Inexpensive
  • Eliminate higher-frequency sound reverberations
  • Unique design that looks great in any room

We Don’t Like

  • The panels are advertised as odorless, but many reviewers smelled a strong odor
  • They are vacuum-sealed in the mail, so may take time to reinflate
  • Panels do not lower sound significantly

2. JBER 12 Pack Acoustic Foam Panels

JBER

If you want to improve the audio quality in a room, we’d recommend the JBER acoustic foam panels. These, when placed on the walls, can reduce background noise and echoes. With these panels, you’ll notice an improved internal sound quality for any room.

Each of the JBER acoustic panels is made of acoustic foam. This provides sound insulation and removes reverberation and sound reflections. For studios or offices that need better sound quality, you can’t go wrong with these acoustic panels.

You can install these panels around the walls of a room to spot treat sound problems. Unwanted reverberations and echoes will disappear, allowing you to have great sound quality for music, podcasts, or YouTube videos.

These panels are durable and won’t deteriorate over time. All you’ll need to do is some light dusting.

The JBER acoustic panels are inexpensive and are available in packs of 12. This can easily cover any medium-sized room.

Features

  • 12 pack of 12-inch by 12-inch panels
  • Spot treats walls for improving internal sound quality
  • Covers 12 square feet
  • For use in offices, recording studios, home theaters, and more
  • Available in black, blue, and red

We Like

  • Great value for the cost
  • Easy installation process
  • Deadens internal echoes and reverberations

We Don’t Like

  • The packs of acoustic panels are vacuum-sealed, so they may need time to reinflate.
  • Doesn’t come with an adhesive
  • Product slightly thinner than advertised

What Can I Use Instead of Acoustic Foam?

Good acoustic foam can be expensive. If you’re looking for a cheaper option, you can make DIY acoustic foam for only $5.

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You can use a towel to create an easy, inexpensive acoustic panel. You can cover your walls in towel-covered panels to significantly reduce unwanted noise. Plus, this material is cheap and you probably already have some at home.

If you don’t have any old towels to use for this project, you can find some at the nearest thrift store. Even if they are used, they will work well. At a thrift store, you can buy many of these towels for little cost.

Finding towels at a thrift store is a cheap option, but you could also ask friends or family for their old towels. If you do this, you won’t have to spend any money on this DIY project.

Step one: Cut pieces of wood to make a frame for your panels.

Step two: Attach the pieces of wood into a frame using wood glue and screws.

Step three: Use the least-worn towel for the outside of the frame. You can iron this towel to get rid of any creases.

Step four: Stretch this towel over the frame. Staple it in place.

Step five: Place the rest of the towels in the back of the frame, cutting them to size. Six towels stacked on top of each other should be enough to make a soundproof panel.

Step six: Sew these towels together. Add some stitches throughout the middle so that they don’t start to sag.

Step seven: Staple the towels in place. Cut off any excess.

Then you can hang these panels onto your walls!

Final Thoughts

Acoustic foam panels can be a great way to improve the sound quality of any room. They are very inexpensive and easy to install. Although they aren’t ideal for soundproofing, they are great for absorbing extra reverberations and echoes.

Resources

Acoustic Panels – What, When, Where? Buzzi Space

What is Acoustic Foam Made Out Of? Soundproof Cow

  • Gregory A Seely
  • Gregory A Seely

    Greg is a self taught home renovator and writer for RenoViso. His shares his experiences with Southern Living, Traditional Home and other publications.

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