a couple looking at a magazine on the floor of their renovated home struggling to make a decision

How Do I Choose the Right Acoustic Panels?

📖 Reading time: 9 min and 31 sec

The phrase "It ain't rocket science" originated in the USA after World War II when they began developing rocket science. At that time, only a few German military technologists were rocket scientists (a challenging profession by no means). When someone says that something is not rocket science, it means it's not difficult at all.

Before you thank us for the lesson, let's have another one: When someone tells you it's not rocket science to choose acoustic panels, immediately block them on social media. Secondly, give us a call and our acoustician will save the day!

 

Why This Is So Important

Choosing the right acoustic panels for your place is crucial for optimising sound quality, reducing noise, and creating the aesthetic atmosphere you desire.

Unless you select acoustic products with attention and understanding of your needs, you may lose money and time with no effect on your soundscape.

This guide will help you understand the features and benefits of each type of panel and how to select the best ones for your space.

 

General Considerations

Choosing the right acoustic panels involves several factors to ensure they meet both your acoustic and aesthetic needs. Here, we've listed the key considerations and provided precise recommendations to help you make informed decisions.

 

Room Size and Shape

Room Size: Larger rooms often require more or larger panels to achieve effective sound absorption. For example, a 500 sq ft home theatre may need at least 20 square feet of acoustic treatment (e.g., 4x 2’x4’ panels). For small rooms (e.g., 100 sq ft), 4-6 square feet of treatment might suffice.

Room Shape: Oddly shaped rooms (L-shaped, with alcoves, etc.) can cause uneven sound distribution. Use bass traps in corners to handle low-frequency buildup and combine them with strategically placed wall panels to address mid and high frequencies. 

Recommendation: Use a mix of panel types for comprehensive coverage. For a rectangular living room, place foam sound absorbers on the walls and ceiling baffles overhead to tackle reflections.

 

non standard room size with a sketch architectural drawing overlay

Purpose of the Room

Recording Studios: Require precise control over sound reflections and echoes. Use bass traps in corners, diffusers on the back wall, and fabric-covered panels at reflection points.

Home Theaters: Focus on bass control and mid-high frequency absorption. Combine bass traps, slatted wood panels on the side walls, and ceiling baffles.

Offices and Conference Rooms: Aim to reduce noise and improve speech clarity. Pet-felt panels and perforated wood panels offer excellent speech frequency absorption.

Recommendation: For a home studio, use a combination of bass traps, foam sound absorbers, and fabric-covered panels to achieve a balanced sound environment.

Always consider the unique purpose of the room before selecting the acoustic panels.

 

 

all types of acoustic panels provided by DECIBEL
 

Acoustic Needs

Sound Absorption: Determine the level of sound absorption needed. Rooms with high levels of echo and reverberation benefit from panels with high NRC ratings (0.70 to 1.00).

Sound Diffusion: Consider using diffusers in conjunction with absorptive panels to scatter sound waves and improve clarity without deadening the space.

 

Performance Metrics

NRC Rating: Check the Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC) rating to understand the panel's effectiveness in absorbing sound. Higher NRC values indicate better sound absorption.

STC Rating: The Sound Transmission Class (STC) rating measures how well a panel prevents sound from passing through walls or barriers. Higher STC ratings indicate better soundproofing.

 

Aesthetic Preferences

Visual Impact: Choose panels that complement your room’s design. For modern interiors, perforated wood panels or sleek PET-Felt panels might be ideal. For more traditional settings, fabric-covered panels offer versatility.

Customisation: Many panels come in various colours and finishes. Select panels that not only match your decor but also enhance it. For example, slatted wood panels can add a contemporary feel while offering acoustic benefits.

Recommendation: In a minimalist office space, opt for PET-Felt panels in neutral tones to maintain a clean look while providing effective sound absorption.

 

Installation Requirements

Ease of Installation: Consider panels that are easy to install if you’re doing it yourself. Foam sound absorbers and PET-Felt panels are typically lightweight and can be mounted with adhesives. Consider also the option for the panel's removal afterwards, in case your place is rental.

Professional Installation: For more complex setups, like ceiling baffles or large bass traps, professional installation might be necessary to ensure optimal performance.

Recommendation: For a DIY-friendly option, choose foam sound absorbers that can be easily attached to walls using double-sided tape or adhesive strips.

 

Budget

Cost-Effective Solutions: Foam sound absorbers and PET-Felt panels are generally more affordable while still providing good sound absorption.

High-End Solutions: Perforated wood panels and custom fabric-covered panels might be more expensive but offer superior performance and aesthetic appeal.

Recommendation: For a balanced budget, combine different panel types. Use cost-effective foam panels for less critical areas and invest in high-end panels for primary reflection points.

 

Main Types of Acoustic Panels

Perforated Wood Acoustic Panels

Overview: Perforated wood acoustic panels combine functionality with aesthetics, featuring strategic perforations that allow sound to be absorbed effectively. These panels are designed to maintain a natural wood appearance, making them an excellent choice for environments where both acoustic performance and visual appeal are important. The perforations are specifically engineered to trap and dissipate sound waves, reducing echo and reverberation while enhancing the overall acoustic quality of the space.

NRC (Noise Reduction Coefficient): Typically between 0.65 to 0.85, indicating a high level of sound absorption for reducing noise and improving sound clarity.

 

acer perforated wood acoustic wall panel by DECIBEL with a coefficient of sound absorption chart
 
 

Benefits:

  • Aesthetic Appeal: The natural wood finish adds a touch of elegance and warmth to any room, blending seamlessly with various interior designs.
  • Effective Sound Absorption: These panels are particularly good at absorbing mid to high frequencies, making them suitable for offices, auditoriums, and conference rooms.
  • Durability: Made from high-quality wood materials, these panels are built to last, providing long-term acoustic solutions.
  • Versatility: Available in various wood types, finishes, and perforation patterns, they can be customised to fit specific design and acoustic needs.

Considerations:

  • Perforation Patterns: Choose patterns based on the desired balance between acoustic performance and aesthetic appeal.
  • Finish Options: Select from a range of wood finishes to match or complement existing decor.
  • Installation: Ensure panels are installed correctly to maximise their acoustic benefits. 

 

PET-Felt Acoustic Panels

Overview: PET-Felt acoustic panels are eco-friendly and versatile sound-absorbing solutions made from recycled plastic bottles. These panels are lightweight, easy to install, and available in various colours and shapes, making them suitable for a wide range of environments, including offices, schools, and public spaces.

NRC (Noise Reduction Coefficient): Typically between 0.70 to 0.90, providing excellent sound absorption capabilities.

 

PET-felt eco friendly custom panels installed on wall behind a TV

 

 

Benefits:

  • Eco-Friendly: Made from recycled materials, contributing to sustainability and environmental responsibility.
  • Lightweight and Easy to Install: Can be easily mounted on walls or ceilings, reducing installation time and effort.
  • Customisable: Available in numerous colours and shapes, allowing for creative and functional acoustic designs.
  • Durable and Moisture Resistant: Resilient to wear and tear, and resistant to moisture, making them suitable for various environments.

Considerations:

  • Colour and Shape Options: Select from a wide range of colours and shapes to match the aesthetic requirements of your space.
  • Thickness and Density: Choose the appropriate thickness and density for optimal acoustic performance.
  • Placement: Consider strategic placement to maximize sound absorption in areas with the highest noise levels.

 

Textile or Fabric Covered Panels

Overview: Textile or fabric-covered acoustic panels offer a stylish and functional solution for sound absorption. These panels are covered with high-quality fabrics that enhance the visual appeal of any room while providing excellent acoustic properties. Ideal for conference rooms, theatres, and residential spaces.

NRC (Noise Reduction Coefficient): Typically between 0.75 to 0.95, offering superior sound absorption.

 

textile GLL wall acoustic panels in a modern living room
 

Benefits:

  • High Aesthetic Value: Available in a variety of fabric colours and textures to complement interior decor.
  • Effective Sound Absorption: Particularly good at absorbing mid to high-frequency sounds, reducing echo and improving speech clarity.
  • Versatility: Suitable for walls and ceilings, these panels can be used in a wide range of settings.
  • Customisable: Panels can be customised in terms of size, shape, and fabric choice to meet specific design and acoustic needs.

Considerations:

  • Fabric Selection: Choose fabrics that match the aesthetic and functional requirements of the space.
  • Maintenance: Consider the ease of cleaning and maintaining the fabric, especially in high-traffic areas.
  • Installation: Ensure proper installation to maximise acoustic performance and maintain the panel's appearance.

 

Bass Traps

Overview: Bass traps are specialised acoustic panels designed to absorb low-frequency sound waves that tend to accumulate in corners of rooms. These traps are essential for achieving balanced sound in recording studios, home theatres, and any space where accurate sound reproduction is critical.

NRC (Noise Reduction Coefficient): Typically between 0.80 to 1.00 at low frequencies, indicating exceptional bass absorption rates.

 

bass traps installed in a  music studio with chart for coefficient of sound absorption

 

 

Benefits:

  • Low-Frequency Absorption: Highly effective at absorbing bass frequencies, preventing the buildup of standing waves and resonances.
  • Improved Sound Clarity: By controlling low-frequency energy, bass traps enhance the overall clarity and accuracy of sound.
  • Versatile Applications: Ideal for recording studios, homes, and listening rooms where precise sound control is necessary.
  • Durability: Made from high-quality materials, bass traps are designed to provide long-lasting acoustic performance.

Considerations:

  • Placement: Install bass traps in the corners of the room for maximum effectiveness. Floor-to-ceiling placement is recommended for optimal results.
  • Size and Shape: Choose the appropriate size and shape based on the room's dimensions and acoustic requirements.
  • Combination: Use bass traps in conjunction with other acoustic treatments like wall panels and diffusers for a well-rounded acoustic solution.

 

Slatted Wood Panels

Overview: Slatted wood acoustic panels combine the natural beauty of wood with advanced sound absorption capabilities. These panels feature slats of wood with gaps in between, backed by an acoustic material that absorbs sound waves while allowing the wood to add a warm, aesthetic touch.

NRC (Noise Reduction Coefficient): Typically between 0.65 to 0.85, providing good sound absorption.

 

wood slated panels in a modern room with sound absorption chart
 

Benefits:

  • Aesthetic Appeal: The natural wood finish adds elegance and warmth to any space, making these panels a popular choice for high-end interiors.
  • Sound Absorption: Effective at absorbing mid to high frequencies, these panels help reduce echo and reverberation.
  • Versatility: Suitable for various settings, including offices, restaurants, hotels, and residential spaces.
  • Durability: Constructed from high-quality wood and acoustic materials, these panels are built to last.

Considerations:

  • Wood Type: Choose from a variety of wood types and finishes to match the room's decor.
  • Slat Spacing: The spacing between slats can affect acoustic performance. Select the appropriate spacing based on the room's acoustic needs.
  • Installation: Ensure panels are securely installed and properly backed with acoustic material for maximum effectiveness.

 

Ceiling Baffles

Overview: Ceiling baffles are suspended acoustic panels that hang from the ceiling to absorb sound from all directions. These baffles are particularly effective in large, open spaces like auditoriums, gyms, and open-plan offices where controlling noise and reverberation is challenging.

NRC (Noise Reduction Coefficient): Typically between 0.70 to 0.95, indicating high sound absorption.

 

ceiling baffles in a restaurant with chart for sound absorption
 

Benefits:

  • 360-degree Sound Absorption: Baffles absorb sound from all directions, reducing overall noise levels and echo.
  • Space Efficiency: By hanging from the ceiling, baffles do not take up wall or floor space, making them ideal for large, open areas.
  • Aesthetic Options: Available in various shapes, sizes, and colours, ceiling baffles can be customised to complement any interior design.
  • Versatility: Suitable for a wide range of applications, including schools, offices, restaurants, and public buildings.

Considerations:

  • Hanging Height: The height at which baffles are hung can affect their acoustic performance. Ensure they are installed at an appropriate height to maximise sound absorption.
  • Spacing: Proper spacing between baffles is crucial for effective noise reduction. Follow manufacturer guidelines for optimal results.
  • Design and Color: Choose baffles that match the room's decor and design preferences.

 

Foam Sound Absorbers

Overview: Foam sound absorbers are lightweight, easy-to-install panels designed to absorb sound waves and reduce echo and reverberation. These panels are commonly used in recording studios, home theatres, and rehearsal spaces due to their affordability and effectiveness.

NRC (Noise Reduction Coefficient): Typically between 0.60 to 0.85, providing good sound absorption.

 

green and blue foam acoustic panels installed in a gaming room

 

 

Benefits:

  • Cost-Effective: Foam sound absorbers are an affordable solution for improving acoustics in a variety of settings.
  • Easy Installation: Lightweight and easy to install using adhesive, these panels can be quickly set up in any room.
  • Effective Sound Absorption: Particularly good at absorbing mid to high frequencies, foam panels help reduce echo and improve sound clarity.
  • Versatility: Available in various shapes, sizes, and colours, foam panels can be customised to fit specific design and acoustic needs.

Considerations:

  • Panel Shape: Choose from various shapes, such as wedges, pyramids, or flat panels, based on the room's acoustic requirements.
  • Thickness: Thicker panels offer better sound absorption. Select the appropriate thickness based on the desired level of noise reduction.
  • Placement: Strategic placement on walls and ceilings is essential for optimal performance. Consider using corner bass traps for additional low-frequency absorption.

 

Diffusers

Overview: Diffusers are acoustic panels designed to scatter sound waves evenly throughout a room, reducing echoes and improving sound clarity without deadening the space. They are often used in conjunction with absorptive panels to create a balanced acoustic environment. 

Diffusers typically do not have an NRC rating, as their primary function is to scatter sound rather than absorb it.

 

four different types of DECIBEL diffusers
 

Benefits:

  • Sound Clarity: By scattering sound waves, diffusers prevent echoes and standing waves, enhancing the clarity and quality of sound in a room.
  • Balanced Acoustics: Unlike absorptive panels, diffusers maintain the liveliness of space while controlling unwanted reflections.
  • Versatility: Suitable for a variety of environments, including recording studios, home theatres, concert halls, and conference rooms.
  • Design Options: Available in various shapes, sizes, and materials, diffusers can be customised to fit the aesthetic and acoustic needs of any space.

Considerations:

  • Placement: Install diffusers on walls or ceilings where sound reflections are most problematic. Combining diffusers with absorptive panels provides a comprehensive acoustic solution.
  • Material and Design: Choose diffusers that match the room's decor and meet the specific acoustic requirements. Common materials include wood, plastic, and fibreglass.
  • Coverage Area: Ensure adequate coverage by determining the necessary number of diffusers based on the room's size and acoustic needs.

Creating the perfect acoustic environment is all about finding the right balance. It's not just about picking one type of panel; it's about mixing and matching to meet your unique needs. For optimal results, consulting with an acoustician can provide a more tailored, professional approach, ensuring you achieve the best sound quality and aesthetic appeal.

And while choosing the best acoustic panels is not rocket science anymore, it will definitely make your room sound out of this world!

 

Επιστροφή στο ιστολόγιο
1 από 3