What Materials Work Best for Acoustic Panels?

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best materials for acoustic panels

If you curse how noisy your at-home office or entertainment room gets, it’s time to consider sound-damping materials and felt acoustic panels. These affordable solutions are not as invasive as soundproofing, and they don’t sacrifice your home’s aesthetics. 

This article discusses the best materials for acoustic sound dampening panels. These materials will help reduce unwanted noise within your environment so you can keep focused and cultivate a productive, efficient, relaxing atmosphere whenever you want. 

What Is Sound Absorption?

best materials for acoustic panels

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Sound absorption is not the same as soundproofing. I repeat sound absorption and sound damping are not the same as soundproofing. What are the key differences between these two sound treatment techniques, you ask?

The primary difference between soundproofing and sound absorbing is soundproofing materials completely block sound from entering or entering a room. Sound absorption materials merely reduce the resonance and reverberation within a room. These materials use the noise reduction coefficient to determine how ineffective they are at treating a space for sound. 

When sound waves contact objects within a room, one of two things occurs. The sound waves either bounce back into the room, or the material absorbs them, reducing the sound vibrating within the room. 

When the sound completely deflects, soundproofing occurs. When the material absorbs some of the sound waves, sound damping or sound absorption occurs. The primary reason for soundproofing materials is for recording studios that can’t afford to compromise any sound quality. 

You can use sound damping materials for a multitude of applications, including your car or at-home office. Soundproofing materials are also more expensive and more complicated to install than sound damping materials. 

You can place sound damping materials on ceilings or wall panels, and their installation process doesn’t require the heavy machinery or invasive reconstructions that most soundproofing methods need.

Sound Absorbing Material Characteristics

best materials for acoustic panels

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Sound-absorbing materials are typically soft, light, fluffy, or porous. These characteristics enable these materials to absorb more sound and reduce the echo within a room. 

The best sound-dampening materials not only reduce reverberation within a room. They also improve its aesthetics and let consumers get creative with their sound dampening design. There are a few materials that comprise most of the sound dampening materials on the market today, and understanding the characteristics of each will help you decide on your sound damping treatment. 

You should also note that the sound dampening capability of a given material depends on the frequency it absorbs best. For example, some materials absorb low-end sound better than other materials. 

As a rule of thumb, most materials absorb higher frequencies better than lower frequencies, so if you can find sound dampening materials that absorb low-frequencies well, you’re in business. 

You can split sound dampening materials into three categories: porous absorbers, panel absorbers, and resonance absorbers. 

Porous Absorbers

Naturally, porous absorbers have porous material. This type of acoustic material splits into two categories: fibrous material and open-celled foam. Fibrous material absorbs sounds when the wave penetrates the surface, bends, and the material converts the wave into heat energy. 

In fibrous materials, the majority of the sound waves get absorbed, and there is limited refraction. In open-celled foam, the foam absorbs the sound through air movement as the sound wave passes through the material. 

Panel Absorbers

Panel absorbers are made of non-porous, rigid materials, and they present a group of membrane absorbers that primarily absorb low-end or bass frequencies. They are more specified than porous material sound-absorbing materials. 

Resonance Absorbers

Resonance absorbers contain mechanical or acoustical oscillation systems equipped with plates and air space. These plates come with either perforated materials or a hole where they can trap and lock sound inside. These types of materials suit best to absorb low-frequency sounds than other absorbing materials. 

Acoustic Foam Panels 

best materials for acoustic panels

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Acoustic foam is one of the most commonly used materials for sound absorption. It has high-quality sound-absorbing properties and is a versatile material. However, it’s not ideal for larger spaces, and it fits best into small or medium-size rooms, such as offices or bedrooms. 

There are a few acoustic foam panel types including convoluted, aluminum-facing, and fabric-covered acoustic panels. 

Acoustic Felt Panels 

Felt is an excellent choice for your sound damping solution. An added benefit to this versatile material is that you can easily tailor it to your specifications. Some companies also use PET felt, which is made from recycled materials and is highly durable. 

These acoustic panel materials are also straightforward to install, requiring as little as ten minutes to hang. With acoustic felt panels, you can enjoy reduced noise within your at-home office or entertainment room within no time, a huge selling point for many consumers. 

Acoustic Partitions

Acoustic partitions are ideal for the DIY band trying to get more out of their basement recording setup. These partitions are great for drums, separating a portion of the room to reduce reverberation. Though nothing can replace a good drum recording room, acoustic partitions might be the next best option. 

Conclusion- What Materials Work Best for Acoustic Panels?

If you’re looking to improve your sound environment, sound damping and absorbing are your best bet. You don’t need expensive soundproofing methods. The best materials for acoustic panels will reduce unwanted noise in your bedroom or at-home office.

When sound is dampening your environment, consider which frequencies you need to reduce the most. Some materials are better at minimizing low-end frequencies, so if the noises polluting your environment are more droning in nature, you should use panel absorbers or resonance absorbers. Felt wall panels are an excellent choice for your sound damping solution. 

However, porous absorbers work best for most applications because most environments aren’t especially prone to low-end bass frequencies. Thus, porous absorbing materials are ideal options for most at-home sound damping applications

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