It’s inevitable. Whether you’re living with a musician, bringing one up or are a musical master yourself, you are bound to make noise that will affect your family and neighbors. No matter how adept you are at playing that piano, there will be a few neighbors complaining about the noise. So, how do you strike a balance between serenity and the sound of your music? An acoustic foam panel is the best solution. Skip the expensive tapestries, the heavy blinds and thick carpeting because none of them performs as efficiently as an acoustic foam panel. This article looks at the best acoustic foam to buy for your home recording studio.
What’s the Best Acoustic Foam?
When shopping for acoustic foams, you will find a variety of brands. However, the secret is to pick panels that are quality, efficient and capable of performing well in the long term. The best acoustic foams should be able to absorb sounds, minimize noise levels from your surroundings and boost the quality of sound.
Here are the best acoustic foam panels in order:
1. New Millennium Products Acoustical Sound Foam
The Acoustical Sound Foam panels have a unique wedge design, which makes them look really good when installed on walls. Compared to other acoustic foam, these ones by New Millennium Products are relatively cheaper. So if you’re working with a shoestring budget, they will be a great option.
Another benefit of Acoustical sound foam is that it does not interfere with the quality of sound. The wedge design on the panels helps in trapping sound; thus reducing echo.
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2. Foamily Acoustic Foam
Foamily acoustic foam panels have a different design from those by New Millennium Products. More specifically, Foamily foam panels feature pyramid design.
These acoustic foam panels can be installed on either walls or ceilings. However, the best place to use them is in areas that only require moderate sound control as opposed to complete sound deafening.
3. Mybecca Wedges Acoustic Studio Foam Panels
If you’re looking for acoustic foam panels that are fire retardant, the Mybecca 96-pack is your best bet. These soundproof panels are certified as Class A fire retardant. So apart from boosting the sound quality of your music, these wedges keep your recording space 100% safe.
Some artists opt for cheap noise insulation materials. The problem with such items is that they may be flammable; hence, creating a fire hazard. You can avoid this by investing in Mybecca studio foam panels. Other than that, these wedges get rid of standing waves, allowing you to create crisp and clear sounds.
4. Auralex Acoustics Studiofoam Wedgies
The Auralex Acoustics Wedgies are specifically designed for the budget-conscious individuals. These panels have more wedges for each square foot; hence, maximizing their surface area for better exposure to sound waves.
Each package comes with 24 panels, which are enough to offset the sound waves of your recording studio. These panels also feature a Class B fire rating to protect your sound equipment.
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5. 8 Corner Bass Trap Acoustic Sound Foam Kit
Although conventional acoustic foam panels absorb the middle-to-high range frequencies pretty effectively, they don’t do so well when it comes to lower frequencies. This is where quality bass traps such as the 8 Corner Acoustic Foam Kit comes in. Thanks to their thickness, these foam panels are able to target the bass tones that usually accumulate in the corners. So, if you’re looking to purchase acoustic foam that can solve the low-frequency problem, this bass trap will serve you well.
The 8 Corner bass trap kit is ideal for rooms of all sizes. If the bass problem is really bad, you can place the panels in all eight corners of your recording room. Another plus of these panels is that they’re durable; they’re designed to withstand the constant lighting and physical contact with your fingers.
6. CAD Audio AS32 Acousti-Shield Acoustic Enclosure
If you’re a home recording artist, the CAD Audio Acoustic Foam is the best investment you can ever make. When utilized properly, this panel helps to minimize unwanted reflections, echo flutter and the interferences that arise from room acoustics.
The Acoustic-shield 32 comes with mounting components, which can easily adapt to microphones for smooth and flexible placements. This acoustic foam also features a convenient design that ensures an optimal positioning. Crafted from stainless steel and high density acoustic foam, the CAD Acousti-Shield Enclosure will serve you for years.
7. Double Thick Studio Acoustic Wedge Foam Panels
For music artists looking to buy acoustic foams that are ultra-thick, the Double Thick Acoustic Foam Panels are the best option. The fact that they’re thicker than other acoustic foams enables them to absorb sounds more effectively. In fact, the panels’ noise reduction or absorption coefficient is one of the highest; they absorb up to 90% of background sounds.
In addition to the excellent performance, these panels have a professional appearance, which is what makes them suitable to install in corporate environments, restaurants among others. If you’re not too pleased with their performance, you can always return the panels. NRG promises offers 100% money back guarantee on any returned goods.
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What is soundproofing foam made of?
Ideally, the panels used to soundproof rooms will be made of acoustic foam. Put simply; this is a unique kind of open-celled foam made of polyurethane. The polyurethane could be in form of a polyester, polyether or extruded melamine.
These soundproofing panels are constructed in such a way that they intensify air resistance; hence, minimizing the amplitude of the sound waves. One of the best examples of such a soundproof foam panel is the BQLZR Flat Sound Absorbing Panel. This one is made of fiberglass, which is known for its capability in reducing energy in the sound waves as a result of the friction that occurs between air particles and the fibers.
The chemical composition of a majority of these sound proof panels may lead to unpleasant smells at first but these usually dissipate within a short while.
How-to Use & Install Soundproofing Foam Panels
If you don’t have any experience or expertise in installing acoustic foam panels, you may end damaging your walls pretty badly. Even if you’re a DIY enthusiast, doing one wrong thing can lead to considerable damage. For one, you should not apply the adhesive spray directly on the wall. Secondly, you should not staple or nail these panels on your walls. Here are the steps you should take to install the foam panels correctly.
1. Decide how you want to arrange the panels first
Before anything else, you should determine the precise place where you want to hang up the soundproof foam panels. You can start by measuring your room size to determine just how many panels can fit. Next, arrange the foam panels in the order you’ll be installing them. If possible, leave some markings on ceiling or wall so that know the exact position to hang up the panel.
2. Mount the panels on cardboard using spray adhesive
As stated earlier, you need not spray the adhesive directly on the wall. Instead, you should attach the panels on a cardboard using the adhesive. The most recommended spray adhesives are the Loctite 200 Spray Adhesive and the 3M Hi-Strength Spray Adhesive. Once you’ve done this, give them time to dry and then cut off excess pieces of the cardboard so that they will look neat on your walls.
3. Attach the grouped panels using 3M Command Strips
If you want to hang any items on your walls without damaging them, you should consider the 3M command strips. Foam panels are lightweight so you can hang them easily. However, if you have a group of more than four foam panels, use the bigger heavy-duty command strips. All you need to do is to apply a couple of strips to the cardboard and the wall. Next, press the panels on the wall and you’re good to go.
There are those who forego the cardboards and apply the strips directly on the foam panels. If you choose this route, ensure you have enough strips to use for all the foam panels. The placement of the strips on the panels is an important factor. Ideally, you should place them at the top and bottom of each panel.
Doors, Walls, Ceiling?
Where you position the soundproof panels is also a crucial factor to consider. Basically, you can place them anywhere; be it on your doors, walls or ceiling. The perfect placement depends on what purpose the room serves. If you want sound proof walls for your home studio, then you should place the panels on the walls. For the best outcome, start by establishing the refection points where the music bounces off.
Effectiveness for Drums
If you like playing drums, the soundproof foam panels can also ensure that the drumming sounds are not heard throughout your entire home.
However, do not expect these panels to block the sound entirely. The one thing that makes a drum sound so loud is the echo or reverb. Thankfully, an acoustic foam works effectively to reduce echo and reverb.
What you shouldn’t expect these drums to do is to block out the low-frequency sound waves such as the kick of a bass drum. In case the panels are not reducing the drumming sounds efficiently, you can also install a door seal. Most of the sound generated from the drum also gets through doors, so installing door seals can help with this.
Types of Acoustic Foam
Acoustic foam comes in different types. These are:
Wedge Acoustic Foam
This type of acoustic foam has wedges sticking out. Given its cool, spikey, wedge pattern, this foam makes an excellent addition to any room. What’s more, these acoustic wedges panels are pretty effective at noise reduction; they work by absorbing any unwanted noises. The only caveat is that their efficacy is determined by the direction they’re facing.
To make the most of the wedge acoustic foam, you should install the panels perpendicularly to the anticipated propagation of the sound. Put simply; the wedges should be pointing vertically if the sounds are horizontal and vice versa. So, for speakers placed vertically, the wedges need to be pointing horizontally.
Pyramid Acoustic Foam
This acoustic foam offers a much better performance than the wedge one because of its larger surface area. With the four side pattern, this foam allows extra diffusion but minimal absorption of sounds. This is beneficial in that the foam provides one of the flattest responses. Unlike the wedge acoustic, a pyramid foam does not deaden the room entirely. Other benefits conferred by this foam panel include:
- Reduction of destructive specular reflections
- Minimization of room modes
- Reduction in comb filtering
- A decrease in the standing waves
Square Grid Acoustic Foam
These are the best acoustic foam panels for absorbing middle to high frequencies. They also feature a nice design that will blend in nicely with other sound equipment in your studio or home theater. As a result of their elegant looks, these acoustic foam panels have become a favorite for artists, interior designers and even architects. Some of their benefits are:
- Ideal to install on ceilings
- Aesthetically pleasing
- Help to minimize specular reflections and standing waves
Quadratic Residue Acoustic Foam
This is the most sophisticated among all four types of acoustic foams. The protrusions all have different heights, and this helps in spreading sonic energy throughout the room. This way, there are more scattered reflections with each panel absorbing a slightly different kind of frequency. Quadratic residue acoustic foams have these benefits:
- Offer a perfect balance between absorption and diffusion
- Give the illusion that a room is big even when it’s small
- Widen the sweet spot
- Sound absorbing of fewer high-frequencies
Advantages of acoustic foam
Reduce noise pollution
At times, it’s difficult to get a good night’s sleep, not because you’re stressed or restless, but because your neighbor’s dog keeps barking. If you have such an experience, then you can appreciate the role that acoustic foam panels play. These panels eliminate echoes and other background noises by absorbing them rather than blocking. Acoustic foams help in regulating resonance sounds- a process that is very different from soundproofing.
Enhance sound quality
In addition to absorbing unwanted sounds, acoustic foams also improve the quality of sound. Designed in either pyramid or wedge shapes, acoustic foams also serve as an economical medium for reducing heat. You can place the panels at the corners of your room or in any other place where you want an optimal sound mix.
Improve room’s design
The majority of people who go for acoustic foams are those with home music studios. This way, they have more privacy and focus when recording their music. But an acoustic foam does a lot more than help you make quality recordings. Beautifully-designed acoustic foam panels also provide aesthetic appeal once installed in a room.
Acoustic foams come in different colors and textures, so you can choose one that complements your interior décor.
The Bottom Line
It doesn’t matter whether you’re creating a podcast or producing a voice-over, without the right dampening of your recording room, the outcome will not sound as it should. It is why you should invest in quality acoustic foam panels and strips. Not only do they eliminate echos and reverbs but they also provide a rich production of sound. For the best experience, choose one of the acoustic foams in our review.