Sounding off on acoustic panels
If you’re a musician, you know that accessing professional recording or practice spaces can be a major challenge, especially these days. While many of us are working from home, the idea of converting your basement or garage into an acoustically enhanced studio can seem like a far-fetched dream. But DYI solutions can be effective—not to mention affordable! Armed with a bit of knowledge and the right materials, you can significantly improve the sound in any room without breaking the bank. Start by adding a few acoustic panels and you’ll be surprised at how quickly you can turn that spare room into a slick recording studio.
Controlling the way sound reflects within a room is key. Sound can be dampened or manipulated with easy-to-install foam and fabric-covered wall panels that absorb and deflect noise in different ways. The science of sound is complex, but when it comes to acoustic material, there are really two main factors to consider: the Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC) and the Absorption Coefficient.
Where art meets science
The Noise Reduction Coefficient is a numerical rating between 0 and 1 that represents how much sound is reflected or absorbed by a material. The higher the number, the better the absorption. Hard materials like tile and drywall have lower NRCs, while softer materials such as foam or carpeting have higher NRCs.
For materials with similar NRCs, it is also important to compare absorption coefficients. The Absorption Coefficient is a number that indicates how well a material absorbs sound in a particular octave or at a given frequency. Think the heavy bass of a dance beat vs. a high-pitched operatic soprano.
In choosing acoustic material, you basically have two options: acoustic foam and acoustic panels. Foam is an excellent (and less expensive) sound absorber. Also called open-celled foam, it often looks like a series of cones or triangles. Affixed to the wall, acoustic foam helps to remove residual noise and improve sound quality. It’s particularly good at dampening high-end frequencies. But the thicker the foam, the better it is at absorbing low-frequency sounds as well.
In terms of sound enhancement, acoustic panels are a step up from foam. They’re made from much denser material, which allows them to absorb a wider range of frequencies. You’ll find acoustic panels in most professional recording studios, and while they may be pricier than foam, they’re definitely worth the investment and will noticeably improve the sound of your studio.
Fabrics that reflect your personality, not your sound
Another plus when it comes to acoustic panels: you can personalize them with a fabric covers! Here, it’s important to keep sound transparency in mind. Acoustic fabric is specially made to let sound pass through it. This allows the panels behind it to deflect frequencies the way they’re designed to. Remember, the higher a fabric’s NRC, the better it is at absorbing sound. Guilford of Maine sells fabric with NRCs ranging from 0.9 to 1.00, which allows little-to-no sound to be reflected.
Creating the perfect acoustic environment may seem like a daunting task, but with Guildford of Maine fabrics, you can build your dream studio right at home. While these products won’t soundproof a room, they will go a long way to improving sound within the space. Whether you’re a podcaster, music teacher, or recording artist, fabric-covered acoustic panels can really up your pro game. Sounds pretty good!