Acoustic panels are surfaces made of profiled foam and/or fabric cover that improve sound quality by absorbing sound waves. And prevents this sounds a little odd, it is because it is. After all, it’s hard to imagine real sound waves moving through your space. And how many of them can really bounce off a wall? Would you really notice the difference? To understand if you need acoustic panels for your setup, let’s see how they work? And if they can actually give you any resulting them from bouncing around the room and interfering and reducing the quality of other sound waves.
Description of acoustic panels
Acoustic panels capture sound waves in the foam they are made of. Since all sound is vibrations in the air, sound waves act as a kind of cave. Into which sound waves can penetrate, but not out of it. For aesthetic purposes, acoustical panels are usually covered with a fabric covering intended for outdoor installation.
You’ve probably already seen acoustic panels in movies or YouTube videos, in the backdrop of soundstages or production studios. Sometimes you can see open surfaces that look jagged or jagged. This triangular shape creates a funnel for sound waves that bounce back and forth until all of their energy is used up.
Some panels do not have “teeth” on the face, but instead, rely on the absorbency of the foam itself. If the panel was not there, sound waves, falling into a given space, would bounce immediately from the wall. Then from the next wall, then from the ceiling, etc. Therefore, you may face a problem when too many sound waves bounce off your Cosmos.
And since different sound waves have different wavelengths, there are actually different types of acoustic panels. But don’t worry, there are actually only two main categories of “regular” wall panels. Which are used to eliminate mid and high-frequency sounds, and “bass traps”, which are designed to be installed in corners and have a deeper design
Acoustic panel components
From the description above, you can probably already imagine the main components of an acoustic panel: sound-absorbing material and fabric cover.
Sound absorbing material can actually be from several different types of material. But they are all variations on the same theme: the purpose of the material is to be porous enough for the sound to get in. But dense enough so that the sound bounces around and “gets lost” inside.
Materials such as extruded wool can be a good substitute for foam because the properties of wool allow it to do its job. But foam has its advantages.
Next comes the fabric cover of the panel. This Cover hides the foam and allows the panel to be more aesthetically pleasing. There are many materials that can be used for fabric coverings, provided they are porous enough to allow sound to pass through. Heavy, thick covers are not used because they reflect sound, disrupting the target.
Do acoustic panels really work?
So, transparent acoustic panels are designed to accomplish this. But is this all just theory or is there something that can really improve your space? The good news is that you can get quite real results using acoustic panels. But this is a tool designed to solve a specific problem.
When are acoustic panels effective?
If you have a good surround system, or maybe a high-end soundbar with 3.1 or 5.2 channels of sound. You now have enough channels that sound waves bouncing through space can cause a problem.
but this is one of the times when they have the most impact.
Every speaker you own emits sound in one general direction (except for subwoofers, which work a little differently). And if you look at your walls, there is probably nothing but flat surfaces. Even when paintings or furniture cover the well directly in front of the speakers. There are usually many flat, hard surfaces that immediately reflect the sound.
So if you pump a lot of sound into space. It has nowhere to go but to bounce over and over again. This would not be a big problem, except when the volume increases and the number of speakers in the room increases. This starts to fill the space with sound.
Then you have a real problem. If you are trying to get high-quality sound, maybe from a Dolby Atoms source, then all these sound waves will crash not only against the walls but also against each other. So these high-quality sound waves that leave your speakers don’t even have time to reach your ears before dozens of other waves bounce into them.
If it starts to sound complicated, it’s because it might be. Your unique space and your goals for that space determine your acoustic panel needs.
So be sure to check out our other resources if you’re serious about installing panels. For now, let’s talk a little more about the benefits.
Are they really effective?
The good news is that this problem can indeed be solved with acoustic panels. Something has to be absorbed to keep the sound waves from breaking, and the foam in acoustic panels does a great job of doing this. But for panels to be effective, they need to be placed in the right places.
At first, this may seem like a problem. After all, it would be much easier to just cover the walls with acoustic panels and forget about it. But if you don’t have a limitless budget. You need to have the minimum number of panels in the right places.
And if you are comfortable thinking of the sound in a room as sound waves. The solution is actually quite simple. First, you want the speakers to face you wherever you use your home theater system. Then you want the acoustic panels to match the speakers as closely as possible. So that the waves passing by you are absorbed.
This means that the front speakers from a good soundbar should have panels opposite them in the back of the room. And the rear speakers directed diagonally towards the sofa (for example) should have panels to the left and right of the screen where these sound waves should end.
If you lower the placement, there is no doubt that acoustic panels will easily solve the problem if the quality of the panel itself is also present.
What about the ceiling?
You may notice that one large flat surface of your room has been excluded from the above discussion. Your ceiling, like your walls, will reflect sound waves just as poorly. And this could be even worse since your ceiling is probably much more vulnerable than your walls, which may be blocked by furniture.
The “scalp” approach to installing acoustic panels on walls directly in front of your speakers is a great place to start. But you will continue to get even more impressive sound from your speakers using the sledgehammer approach: Install acoustic panels mostly everywhere, at least from three panels at the top, back, and front of where you are sitting, and also on the ceiling.
I know, I know – especially if you’ve already set up a projector, you probably hoped never to touch the ceiling again. What about lamps?
Sure, there’s a lot to figure out here, but that’s why you go to a blog like this one. If you have standard lighting, you can simply measure where you will place the acoustic panels and then cut a hole in them. This one problem has been resolved.
How about attaching panels to the ceiling itself? You’re right if your first instinct tells you this might not work. What you want to do is drill the beams on the other side of the ceiling with holes for the screws, and then do the same for the back of the panel.
Then the loops can be secured with ties. This will allow you to leave a gap of one inch between the panel and the ceiling, making them more efficient.
Should you buy acoustic panels or build your own?
If you see the benefits of acoustic panels in improving sound quality and reducing “sound leakage” from your home theater. Then you are ready to move forward. But at first glance, the number of panels required and the relatively high price tag may make you wonder whether you should buy panels or build your own.
With any DIY project, you risk spending more time and resources than ever on store-bought options. But luckily, the acoustic panels are easy enough to assemble and you can make them yourself fairly easily
But nothing beats the ease of buying the right product, saving you time and effort. So, if you need acoustic panels now and aren’t too worried about cost, then buying something like the Acoustimass DMD Stagger Design Pack (on Amazon) or some ADW acoustic panels (also on Amazon) might be the best option. for you.