Acoustic foam panels are the best tools you can use to reduce audio discrepancies in a room. To learn about how they do that, you have to understand the way soundwaves interact with the environment. You see, sound spreads out in all directions from its source, coming into contact with materials that either amplify or dampen it.
When soundwaves interact with solid surfaces, they simply bounce off, resulting in all sorts of distortions. Acoustic foam is one of the materials that can effectively trap soundwaves in its complex structure. But that’s just the basic idea behind the products we’ll be talking about today. Before we get into the recommendations, you should understand what acoustic foam is and how it prevents sound reflection.
BEST ACOUSTIC FOAM PANELS: A QUICK COMPARISON
What Is Acoustic Foam?
A vast majority of soundproofing panels is made out of so-called “acoustic foam”. Usually, this foam has polyurethane-based materials, such as polyether, polyester and extruded melamine. Thanks to these materials, open cells will be formed across the surface and inside the panels.
Once the sound waves penetrate the foam, they will get caught into those small cells. Afterward, the sound waves will spin and bounce until they can make their way out. And, during all the spinning and bouncing, they will most likely lose a significant amount of energy, which leads to them dying more quickly than usual.
Acoustic foams are usually cut in small panels with wedge or pyramid patterns. However, there are larger sheets and other patterns, too. Furthermore, having in mind that the materials used for acoustic panels have a chemical composition, you might notice a chemical odor. But, keep in mind that this odor is not harmful and will dissipate almost immediately. Hence, you can relax and focus on the benefits and the usefulness of this product.
Is Acoustic Foam Soundproof?
The only way to completely block the sound from passing through a wall or another object is to prevent it physically from doing such thing. So, there should be something as a barrier. This barrier should be thick and made out of dense materials, preferably in as many layers as possible.
If you’ve ever held an acoustic foam panel in your hands, or you just took a closer look at it, I’m sure that you could notice that there is nothing solid or dense about it. In fact, this foam is exceptionally soft, light, and porous. This type of material allows the sound to pass through its porous surface into the panel itself and it finally lets it out on the other side.
Now, this is where the open-celled structure starts doing its magic as it catches the sound inside. The caught sound waves rub against the foam inside the panel, which leads to energy loss. Essentially, the energy of the sound gets absorbed by the foam panel, and that’s how eventually the foam takes control of the sounds and makes the room feel a lot quieter.
If you plan to use acoustic foam to BLOCK the sound from entering your room, then I have to disappoint you because it just WON’T WORK. However, if you want your acoustic foam to ABSORB the echo, I have good news for you – IT WILL WORK!
If you’re feeling curious about this segment, go ahead and learn more about it:
A Guide to Buying Your Acoustic Foam Panels
Before making a purchase, you need to have a clear picture of the exact characteristics you’re looking for. Without a clear idea, you might end up being confused and settle for foam panels that just don’t cut it. You have to make sure that this kind of scenario doesn’t play out.
To be able to do so, you absolutely have to take a few things into consideration while shopping for acoustic foam panels. A good purchase depends on the following:
- Size and quantity
There are panels with different levels of thickness that you can purchase. And, it goes without saying that the thicker the panel is – the better the effect will be. The reason behind this statement was already explained.
If you want to dampen high- to mid-range frequencies, then 1 or 2-inch panels may suffice. On the other hand, you’ll need thicker foam to deal with low-frequency sounds. But before jumping to a conclusion and buying the thickest panels you can find, you might also want to consider where you want to use them.
For instance, thicker foam panels might be a good choice if you have enough room, so you don’t mind them sticking out of the wall. However, if space is at a premium, you might have no choice but to pick a thinner version. That being said, mind the “where” too.
The most common acoustic foam patterns are pyramids and wedges. The first ones are probably more popular, but I prefer the later version as I find it more aesthetically pleasing.
If you don’t like the standard look, you can find other patterns too, not to mention plain panels. Also, you don’t have to limit yourself to only one pattern. Just play around and combine them – get in touch with your creative inner self.
You’re probably impatient to find out how patterns affect the performance of the foam panels. It’s pretty simple – they don’t. Hence, the only parameter you should go by is the aesthetics. Additionally, please keep in mind that because of the shape of the pattern, some panels might have spaces that are hard to reach and difficult to clean.
Noise Reduction (NRC)
NRC stands for “noise reduction coefficient.” It basically represents the rating of how much sound the panels can reduce. Panels with higher NRC ratings will, typically, deaden more sound than those that have lower ratings.
You can find the NRC information in the product description of any reputable brand. Basically, the higher the number, the greater the absorption. Therefore, you should take this parameter into consideration quite seriously as well.
Size and Quantity
The foam panels are usually sold in packs. But, the number of panels in each pack may vary based on the brand. Typically, the pack can have 6, 12 or 24 panels.
When it comes to the size, each panel will be either 1ft², 2ft² or will have dimensions of 2ft by 4ft. The size of a single panel won’t matter much. However, it will affect the amount of time and work you will need for installation. For example, mounting two larger panels will take you less time than mounting twelve smaller ones.
Before heading out to buy the foam panels, I suggest you take the measurements of the wall, the ceiling or the whole room that you want to soundproof. That will give you a rough idea of the number and size of panels that you’ll have to purchase.
10 Best Acoustic Foam Panels on the Market (2021)
Without further ado, let’s check out the best acoustic foam panels available right now:
1. Foamily 6-Pack Acoustic Panels Studio Foam Wedges
This acoustic foam tiles from Foamily are pretty much the most basic kind of product you’ll find in this category. Rather than being an inch thick, these 12-inch squares are 2 inches thick. That should make them somewhat more effective than thinner products. However, since these Foamily packs only contain six tiles, you’ll have to purchase more to cover everything you need to.
In any case, the set is once again full of wedge-style panels you have to install in alternating directions. The added thickness means that the wedges will cut about an inch and a half into the foam, leaving the base about half an inch thick.
The set comes in four different solid colors including charcoal, ice blue, red, and burgundy — which is a dull purple shade. There are also three mixed options that come with three charcoal tiles and three in one of the other solid colors. But of course, you can always mix and match the tiles by getting one blue and one red pack, for example.
- 6 wedge-style tiles
- 12-inch squares
- 2 inches thick
- Four solid colors and three mixed sets
2. IZO All Supply Convoluted Acoustic Foam Panels
The convoluted tiles from IZO All Supply are similar to the egg crate style you might have seen on the market before. However, since these tiles are fairly thin, the pattern resembles waves more than anything else.
The tiles are about a quarter of an inch thick at their lowest height, rising to an inch thick at their highest. Overall, these panels have an NRC rating of 0.41, which is pretty standard. Basically, they should be able to cancel about 40% of all soundwaves. As expected, they tend to fare better against high frequencies.
In total, you get twelve 12-inch squares per package. There are four colors to choose from. You can either have all twelve be the charcoal gray everyone makes, or you can choose between three mixed color sets. In the mixed sets, six of the tiles would be gray and the rest would be blue, green, or red.
Like many other products on this list, these tiles have been tested and approved in accordance with the requirements of CAL 117. Those procedures test the flammability of materials that can be used to upholster furniture. So that should tell you that these tiles won’t make matters worse in the event of a house fire.
- 12 convoluted tiles
- 12-inch squares
- An inch thick
- Available in solid charcoal sets or mixed with blue, green, or red
3. New Level Egg Crate Acoustic Panels Studio Foam
Like the previous set of acoustic panels on this list, this set from New Level has a convoluted design. So they have a similar structure to basic egg crate panels, but the shapes have a gentler slope. What’s more, two major features separate this product from the previous one.
For one, the New Level packs contain only six tiles, not twelve. The panels are still 12-inch squares so a single set will cover six square feet. Additionally, these tiles are about two inches thick. By all accounts, that should make them more absorbent than one-inch panels.
When it comes to color, you can choose from the standard options. The solid color sets are available in charcoal, ice blue, red, and burgundy (again, that’s the dull purple shade). Additionally, you can also get mixed sets that come with three charcoal tiles and three pieces in any of the aforementioned colors.
- 6 convoluted tiles
- 12-inch squares
- 2 inches thick
- Available in four solid and three mixed color sets
4. Pro Studio Acoustics Wedge Acoustic Foam Absorption Tiles
As we have established, most wedge-style acoustic foam panels have twelve peaks and valleys. However, these Pro Studio Acoustics tiles only have six, even though they’re the same size as all the other panels we’ve seen so far.
The chunky appearance of the wedges could make some people like this product more than regular wedge-style panels. However, if you’d like to see the design in a particular color, you may be out of luck. Unfortunately, the tiles only come in the standard blue and charcoal mixed color set.
There’s a chance that the chunky wedge style isn’t just there for its aesthetic appeal. It might have even improved the noise reduction coefficient of the product. According to the manufacturer, the NRC rating of these tiles is 0.65, which means that they should be able to absorb 65% of all soundwaves bouncing around the room. That also makes them the highest rated product on this list so far.
Of course, that’s not particularly surprising. The tiles are 2 inches thick, which gives them an edge over their thinner counterparts. Still, the chunky wedge design might have had a part in making them so effective.
Like the previous product I’ve mentioned, these tiles are made of a Class A fire-resistant material. Additionally, like many of the products mentioned above, they passed the CAL 117 tests for the flammability of upholstery materials.
- 12 chunky wedge-style tiles
- 12-inch squares
- 2 inches thick
- Blue and charcoal mixed set
5. JBER Pyramid-Style Acoustic Sound Foam Panels
If you liked the chunky design of the previous product, but not the wedge style, you may prefer this acoustic tile set instead. These 12-inch square panels have a 6 by 6 pyramid grid set into 2 inches of foam.
But don’t be surprised if they don’t look like much when you take them out of the box. The manufacturer ships them compressed by a third of their size. So let them breathe for a bit while you figure out how you’re going to position them on your wall. At least you won’t have to worry about positioning them correctly, which isn’t something you could have said about wedge-style panels.
The only thing you’d have to worry about is the color pattern when you arrange the tiles on your wall. Even that would only be a concern if you ordered the mixed charcoal and blue (or red) set. Your only other option would be to get the solid charcoal package, which would be a pretty safe choice. Moreover, the charcoal set is currently available in 6 and 24-piece packs, whereas the colored options are only available in the larger quantity.
- 24 pyramid-style tiles
- 12-inch squares
- 2 inches thick
- Charcoal and two mixed color packs
6. Foamily Acoustic Foam Egg Crate Wall Panel
Now, this Foamily product promises to be the only set of acoustic foam panels you’ll ever need. In addition to being 2.5 inches thick, these panels are also the largest ones we’ve had on this list. That should make up for the fact that there are only four of them in a pack.
After all, when you have four 24 by 48-inch panels — what more do you need? You can put one behind your computer, two on the sides of the room where the sound will be most likely to bounce off the wall, and the last piece can go right behind your seat. Of course, that suggestion assumes that you have positioned your computer and speakers against one wall and are surrounded by the others. So it doesn’t account for irregular room shapes and furnishings.
There is one additional benefit of getting large acoustic foam panels. You can cut them down to whatever size you need them to be! So if you’re building an acoustic studio booth or a foam shield for a microphone, these panels would be perfect. The convoluted surface design would easily bend and maintain its efficacy no matter how you shape it.
The only potential disadvantage to getting these panels is that they only come in two rather predictable colors. Still, if you were planning to get a basic charcoal set or a classic red one, you won’t need any other options.
- 4 convoluted panels
- 24 by 48-inch rectangles
- 2.5 inches thick
- Available in charcoal or red
7. Fstop Labs 12-Pack Beveled and Mushroom-Shaped Acoustic Foam Panels
At this point, you’ve seen many different three-dimensional designs that can be cut into foam to eliminate the flatness of your walls. With that in mind, you might think that a flat tile wouldn’t be as effective at absorbing sound as the other products on this list. However, these beveled tiles from Fstop Labs might just prove you wrong!
The 2-inch thick panels have a density of 50 pounds per cubic yard, which is probably how they earned an NRC rating of 0.92. However, if you want these tiles to be as effective as they can be, you’ll have to wait for them to expand. The manufacturer vacuum seals the tiles so you’ll either have to give them a day or two to expand or soak them in water then wring them dry.
These panels are available in two different designs and colors. You could get the flat ones with the beveled sides in a 12 or 24-piece pack. Alternatively, you could purchase the kind with a mushroom design, which has all the features I’ve explained above. However, that one comes in packs of 12 or 48 pieces — and both designs are available in both black and red.
- Up to 24 beveled or 48 mushroom-style tiles
- 12-inch squares Dimensions
- 2 inches thick
- Available in black and red
8. JBER 24-Pack Acoustic Studio Foam Wedge Tiles
Now that you know the benefits of using a beveled design, I won’t have to convince you to get these JBER tiles. They should have pretty much the same properties as the previous product on the list. Still, let’s go over the features of these acoustic foam panels.
The only notable difference between these tiles and the previous one is that the slope of the sides is perhaps a bit gentler. Other than that, this product is fairly similar to the one above. You’ll get either six or twenty-four 12-inch squares in a set. But if you happen to like this product, you’ll have to order it in the standard charcoal gray as no other colors are available.
Notably, the manufacturer has noted that you’ll have to let their tiles decompress after you take them out of their packaging. As you may recall, JBER products are compressed by a third of their size. So you’ll have to let them breathe or wet them to get them up to their full 2-inch thickness.
- 6 or 24-piece pack of beveled tiles
- 12-inch squares
- 2 inches thick
9. Mybecca 2-Pack Decorative Baffle Kit
This decorative baffle kit from Mybecca contains six pieces that come together to form two panels. The core pieces are rectangular wedge-style panels though the cutouts are square rather than triangular. Additionally, the core pieces have two wings each, which act as bevels for the shorter sides of the middle piece.
When you put these panels up on your walls, they’ll come in at about 12 by 24 inches. The middle pieces are about 3 inches thick, which should provide plenty of sound absorption. However, you should keep in mind that these products are mostly decorative (even though they only come in gray). You would ideally use them in conjunction with matching Mybecca acoustic foam products.
- 2 decorative acoustic foam panels
- 12 by 24 inches
- 3 inches thick
- Charcoal gray
10. Foamily 6-Pack Decorative Acoustic Studio Foam Panels Waves
Lastly, we have these understated decorative panels from Foamily. A set comes with six 12-inch square tiles in a uniquely modern design that will suit any room. Each tile has a deep and shallow end, so placing them right next to each other will essentially create a deep wave pattern on the wall.
Fittingly, the panels are available in blue as well as the standard charcoal. Even though the blue would make the style look like water on your walls, the charcoal tiles may be more modern in this case.
They’re about 2 inches thick at their highest point, so they should be effective enough at absorbing noise. However, if you decide to cover an entire wall, you’ll have to get more than a single 6-pack of panels. You wouldn’t even need to worry about the tiles being a fire hazard since they have met all the CAL 117 testing requirements.
- 6 wavy tiles
- 12-inch squares
- 2 inches thick
- Available in charcoal and blue
Getting Cheap Acoustic Foam Online
Well, one thing is for sure – the chances of you finding acoustic foam panels in your local store are slim to none. Instead, you could try finding a store near you that specializes in acoustics or technology. But, even then, there are no guarantees.
I would recommend simply buying the soundproofing panels online. Not only are you 100% certain to find available stock, but you will probably end up spending less money. In fact, you can get a pack that covers 12 square feet for around 20 dollars online. And. that is simply by opening Amazon and clicking on the first, cheapest link you see.
Another advantage of online shopping is the ability to be picky. Even if you find a store near you that sells acoustic panels, they rarely offer a wide variety of products. Online, however, you can select the quality to price ratio as well as the design details of your panels.
MORE OPTIONS: You might also want to check out these sound absorbing fabric panels. They come in larger dimensions and more attractive shapes than foam products do. Besides, they often come in nicer colors — and you can even make your own fabric covers for them pretty easily.
Where to Place Acoustic Panels in a Studio or Home Theater
Figuring out where to put your acoustic panels is really important. Basically, you can mount them pretty much anywhere you want. It would be reasonable of you to want to cover your walls, doors, or the ceiling to get the perfect acoustics in your studio or home theater. However, the proper positioning usually depends on where the reflection points are.
If you are trying to set up a listening room or a studio for recordings, make sure to do a couple of tests to figure out where those points are. You can find detailed tutorials online to get some tips on how to do this properly. Usually, placing acoustic foam on your door or walls works fine. Of course, if you are having issues with the neighbors above, placing the panels on the ceiling can also be beneficial.
In the end, the best way to figure it out is through experimentation. Simply take your time and move the panels around until you are perfectly happy with the result. For that reason, it’s recommended to use the velcro strips. With these strips, moving the panels around is not a big issue at all. What’s more, you won’t destroy them after a single installation.
How to Install Acoustic Foam Panels
One thing most people don’t realize is that you have to be careful while installing these foam panels. If you do it without any knowledge, you might end up damaging the wall. The most common mistake people make is just trying to spray the panels with glue and stick them to the wall. That is very likely to damage your wall, and it might even cause significant material damage. The same pretty much goes for nailing or stapling the panels to your walls.
And, of course, your goal is to soundproof your room without destroying your walls. Thankfully, this is not that difficult. Simply follow the guide below to avoid any property damage.
Step 1: Plan Out the Arrangement
The very first thing you want to do is to make a plan and figure out how you want to arrange these panels. If you just start throwing them on the wall, you might end up having to redo the entire thing. Do your measurements and figure out exactly how to arrange the panels for the optimal results. I would recommend using a notebook to draw a “map” of your wall. Of course, you can always draw on the wall itself and follow your own instructions.
Step 2: Glue Your Foam to a Cardboard Panel
If you spray adhesive to the panels and stick them to the wall, removing them will be a hellish experience. The adhesive will take chunks of the wall off, and your foam will be ruined. Instead, you can take a cardboard panel and mount the panels on it. Then, after letting the adhesive dry, you can cut the excess material off.
You can skip this step if you don’t plan to cover large areas. If you only want to mount a few panels here and there, you can do it directly.
Step 3: Mount Everything on the Wall
You can use Command Strips to mount pretty much anything on your wall. What’s more, they should help you avoid any potential damage to both the foam and your walls.
Now, they are incredibly simple to use. All you have to do is remove the strip that covers the adhesive from one side, and press it into the foam panels.
Then, you take the other one and do the same to glue it onto the wall. All that is left to do to mount the panel is to press the tapes that are on these strips.
You can apply these strips to each foam panel. If you are putting them on your ceiling, I would recommend 4 of these strips per panel. And, if you are mounting the panels on your walls, you can just use 2 of them on the top side. Also, since the acoustic panels weigh next to nothing, you can use the smallest strips available.
However, you should bear in mind that this method involves using a lot of strips in the end. So, you might end up having to spend a lot more money than you might expect. That is why I recommend going through step 2 of this guide.
You can save some money by making a single, larger panel and using stronger strips. That way, you might cover your entire wall with just a handful of strips. You simply take the cardboard panel with the acoustic foam on it and put a couple of strips near the top. If you are running short on strips and don’t want to hit the store again, start small. Only use a couple per panel, and, if it falls, add one at a time until the panel is no longer falling down.
Also, you don’t have to worry about any damage happening to the foam from those falls. It is rather tough when it comes to that type of damage. A great thing about using command strips is that removing the foam (if it ever gets to that) is very simple.
So, if you ever plan to move your studio someplace else, you can still use the same foam panels. Also, if you ever accidentally damage some of the panels, these strips make them easier to replace.
Acoustic foam panels are among the cheapest methods that you can use to soundproof your room. However, let me remind you of something I said at the beginning. These panels can only absorb the sound and echoes and reduce their “bouncing” within the room. They won’t stop the sound from leaving or entering the room.
So, no matter if you want to soundproof your home theater in order to optimize the sounds coming from your TV, or if you’re looking to soundproof your studio, you’re now ready to go panel shopping. If you get the right acoustic foam panels, you will surely notice the difference they make!
Consider all the key features I mentioned and prepare for this easy chore that won’t take you a long time, but it will certainly leave you satisfied with the acoustics of your studio or room.
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