Are acoustic foam panels necessary in a recording studio environment? Most agree they are.
Some acoustic foam panels are designed with pyramid and wedge formations cut into them. The idea is to absorb sound but also to improve sound quality. Others have no such indentations and are a plain tile with special qualities.
Both have the same function in absorbing sound. But it should be remembered that different instruments, vocals, etc. rely on a certain sound formation to sound at their best. So it isn’t just a case of fitting them to every wall and ceiling you can find. For example, vocal booths require them so as not to pick up reflected sound.
There are debates about how thick the tiles should be, but most now seem to agree that 2 inches thick is enough except for bass traps where four inches will be better.
So given that you need to fit at least part of your studio with these panels which do you choose? Don’t worry; we’ve done the hard work for you and bring the best of the best. So, let’s have a look at the best acoustic foam panels for studio recording and find the perfect ones for you…
- Top 5 Best Acoustic Foam Panels For Studio Recording To Buy 2021 Reviews
- 1 Auralex Acoustics SonoFlat Acoustic Absorption Foam
- 2 ATS Wedge Foam Acoustic Panels (Charcoal)
- 3 Auralex Acoustics Studiofoam Wedgies Acoustic Absorption Foam
- 4 Foamily Burgundy Acoustic Foam Egg Crate Panel Studio Foam Wall Panel
- 5 Auralex Acoustics D36-DST Roominator Acoustic Absorption Treatment Room Kit
- Best Acoustic Foam Panels For Studio Recording Buying Guide – Creating The ‘Sound of Silence’
- So What Are The Best Acoustic Foam Panels For Studio Recording?
Top 5 Best Acoustic Foam Panels For Studio Recording To Buy 2021 Reviews
1 Auralex Acoustics SonoFlat Acoustic Absorption Foam
Based in Indiana in the US, Auralex has become one of the world leaders in designing and manufacturing sound absorbing and diffusing materials for a variety of environments. But are especially known for their acoustic foam tiles. Used in recording studios especially, they are a quality product.
This pack of sixteen tiles is their Sonoflat pack range with two-inch-thick tiles measuring 24 by 24 inches. They are made from Studiofoam, which is an open-celled foam material that works by increasing air resistance. This reduces the extent of the oscillation or vibration of the sound wave. These work especially well on the mid through to the high frequencies.
They are given a charcoal color which is aesthetically attractive but is also at the same time understated, to give a professional feel to the environment. And are edged at an angle and from a basic pattern when placed together.
They are easy to fit and arranged how you need them which can be in a block on walls opposite your speakers or to the rear of your recording equipment. Alternatively, they can be arranged in patterns.
Importantly, they are durable and long-lasting and have a Class B flame retardancy. As they are a foam product, you cannot hang any fixtures or fittings on them. They can be fitted with any spray adhesive but might be better attached with something with less of a smell or possibly double-sided tape.
A quality product and a cost-effective way of creating a better sound in your studio. Certainly a contender for the best acoustic foam panels for studio recording.
- Well made with good materials.
- Work efficiently to reduce unwanted echo and other reflections.
- Care needs to be taken when fitting, so they are not damaged.
2 ATS Wedge Foam Acoustic Panels (Charcoal)
ATS gives us wedge-shaped acoustic tiles manufactured from foam. Using acoustic panels such as these is a very cost-effective way to improve the absorption of unwanted sound and reduce natural echo’s. These foam wedges come in 6-packs.
With the high and low points built into the wedge shape, it creates more of a foam surface that comes into contact with the sound. Therefore the thought is, the more foam surface there is, the better the absorption. A reasonable thought, but not always true as there are other factors involved.
There is often discussion about what does the job better, wedge or pyramid shape, but there seems to be little between them, and it comes down to personal choice.
The sound control of these panels is quite good, and they are effective at dealing with mid to high-frequency ranges. They are certainly a cheap way to create a room with an element of sound absorption with the flexibility to decide which areas of the room are most in need.
They are easy to install but are not what you might call lightweight. Therefore spray adhesives can be used, but to avoid the inevitable smell that will accompany that product, perhaps other alternative glue might be better. Double-sided tape might not be a good option as they are a bit heavy for that.
If you need to cut them to shape, then they are stable enough for a sharp knife to be used without destroying them if care is taken.
These are a budget-priced item and as such cannot be expected to work as efficiently as more expensive panels. Care, therefore, needs to be taken when using them.
One issue will be that they will be delivered vacuum-packed which will almost certainly mean they will arrive rather crushed together, which is not so good for wedge tiles. Being foam they will usually regain their shape after a day or two. That is the only concern in deciding if they are the best acoustic foam tiles for studio recording.
- A cost-effective way of absorbing sound.
- Wedge shape will be popular with some users.
- Will need to be left a while before fitting after delivery so they can regain their shape.
3 Auralex Acoustics Studiofoam Wedgies Acoustic Absorption Foam
Another option from Auralex, who this time brings us the wedge-shaped tile. Manufactured in a convenient 12 by 12 inches and two inches deep design, they come in packets of twenty-four panels covering about 24 feet of your studio wall. Colored in charcoal grey that adds a professional ambiance to the room and they are non-reflective of sound.
Auralex has a complete range of acoustic foam tiles that come in different sizes, finishes, and with different purposes. The wedge-shaped design means that more of the sound will be absorbed. This is because there is more of the foam material exposed rather than on a flat surface tile which has less surface area.
These tiles are conveniently sized to allow you to create a good wall position, and you can trim or cut them without fear of damaging the foam structure. They are a cost-effective way of reducing any reflections or standing waves. These sound waves are different from traveling waves and oscillate having stability at some points and other sections where there is no oscillation at all.
This can cause problems where a stable sound is required. Open foam construction will absorb energy and produce a clear and stable sound.
These acoustic panels are designed for absorbing sound reflections and not for soundproofing a room, so they need to be placed in areas to control those reflections and not try to completely eliminate them. Great for mids to high frequencies, but not suitable to absorb the bass.
They are easy to fix though we would recommend using fixative that has no residual smell. Good value for money and quite attractive to the eye, they are certainly going to be considered for best acoustic foam panels for studio recording.
- Well-made with an attractive design.
- Have good sound absorbent qualities and will do the job.
- Tiles are quite small at only twelve by twelve inches.
4 Foamily Burgundy Acoustic Foam Egg Crate Panel Studio Foam Wall Panel
The Egg Crate panel design is a common type of budget option for the absorption of sound. There is some discussion as to whether this design is better or worse than the pyramid or wedge-shaped varieties. Many people have their favorites and preferences, Looking at results tables it appears that there isn’t very much to choose between the pyramid and the wedge shape with the egg crate design a little behind in most areas.
There may then be some acoustic foam panels that produce better results in absorbing sound, but the egg crate or convoluted shaped foam is probably the best value in terms of price. So if you have a large area to cover then this design of acoustic foam panel is a good choice.
The Foamily acoustic panels are high-density foam and at 48 inches long and 24 inches wide significantly larger than the usual square panels. Furthermore, whereas other panels are two inches thick, these Foamily panels are 2.5 inches adding just a bit more to the range of frequencies that will be affected.
They have been given a high NRC rating. This is the noise reduction coefficient measuring how much sound an acoustic tile can soak up. This is an important and recognized standard for the performance of acoustic tiles, and these tiles come out quite well.
The foam is quite stable but can be cut to size using strong scissors and can be fixed to the wall with either glue or double-sided tape. Like all of these products to absorb sound, it must be remembered that absorb sound is what they do, they are not for soundproofing. Therefore correct positioning in your studio or room is important.
An alternative idea but one that should make them considered as best acoustic foam panels for studio recording.
They are delivered rolled not flat and wrapped in plastic so they will need to be allowed to a day or two to resume their correct shape.
- Large size acoustic foam tile covering a large area.
- A cost-effective way of creating sound absorption.
- They are a budget product, so don’t expect miracles.
5 Auralex Acoustics D36-DST Roominator Acoustic Absorption Treatment Room Kit
Well, he said ‘I’ll be back,’ and they are. Not the Terminator, thankfully, the self-styled Roominator from Auralex. This time in the form of a complete sound absorption kit to complete a small room. Depending on the size of your room, this is a good idea. And the kit includes what you need to prepare a small room or maybe a booth for vocals.
This kit fulfills a number of potential uses, but its prime application is in recording studios. It is particularly suited for a new studio where you will want to try and create the best acoustics that you can. It will make it look pretty good as well. Some people have wanted an alternative tile shape, if you’re one of them, here it is.
The package contains eighteen DST-112 panels and eighteen DST-114. Each panel is 12 inches by 12 inches with a depth of two inches. The difference between 112 and 114 is in the facing design of the panel. The 114 having four wedge shapes the 112 having one large wedge with two faces. The kit also contains some Adhesive tabs for mounting.
This kit will add that acoustic edge to your vocal booth or maybe a defined area if the room is larger. They won’t operate as bass traps even if you put them in corners where the reflection build-up is at its greatest. For bass traps, you ideally need at least four-inch-thick foam, but these will work admirably well dealing with mid to high frequencies.
A good idea that gives a new studio an acoustic head start and must be a contender for best acoustic foam panels for studio recording.
- All-inclusive kit to prepare a room or recording space for better acoustics.
- Cost-effective price.
- For mids to highs only, not bass frequencies.
Best Acoustic Foam Panels For Studio Recording Buying Guide – Creating The ‘Sound of Silence’
Let us try and clear up a misconception before we start. Acoustic foam tiles are there to absorb sound and in doing so to make the room sound better. They are not for sound-proofing a room against an unruly neighbor or a noisy dog.
But in absorbing sound, that must also be put into context. The big studios spend millions on achieving their own signature sound. A sound that is ‘theirs’ and whilst some of that comes from the shape of the room, the height of the ceiling, etc., etc. Some of it is to do with the acoustic tiling and more importantly how and where it is used.
You will not be able to achieve the same level of quality that they do, but you can make a huge difference to having no sound absorption at all.
Let’s Sort Out The Mids And High End…
To achieve a level of absorption at a cost-effective price in a recording studio you need foam panels and also ideally bass traps. You would place the bass traps in first, usually in the corners, but we are not dealing with them in this review. We will deal with acoustic foam whose job it is to absorb mid to high frequencies.
We don’t know if you have ever had the experience of walking into a recording studio and feeling like you’ve entered a vacuum. No sound, no echos, nothing. That is no good. Too much absorption. It was all the rage at one time until people realized you need a little bit of normality to get the best sound or it just sounds unreal.
Unfortunately, there are no hard and fast rules as to how, what and why. It will depend on the room and so many other factors. Some people specialize in this, and you will not compete with them.
Control Room Placement…
The best way to do it is to localize some aspects. Placing tiles behind speakers is a great place to start, especially if they have a rear-facing bass port. If you are using them in a control room, you will need to place them at the first reflection point. This is the point where the direct sound from the monitors hits the sidewalls and bounces off.
In order to find the first reflection point, sit in your ideal mixing position and get a friend to move from one of the front corners of the room towards the center of one wall with a mirror. They will need to do this at the same hight as your speakers. When you can see your speaker cones in the mirror, that is the first reflection point. And place a tile there. Next move on to the second reflection point, which will be a little further and will be for the other speaker.
If you have multiple sets of speakers, you will need to do this for every pair.
You also need to place them above the mixing position on the ceiling. Sound reflects off all surfaces – the sidewalls, the floor, and the ceiling. Place a thick rug on the floor to help limit reflections from there as well.
Live Room Placement…
You can apply some panels to one wall but leave the opposite wall’s reflection point clear. And you don’t have to put them up in blocks either. They can be in patterns providing that pattern is reciprocated on the opposite wall. You haven’t even got to fix them to the wall. Sometimes hanging them in a particular place will perform a function.
The best advice for placement in either the control room or live room is trial and error. Put some up in a simple way, so that they can be easily moved and see what difference they make. Then move them and see if the sound is better or worse. This doesn’t have to be done in a day, take your time and keep experimenting to get the best sound you can in the room.
We have worked in some amazing professional studios worldwide with what may seem like unconventional acoustic treatment layouts. But they work in that room, which is all that is important. You could pay an acoustician a fortune to dial in the perfect treatment, but it’s far more fun to experiment over time and get the room sounding exactly how you want it to.
And any of these best acoustic foam panels for recording studio will let you do that.
Then What Type Of Panel?
Egg crate, wedge, pyramid, or just flat. It’s a matter of choice, but a combination is the best idea with the majority being flat. They sometimes come in different thicknesses, some 2 inches and some two and a half. We have seen them up to four inches thick, mainly for bass traps and you can argue the thicker the foam, the better. However, two inches of foam thickness will be adequate for normal use.
We reviewed several manufacturers and their acoustic panels, all of them with a lot to offer. All of them will make improvements and all quite cost-effective. So enjoy choosing and then experimenting with the best acoustic foam panels for studio recording.
So What Are The Best Acoustic Foam Panels For Studio Recording?
When we are involved in improving the acoustics of any studio, then we go for something that does the job, looks attractive but also is not for a specifically designated area. A foam tile that will suit a variety of options. We would want the flexibility of being able to use the panels anywhere. That can be applied to most of the products that we reviewed, but we have decided that the…
These are great tiles if you’re new to acoustic design, and will work very well in a variety of places. Try them out; you won’t believe the difference they will make. All this makes them the best acoustic foam panels for studio recording.