Egg Cartons Get Egg on Their Face in Acoustics Test

So, if you’ve spend much time at all in the Acoustics Industry, sooner or later you are going to hear this: “Well we could just put some egg cartons on the walls to treat the room.” 

Not exactly. 

Well, you could, but your studio or home theater will look like a recycling center and not actually be acoustically treated very well.

Here is the deal: When absorbing sound, the idea is to have a material that has millions of small “things” in it that will literally move around in 3-dimensional space when a sound wave hits them, thereby changing that wave energy into kinetic energy in the material, which then degrades into heat energy. Or in other words: thick, soft, squishy stuff. True blue acoustical foam is an open cell foam. It contains millions of small bubbles that flex and move with the pressure of the sound wave hitting it. You can’t see this because it’s on a microscopic scale, but that is indeed what is happening. 

Egg cartons, recycled cardboard, or Styrofoam (in the old days) is relatively very thin compared to acoustical foam. Now, there is such a thing as “Diaphragmatic Absorption”. That is where you use a thin material that the sound passes through once, hits a wall, and then doesn’t have enough energy to pass back through the diaphragm. My assumption is that this myth got its start because yes, you do have a diaphragm there and an air cavity behind it in the empty egg carton…but there’s just not enough mass there for it to be effective enough to be considered an acoustic material.

The Science:

Acoustic Foam VS. Egg Cartons

This isn’t to say that there are no absorbing qualities to Egg Cartons at all. At a certain point everything in the world is going to absorb some sound. Even linoleum or concrete are going to absorb some sound (not very much, but not 0.0%, either). Compared with other foams that are sold under the header of “Acoustical Foam”, egg cartons start to look pretty weak.

Egg Carton Test Comparison Chart

Acoustical Solutions does not approach the science of acoustics as a guessing game. All of our Acoustical Foams have been rigorously tested by nationally accredited and independent testing laboratories. Upon request, we will be happy to provide testing data. In addition, just because of the prevalence of this myth, we actually paid a lab to test Egg Cartons. Click here to see the results.

So, with Easter coming up, we thought we’d say that while we are very environmentally conscious and highly encourage recycling; we strongly recommend that when you are done dyeing eggs, you don’t put the cartons on your walls, choose a high end acoustical foam.

 

Give us a call if you have any questions about certain applications and I will be more than happy to help you out, thanks!