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Frequently Asked Questions
Everyone has experienced having to raise their voice to be heard because there’s just so much background noise. Echo or reverberation is caused by sound waves reflecting off hard surfaces such as drywall, metal, glass, wood, tile, or concrete. Acoustic panels cover hard surfaces to eliminate or reduce sound reflections that we perceive as echo or reverberation. Acoustic panels are made from porous materials that essentially trap sound waves by turning acoustic energy into kinetic energy or heat.
To decide which product is best for your project, consider the functional needs of the space, the acoustic challenges, and the design. There are many types of acoustic panels to choose from and we have the largest selection available. Our Alphasorb® Fabric Wrapped Panels are an industry standard, used in commercial and residential projects alike. Other popular materials include polyester felt panels, cotton, wood, and foam.
Our panels are commonly found in offices, meeting spaces, restaurants, auditoriums, churches, and gyms – spaces where people gather and sound quality matters.
The best placement for acoustic panels depends on the type of space and where sound is being generated in the room. In a home studio or home theater for instance, panels should be placed to absorb reflected sounds coming from the audio speakers in the room and based on the location of the listener. In larger spaces like classrooms and conference rooms, acoustic panels should be spaced out evenly along walls and the ceiling to create a comfortable acoustic environment for everyone there.
In terms of height and vertical placement along the wall, placement depends on where sound is created and where people are listening. Acoustic wall panels can be placed lower in a conference room where people are sitting. In a concert venue where there is a stage and the audience is standing, they can be placed higher. This would be a great space to consider adding acoustic panels to the ceiling as well. In an asymmetrical space, the goal is to create acoustic symmetry so consider where the primary listening positions are. Often the trick is to make sure there is as much acoustic coverage as possible.
The effectiveness of acoustic treatment varies based on the type of material, thickness of material, and amount of wall or ceiling surface available to be covered. The more of the wall or ceiling surface covered, the better the acoustic result.
Acoustic panels are typically made to order. Since there are an unlimited number of options in terms of size and finish, they are not commonly sold in local retail stores. Acoustical Solutions was the very first company to sell acoustic panels online – offering a huge catalog of products and unmatched sales expertise in sound control and noise management since 1989.
It’s a common misconception that sound-absorbing acoustic panels can be used to block outside noise. Unlike soundproofing products, which are used to block sounds from nearby spaces, sound absorbing products are used to reduce background noise in a space so it’s easier for everyone to hear. So, if your problem is a noisy neighbor, acoustic panels aren’t the best solution. What they’re great for is making spaces easier to hear in by reducing echo.
Keep in mind that there are two types of sound-related issues that acoustic products address – needing to block noise from adjacent spaces and difficulty hearing in loud spaces. So, when customers ask us how soundproofing panels are installed, we remind them that sound-absorbing acoustic panels are not used for soundproofing, but are really effective at reducing noise in a space.
One of the benefits to using them is that they are quite easy to install whether you are a do-it-yourself homeowner or a pro. The way acoustic panels are hung will vary a bit depending on the type of material and specific placement. For permanent wall installations of fabric wrapped panels, impaling clips and adhesive is the easiest option. For removable wall and ceiling installations, mechanical fasteners such as Rotofast and Z clips work well.
You don’t have to be an audiophile to recognize the difference between a cheap radio and a quality stereo system. But even the most expensive speakers will sound bad in a space where there is just too much reverberation. Being in a space that’s been optimized for sound is hard to beat. To that end, acoustic panels are worth it because they are so effective at reducing echo and background noise.
Acoustic fabrics are essentially transparent and can be used as a decorative wrap because they allow sound waves to pass right through and reach the sound-absorbing core material. By contrast, a fabric that is too dense or backed with paper or an acrylic coating would block that transfer of sound.
Guilford of Maine fabrics are considered the industry standard, as many of their fabric lines are specifically designed for acoustic projects. That said, there are many high-performance textile manufacturers that offer transparent fabrics well-suited to wrap acoustic panels. Designers and architects often specify materials from Carnegie, Maharam, Knoll, and Designtex on our panel products.