How do acoustic wall panel improve sound?

In brief, acoustic panels or tiles improve sound through sound-wave absorption.

Under normal circumstances, sound released into an environment travels until it meets resistance, at which point it reflects of any surface it comes into contact with. One commonly used analogy for this? Imagine throwing a racquetball as hard as you can into the wall of a racquetball court and watching it bounce in every direction.

Of course, this is obviously an oversimplification. (Sound disperses in all directions rather than traveling in a straight line, after all.) However, this example serves to illustrate why rooms with lots of hard surfaces tend to be so echoey. It is no coincidence that racquetball courts are so noisy.

Much like a racquetball, sound bounces off harder surfaces more forcefully than it does with soft surfaces. Imagine bringing that same ball into a recording studio covered wall to wall with acoustic tiles and acoustic fabric. No matter how hard you managed to throw, the ball isn’t going to travel nearly as well as it did within the court. Similarly, no matter how loud you may sing, scream, or strike a snare drum, you are not going to hear the unpleasant noise, echo, and reverb as distinctly within a well-treated acoustic space. That’s where acoustical wall panels come in to play.

Why Reduce Echo and Reverb?

When many people first become interested in improving the acoustic quality in their home, business, or workspace, they mistakenly focus their attention on soundproofing. This term actually refers to the process of acoustically sealing off a room in order to keep sound from entering or leaving the area. Though the practice of soundproofing does have pragmatic purposes (i.e. for a landlord who wants to keep apartment units acoustically separated) it is not going to improve sound quality within your space under most circumstances. It’s also extremely difficult and expensive to truly sound proof a room.

Instead, when you notice that a room is too loud, that the sound within is too unclear, or that an unwanted echo tends to reverberate, your best bet for improving the sound quality is aiming to achieve sound absorption, not soundproofing. In most businesses, churches, home theaters, garages, classrooms, conference spaces, dance halls, recital spaces, and recording studios, installing acoustical surfaces such as wall tiles and ceilings will make the biggest difference.

Complex Acoustic Solutions

In some cases, both soundproofing and acoustic panel sound absorption techniques are necessary. For example, if you are designing your own musical practice space, you may very well have two distinct yet equally important priorities:

  • Keep noise within the room in order to avoid bothering family, neighbors, and anyone else in the vicinity. And…
  • Optimize sound quality inside your practice space by reducing echo, reverb, and excessive noise with acoustic panels.

Similar situations sometimes arise for commercial theaters, dance studios, people living in condominiums, and other similar situations. Because soundproofing and sound absorption actually work against each other to a certain degree, such projects require a greater deal of detail and customization.

Excessive bass sounds can also pose a more challenging acoustical room treatment scenario, as a special type of acoustic wall panel known as a bass trap may be necessary. These panels are exceptionally thick compared to normal wall and acoustical ceiling panels, and are optimally placed near ground level and in corners.

*If your acoustics issue needs a helping hand, don’t hesitate to contact us.