How to Select the Right Acoustic Panel

Acoustic panels are wall or ceiling mounted inside a room.   They combine to collectively capture unwanted echoes and convert them from the space.   In turn, this lowers the level of ambient echo, minimizing blurred sound signals, and restoring the room to premium sound quality.   As the echoes in the room are captured and converted by the sound panels, greater clarity is restored to original sound signals.   This results in lower levels of crowd noise, greater clarity to conversation, a collapse in background noise, and ease in communication.   Speaker systems are enhanced for the spoken word, and musical harmonies reach peak performance values.   All thanks to the set of sound panels that were wall or ceiling mounted in the space.

But how to choose the right panel system?

The key to the success of the acoustic treatment lies in both targeting the right product selection, and also ensuring that the right amount of panel is introduced into the room.   To help determine coverage amounts, formula’s are available from reputable sound panel companies that can help you target the right amount of product, but how do you know which individual sound panel system will best suit your needs?

The majority of today’s sound panel systems are made of either compressed fiberglass or acoustic foam.   Foam panels any more are pretty much limited to music studios, recording studios, broadcast studios, voice over booths and drum booths.   Acoustic foams are not all class A fire rated, they are not all that durable, you do not have all that many design options with the foam, and foam has a shelf life of about seven years before it needs to be replaced.   So if you are treating a studio or a booth, acoustic foam might be your product choice, but for most commercial applications, foam is no longer your best option.

Compressed fiberglass panels, on the other hand, are very decorative and durable, they are class A fire rated, and available in a variety of wraps.   Selecting the right fiberglass panel will depend on the room you are treating.   If you need moisture resistance for swimming pools or kennel boarding rooms, the sound panels can be wrapped in a water protective membrane called PVC.   Restaurants are famous for working to disguise their sound panel treatments, and often opt for cloth wrapped sound panels that can be wrapped in a color designed to match to their ceiling.   Schools often select the same compressed fiberglass acoustic panels but wrap them in school colors, or upgrade the panel to a tack-able version that allows the sound panel to double up as a bulletin board.   Church soundproofing treatments will take the same sound panel system and select from more than 60 color options to best match to the design of their space.

So your choice in sound panels will depend on whether you need moisture resistance, whether you need a class A fire rated panel, whether durability will be an issue in the room you are treating, and cosmetically what you want the sound panel to look like.   Are you wanting to disguise the treatment into the ceiling, or place decorative sound panels around your perimeter walls in a matching color scheme. Care must be given to your choice in sound panels, but also matching your product choice to its performance values acoustically, so that your sound consultant can target appropriate coverage amounts based on your overall room size.

The internet is full of sound panel suppliers that want your business.   Your goal is to work with reputable company’s who have long healthy track records, which in turn removes the “guesswork” out of your selection of sound panels and the coverage amounts you need based on the size, shape and surface textures of your room.   Be sure to call more than one acoustic panel supplier to compare notes and price points, and ask for references from their clients who once stood in your same shoes trying to determine which sound panel would best remedy the acoustic issues you are having.

As for panel installation, most sound panel orders will ship with the necessary clip system to help you flush mount your panels flat to your perimeter wall or ceiling surfaces.   And yes, some clients opt to suspend their panel systems off the ceiling, rather than flush mount.   Baffles are suspending vertically off the ceiling, while Clouds are suspended to float parallel to the ceiling or the floor in your room.   Again, location is not the answer to your sound issues, but coverage amounts is. Be sure to target the right amount of sound panel once you’ve made your choice.   For help with your calculations, call NetWell Noise Control’s help desk at 1-800-638-9355.

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