Acoustic soundproofing foam is the porous material used to eliminate echoes and reduce sound frequencies vibrating in a room. It is particularly useful in recording studios to eliminate unwanted noise and produce clear and high-quality sound. If you are building your own DIY recording studio and would like to optimize the acoustics of your space then you will need to select the best acoustic foam sound panel for your room. This article will help you make your decision by giving you the low-down of eight different options.
The foam comes in various sizes, thickness, and length. They also come in different shapes that are designed to stop sound frequencies from vibrating throughout the room. Acoustic form can be wedge, smooth, egg crate or pyramid, with the most popular of these being the wedge foam.
This article will be split into two with the first section reviewing wedge foams and the second part reviewing foams with other patterns.
Accoustic Foam Reviews
Best Wedge Acoustic Foams
Wedge foams are considered the best acoustic panels by most because they perform well and outlast other options at an affordable price. If you have never seen them before, they look similar to window blinds and have a very distinct triangular side-profile. Wedge panels are machine cut and so you expect them to be near identical, side to side.
Auralex Acoustics Studiofoam Wedgies: Good Noise Reduction for a Small Space
These acoustic wedges measure 1 sq. ft each making them the perfect choice for when you are planning a studio space prior to actual construction. Each order contains 24 tiles in charcoal gray. They are an excellent choice for spot treatments in your studio. With the right placement, these wedges are very effective in reducing reverb, echo, and other unwanted noise in a room.
- They are an effective recording studio foam for small to medium-sized recording rooms.
- The studiofoam wedge panels were superb at improving the room’s acoustics.
- Small size allows for various designs and spot treatments in a studio.
- The acoustic studiofoam wedges do not perform well in a large space.
- It’s only available in one color, so I did not have many options if you want to make the space more decorative.
IZO All Supply Blue / Charcoal Acoustic Foam Tiles: Cheap and Colorful
This is a lightweight soundproof foam that is shipped as 6 tiles, with each tile splitting into 2 wedges. Once split each panel is 1 sq. ft. with a thickness of 1 inch. These panels come in an assortment of color combinations including blue/charcoal, burgundy/charcoal, green/charcoal, olive green/charcoal, orange/charcoal, red/charcoal, and purple/charcoal. These acoustic foam tiles are the cheapest option of the list and are potentially the best studio foam if you are on a tight budget.
However, being the thinnest of the wedge foams, these panels were the worst sound absorbers of the bunch. If you want a high-quality sound then these aren’t for you.
- Small enough be used for spot treatments of walls and ceilings.
- Available in multiple colour combinations.
- If you have a large space, these panels are not a good option since you need to purchase multiple packets.
ATS Wedge Foam Acoustic Panels: Good Medium Sized Sound Absorber Panels
The ATS wedge foam panels come in on color, charcoal gray, and measure out at 2 sq. ft. area and a 2-inch height. The ATS acoustic foam panels gave me good sound control and were able to reduce a lot of the unwanted noise during my testing.
In comparison with the other panels, the ATS wedge foam was average sized. They were neither the biggest nor the smallest. This wedge gave an overall good performance when it came to echo reduction and sound improvement.
The ATS wedge only comes in charcoal gray and that definitely limited the creative looks I could have added to the room with the foam panels.
- Good sound absorber and curtailed echoes.
- Can easily be installed.
- Can be used for spot treatments.
- Not good for targeting specific frequencies.
Auralex Acoustics D36-DST: High-quality Total Solution for a Small Room
The other acoustic wedge from Auralex on my list is the D36-DST Roominator kit. This kit contains 36 panels, half in charcoal gray and the other half in either charcoal, burgundy or purple. Each panel is 1 sq. ft. that I easily installed with the included mounting tabs. During testing, the D36-DST did its job and tamed unwanted slapback and reverb from my recording.
The Acoustics D36-DST kit seems to be the best acoustic foam total solution with enough panels to adequately treat a small studio. The panels were good sound absorbers and gave a high-quality sound, despite not being the best soundproofing foam of the materials I tested.
The D36-DST kit allows some creative freedom to play with colors as well as acoustics. With three colors to choose from you can get the foam panels that appeal to aesthetics of your room. These foam sound panels are made even easier to install with the inclusion of the mounting tabs in the kit.
- Produce high-quality sound and were very good at noise reduction.
- Has most panels per pack.
- Available in multiple colors.
- Include mounting tabs in the kit.
- This kit is quite pricey and wouldn’t recommend it if you just needed a spot treatment since it comes with so many panels.
Best Acoustic Foams: Other Patterns
Auralex Acoustics SonoFlat: Elegant High-quality Panels
The SonoFlat panels are smooth with beveled edges to give the acoustic foam an elegant look. They are made from a high-density open-celled acoustic foam and are available in a variety of colors. Each kit has 16 panels that are 2 sq. ft. in area.
The SonoFlat panels were potentially the best soundproof foam when it came to sound damping. They reduced most of the reverb during my testing. Due to their shape and flat surface, I could have used them as a foundation layer underneath textured panels for added soundproofing.
- Have a very sleek and sophisticated look.
- The variety of colors allows adding fun designs and looks to the room.
- The panels can be used for spot treatment.
- These panels are expensive.
- They did not perform well when it came to absorbing low-frequency sounds.
Foamily Acoustic Foam Sound Absorption Pyramid: Large Panels for Mid-to-high Frequencies Deadening
Like the name implies, this type of foam has multiple pyramids on its textured side. This gives it its unique sound absorbing characteristics since it has four edges. These studio foam panels from Foamily are very large, measuring at 8 sq. ft per panel and a thickness of 2 inches. Each pack has only two panels that come in charcoal gray.
These panels were very good at sound damping and reducing slapback during my testing. They were effective at deadening mid-to-high frequency sounds despite not feeling as dense or premium as some of the other acoustic panels. However, the Foamily panels were not a good option for extreme audio soundproofing needs especially when it came to absorbing lower frequency sound.
- Good echo and reverb reduction.
- The large panels are appropriate for walls in a large room.
- It’s a moderately cheap option when you consider the price per sq. ft.
- The large panels are not appropriate to use on the ceiling.
Foamily Burgundy: Large Affordable Panels
Egg Crate foam has a rounded end instead of the sharp points of wedges or pyramids. These sound foam panels, that look like egg crates, were able to decently stop both high and low frequency sounds. These panels have a thickness of 2.5 inches and an area of 8 sq. ft. There are only two panels in each pack and they come in four colors: charcoal, burgundy, red, and blue.
If you would rather not put up the panels on the walls then you can make a soundproofing box around a microphone as an easier alternative to soundproofing the entire room. The panels I received were not cut straight so it was difficult to align them.
- The larger panels mean that fewer panels are needed to treat one wall.
- These soundproof foam panels are very cheap.
- Not a good product for precision sound control.
Foamily 8 Pack- Egg Crate: Cheap Option for Basic Sound Control
New level has an egg crate acoustic foam that has 8 panels, each 1 sq. ft. and 2.5 inches thick. These studio panels come in multiple colors and provide an ultra-clean look in addition to the sound absorption. If you are on a tight budget then these are a viable option, especially for spot treating walls. They provide some acoustic control, noise reduction, and reduce reverb and flutter echoes in small to medium sized rooms.
The new level panels did not drastically improve the acoustics of the room. In fact, these panels were very priced appropriate since they would easily tear as I was mounted them up. You absolutely get what you pay for with these panels.
- These panels are perfect if you are on a budget.
- Small enough for spot treatments.
- Poor quality foam.
- The panels I had were not all cut the same. The sides did not match up and so it was easy to see where one piece ended and the next one started.
- Not ideal for high precision sound control.
How to Install Acoustic Foam?
After choosing the best acoustic panels, you will now need to install them in your recording or mixing studio. To install the panels, you are going to need some cardboard, spray adhesive, and command strips.
- Plan where to put the panels. Depending on the surface pattern of the panels you purchased, decide on the best arrangement that you want. If it helps, measure out the panels and stack them in your desired arrangement. Then mark off the wall using tape and a pencil. Measuring the wall will also ensure that the acoustic foam is centered on the wall. Remember, it is important to make sure that the panels are placed at ear level.
- Spray the back of the foam with the adhesive spray and press it against a piece of cardboard, adhesive side down. Using cardboard will prevent damage to your walls plus it will make your acoustic foam reusable.
- Leave the foam in a well-ventilated area to dry for 1 or 2 hours, or until the foam remains firm on the cardboard.
- Cut off the excess cardboard so that it is neatly hidden behind the foam.
- Place the command strips on the backside of the foam panels. Peel the paper tab on the strip and hold it against the backside of the foam panel for 10-30 seconds.
- Remove the other paper tab to reveal the adhesive and press the acoustic foam against the wall. Hold the panel for 30 seconds to secure it in place.
- Repeat the steps to apply more pieces of the foam until you fill up the desired space.
What does Scoustic Foam Do?
When a sound is made in a room, it starts from the source and moves outwards in all directions. Some of it interacts with the room, bouncing off the walls and ceiling. This reflected sound has the potential to change the original sound, depending on the size of the room and the reflective surfaces within. Acoustic foam absorbs the reflected sound waves caused in a room to allow the recording or listening of a pure sound. It also reduces general noise, clarifies speech, and limits reverberation within enclosed areas.
It is important to note that there is a difference between soundproofing and acoustic treatment. The former is intended to minimize the level of sound traveling in and out of a room while the latter aims to control sound reflections within a room, to get the best sound recordings.
How do Acoustic Panels Work?
Consider someone standing in a simple room with bare walls. If they clap their hands, the sound waves travel from their hands through the air and strike the walls to create an echo which distorts the sound of their hands clapping. If the room is treated with acoustic panels, the reflected sound waves strike the porous panels. This interaction makes them vibrate which in turn increases the friction within the material. With the right amount of friction, the sound is converted into heat energy, that then quickly dissipates, leaving no reflected sound waves.