It’s time to help you find the best acoustic panels for your home studio. In this article, we compare 7 of the best and most reasonably priced panels and help you achieve the perfect acoustic space for your productions to come to life in!
Recording great audio at home is the dream for every home studio, but how do you get the best sound possible without a dedicated space? Acoustic foam panels can go a long way in turning that extra room, or even the corner of a bedroom, into a great sounding recording space. I am assuming, of course, that your studio is where you both record and listen. If you have a home studio that has a dedicated recording room and an isolated listening room, you’re probably well versed in sound treatments already.
Before we go into the options available, let’s go over exactly what these panels do and don’t do. One of the main things to consider is that foam panels are not soundproofing. These panels will not make it so your upstairs neighbor can’t hear that banging drum fill (they will), or so that your wife in the other room doesn’t hear the hip hop track you’re mixing in the basement; what they will do is reduce the sound reflections in the room.
So, what does this mean for your studio? Simply put, it will give you more control over the sound you’re capturing as well as listening to, and therefore give you more options when mixing and mastering.
Years ago, when studios began to realize that they could create their own reverb effects with plates and echo chambers, it became fashionable for studios to be completely reflection-free.
They would hang large sheets, rugs, or whatever they could to catch all the sound waves bouncing in the room, and then, in post, they would add in the exact amount of reverb that they wanted. This was fine for a while, but times have changed and now we understand that this doesn’t sound natural. A completely dead room with added effects doesn’t sound great, in fact, it sounds like…a completely dead room with added effects. Instead, what we want to do is control the sound reflections instead of eliminating them entirely.
The good news here is this means you’re not going to have to cover your walls in foam paneling. Instead a few well placed panels will go a long way in reducing unwanted reflections in your sound. Start with the wall directly opposite your studio monitors, as that is going to be the first place that unwanted sound will reflect from. If you still feel like you’re getting too many reflections, add more panels. A great way to test your room is simply to walk around it and clap. Clap loud. Listen to the way the sound bounces in the room, find where it seems to be the harshest to place the next panels.
Acoustic foam is best at reducing mid and high frequencies so you want to try and reduce the metallic, high end that might be ringing in the room. Bass frequencies are handled with a completely different piece of equipment called bass traps. We won’t go over those here, but they are definitely worth your time, as a few in the corners do wonders.
Ok, so now we know what these panels do, how they work, and why we need them. Let’s look at a few of the best options available.
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Here are the 7 Best Acoustic Panels For Your Home Studio
Foamily Acoustic Foam Egg Crate 48”x24”x2.5”
These panels are huge and come in a couple different colors as well. Four feet by two feet wide and over two inches thick, these panels not only do a great job of dampening unwanted sound, but they are great for more than just a studio. Noisy theatre room, or even just to reduce sound in a crowded living space, Foamily offers you multiple solutions.
While the egg crate look might not be what everyone wants, there are those who love the look. For them, this is a great solution, but for others, it might look like you’ve just put your mattress topper on the wall. Attractiveness aside, these are great for large spaces and covering tricky areas like windows and glass.
FStop Labs 12”x12”x2”
FStop Labs provide a different look for your wall treatment. Coming in a pack of a dozen two inch thick beveled squares, these are great for spot treatment. Place a few across from your monitors, and listen to the difference. At two inches thick with a flat surface, these panels are designed to absorb as much vibration as possible without reflection. This is a different idea than the eggcrate shape, but which breaks up the soundwaves besides just dampening them.
Don’t be put off by FStop Labs poor English translations, these panels have great reviews and offer a great way to pick and choose exactly where you will get the most impact. Be warned though, it seems that the prices fluctuate wildly on this product, so be ready to wait for a good deal.
Siless Acoustic Panels 12”x12”x1”
Another company that offers packages of smaller foam squares, the Siless Acoustic Panels offer affordable sound dampening as well as attractive design. Numerous panels allow for either spreading them out and finding the best locations, or for alternating them in a pattern together. These panels are not flat, but instead offer large triangle bands to break up soundwaves. The Siless Acoustic Panels are also great for commercial applications and for minimizing noise entering a room, as well as helping to protect the sound within the room.
Much like the FStop Labs offering, the Siless Acoustic Panels offer a great way to learn how acoustic panels really make a difference in your studio. With the ability to place them in a number of different configurations they look good no matter where they are and yet still go quite a ways in reducing your reverb and echo.
Auralex Acoustic Studiofoam Wedgies 12”x12”x2”
Auralex offers multiple different panels, and we’re going to go over one of the most popular first. The one-foot by one-foot square is two inches deep and is cut with triangle bars. These panels break up the sound much like the Siless panels, but with twice the depth, they do much more to absorb and eliminate reflections. They come in packs of 18 and 24, so they’re going to be a bit more expensive than some other options, but they are also going to cover a much larger area.
If you’re trying to quiet a particularly noisy room, or trying to eliminate sounds coming into your recording space, Auralex is one of the best brands on the market. Great reviews abound for these panels, and the only thing that might be keeping you back is the price. While they might seem to be a little on the expensive side, they’re perfect if you have the need to cover larger areas.
Auralex Acoustic SonoFlat Acoustic Absorption Foam 24”x24”x2”
Since we’ve already gone over the Auralex brand in general, let’s talk about what makes these panels different from the last. Obviously, the first thing is that they are twice as big, but they are also flat, beveled panels. Another major difference in the panels is the choice of color. Most panels are black or charcoal, but Auralex offers both red and olive green as options as well, allowing you to make the large foam panels blend more easily into the background.
These panels offer the widest range of options visually, and if you’re concerned with making sure that your studio looks as good as it sounds, you’re not going to be disappointed with the Auralex SonoFlats. Choose from a variety of colors and even thickness options to have your room looking like a professional studio in no time.
ATS Acoustic Panel 24”x48”x2”
While most of the panels we’ve gone over are mainly used for walls, this one is particularly good for ceilings. Coming it at two feet by four feet, this is also different because it is not a solid piece of foam, instead the ATS Acoustic Panel is a wooden frame wrapped in fabric. Because it is not solid foam, it needs to be placed, or hung, a little differently than the rest, but also because it is fabric it comes in many color options. ATS regards this as a “black hole for sound” and is actually the highest rated sound absorbing panel in this article.
Huge panels with plenty of color options, ATS Acoustic Panels offer a great way to prevent the sound from an upper floor from entering the room. They are just as likely to be hung on the walls of a theatre or church as they are to be in your home studio. Made in the USA and built to last, check them out today.
Focusound 48 Pack Acoustic Foam Panel Wedges 12”x12”x1”
Lastly, we come to the Focusound brand of 12”x12”x1” wall wedges. This was added for a very specific reason – they are the only brand to come with hanging materials included. Mounting wall wedges can be simple or extremely difficult depending on the brand and where you want to place them, but luckily this is not an issue with the Focusound pack. The solution is as easy as double-sided tape.
If you’re looking for a quick fix – an all-in-one solution, look no further. Offering four square feet of sound isolation and an easy installation, Focusound gives you the ability to quickly silence that pesky reverb and bring the highs back under control in your mix.
While many people might purchase foam based on looks, the real reason we are here is to control soundwaves, yet for both, I believe the Auralex foam is the best available. Coming in with multiple shapes, sizes, and options, I would recommend that they are your first stop when looking to improve your home audio set up.
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