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Best Sound Dampening Panels – 2020 Review Guide

There’s no denying that sound problems can be a huge pain. Whether you’re creating a tricked-out home recording studio, a palatial home cinema, or simply have paper-thin walls in your living room, controlling those issues is a must!

The physics of sound can be tricky. Due to the way that sound waves travel, it’s harder to control noise than most people think. While there are a ton of simple DIY solutions out there, you’re going to need something a bit more robust to see some noticeable results. That’s where sound dampening panels come in.

Also referred to as acoustic panels, the best sound dampening panels can help you address a range of audio problems. From reverb to sound transmission, these simple accessories can make a dramatic difference inside and outside of the room.

When Having Acoustic Panels Come in Handy

Sound absorbing panels are designed to provide some acoustic treatment to a room. There are many instances where having some type of treatment could benefit you.

Audio Recording Environments

The most obvious environment for the best sound dampening panels is a recording studio. Recording booths and even control rooms need to be as neutral as possible. You can’t expect to make good music when the microphone is picking up all kinds of echos or noise from the adjacent room. In a simple home studio, hanging up a few panels can improve sound tremendously and make listeners think you were in a professional recording booth!

Mixing and control rooms can take advantage of them, too. Most professionally designed spaces utilize everything from wall panels to bass traps to minimize sound issues. They manipulate how sound travels inside the room, ensuring that the mixing environment is pure and unaffected. More on that later.

Theaters

Acoustic panels are great for home theaters, too. Think about the last time you visited a public cinema. You probably saw huge sound absorbing panels or thick curtains lining the walls. Again, it’s all about improving sound quality inside the room so that the movie sounds as great as possible. In your home theater, the same principles apply.

Meeting Spaces

Here’s an instance that most people don’t think about. Acoustic panels are great for meeting spaces big and small. In massive conference halls, the best sound dampening panels ensure that the speaker’s voice doesn’t reflect off the walls and bounce all around the room.

For smaller conference rooms, panels do the same thing. However, they can also provide some noise reduction benefits. Noise transmission is reduced, allowing you to have private meetings without having to worry about others eavesdropping!

 

The Difference Between Soundproofing and Sound Absorbing

Now, before we dig deeper into how acoustic panels work, we need to clarify some things about soundproofing. The term “soundproof,” is often a catch-all term that people use to describe different goals. However, soundproofing and sound absorbing are two totally different things.

Soundproofing

To soundproof a room is to prevent noise from escaping. This is a great goal if you want to make a lot of noise in one room without disturbing others around you. Say, for example, that you’re building a theater. Soundproofing is what you would do if you want to pump up the volume without waking up the entire neighborhood!

Soundproofing is much more complex than just hanging sound panels. You can reduce noise levels to some degree, but you won’t achieve full isolation with acoustic absorption panels. That’s because sound relies on vibrations to travel through walls.

You can dampen the noise a bit with panels, but they won’t address the vibrations. To truly isolate a room, you have to manipulate what’s going on inside the wall. Therein lies the main difference between soundproofing and sound absorbing.

Soundproofing involves methods like decoupling the walls, installing Owens Corning insulation, adding layers of drywall, or spraying acoustic foam between the studs. It’s about changing the structural design of the space to improve sound isolation.

Sound Absorbing

Sound absorbing works a bit differently. Here, your goal is to absorb sound waves so that they do not bounce around the room.

Generally, acoustic panels fall into the “Sound Absorbing” category. Why is that? It’s because you’re installing the panels inside the room rather than changing the structure of the walls.

Absorbing sound isn’t going to eliminate it completely. But, it will dramatically reduce the travel distance of sound waves. This may provide some noise reduction on the other side of the wall, but it’s not going to address vibrations. So, there will still be some sound flowing through.

 

How Sound Absorbing Panels Work

Remember how we said that sound relies on vibrations to travel? Well, sound absorbing panels use those principles to stop sound waves in their tracks.

When those sound waves hit the panel, it creates friction within the fibers or pores of the panel. That friction quickly turns into kinetic energy and dissipates. Essentially, the materials of the panel turn sound energy to heat.

Some models may also use physical design to manipulate the way sound travels. Baffles and large panel absorbers usually have a distinct surface design. It could be curves, pyramids, or simple blocks. Whatever the case may be, the shape works as a diffuser.

It prevents the sound waves from bouncing on its planned trajectory. Instead of turning into echos and reverberations, the sound diffuses into nothing.

The cool thing about acoustic panels is that you can easily set things up to address the unique issues you’re facing. Place them in line with speakers or studio monitors to target a reflection point on the wall. Or, arrange them to create a corner bass trap and achieve a better low-frequency response.

Sound absorbing panels are quite versatile. They’ll even reduce sound transmission a bit, allowing you to experience some soundproofing benefits without major renovations.

 

Choosing the Best Sound Dampening Panels for Your Space

Sound dampening panels are not difficult to find. However, finding good products is not always easy. Price points and designs vary across the board.

To narrow down your options and find panels that work for your unique needs, keep the following in mind.

Material

The first thing you’ll need to look into is the material that’s used. You can find panels in everything from polyurethane foam to fiberglass. Polyester, Rockwool material, and even cotton are used as well. The most common material you’ll see is an open-cell foam.

Panels sometimes have a layer of fabric on top. Choose a soft material that can easily absorb sound waves. Avoid anything smooth and non-porous. Hard surfaces will only make reflections worse.

Density

In addition to the material, you need to think about density. The density of the material will affect the dampening effect. Denser materials create a thicker and more effective sound barrier.

High-density foam is your best bet. Materials like rubber and drywall work as well.

Contour and Shapes

Earlier, we talked a bit about how the contours of the panel diffuse waves. Make sure that you’re choosing shapes that work for your particular issue.

Universal shapes are the most common. They do a decent job of treating all sound frequencies. But if you’re dealing with high-frequency reflections, you may benefit smaller contours. High-frequency sounds have shorter wavelengths, so a more condensed design would be more effective at diffusing the sound.

NRC

The best way to gauge a panel’s effectiveness is to check its NRC rating. NCR stands for Noise Reduction Coefficient. This measurement reflects the material’s ability to absorb sound.

The NCR scale goes from 0 to 1. A rating of 1 means that all sound is absorbed while a 0 means that no sound is absorbed.

Installation

Finally, consider how the panels are to be installed. Some hang on the wall like a picture frame. Just tack on an anchor and use the brackets on the back to mount it. It’s simple and only takes a few minutes.

Others will require spray adhesive. Those types of sound absorbing panels often provide better results because they can’t rattle on the wall. But, it’s a permanent installation.

Also, consider where you need to install panels. Sound dampening panels aren’t just for walls. You can get them as ceiling tiles, too. Those options may come with a unique installation process.

 

Best Sound Dampening Panels Reviewed

Still having trouble finding some good absorption panels to invest in? We have you covered. Here are some of the best sound dampening panels (best acoustic panels) that you can get on Amazon and use to control sound issues once and for all.

TRUE NORTH Acoustic Foam Panels

These sound dampening panels from TRUE NORTH are a good universal option. Covering one square foot of the wall, these panels can be arranged in an alternating pattern for the best effect. The wedge shape does a fine job of absorbing most sound frequencies to reduce vibrations and provide sound insulation.

The panels are quite dense. They’re made of polyurethane foam, which is good for turning sound into kinetic energy.

Key Features:

  • Comes in a pack of 12
  • High-density polyurethane foam
  • Each panel is 12 inches by 12 inches
  • Wedge pattern

 

 

BUBOS New Acoustic Panels

You don’t have to sacrifice style to treat your room. These panels are beautifully made and available in a wide range of designs. Some even have prints, turning the panels into a work of art. Best of all, they’re easy to install with some 3M tape.

The panels are made out of a polyester fiber. They’re also treated for fire protection.

Key Features:

  • Comes in a pack of six
  • Made of polyester fiber
  • Flame retardant
  • 12 inches by 12 inches
  • NRC 0.95

 

 

DEKIRU Upgraded Acoustic Panels

Perfect for studios, cinemas, and offices, these panels offer good sound absorption. The polyester fibers capture sound waves to reduce noise and stop reflections.

The individual panels cover a square foot, allowing you to cover and much or as little wall space as you want. While they don’t have an intricate pattern for diffusion, the edges are beveled for better results.

Key Features:

  • Made of polyester fiber
  • 12 inches by 12 inches
  • Beveled edges
  • Treated with fire retardant
  • Pack of 12

 

 

Foamily Acoustic Studio Foam Wedge Panels

These modular panels are versatile enough to place anywhere. Tack them on the walls to combat reflections or use them as bass traps to improve sound quality.

Installing the panels is easy. The lightweight PU foam is easily supported by 3M strips or construction adhesive for a permanent installation.

Key Features:

  • 12 inches by 12 inches
  • Wedge pattern
  • Pack of 12
  • Made of polyurethane foam
  • Available in several colors

 

 

Mybecca Acoustic Foam Panels

Here’s another simple yet effective panel option. Like other sound dampening products on this list, these absorption panels are made out of dense polyurethane foam. The material is lightweight and fully capable of getting rid of echoes in any room.

When placed on walls, the panels provide up to 90 percent sound reduction. They reduce the number of sound waves that penetrate the wall, making adjacent rooms much quieter.

Key Features:

  • Pack of 12 panels
  • 80 to 90 percent noise reduction
  • Wedge shape
  • Made of polyurethane foam
  • 12 inches by 12 inches
  • Many color options

 

 

IZO All Supply Egg Crate Foam Acoustic Foam

Take care of reverb issues with these egg crate panels. The pattern is not wedge-shaped like some other products. It features shallow contours with distinct peaks and valleys.

This design is perfect for addressing waves throughout the frequency spectrum. The sound absorbers are made of dense acoustic foam and manufactured in the United States. You can get the sound dampening panels in two different thicknesses based on your needs.

Key Features:

  • Comes with 12 panels
  • Smoother egg crate design
  • Available in 1 or 2-inch thicknesses
  • Acoustic foam
  • 12 inches by 12 inches

 

 

Burdurry Acoustic Panels

Need to cover a massive area? This kit from Burdurry is a good choice! It comes with 50 tiles. Each sound absorbing panel covers a square foot.

The panels are made out of high-quality foam. The foam is dense, which is perfect for absorbing sound waves. They’re also easy to clean and won’t fall apart with age. With some light maintenance, they can last for several years without a dip in performance.

Key Features:

  • 12 inches by 12 inches
  • Pack of 50 panels
  • Wedge shape
  • Long-lasting acoustic foam

 

 

Fstop Labs Acoustic Foam Studio Wedge Tiles

Standing waves, echoes, and other sound issues are no match for these sound dampening panels from Fstops Labs. Each 12-inch tile features nine individual pyramid shapes. Called a “mushroom” design, the pyramids are raised off the back panel.

This gives the sound a lot of space to move when it hits the panel. It can get trapped in the pyramid grooves, providing even better noise control.

Key Features:

  • 12 inches by 12 inches
  • Shallow pyramid design
  • 2 inches thick
  • Pack of 12
  • Treated with flame retardant

 

 

Allxinlog Absorb the echo Acoustic Foam Panel

This massive pack of 96 panels is more than enough to transform a room! The panels are all made of high-density foam. The open-cell foam maximized absorption to effectively reduce reverb and standing waves.

The absorption panels have an NRC rating of 0.4. They’re not going to provide the best noise reduction. But, they will provide some improvements and keep things quiet.

Key Features:

  • 12 inches by 12 inches
  • Pack of 96 tiles
  • Wedge design
  • High-density foam
  • Two colors included
  • NRC rating of 0.4

 

 

SoundAssured Dense Polyester Soundproofing Acoustic Panels

Here are some good panels if you want a neutral or professional look. The panels are all white and flat, making it easy to blend your acoustic treatment with the wall.

Despite the flat look, the panels are built to address a range of sound issues. They’re made of compressed polyester fiber. The compression process keeps the fibers tight for impressive noise reduction.

Key Features:

  • Made of high-density polyester
  • Pack of six
  • Includes adhesive squares
  • 12 inches by 12 inches
  • Fire retardant treatment
  • NRC rating of 0.35

 

 

Check Out Our Other Handy Soundproofing Guides Here:

 

Conclusion

They might not seem like they would make a huge difference in sound quality and noise reduction, but the best sound dampening panels address a ton of sound issues. They’re simple accessories that work off the foundations of sound physics!

Affordable and easy to install, you can get these panels set up in no time! We’re willing to bet that you’ll notice the difference they make immediately.

 

 

 

 

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