Why are Acoustic Panels so Expensive?

Written by
Last update:

Why acoustic panels are so expensive (detailed explanation)

Once you've decided on the look and size of your speaker panels, it’s time to consider the quality.

All speaker foam acoustic panels are cut using the same process – there isn’t a “good” or “bad” type of panel.

The Only Factor that Changes Is the Density of the Foam

And the more density you have the better your panels will absorb sound.

Simply put: the better the panels, the better they absorb sound…and the more you need to pay.

The disparity between acoustic panel costs is rooted in experience and skill. If you have to choose between high-density foam and cheap foam, or between designer and generic, choose high-density foam. Additionally consider the thickness of the foam panels. If you have to choose between thinner, cheaper foam and thicker, more expensive foam, go for the thicker, more expensive foam.

Lower density foam means more space between the molecules; this space serves to reflect sound waves back into your room. It’s this space that you want to eliminate to prevent sound reflections.

Thicker panels do just that, while less expensive, thinner panels let additional sound waves pass through them.

Are acoustic panels worth the money?

Acoustic panels are an effective way to minimize the impact on sound and break up the sound waves in your room. The panels are effective because they reflect and absorb the sound waves rather than allowing them to reverberate from wall to wall.

Therefore, they're able to minimize the impact of this noise and help in soundproofing. A reduction of reverberation makes the room more comfortable for you and your family.

As you can see, acoustic panels are very effective at what they do. The problem is that they’re very expensive. So when you’re thinking about buying the panels, you need to consider whether the price is reasonable. You need to try and get all the information about the panels that you possibly can to see if it makes sense to buy them.

Acoustic panels provide a much larger sound-dampening power than if you use foam or other methods. However, some people get so confused about the topic that they’re afraid to use them at all. But they shouldn’t be. Buying acoustic panels can be a very great decision, which can lead to huge improvements in both your comfort and the value of your home.

Size

Acoustic sound panels come in many different shapes and sizes, from a size of a book, to acoustic blankets that are extremely large and used in music halls and entertainment venues.

If you're planning to implement sound treatment in your home, keep in mind that it's all related to room size. That is, the larger the room, the deeper the bass gets. Because of that, the room needs to be treated accordingly.

Take your room size into consideration when you’re deciding which type of acoustic panels you should use. You don't want to over-treat the room, as that will cause resonances that will negate the quality of your sound. In addition, when you fill your room with acoustic treatment, you'll need to dampen the sound even more, and that will also affect the quality.

Keep in mind that the larger the room, the more treatment you'll need to provide an even coverage. In other words, don't plan to treat entire walls and leave the corners uncovered. You'll end up with sound that is hurtful to your ears.

You want to implement as many treatment points as possible to take advantage of all the different sound waves that are dispensed around the room.

Shape

Most rooms (and homes) consist of three walls, which means there are ultimately six surfaces for sound to bounce off of. When the sound from your loudspeakers bounces off one surface and into another behind you or beside you, it can become significantly intensified and harder to control.

When this happens, you end up hearing three separate sounds: left, right and center. Instead of hearing one, unified sound, it’s like having three radios turned up and tuned to the the same station.

You don’t need scientist to tell you that reducing the number of surfaces your sound has to bounce off is going to keep your sound clean and cohesive. Reducing this is all about your room’s dimensions.

Audiophiles with a keen eye for building acoustically transparent rooms, love to measure, test, and tinker. Because of this, they obsess over the idea of controlling the shape of a room and presenting a perfectly flat surface to their loudspeakers. Ultimately, a smaller room with flat walls is going to outperform a larger room with similar shaped walls.

Speaker system

Design and placement are very important elements when you are upscaling your sound experience in your home or professional setting.

One of the issues that we face is having the Bass and Mids being overpowered by the louder frequencies, which results in lack of clarity in the sounds. This is mainly due to speaker placement and system design.

If you’re using home theater speakers to listen to music, you may find distortion in the sound as well. We’ve tried placing our speakers in different areas of the room and the experience has been sub-par, due to the fact that we have several live areas in our living room.

The more expensive option is to purchase acoustic treatment for the room. But it’s not the most affordable route to take.

Another common way to treat your room is to use acoustic panels. Compared to acoustic treatment, acoustic panels are cheaper and less sophisticated. They’re hung on the walls with the intention of treating the room.

Acoustic panels do help to improve the quality of sound. Most acoustic panels reduce the percentage of reverberation in the room, and they are usually made from medium or high density materials, which optimize the sound.

How to make your own acoustic panels on a budget

Do you want to soundproof an area in your studio or home but don’t want to break the bank trying to do it? Fear not! It’s not too difficult to make your own acoustic panels, and you don’t need to be an accomplished carpenter to do it. Here’s what you’ll need:

MDF: 3/4" and 1/2" thick. You can get these from most lumber supply stores and some hardware stores. If you can’t find these, purchase 1/2" plywood and double it up.

Staple Guns

Acoustic Foam – You can purchase this from most soundproofing companies. If you can’t purchase it, you can cut up pieces of egg carton foam.

If you have any questions in the process, get in touch with a sound engineer, who can walk you through the process.

Materials

Acoustic panels are generally made of one or more layers of different types of foam, although other materials are sometimes used such as wool and synthetic fabric. Some materials are only used on the inner layers because they are easily destroyed by sound waves. It’s important that all the layers are thick enough to protect the quality of the sound.

Acoustic panels can be made with different types of foam, with each type having its own benefits and drawbacks. The foam is chosen based on the sound you want to block (highs, mids, or lows) as well as the how the design of the panel will affect the foam. For example, a panel with a design that angles the foam panels towards the wall or a corner will help direct the sound in that direction.

Other design factors that affect the quality of the foam include the number of layers and the type of glue between the layers. The number of layers affects the sound blocking quality and also the overall thickness. Foam is glued together between layers and “the right glue” emphasizes the benefits of the type of foam while at the same time making it less vulnerable to noise. Sturdy foam and high-quality glues are generally expensive.

Construction

On average, acoustic panels are between 10 and 30 times more expensive than traditional wall treatments. This is true for two reasons.

Particle Board Oriented Strand Board (OSB) is the most common material used in manufacturing acoustic panels today. It’s made of wood chips and sawdust pressed together. Think of a 2×4 made of glue. OSB can’t be painted or sealed, which is why you find such high prices for products sold as acoustical panels. Most products have a special finish which has a glue finish to it. Although they are still particle board, you can’t see the wood chips and the glue.

This makes it look a little bit better but is still not as attractive as drywall. And for this reason, you pay four to eight times higher than the cost of drywall.

Panels are made of multiple layers to penetrate and dissipate sound waves. This is where most of the cost comes from.

There isn’t a big difference in the price of paint between regular paint and paint for noise reduction. It’s more expensive but not to the point where you could almost pay for a whole wall just to paint it.

Hanging your acoustic panels

In general, acoustic panels are large pieces of sheet metal that have been manufactured to fold easily. Don’t be fooled by their size, however, as they provide a great value even though they’re expensive. The panels have thick layers of foam attached to the surface, and many different models are available that vary in size and shape. Acoustic panels are lightweight, portable, and easy to store, however always read the manufacturer’s specifications carefully before hanging the panels.

If you’re planning to hang your acoustic panels, you’ll need a reasonable amount of space to store and hang the panels, likely in a separate room instead of your recording studio because of how large they are. Another great advantage of hanging the panels is that you can also custom tune them to improve the sound quality.

A lot of acoustic foam companies today will only manufacture custom panels for you, which means they will manufacture the panels on-demand based on your specs. When you order custom acoustic panels, there are several factors that you’ll need to consider, including factors like size, thickness, color, and the purpose of your panels.

In general, you’ll want to order custom acoustic panels if you’re looking for high performance, low reverberation, cost-effective, and a unique appearance.

Some final thoughts

Acoustic panels are just as important for the indoor environment as ventilation, lighting, and thermal dictates. They are made to absorb sound and provide insulation.

Share this post:

"Acoustic panels for PA are not expensive, they are cheap and efficient."

The truth is that acoustic panels aren't pricey. Nothing is, not even the best products in the market. And as a rule, the more units you buy, the lower the price per unit.

In this case, you only need a few of them for your home studio or soundproof your home theater. Yes, you are right. The price increases very fast if you are planning to purchase a large quantity of the acoustic panels. And the higher the amount, the better the savings.

So, why are acoustic panels not pricey? What factors affect their price?

In this post, I'll give you my two cents about acoustic panels, and I'll show you how you can buy them for cheap. (No worries! I won't tell you any online store names. I want to keep this as is.)