How Effective Is Acoustic Foam?

You know you need acoustic treatment for your room or studio if you are recording your latest compositions or your jam session with friends and you pick up the sound of cars passing by, the raised voices of arguing neighbors, or your dog barking outside. Or if something does not sound right with your recorded audio, like too much echo. So, is acoustic foam effective?

Acoustic foam is effective in that it helps enhance the sound in your recording studio by reducing echoes. It can also reduce unwanted background noises your microphone might pick up. However, it does not completely soundproof your studio and block outside noise, so manage your expectations.

If you are thinking of ways to cut back on background noise in your recording studio, then you should first know what acoustic foam is and what it does. You should also understand how sound works to know what to expect when you install acoustic foam panels on your walls. 

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What Does Acoustic Foam Do? 

If you have no idea what acoustic foam looks like, it is like an egg tray that is made of foam instead of a carton. These foam panels may also come in a rigid form. They are attached to wall surfaces beside each other. You might have seen these panels if you have visited a recording studio before, but other places use them, too.

Restaurants, for example, install these to help improve the sound and lower the noise within their premises.

Acoustic foamOpens in a new tab. dampens sound waves by the reduction of the waves’ amplitude. To do this, the open-celled foam helps increase air resistance. Additionally, it is meant to reduce or control noiseOpens in a new tab., which then dissipates as heat. It can also reduce echoes and deaden the sound.

It helps that acoustic foam panels also look good, so some people use them as a decorative element in their studios or rooms.

Several materials can be made into acoustic foam, and it’s usually available in a variety of thicknesses and colors. It’s usually made with polyurethane or melamine foamOpens in a new tab..

Acoustic foam works when you take time to determine the perfect location for it. You place the acoustic foam on surfaces around your room that reflects sound back to absorb the sound and reduce the echo.

For instance, there are special types of acoustic foam that work to reduce the noise coming from the lower frequencies. Called bass trapsOpens in a new tab., these are best placed in the corners where low frequencies gather.

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How Good Is Acoustic Foam at Absorbing Sound?

Acoustic foamOpens in a new tab. is designed for and is effective at absorbing sound, or more accurately, in enhancing or modifying the sound properties in a particular room. It acts as a sound absorber that hinders sound from bouncing all around your room or space.

In a gymnasium without sound absorbers such as acoustic foam, you will have a hard time hearing somebody speaking into the public address system.

The sound will just bounce all over the room for a few seconds because hard surfaces are very efficient at reflecting sound. With acoustic foam installed in the same gymnasium, you will not be getting as much garbling because the sound is being absorbed rather than getting thrown back into the air.

The reverberation time is reduced. Reverberation time is the length of time that a particular sound bounces around the room. In the case of the gymnasium example above, the reverberation time is merely a few seconds, but it’s enough for you not to hear anything but garbled speech. Or words that are difficult to make out.

If you want something that can absorb sound, you can check out these products on Amazon.com:

Sale
Fstop Labs Acoustic Foam Panels 2' X 12' X 12' Pyramid Sound Absorbing Panel, Acoustic Panels, Soundproofing Studio Sound Panels Absorption Treatment Wall Tiles (12 Pack, Black)
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4,034 Reviews
Fstop Labs Acoustic Foam Panels 2" X 12" X 12" Pyramid Sound Absorbing Panel, Acoustic Panels, Soundproofing Studio Sound Panels Absorption Treatment Wall Tiles (12 Pack, Black)
  • [REDUCE NOISE]: Our 3D acoustically designed 2 inch soundproof wall panels/sound proofing padding...
  • [REDUCE REVERB]: At 50/lbs per cubic yard, these sound dampening panels effectively absorb unwanted...
  • [EXPANDS QUICKLY]: Our sound proof foam panels come compressed in a vacuum package and quickly...

Last update on 2023-02-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Dailycooper 12 Pack Self-adhesive Sound Proof Foam Panels, 2' X 12' X 12' Acoustic Foam with High Density, Pyramid DIY Shape Soundproof Wall Panels to Absorb Noise and Eliminate Echoes
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263 Reviews
Dailycooper 12 Pack Self-adhesive Sound Proof Foam Panels, 2" X 12" X 12" Acoustic Foam with High Density, Pyramid DIY Shape Soundproof Wall Panels to Absorb Noise and Eliminate Echoes
  • 【What's Different】The biggest difference with other acoustic foam on the market is that our...
  • 【Thicker is Better】Achieve the optimum sound absorption and reflection with our 2-inch thick...
  • 【Enhances Sound Quality】2 inch pyramid 3D acoustic design provides moderate sound control on...

Last update on 2023-02-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Aside from these acoustic foam products that look like egg trays, you can also check out sound absorbers on Amazon.com such as:

  • ATS Acoustic PanelOpens in a new tab., which measures 24 by 48 by 2.0 inches (61 by 121.9 by 5.1 cm) and reduces echo and reverb. This product is covered with textured fabric.
ATS Acoustics Panel 24x48x2 Inches, Beveled Edge, in Natural Opens in a new tab.
Opens in a new tab.
588 Reviews
ATS Acoustics Panel 24x48x2 Inches, Beveled Edge, in Natural Opens in a new tab.
  • Provides clearer, more enjoyable sound by effectively controlling unwanted reverb and echo.
  • Superior sound absorption: NRC 1.0 out of 1.
  • Attractive, textured fabric complements studios, auditoriums, and living spaces.

Last update on 2023-02-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Primacoustic 1.5 inch Nimbus 2 x 4 foot Acoustic Ceiling Cloud Panel - Black (2-pack) Opens in a new tab.
Opens in a new tab.
3 Reviews
Primacoustic 1.5 inch Nimbus 2 x 4 foot Acoustic Ceiling Cloud Panel - Black (2-pack) Opens in a new tab.
  • 48" x 24" x 1.5" Broadway Absber with Glass Wool Ce
  • Hardware/Suppts (pair) - Black
  • Fabric Covering

Last update on 2023-02-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Is Acoustic Foam Effective at Soundproofing?

Often, people buy acoustic foam thinking that it would solve sleepless nights when the neighbor is having a party or watching an explosive action movie at three in the morning.

Acoustic foam, however, is not effective at soundproofing despite what some people believe. If you are going to use acoustic foamOpens in a new tab. by itself, you will not be able to block sound from the opposite side of the wall. Or you will not be able to keep your conversations private.

A good analogy would be that you put water in a container that’s made of a sponge. The water will leak out. The same thing happens when you try to keep sound in or out with acoustic foam. Like water, the sound will go through a porous material like acoustic foam.

Instead, you will need to use dense materials, like the ones we recommend below.

How Do You Soundproof Your Recording Studio?

There are two ways by which that sounOpens in a new tab.d travels. The first is through the air and the other is by vibration. The sound that travels through the air is easily minimized by acoustic foam.

But if it’s something like live music or machines vibrating against the wall, it’s going to take more than just a high-density acoustic foam. For the most part, you will need to make your wall thicker or denser.

You should know that while the acoustic foam is installed on top of your wall, soundproofing is usually found behind the wall. The good news is that you can go DIY with soundproofing your room so you don’t have to spend too much having a contractor or other professionals do it for you.

To soundproof your recording studio, you can install sheetrock that measures 0.625 inches (1.6 centimeters). Or you can build a bookshelf that will cover the wall from ceiling to floor and end to end.

The bookshelf and the books will help block the sound coming from the opposite room that goes through the wall. You can also use a mass-loaded vinyl barrier that is made of a high-density material that can reduce the transmission of sound. 

You can check out this SoundproofingMLV Mass Loaded Vinyl Sound BarrierOpens in a new tab. (available on Amazon.com), which measures 4.5 by 15 inches (11.4 by 38.1 centimeters) and covers 67 square feet (6.2 square meters).

Noise Grabber Mass Loaded Vinyl - 2 LB, 4.5' x 15', 67.5 Square Foot Roll of MLV - Dozens of Options, Soundproof Barrier, Reduces Noise, Installs Anywhere, Made in the USA
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131 Reviews
Noise Grabber Mass Loaded Vinyl - 2 LB, 4.5' x 15', 67.5 Square Foot Roll of MLV - Dozens of Options, Soundproof Barrier, Reduces Noise, Installs Anywhere, Made in the USA
  • Highest Quality Mass Loaded Vinyl sound barrier, highest sound ratings by weight, heavy weight, odor...
  • Best Product with a proven 32 STC Rating, Great for Walls, Floors, Ceiling, Doors, Home Theaters,...
  • Technical Specs: 1/4” thick, two pounds per square foot, 4.5 feet wide by 15 feet long, weighs 135...

Last update on 2023-02-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

Or you can try Green Glue Company 10730Opens in a new tab. Opens in a new tab.Noiseproofing CompoundOpens in a new tab. on Amazon.com. Green Glue is a compound that dampens vibration. You will need to apply this glue between layers of sheetrock to help deaden the sound and reduce vibration.

Green Glue Company 10730 Noiseproofing Compound, 12 Pack, 336 Ounce Opens in a new tab.
Opens in a new tab.
320 Reviews
Green Glue Company 10730 Noiseproofing Compound, 12 Pack, 336 Ounce Opens in a new tab.
  • Sold in cases of 12 (29oz.) tubes per case.
  • Each case comes with installation instructions (in English and Spanish) and data sheets.
  • Better results for low frequencies

Last update on 2023-02-02 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

It is best if you can install soundproofing materials that keep the noise within the room inside, while also keeping out the noise coming from outside. 

But as this Soundproof Guide video shows, it helps to augment soundproofing materials with acoustic foam and other materials that can help dampen or enhance the sound:

Check out my other article on how to mount acoustic foam to popcorn ceilings.Opens in a new tab.

Final Thoughts

A lot of people buy acoustic foam to help get rid of echoes and noise in their recording studios at home. But there are some who make the mistake of thinking that acoustic foam can also block out sound. On its own, acoustic foam cannot effectively soundproof your room because it’s not dense enough and it’s made with porous materials.

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Vinnie

I'm Vinnie, and I'm here to support you to create your own studio at home, whether it’s for photography, recording audio, podcasts, or videos!

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