6 Materials That Reduce Echoes in a Room

Echoes flow through a room like waves in the sea. Sound vibrations, moving in the air, bounce off anything that offers a deflection, and you are left with an annoying echo every time you speak. Echoes are lots of fun when you’re shouting off a mountain, but they’re not as fun when you’re just trying to have a conversation in your living room. 

Materials that reduce echoes in a room include acoustic foam, curtains, and rugs. Fiberglass, upholstered furniture, and natural plant materials can also be effective in reducing echoes in a room. 

This article will give an overview of each of these materials. I’ll discuss what they are, the best ways to use them, and their overall effectiveness in limiting echoes. Be sure to check The Rundown sections of each for a brief overview of price, effectiveness, and ease of installation. 

6-Materials-That-Reduce-Echoes-in-a-Room

1. Acoustic Foam

Acoustic foam is the only official soundproof material on this list. It’s also one of the best ways to reduce echoes because it is specially designed to reduce echoes. 

You find this material most often in recording studios, but sometimes it’s also placed in libraries to produce a quieter environment. Acoustic foam comes in countless patterns, colors, and thickness levels. Each pattern causes the sound waves to halt differently, allowing more or less sound vibrations to reach you.

When purchasing acoustic foam, pay attention to the thickness of the foam. Foams less than two inches (5 cm) thick won’t do too much to reduce echoes. While you will pay more for thicker pieces, they will also do the job much more effectively. 

Another benefit to acoustic foam is that it’s effortless to install compared to some other soundproofing materials. Most acoustic foam has a backing that you peel off and stick right on the wall or ceiling. Some acoustic foam requires different installation methods, such as using a spray adhesive, but this is uncommon. 

How Effective Is Acoustic Foam in Limiting Echoes?

Acoustic foam is very effective in limiting the amount of echo you experience. What makes these panels so effective is that they absorb the sound waves as they’re coming through, making it impossible for the waves to continue bouncing around the room.

The longer a sound wave is, the more sound it produces. One of the main benefits to acoustic foam is its properties of absorption. While the foam does release the sound waves back into the air after absorbing them, the waves are shortened significantly. This leaves you with less sound overall.                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                 

The Rundown

  • Price: $$$$
  • Ease of Installation: 8 out of 10
  • Effectiveness Level: 9 out of 10

2. Curtains

While curtains or drapes may not be the first thing that comes to mind when you want to reduce echoes, they actually help a lot. Curtains create a blockade, especially thicker ones, so the sound can’t bounce off the windows, which are one of the worst echo producers out there. 

Of course, you’ll achieve a better effect with curtains if you purchase soundproof ones, but they’re significantly more expensive. However, whatever you place in front of your window will dampen the echo. You could even just hang a blanket on the window and get some of the echo reduced. 

If you choose to use blankets instead of curtains, one of the best things you can use are moving blankets. While manufacturers are making soundproof blankets, the material used between these and moving blankets is almost identical, and moving blankets are somewhat cheaper. 

The downside is the blankets can be difficult to hang over windows. On the other hand, curtains are relatively easy to install, and you’ll just need a few tools handy:

  • A screwdriver 
  • A step ladder 
  • A curtain rod 

How Effective Are Curtains in Limiting Echoes?

In comparison to acoustic foam, curtains offer practically no echo reduction. However, if you’re only experiencing a mild echo, then curtains can be a cheap and easy fix. 

Curtains are best used in combination with other echo-reducing materials. One reason for this is that curtains only cover the windows. While windows are huge echo producers, drywall is almost as bad. 

Thicker curtains are a lot more effective than thinner ones. Using blackout curtains, for example, would give you a much better effect than sheer ones because thicker material means more sound blockage. 

As a side note, curtains also do a great job at helping reduce some of the noise you experience from outside the room as well. 

The Rundown

  • Price: $$
  • Ease of Installation: 7 out of 10
  • Effectiveness Level: 3 out of 10

3. Rugs

Rugs are your best friend if you have bad echoes and your room has hardwood or concrete flooring. Thicker and fluffier rugs are better in this situation, as heavy materials absorb the sound more effectively. Another benefit is that they make your room feel homier. 

You can produce the same effect by installing carpet, but people typically choose hard floors because they’re so much easier to clean. If you don’t want to get rid of your hard floors, but you do want to reduce sound, rugs are definitely the way to go. 

Thankfully, area rugs serve a dual purpose. They are excellent sound absorbers, and they can also add style and elegance to your home. However, for maximum effectiveness, use fur and shag rugs. 

How Effective Are Rugs at Limiting Echoes?

Rugs are moderately effective at limiting echoes. You may need to use multiple rugs to really dampen the sound, but this is the case with any sound-dampening material. The more you use, the more of an effect you’ll experience.

Place them spaced only a few feet apart to encourage them to absorb the most amount of sound. One large, thick rug should absorb most of the echo in a smaller space.

For even more echo-reducing properties, consider purchasing a rug with acoustic properties. 

The Rundown

  • Price: $$$ (Note: Price varies significantly with rugs, but expect to pay a moderate price. Higher quality means higher price)
  • Ease of Installation: 10 out of 10
  • Effectiveness Level: 6 out of 10

4. Fiberglass

Fiberglass is most commonly used in insulating a house. It works very well to help control temperature but also operates as a sound absorber

Fiberglass is made of tiny particles of glass, and it’s created by heating sand and spinning it over time to turn it into smaller glass particles. Fiberglass comes in multiple forms, but the most common way you’ll see it is in large rolls. 

Fiberglass is also relatively cheap, with a roll only costing between $25 and $30. 

The downside to fiberglass is that it has to be installed inside the drywall. If you simply place fiberglass randomly in your room, it can affect your breathing. Of course, fiberglass also shreds as you’re installing it and can make a mess very quickly.

However, fiberglass is an excellent sound absorber.

How Effective Is Fiberglass at Limiting Echoes?

Fiberglass is definitely higher up on my list of suggestions for limiting echoes. While it can be challenging to install, if you’re in the process of remodeling, this is the way to go. 

Fiberglass works very similarly to acoustic foam in absorbing and trapping sound waves as they pass through the wall. Most homes are built with at least some fiberglass for insulation purposes, but usually not enough. If your home isn’t well insulated against temperature fluctuations, then it’s likely not well insulated against sound either. 

A benefit to using fiberglass as a sound insulator is that it will also help keep your home warm during the winter, and cool during the summer months. 

The Rundown

  • Price: $$
  • Ease of Installation: 2 out of 10
  • Effectiveness Level: 7 out of 10

5. Upholstered Furniture

Using more soft or upholstered furniture helps tremendously in reducing echoes in a house. Usually, when a room is echoing strongly, it’s because there’s a lot of open space. As the sound waves travel through the air, they bounce off hard surfaces like walls and windows, and come right back to you.

It’s important to note that I am talking about soft furniture specifically. If you fill up your space with dressers, tables, and wooden chairs, you may experience a little bit less echo, but you’ll get a much stronger effect with upholstered furniture. 

This is because the filling in soft furniture is made of sound-absorbing materials. As the sound waves travel through the air, they encounter the upholstered furniture and get absorbed into the material rather than bouncing off. 

The downside to using furniture is that it can be challenging to incorporate more if you have a small space. In a small space, more furniture can cause the area to look cluttered and untidy. Another downside is that furniture tends to be more expensive than some other materials you can use. However, you can sometimes find excellent options second-hand.

How Effective Is Soft Furniture at Limiting Echoes?

Soft furniture is moderately effective at reducing echoes. If you can place it strategically throughout the space, you can expect the echo to be at least sixty percent less than it was before adding the furniture. 

The Rundown

  • Price: $$$$ (Note: Keep in mind that you can find cheaper furniture second-hand)
  • Ease of Installation: 7 out of 10
  • Effectiveness Level: 7 out of 10

6. Natural Plant Materials

House plants do more than just make your house look greener and produce oxygen. They also work surprisingly well as sound reducers. 

Plants help to reduce echo by absorbing sound as it travels through. The leaves, branches, soil, and so on all operate as sound reducers. Because echoes are produced through sound waves bouncing off hard surfaces, plants are excellent at stopping sound waves. 

Plant leaves can also interrupt the sound waves at multiple points. 

Here are a few tips for using plants for echo reduction:

  • Place higher quality plants near the corner of the room rather than in the center. Sound waves are directed towards the corner plants, so you want to have better foliage in these areas. 
  • Place the plants in several small groups instead of one large group. This is somewhat self-explanatory, but a larger surface area catches more sound. If all your plants are concentrated in one area, the sound will only be caught in that area.
  • Use larger plant containers whenever possible. Larger containers contain more soil, which can trap traveling sound vibrations. You can also keep larger plants in these pots, further increasing the effect. 

The Best Plants for Echo Reduction

While all plants are good at reducing sound in a room, some work better than others. Let’s look at some of the best ones to use. 

  • Weeping Fig: The weeping fig is at the top of my list. This plant expands as it grows, covering a larger surface area over time, and providing you with more echo reduction over time. The weeping fig’s large, thick leaves make for excellent sound absorbers. 
  • Peace Lily: The peace lily is another excellent plant to use for sound absorption. Its leaves are the secret to its sound reduction properties, as they are thick and glossy, creating the perfect surface for sound to bounce off to other plants in the area. 
  • Rubber Plant: Rubber plants are another great resource for reducing echo in your space. Rubber plants can grow quite large, upwards of three feet tall in a pot. They’re also easy to take care of, requiring very little and doing well in direct sunlight.

These are the ones at the top of my list, but you may also want to look into certain species of pine, cactus, and money trees, all of which do a great job as well.

How Effective Are Plant Materials at Limiting Echoes?

Plant materials are overall very effective at limiting echoes. As expected, the more plants you can use, the less echo you’ll experience. 

Be sure to group the plants into several small groups for maximum effect.

The Rundown

  • Price: $$
  • Ease of Installation: 9 out of 10
  • Effectiveness Level: 7 out of 10

References

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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