Why Is Acoustic Foam So Expensive?


There are many great ways to help with sound absorption in your home recording studio, and acoustic foam is a great option. Unfortunately, sound-absorbing materials, particularly acoustic foam, tend to be quite costly despite seemingly just being basic foam pieces. So why is it so expensive?

Acoustic foam is expensive because the open cell structure takes longer to make and requires more person-hours to perfect. Not only that, but to achieve the best results, you need to cover your space completely. It’s also only used for sound absorption, narrowing the market in terms of demand. 

This article will cover the costs of using acoustic foam and why it’s considered the best option for sound absorption.

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Why Does Acoustic Foam Cost So Much?

Also known as open-cell foam, acoustic foam is much different from your typical closed-cell foams used for insulation, packing material, and seat cushions. The open-cell structure makes it ideal for sound absorption, as they allow sound to enter, vibrate against their walls, and be converted into heat.

Acoustic foam costs so much because the open-cell design requires more attention to detail to produce a high-quality product that absorbs sound properly. Unlike other types of foam that are cheap to produce and have many different everyday uses, acoustic foam has one very specific, niche use.

Another important factor regarding the cost of acoustic foam is that you’ll need lots of it to adequately cut down on the noise level in and out of your room. 

Usually, acoustic foam is used for recording studios, film studios, and other situations where eliminating background noise is essential. Though it effectively reduces unwanted noises, you’ll have to cover the space completely, from top to bottom. 

As a result, acoustic foam ends up being quite costly for soundproofing, though it’s best to look at the purchase as an investment. By purchasing enough open-celled foam to cover your entire recording studio, you’ll end up with better-quality results in all of your recording endeavors.

The Cost of Acoustic Foam

Let’s take a quick look at some options to compare the price points of acoustic foam at different thicknesses. 

Each of these is from the same seller, SoundAssured Store, and come in a bulk purchase with enough panels to cover 48 square feet (4.46 square meters):

1-inch panels (2.54-cm)Under $115overall noise reduction coefficient (NRC) of 0.4
2-inch panels (5.08-cm)Under $150overall noise reduction coefficient (NRC) of 0.65
3- inch panels  (7.62-cm) Under $200overall noise reduction coefficient (NRC) of 0.75
4-inch panels  (10.16-cm) Under $230overall noise reduction coefficient (NRC) of 0.8
Bulk Acoustic Foam For Studio Soundproofing And Sound Dampening, 48 sq ft packs available in 1 inch 2 inch 3 inch and 4 inch Wedge Style Design (2 inch)
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Bulk Acoustic Foam For Studio Soundproofing And Sound Dampening, 48 sq ft packs available in 1 inch 2 inch 3 inch and 4 inch Wedge Style Design (2 inch)
  • EFFECTIVE DESIGN THAT IS EASY TO INSTALL. Wedge style angled design ensures optimum sound absorbency. The acoustical barrier can be applied for permanent or temporary use. We suggest our Acoustic Foam Adhesive Square 24 Pack (available separately on Amazon) You can also use 3M General Purpose 45 adhesive spray, push pins, impaling clips, strong double sided tape, or 3M Command Strips, (not included).
  • ECONOMICAL SOLUTION. Create a great listening or recording environment with the best value noise reduction products. SoundAssured foam squares are a low cost solution to get better recordings at home or in the studio. Acoustic panels are used for professional studios, rehearsal rooms, concert halls, podcasting, churches, home theaters, vocal booths, home studios, offices, man caves, dog kennels, utility closets, and more...
  • MADE IN USA & CLASS-A FIRE RETARDANT. Our acoustic foam has Class A (Self Extinguishing) rating for ASTM E 84.

As you can see, not only are the 4-inch panels twice the cost of the 1-inch panels, they’re also twice as effective. 

To put that into context, drywall has an average NCR of 0.15, while carpet is around 0.4. 

The level of NRC you need will depend on how much sound absorption you need. For example, if you live in an apartment building that’s mostly tile and no carpet, you’ll probably need thicker panels to account for the echo.

Similarly, if you are working from home as a voice artist, chances are you will need your studio to have as much soundproofing as possible. So again, though the 1-inch panels are cheaper, thicker panels would be the better investment. 

Is Acoustic Foam Worth Using?

Suppose you’re a beginner musician, podcaster, or content creator who records content for your own enjoyment or a tiny audience. In that case, it might be best to opt for a less expensive soundproofing material that will get the job done enough to meet your standards. 

Some people aren’t interested in the most professional-quality audio possible, and that’s okay.

There are various other, less expensive soundproofing materials on the market you can use instead of acoustic foam, such as acoustic curtains, certain types of soundproofing insulations like mineral wool and fiberglass, and even sound-dampening paints and sprays.

However, if you’re willing to make a substantial investment in your recording studio that will last for many years to come, open-celled acoustic foam is among your best options. It looks sleek, clean, and modern, is relatively easy to install, and is very lightweight considering its superb soundproofing ability.

Additionally, the open-celled foam doesn’t degrade quickly. It will eventually need to be replaced, but it lasts much longer and is more durable than most other types of soundproofing material, making the investment well worth the cost.

So, in short, yes, acoustic foam is well worth the price, but you should only consider it if you’re serious about your home recording studio and plan on using it often. If you’re only using it from time to time for personal projects, something less costly might be a better choice.

For more information, check out whether acoustic foam is worth buying.

Types of Acoustic Foam

Acoustic foam comes in many different sizes and shapes, which will help with installation and finding the right fit. The varying thicknesses can absorb different sound frequencies, and it usually has a wedge or pyramid shape. 

While thinner, more inexpensive open-celled foam will generally only absorb high-frequency sound waves, thicker foams will absorb high, mid, and low-frequency sound waves.

Most acoustic foams are measured in NRC, which stands for the noise reduction coefficient. A foam’s NRC rating is a measure of how much sound it can absorb entirely. 

For example, a 4-inch (10.16-cm) acoustic foam panel will absorb more sound than a 1-inch (2.54-cm) foam panel. The more variety of sound frequencies you want to absorb, the thicker your acoustic foam should be. 

The most commonly used acoustic foams are typically around two inches (5.08 cm) wide. Thus, they provide a middle ground that absorbs most sound waves effectively while being more affordable than the 3 and 4-inch (7.62 and 10.16-cm) varieties. 

As a result, 2-inch (5.08-cm) acoustic foam has become the industry standard.

Linearity

Another important factor in soundproofing with acoustic foam is known as linearity. Linearity is essentially a general measurement of how evenly and consistently the cells in the foam are structured. 

To get the smoothest, most consistent sound absorption, your acoustic foam of choice should have a high degree of linearity. Most acoustic foams are highly linear with very evenly structured cells, adding to their overall effectiveness when soundproofing a studio.

Why You Should Use Acoustic Foam

Acoustic foam works by minimizing the amplitude of sound waves emitted in a room, converting them into heat before allowing them to dissipate silently. This reduces the echo and reverberation of any unwanted sounds. 

The sound waves are easily able to enter the open cells, but they are unable to escape.

For Noise Reduction

Basically, when recording music or any other type of audio, invisible sound waves are constantly being released. This could be from the recording itself or just from the people in the room. Every breath or nudge of a table is amplified in studios, and echoes can be deadly to recordings. 

However, it is essential to note that acoustic foam is not for soundproofing but rather sound absorption. The former being a way to eliminate any noises from coming into or escaping a room. In contrast, acoustic foam is used for sound absorption, which will cut down on noise but won’t cut it out entirely.

It Is the Easiest and Most Aesthetically Pleasing Option

Though there are other options, such as sound absorption sheets or mass-loaded vinyl, foam is the easiest and most effective.

Hanging sound absorption sheets can be tricky, and they don’t look especially tidy. The same can be said for mass-loaded vinyl, although it is possible to paint over with latex-free paint. That said, mass-loaded vinyl is the most expensive of the three options, and you’ll need more than one roll depending on the size of your space. 

On the other hand, acoustic foam panels fit together perfectly and come in various thicknesses, making them perfect for reducing sounds in anything from an audiobook nook to a garage band rehearsal space. 

It Provides Results

Open-celled acoustic foam is also for its excellent, professional-grade results. It eliminates background noise, echo, and sound reverberation like no other material, making it a very common choice for high-paid, experienced musicians, podcasters, content creators, and anyone else wanting their audio to sound as crisp and clear as possible.

Conclusion

Acoustic foam is relatively expensive in terms of soundproofing materials. This is due to its niche usage, high cost of production, and the fact that you need large amounts of it to soundproof an entire room effectively.

However, investing in quality acoustic foam is one of the best ways to reduce background noises in your recording studio. It produces the best-sounding audio with as little background noise and echo as possible, is easy to install, and looks as great as it sounds.

Sources

Last update on 2021-07-29 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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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