Acoustic panels, acoustic baffles, sound panels, and acoustic boards. The list of names continues. Call it whatever you prefer, you will find various interpretations, both wide and narrow along with different use cases.
What is an acoustic panel?
An acoustic panel is a sound-absorbing panel used to mitigate background noise and reduce the reverberation and echo in a space. When we talk about an acoustic panel, we refer to it in its broadest sense including vertical and horizontal panels. For both types, we can talk about different principles of good acoustics: absorption, diffusion, and attenuation. These are all linked to the acoustic performance of the panels.
When to use acoustic panels?
With a better understanding of what acoustic panels are, we can now move on to the next question: when to use acoustic panels? As mentioned earlier, vertical and horizontal panels can be characterized by different features related to their acoustic performance. However, we can specify it even further.
Mitigate sound transfers with vertical acoustic panels
In general, vertical panels help mitigate sound transfers in a space, preventing that sound travels from one end of the room to the other. Vertical panels may also aid in lowering background noise to an acceptable level. For instance, in many modern open-space offices, the noise levels range from 60-80 decibels, while the recommended level is 45-55 decibels.
Therefore, if the goal is to reduce background noise and the reverb time, possible vertical solutions include:
Improve direct absorption with horizontal acoustic panels
Horizontal panels, on the other hand, are primarily used for direct absorption. To stop sound waves from spreading, absorptive panels must be used to convert the sound energy into heat through friction. Made from sound-absorbing materials or soft acoustic foam, all our horizontal panels perform well in terms of absorption.
Where to apply acoustic panels?
Whether you want to limit sound transfers, reduce background noise and reverb time, it’s crucial to determine the location of the acoustic panels to achieve the best performance. Finding the ideal positioning depends on several factors, including
- room type,
- the activity of the space,
- existing furniture, and
- materials in the space (e.g. glass, plastic, wood).
Generally speaking, we can define a few guidelines for placing acoustic panels. The first step involves asking yourself: What is the size of the space? Are you dealing with a small or big space?
In smaller rooms, for instance, meeting rooms, designated focus areas, and private offices, sound waves will typically first bounce against the walls. Why? These are usually the hard surfaces closest to the sound source.
As a consequence, you should be looking into using wall-mounted acoustic panels.
These will help absorb the sound, reducing the number of waves that are sent back into the room.
In bigger rooms and large spaces, sound waves typically hit a hard surface like the ceiling rather than the walls.
In these cases, horizontal ceiling-suspended acoustic panels can help improve the sound of the space considerably.
For improved acoustic performance, install the panels in different suspension heights. The air pockets between the panels will capture sound waves, preventing them from traveling even further in spaces with high ceilings.
Some of these acoustic panels also come with an LED option for improved functionality. This way you can turn your acoustic panels into acoustic lighting and combine two features in one.
Acoustic panels can be playful and multifunctional. Embrace them and let them become part of your interior rather than hiding them.