Acoustic foam is a great product to use for improving the sound quality of a room. There are many benefits of it but in order to know the benefits you must first understand “What does Acoustic foam do?”
Do you remember your childhood days when you used to scream in mountains and wait for the echo of the sound to return back to you so that you can hear it again and again?
Well, it felt magical back then, didn’t it? Now echoes are generated everywhere and especially in a place that has flat and hard surfaces.
Who would’ve thought that this echo which you used to enjoy as a child would disturb you in your grown-up days and will make you read articles for getting rid of it!
We all have been there. Nowadays the sound quality of the surrounding in which we live plays an important role in maintaining our daily peace.
Suppose you own a recording studio or are planning to build one. What all things would be there in your mind when you think about improving the sound quality of the recording studio?
That’s correct. You will think of different solutions such as using acoustic foams, using acoustic panels, doing Rockwool insulation, etc.
But do you know that Acoustical treatment such as using acoustic foams does not soundproof the room? It is done to improve the quality of sound inside a room but by doing this somehow it indirectly reduces sound.
Due to this growing E-commerce sector, people nowadays are selling sound-absorbing items such as Acoustic foam under the name of soundproof items.
A lot of people are confused between soundproofing and sound absorbing and hence they somewhere fail to understand the working of sound-absorbing items such as Acoustic foam. If you are one of those people and are planning to use Acoustic foams, this article is the right choice for you.
What Does Acoustic Foam Do
Acoustic foams are open-celled foams made of polyurethane or melamine material and are used for the purpose of noise reduction in an area. All foams which are made of polyurethane will fade in color over time, but it will not affect the working of it.
The basic problems that people who have recording studios, podcast rooms, broadcasting rooms, etc face include having too much echo and too much reverberation.
This is often due to poor Acoustic treatment. Using Acoustic foam can help you to minimize these problems and thus provide a solution to them.
To understand “What does Acoustic foam do?” you should be aware that Acoustic foam works on the principle of Sound Absorption.
Many people confuse Sound absorption with Soundproofing. Whenever there’s a noise problem, you might have heard people mentioning the word SOUNDPROOFING and then using acoustical treatment instead.
Both these terms co-exist because they serve the same purpose i.e improving the sound quality of the room. However, in reality, both these principles are different. Hence it is important to know the difference between both.
So let’s have a look,
Difference Between Soundproofing And Sound Absorption
However, if you already know this you can skip this part. But I suggest you read it since it can clear the doubts that you might have.
- Soundproofing is the process of blocking the sound which is entering or exiting the room. Whereas sound absorption is a process of absorbing the sound waves which are bounced back in a room.
- Soundproofing a room will drastically reduce the overall level of sound in a room. Whereas Sound absorption reduces the echoes, reverberations, and standing waves in a room.
- The soundproofing process is measured by Sound Transmission Class (STC). Whereas Sound absorption is measured by Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC).
- Examples of soundproofing methods are using mass-loaded vinyl or soundproof drywall. Whereas examples of Sound-absorbing methods are using Acoustic foams, using Acoustic panels, etc.
As you see the above image, you can have a clue that the weight on the side with Soundproofing is more than Sound Absorbing. Hence we can figure out that soundproofing does the job more precisely than Sound Absorbing.
Now you know the difference between Soundproofing and sound absorbing.
So let’s move to our main topic,
What does Acoustic foam do?
The Acoustic foam do the following work:-
1. Acoustic Foam Absorb Sound
Acoustic foam works only and only on the principle of Sound absorption. I’ll give you an example here to understand the absorption of sound better.
What will happen if you throw water on a thick spongy cloth? Only some of the water will pass through the sponge cloth, a major part of water will be absorbed by the sponge cloth and a little amount of water will bounce back to you.
Absorption of sound via Acoustic foam works in the same way.
Hence we can say that Sound absorption basically implies the absorption of sound waves by using sound-absorbing materials just like the spongy cloth through which the water was absorbed.
“What does Acoustic foam do?” can be understood with the help of working of the Acoustic foam which is primarily based on sound absorption.
Here I have two images to explain the working of acoustic foam as well as the traveling of sound.
As you can see in the first image above, there are 5 variables mentioned in this image:-
- Source of sound- Source of sound means the origin of the sound. Source of sound here means the object or a person through which sound is generated. Example- Here it can be a speaker or an instrument or even a person who is talking.
- The amplitude of sound- The amplitude of a sound wave is nothing but the height of the sound wave. To put this in simple words, more the height of the wave more will be the loudness and impact of sound.
- Sound Waves- Sound vibrations usually travel in a wavy pattern and hence these lines are called sound waves.
- Wall- Wall here implies a flat and a hard surface from which sound waves are reflected.
- Reflected sound- When sound waves hit a flat surface, it is reflected from the surface in the other direction. The sound which is reflected is known as reflected sound.
Now let’s understand how sound travel using the above image.
When sound is generated from the source of the sound, it travels towards different reflection points. Here the wall is our reflection point.
When the sound waves hit this wall, a wall being a flat and hard surface reflects this sound towards some other direction and further this reflected sound travels from point to point which in turn generates echo.
Now let’s see how acoustic foam absorbs these reflected sound waves with the help of a second image.
In this second image, we have placed Acoustic foam in front of the wall to test its impact on the sound waves.
Now when these sound waves hit this acoustic foam which is placed in front of our wall which is our reflection point, as you can see in the image, the amplitude of the sound is reduced and sound is not reflected further to that much extent as it was in the first image.
The reason behind this process is that when sound waves hit the acoustic foam, the foam absorbs it and the kinetic energy of sound is further converted into small amounts of heat energy.
2. Acoustic Foam Reduces Echoes And Reverberations.
When sound travels in a room with a lot of flat and hard surfaces, it gets reflected in all directions. This sound travels back and forth between these flat and hard surfaces creating echoes and reverberations.
For example, when you throw a basketball through the wall, when the ball bounces, the sound of that bounce enhances after it hits different places of the room. Echoes and reverberations are generated in the same way.
We know that acoustic foam is an absorbent. When sound waves are generated, Acoustic foam absorbs it and the kinetic energy of sound is further converted into small amounts of heat energy which in turn reduces echoes and reverberations.
Hence, Acoustic foam reduces echoes and reverberations.
3. Acoustic Foam Reduces Noise Pollution.
Now when you read noise pollution here, you may be thinking about honking horns, noises that come from some construction or industrial work, etc.
But here that’s not the case. Acoustic foam can’t reduce these above-mentioned noises to a greater extent. Noise pollution here generally means exposure to the elevated sound levels inside a specific room.
Acoustic foam can reduce high and mid frequencies effectively. Low frequencies are tough to deal with if you’re using acoustic foam. But it can reduce the overall echoes and reverberations.
Sound is amplified if more energy is provided to it. Acoustic foam doesn’t allow the sound waves to amplify in a room. Hence, by using acoustic foam, sound waves are absorbed and no further energy is provided to the sound waves which in turn does not allow sound to amplify more.
Another method that you can use side by side with acoustic foam is sound diffusion. Sound diffusion is nothing but the even spreading of sound in a particular environment using sound diffusers.
If you want, you can use sound diffusers to evenly spread the sound inside a room.
Hence acoustic foam can reduce noise pollution to some extent.
4. Acoustic Foam Helps To Make The Sound Quality Of The Room Better
Imagine working in an environment that is full of noises or full of disturbing echoes. It won’t be comfortable, will it? The overall sound quality plays a vital role when you work in any specific environment.
Acoustic foam doesn’t allow sound to get reflected from the surface to the surface. Now the reflection of sound depends on the quality of foam that you are using. The acoustic foam also helps in reducing standing waves too.
We already know that acoustic foam absorbs sound and reduces echoes and reverberations. All these things collaboratively make the audio quality of your room better.
Therefore, Acoustic foam can help you in achieving optimum sound quality of a room.
5. Acoustic Foam Makes Your Room Look Aesthetically Better
Nowadays, acoustic foams come in different colors and different shapes as well which are specifically designed to make your room look aesthetically better.
Imagine a room having excellent acoustics but overall looks bad. What will be the use of acoustic treatment, right?
There are generally two expectations of a person who is willing to use acoustic treatment in their respective surroundings. They are:-
- To get rid of unnecessary sounds and
- To make your room look good
Now acoustic foam provides solutions to both of these problems. It will reduce unnecessary echoes and reverberations and also can make your room look better.
But the main point here is that you’ll have to place these foam panels in such a way that these panels absorb maximum sound and also make the look of your room better.
A room can be covered fully with acoustic foam. Or you can partially cover the room. This should be done according to one’s own requirements.
Check out this image
This is a room which is fully covered with acoustic foam. This looks good as well.
However, if you don’t want to fully cover the room, here’s another image for your reference:-
As you can see in the above image blue, black and gray foams are used in a combination to make the room look good. Also, different shapes and types of acoustic foams are used. On one wall, pyramid foams are used and on other walls, wedge foam is used.
Hence if you place acoustic foam properly, you can achieve maximum absorption of sound without ruining the look of your room.
If you’re concerned about “WHERE TO PLACE ACOUSTIC FOAM” you can read our article on it.