Understanding Acoustic Panel Sound and Fire Ratings

Sound Absorption Coefficients

Sound Absorption Coefficients are a measure of how much sound is absorbed by a material or object. The ratings are expressed as a value between 0.00 and 1.00. 0 means no sound is absorbed, 1 means all sound is absorbed. A higher rating means more sound absorption per square foot of panel you buy.

Sound Absorption Coefficients are measured at a specific frequency. For example, ATS Acoustics 4" acoustic panels have a sound absorption coefficient of 0.68 at 100 Hz but 1.10 at 250 Hz, which means the panels absorb about 68% of the sound that strikes them near 100 Hz (a bass note about 1.5 octaves below middle C), and essentially 100% of the sound at 250 Hz (around middle C).

Multiple sound absorption coefficients at a range of frequencies help present an overall picture of the sound absorption of an object.

NRC Ratings

NRC stands for Noise Reduction Coefficient. It's a combined measure of how much sound is absorbed by a material or object over all frequencies the human ear can hear. The ratings are expressed as a value between 0 (no sound absorbed) and 1 (all sound absorbed).

The acoustic test results we list for our acoustic panels are provided by Riverbank Acoustic Laboratory, a nationally recognized leader in acoustic testing.

ASTM E84 Surface Burning Characteristics

This is a fire rating test that applies to building materials such as wall- or ceiling-mounted acoustic panels. The test measures how quickly flame spreads along the surface of the material, how much smoke is generated, and how much heat is generated. This information helps determine how a material might affect the safety of a building in the event of an actual fire.

Fire rated acoustic panels are an option from ATS Acoustics for an additional charge of $6.00 per panel. The fabric on our fire rated panels is treated with a non-toxic fire retardant. This fire retardant does not affect the appearance or acoustical performance of the panels. We also sell unrated panels for our customers who do not need a fire rated product.

The test results on ATS Fire Rated Acoustic Panels are provided by Intertek Testing Services, NA. ATS Fire Rated Acoustic panels have the following ratings: Flame Spread: 25 (Class A), Smoke Developed: 30. Class A is the best rating a material can receive and indicates very high resistance to spreading flame.

With a flamespread 25 or less and smoke developed under 50, ATS Fire Rated Acoustic Panels also qualify for FHC (Fire Hazard Classification) 25/50. Our understanding of model building codes indicates items of this rating will generally be granted immediate approval. As always, consult your local authorities and/or an experienced professional regarding code and safety requirements for your project.

Click here for the full ASTM E84 test report in PDF format.


Customer Comments

We had the opening of the S.M.A.R.T. Cafe at the DuPage Children’s Museum yesterday. I just wanted to send a picture of the printed acoustic tiles so that you could see them in place.
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