How Many Acoustic Panels do I Need?

Most of our customers want to solve the acoustical problems in their rooms, without spending more on acoustics panels than they need to. An accurate analysis of the room’s acoustics provides a prescription for how many square feet of acoustic panels the room needs, without relying on guesswork or trial-and-error.

The key factors that influence the amount of acoustic treatment required are 1) the intended uses of the room, 2) the size of the room including the ceiling height, 3) the surface materials in the room (types of flooring, wall, and ceiling materials present).

To make this easy, ATS Acoustics provides a Free Online Room Acoustics Analysis. Just answer a few questions about your space and we will do all of the calculations for you! Since the acoustical properties of spaces can be realistically modelled using mathematical formulae, it’s not necessary to have an acoustician visit your space to get a good idea how much acoustical treatment you need.

Here are some factors that we take into consideration and why you should too:

  • Size and Shape of the Room
    • It comes as no surprise that larger rooms produce more noticeable echo and reverb. This is because the sound bounces off a surface and produces reflections which are either absorbed or bounced onto other surfaces. In larger rooms sounds must travel farther between each bounce, and that adds up to a longer time delay before the sound waves have impacted enough surfaces to be absorbed.
    • The shape of the room also affects how long sound takes to die away, and what frequencies of sound will be diminished or emphasized. High ceilings increase reverb time substantially.  Large parallel reflective surfaces (such as drywall or hard floors) will give a room some “resonance” at frequencies that travel efficiently between them. Add absorption to the room helps with both effects.

  • Surface Materials in the Room
    • Does your room have carpet, or hardwood? Are the walls concrete or drywall? Questions like these are important when determining the right number of acoustic panels to make a room sound the way you want. Hard surfaces such as hardwood floors tend to reflect more sound, resulting in longer reverberation times. Soft/porous textures like carpet absorb more sound and shorten the reverb time.
    • You can also alter the sound of a room by changing the objects that are in the room. For example, a fully furnished room with plush couches and pillows will absorb the sound into their materials and will help reduce echo effects, resulting in fewer acoustic panels needed.
    • People are a “soft” surface, and the number of people in the room significantly affects the acoustics of it. The room will get “quieter” and less reverberant as it fills up with people (unless the people are all talking I suppose). Our room analysis bases the acoustics on a room with no people in it, since audiences sizes may be quite small for some events a given room is used for.

  • Purpose of the Room
    • The purpose of the room influences how much reverb is desirable / acceptable in that room. For example a modest amount of reverb is acceptable in a gymnasium occasionally used for assemblies, while very low reverb is desired in a studio used for recording spoken word. Our room analysis tool provides a target reverb range based on the room purpose you select.
    • The purpose of a room also influences what frequencies you need to absorb. Thinner acoustic panels work best for mid and high frequencies and thicker acoustic panels absorb low as well as high frequencies. Depending on the source of sound in the room, this can affect your decision. In general, if the goal is control of nuisance noise, absorbing low frequencies is not necessary. If the goal is recording or listening to music accurately, control of low, mid, and high frequencies is desirable. 

  • Type of Acoustic Panel
    • Acoustic panels come in many different sizes, fabrics, and shapes that all produce different results for your space. Each type of acoustic panel is tested and given a unique Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC). NRC ratings range from 0 to 1 where 0 absorbs no sound and 1 absorbs nearly all sound that strikes it. Different types of fabric used on the acoustic panel can result in different NRC ratings, and different core materials have some effect as well. You can find the NRC rating for any type of ATS Acoustic Panel under the item description. 

  • Location of Acoustic Panel Installation
    • In general, the placement of the panels in the room is not critical. However, we do have a few non-critical guidelines that may help generate the best effect. First, we recommend placing panels near a corner to help get more absorption per square foot. By doing this, you’ll need slightly fewer panels in your room. Second, if there is a primary source of sound in the room, such as speakers in a music room, you will want to place the panels at the first reflection points in the room. These are places where the sound will first bounce after it comes from the source. Adding panels at the first reflection points will help reduce any late-arriving sounds. 

If you have any additional questions about the amount of acoustic panels needed for your space, our representatives will be more than happy to guide you through the process. You can call us at 866-787-7881 Monday through Friday from 8AM to 5PM CST.