What are acoustic panels and why do we use them?

Acoustic panels meeting room
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Acoustic panels are large, soft-furnished panels that can be strategically placed within rooms to improve sound quality by absorbing reflected sound or echoes.

They can be made from a vast array of materials such as a combination of foam and fabric, PET Eco Felt, Wood Wool, or biophilic elements like cork or moss. The acoustic panels can be made into a range of shapes and sizes and customised to complement the design of your space.

The main purpose of acoustic panels is to remove residual sound in any space. When installed correctly in a room, acoustic panels can absorb or diffuse sound from the first point of reflection.

The effectiveness of good quality acoustic panels means that you can use far less so that you’re not at risk of over-cluttering areas and spaces.

Sound Zero Wall Panel Pro in an office meeting room
Sound Zero Wall Panel Pro in an office meeting room

Here at Sound Zero, we’ve designed high-quality panels to target broadband frequencies, meaning that they can be used for a range of purposes.

Key Points:

  • What are acoustic panels?
    • Acoustic panels are large, soft-furnished panels that improve sound quality by absorbing reflected sound or echoes.
    • They can be made from various materials and customised to match your space’s design.
  • Main Purpose:
    • Acoustic panels remove residual sound in a space by absorbing or diffusing sound.
    • High-quality panels can be effective with fewer panels, avoiding clutter.
  • Types of Panels:
    • Acoustic panels can be designed as absorbers or diffusers, depending on the desired outcome.
    • Expert consultation helps you choose the right products for your room.
  • Applications:
    • Acoustic panels find use in various spaces like restaurants, bars, offices, and music venues.
    • They localize noise in specific areas, improving sound quality.
  • Space-Saving Solutions:
    • Smaller panels like Wall Panel Pro or ceiling panels are ideal for spaces with limited wall space.
    • They are designed with aesthetics in mind to maintain the space’s image.
  • Suspended Ceiling Panels:
    • Suspended acoustic panels are effective in treating ceilings and saving wall space.
    • They can improve speech legibility in open-plan offices.
  • Proximity Effect:
    • Suspended acoustic panels target and suppress different frequencies, enhancing sound quality.
    • Examples include the Royal Albert Hall’s acoustic design.
  • Materials Used:
    • Acoustic panels are commonly made from a timber frame with layers of acoustic foam and fabric.
    • Other options include PET Eco Felt, as well as bespoke options like cork and moss.
  • Panel Types:
    • Wall Panel Pro and PET Eco Felt offer customisability and artistic design for various spaces.
    • Acoustic Moss Wall panels incorporate biophilic principles and act as natural sound absorbers.
    • Suspended Ceiling Clouds control noise in meeting rooms with reflective surfaces.
  • Benefits of Acoustic Panels:
    • Acoustic panels offer several benefits, including a welcoming environment, improved productivity, better sound quality, workplace safety, and reduced absenteeism.

Absorbers & diffusers

Acoustic Panels can be designed as absorbers or diffusers, depending on the intended purpose and outcome that you’re trying to achieve.

Absorbers and diffusers are the main design tools for altering the acoustic conditions of rooms, semi-enclosed spaces and the outdoor environment. Their correct use is essential for delivering high-quality acoustics, so it’s always best to speak to an expert to help you decide which products are best for your room.

Throughout our in-depth consultation process, our experts will outline the best solution for you, but as a general rule.

The benefits of acoustic panels

Acoustic panels can be effectively utilised in a range of spaces, for example, restaurants, bars, offices and music venues.

Ceiling Cloud in a Taproom
Ceiling Cloud system by Sound-Zero at the Kernel Brewery Arch 7 Taproom, London

As you might imagine, each space has its unique requirements, but they are all rooted in the need to improve sound quality and intelligibility.

As an example, open-plan office environments may have a designated area for the telesales or telemarketing department. Such environments involve loud telephone conversations and ample opportunities for distraction.

When people are communicating in such proximity, acoustic panels which are placed in a particular area will help to localise the noise, keeping it contained.

Click here to learn more about office acoustics.

Short on wall space?

We touched briefly on this in the introduction, but smaller acoustic panels like the Wall Panel Pro or ceiling panels (baffles, grids, or rafts) are the ideal solution if you’re short on wall space.

Many offices and restaurants that we visit have a strong brand image which is often reflected in the wall décor that is chosen. The last thing they want is unattractive panels being placed on the walls.

Acoustic panels are fantastic because you don’t need to cover a whole wall space to acoustically solve the noise complaint. Our experts will identify the first point of reflection, which will inform them of the best location to place the wall panel.

What’s more, our panels have been developed with design in mind. We pride ourselves on delivering a strong, visual impact, incorporating your brand’s image within our design process.

There really is no need to compromise on your image in order to solve your noise issue.

Suspended ceiling panels

Bad acoustics are the result of a large, untreated hard surface area (walls, floors, ceiling, windows) and quite often, the largest, hardest surface area is the ceiling.

Air ducts and wiring tracks often prevent us from directly treating the ceiling’s surface, meaning that suspended acoustic panels are a great solution.

And as well as saving that much-valued wall space, they have a strong visual impact.

Acoustic ceiling baffles
Acoustic ceiling baffles will make a noticeable difference to speech legibility in an open-plan office with little in the way of soft furnishings.

The proximity effect

Suspended acoustic panels reinforce what’s known in the science world as the ‘proximity effect’. In getting closer to the noise source at varying heights, the suspended panels are targeting and suppressing different frequencies.

Numerous venues have incorporated this methodology into their acoustic design; most notably, the Royal Albert Hall. Using convex reflectors suspended at various heights, the venue can tackle the room resonance, whilst delivering an unmatched quality of sound.

Music and concert venues are perfect examples of how you can ‘tune’ suspended acoustic panels to improve the experience of the consumer.

What are acoustic panels made from?

Commonly, acoustic panels are made from a timber frame with varying layers of acoustic foam.

Foam is the best material to use for an acoustic panel because it completely absorbs frequencies on the surface, so you get a resonance happening inside the cavity.

Therefore, above the cavity, you get noise cancellation. This is known as Helmholtz resonance.

1. Wall Panel Pro

Blending acoustics and art, our popular Wall Panel Pros ensure that your acoustics are effectively addressed whilst adding a splash of artistic design to your walls.

Easily customisable, we can use your own images and impose them on a fabric-wrapped acoustic panel, or choose a hard acrylic front with a cutaway design.

Wall Panel Pros are the ideal solution for music studios, offices, bars, restaurants and conference rooms.

Sound Zero AuralArt acoustic art panels at Patchworks
Sound Zero AuralArt acoustic art panels at Patchworks

2. Acoustic Moss Wall

If you’re aiming to incorporate biophilic principles into your building design, the Acoustic Moss Wall panel is the ideal solution for you. Moss acts as a natural sound absorber, which is ideal for any busy space, especially in open-plan areas.

Moss Wall acoustic panel
Preserved Moss Wall acoustic panels are a stunning way to bring nature into your space and control the acoustics

3. Suspended Ceiling Clouds

We’ve written at length about the benefits of these; just look above. They’re a superb product, rooted in strong scientific understanding.

Suspended ceiling clouds
These Suspended Ceiling Clouds are stylish and control the noise issues in these meeting rooms with a lot of reflective surfaces

Conclusion

Acoustic panels provide numerous benefits, for example:

  • A more welcoming environment for customers
  • Boosted productivity in office and educational settings
  • Effective sound quality in music venues
  • Improved workplace safety
  • Reduced staff absenteeism
  • Happy customers, which means more return on investment

We hope that this blog has outlined some of the fundamental aspects of acoustic panelling solutions. If you require any further assistance, don’t hesitate to talk to one of our experts today.

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If you’d like to talk to one of our experts, either give us a call on 020 3984 2000, email us info@sound-zero.com or fill out the form and we'll get back to you ASAP.