I understand, I really do – we all want the simplest-possible solution, we’re all bombarded by TMI (too-much-
idiocy-information), we all need less, not more. So we revert to the “Easy Button” (great ad campaign!), and say to the salesperson/consultant/acoustic-buddy that we want “acoustic panels” to fix the sound in our rooms.
I’d love to tell you that, yes, anything called an “acoustic panel” will be your solution – sure, why not? It says acoustics… but I’d be lying. BECAUSE it’s a very large category. There are thousands of “panels” from dozens of companies, with every one of them proclaiming the “panel” in question is exactly what’s needed for the customer”s room. Sure, why not?
Because it’s a lie. Many so-called “acoustic panels” are junk – foam “absorbers” (high frequencies only), wood-scrap “diffusors” (actual junk glued together with virtually no acoustic benefit – see photo) – and in the high-end audiophile marketplace, it’s worse: tiny brass cups, ‘tri-tine waves’, crap spread across the horizon posing as acoustic solutions. And legitimate “acoustic panel” companies almost always sell absorber “panels”, as if that’s the only available way to fix your room.
I realize that fiberglass fabric-covered “panels” are easy to produce, and can be sold inexpensively. Acoustic Geometry makes fabric-wrapped fiberglass absorbers, too – they work and look great – nearly all pro-level “panel” manufacturers’ fiberglass acoustic “panels” are fine. They absorb relatively broadband sound and have a bunch of test data showing performance, and we’re all happy to sell you some.
BUT – as our videos, blogs, and Every Waking Breath point out, absorption, even broadband, is not a complete solution; in fact, overuse of absorption “panels” leads to unnatural, dead-sounding spaces and a loss in pitch perception. I know inexpensive fiberglass “panels” have been touted for decades, and whenever someone actually does mention “diffusors”, they’re often referring to Quadratic-Residue Diffusion (QRD), which is based on phase-shift technology; not the only – or best – solution.
So I’ll say it again – the best solution for nearly every room, small or large, rectangular or irregular, fancy or plain, is a balanced combination of absorbers and phase-coherent diffusors. It’s not magical thinking, it’s science. And often the best absorber “panel” is not fiberglass – it’s a recycled-cotton or cellulose blend “panel” that has almost no Volatile Organic Compounds and won’t off-gas for years. If you have allergies or simply don’t want a bunch of fiberglass hung on your walls, consider our bonded acoustic cotton or cellulose/cotton products combined with our Curve Diffusors. Yeah, that’s a Big Commercial Message, but it’s also true – your room WILL sound better.
And now I’ll stop using quotes around acoustic panels.