8 Best Sound Absorbing Materials for Better Acoustics

sound absorbing wall panels

Last updated: January 12, 2023 at 16:17 pm

Better acoustics can be highly beneficial and even essential for everyday living. Sound absorbing materials improve the sound in a room, whether you are searching for peace from a noisy dishwasher, improving an in-home theatre or designing a recording studio. There is some acoustic benefit for everyone when using sound absorbing materials whether that be in your home, office, studio or music room.

And no matter how you go about improving the acoustics in your rooms –DIY or otherwise, you must start with the right materials. There are all kinds of materials that meet all different and specific needs, so that’s why we have gathered here the eight best sound absorbing materials.

Best Sound Absorbing Materials

1. Acoustic Foam

Let’s start at the top. Acoustic foam is one of the most popular materials for sound absorption. It gained that reputation because it is highly efficient, affordable, and easy to install. Even just a small amount can bring great results. Acoustic foam is used best for small to mid-sized rooms, such as small recording rooms, small studios, or a home theatre.

Additionally, it comes in different styles, patterns, and colours to coordinate with any home interior design. The installation can be as easy as using adhesive strips, hooks, or a spray adhesive to mount them to your walls or ceiling. Acoustic foam is one of the most preferred materials by DIYers and professionals alike.

2. Mineral Wool Insulation

a man installing mineral wool insulation

This material serves a dual-purpose, as it is used for both sound absorption and soundproofing. Acoustic mineral wool is often chosen because it serves as both sound and thermal insulation. It is also a fire-resistant, waterproof, and durable material. This natural material typically comes in large boards, which can be used as-is (you can cover it in fabric for better aesthetics), as a ceiling panel or near loud appliances such as a dishwasher or washing machine.

Moreover, many people use this material to make their own acoustic panels and bass traps; a budget-friendly solution for those looking for improved acoustics. It’s lightweight, easy to cut and affordable, making it a great choice for DIYers.

3. Acoustic Fabric Panels

If you’re searching for stylish, discreet-looking sound absorbing material, acoustic fabric panels provide the perfect solution. Acoustic fabric panels are simply wooden frames wrapped in fabric, offering considerable noise reduction with an attractive and customizable appearance.

Additionally, the panels often have sound absorbing material inside them as well, such as high-density fibreglass or foam. This option may appeal to those looking for a do-it-yourself solution. Acoustic fabric panels are easy to make yourself and customize to your exact projects and specifications.

Acoustic fabric panels also require a simple installation, which might have you feeling more like an interior decorator rather than a sound-reducing home improver.

4. Acoustic Cotton Batts

Here is a solution to sound absorption that is both family and environmentally friendly. Acoustic cotton batts are made from natural cotton fibres that actually provide sound absorption that is comparable to that of rock wool and fibreglass.

On top of great sound absorption, this natural material does not cause skin irritation or other harmful health effects. This can be an important factor for those with children, pets, and other family in the household where this is being installed. It is even common for these to be made out of completely or partially recycled materials as well.

Acoustic cotton batts are affordable, efficient, and natural; an overall great choice for quality sound absorption.

5. Acoustic Partitions

A less permanent, yet still effective solution for sound absorption are acoustic partitions. These portable sound absorbers can be used for a variety of needs, from homes and offices to restaurants and schools. Acoustic partitions are made from polyester and also act as thermal insulation in addition to their sound absorbing properties.

The panels are ideal for diving a room and keeping down the noise between spaces. As well, they come in lightweight and heavyweight variations, depending on the job.

6. Acoustic Curtains

Acoustic curtains can provide both sound absorption and ‘sound dampening,’ which aids in soundproofing as well. It can be a great way to take your home theatre to the next level, or it can be a great addition to a bedroom or other room of the house.

What makes these a popular choice is that they also provide thermal insulation from cold and drafty windows, and often sport a ‘blackout’ feature, which blocks sunlight from entering the room as well. These curtains allow for easy installation, you can simply swap them out for your current drapes or curtains.

7. Hanging Baffles

A solution that you may not be so familiar with are hanging baffles. These superb sound absorbers are hung from the ceiling, providing sound absorption for those who may not have much wall space for more traditional solutions such as acoustic panels or foam.

Hanging baffles reduce echo and are great for restaurants, hotels and offices. Installation is simple, with just a few hooks and chains, acoustics can be improved anywhere.

8. Heavy Moving Blankets

Perhaps the most resourceful solution to those searching for better acoustics and sound absorption are heavy moving blankets. While these are typically used to protect furniture and other valuables during transport, it turns out they can serve another purpose.

These blankets do a great job of absorbing sounds, and they can be used by the most determined of DIYers. And the heavier the blanket, the better it will be at dampening sounds. While this may be an unconventional solution to sound absorption, it may be the most accessible and you may be able to find it in your home already!

Are Sound Absorbing Materials Effective?

Sound absorbing materials can improve the acoustics in any space, whether it’s at home, in the office, in a studio or other noisy places. Many of these materials provide excellent sound absorption, an attractive appearance, and easy installation, all while having an affordable price tag.

With so many great options to choose from, you are bound to find one that fits both your aesthetics and your sound absorption needs.

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About the Author: AJ

AJ is a self-confessed soundproofing nut. He has written full-time on Quiet Living for the past 4 years, and has a wealth of knowledge about living a quieter life, soundproofing and fixing loud noises.