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Hi!

I've spent the better part of an hour trying to find information or reviews on what makes certain sound absorbing panels better than others. I see panels on Amazon for as little as $50, and I've seen every price in between in upwards of $500. I'm looking at them and visually don't see much of a difference, but that doesn't mean there isn't one. Would someone be willing to explain some basics about these panels? I intend to use them in a home theater that has 7.1 sound. The room is bare sheetrock right now and I want to make sure I have something of decent quality to absorb the echo. Does it come down to the type of foam, or fabric? Sites list their own reasons their sound panels are great, but I'm having a hard time finding information explaining the differences and quality between panels.

Thanks in advance.
 

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Thickness, material, and mounting are what make sound panels different. I would shoot for at least 2 inches thick, and for material it should be a good quality insulation that is NOT foam (foam doesn't work very well for this). Usually the insulation is more dense than pink, fluffy stuff (such as rigid fiberglass which is normally used for metal ducts). Mounting a panel right against a wall will also have different properties than something that is mounted a way from the wall (some would say "better", but I think that depends on your needs). Again, don't use foam. Also, remember that the material aspects include any cloth or frame material that is used; those can make some difference, too.

Other than that it's about the workmanship and looks.

I would either buy from a place like GIK Acoustics (fair pricing, and there are other places like them that I just can't remember right now) or DIY (all kinds of examples on this board on how to do that).
 

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Would someone be willing to explain some basics about these panels?
The main feature of an acoustic panel is how much it absorbs. Not only "overall" but also at various frequencies. Thin panels absorb very little at bass frequencies, so the room might seem dead enough at mid and high frequencies when you clap your hands, but it's still boomy and indistinct at low frequencies. A proper treatment plan includes panels that are thick enough to target low as well as high frequencies.

The graph below shows a comparison of various absorber products. This short article is mainly about home recording, but all the same principles apply to hi-fi and home theater acoustics too:

Acoustic Basics

--Ethan

 
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