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Choosing and Using Acoustic Foam - Custom Foam Manufacturers or DIY? by Andrew Stratton

Choosing and Using Acoustic Foam - Custom Foam Manufacturers or DIY? by
Article Posted: 05/22/2015
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Choosing and Using Acoustic Foam - Custom Foam Manufacturers or DIY?

How to Treat a Room with Acoustic Foam

Sound quality. Whether you're setting up a home recording studio or just want an acoustically friendly room, it's all about finding that perfect setup where highs sound high, lows sound low, and everything in-between sounds wonderful.

One of the best ways to reach that ideal is to invest in some acoustic foam - plenty of custom foam manufacturers make it, and if you're in the market for studio gear, now's the time to try it. A well-done treatment can make even the most unmusical room into a DIY recording artist's dream. Read on, and we'll give you the basics on what acoustic foam actually is, and how to use it effectively.

Why Use Foam?

Every musician trying to set up a small-time studio likely knows the heartache that comes with trying to hit an acoustic sweet spot. Most rooms just aren't constructed with music in mind. Sound waves will reflect off of surfaces, and depending on factors ranging from thematerials a room is constructed with to what furniture it contains, those reflections can come back overly harsh or muted. This process is known as resonance.

Acoustic foam fixes those problems by reducing resonance. Doing so cuts out the acoustic clutter that can make even a well-tuned guitar or perfectly sung note sound out of whack. If used properly, foam can ensure that you're recording the actual sound of your music; though making it sound good is still up to you.

Choosing a Foam

Many would-be studio builders falter at this step. Actually selecting the right product can be a tricky prospect.

The stuff made by custom foam manufacturers can be pricey, but it's often worth the investment. Low-cost hacks such as hanging carpet on the wall or picking up other salvaged, seemingly sound-absorbent materials might cut down on resonance to some degree, but probably won't be as effective as the real thing.

Here's why: materials will absorb different ranges of sound. Acoustic foam is excellent because it's designed to soak up a wide spectrum of tones. Using, say, a less dense replacement might only carve out higher tones, leaving plenty of bass reverb and creating a muddier sound.

Custom foam manufacturers generally work with polyurethane or extruded melamine. Both materials are dense and well-suited to a studio environment. Another thing to look out for is fire-retardant treatment. The electric gear in recording studios is a major fire hazard, and definitely not something you want near highly flammable material.

Setting Up

Once you have your panels, actually placing them can be another challenge. The goal of any sound-improving treatment is to produce what's called a reflection-free zone, or a space where no reflected sound reaches, and the spot where a listener or recording device occupies.

Doing so can take some trial and error. The primary goal is to put foam in areas likely to directly reflect sound at your RFZ. These places are generally on the back wall, floor, and ceiling of your studio. Take your time, don't get frustrated, and don't be afraid to rearrange panels on the fly.

When looking for custom foam manufacturers, Grand Rapids, MI residents visit Grand Rapids Foam Technologies. To learn more, visit

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