Steps to Finding the Perfect Portable Acoustic Panels

You can have the best sounding practice space to record in, but if you can’t even hear yourself sing it doesn’t really matter, does it? The process of recording is a fun and rewarding one. But if your inevitable next step is to go out on tour or make a full-length album, that’s where your chance for success ends. Aspiring musicians should remember this fact and take the necessary steps to make sure they have everything they need for their next professional endeavor.

The key pieces of equipment needed by most musicians are simple and easy enough; maybe an acoustic guitar, an amp, a microphone or two – but beyond those essentials things become increasingly complex. Keeping your gear in check is no walk in the park either.
Your sound is your own and you want to make sure it stays that way, so it’s necessary to make smart decisions when investing in equipment. Portable acoustic panels are a great way to improve the quality of your overall sound. They are primarily made for recording purposes but can also be used live if you’re trying to get the perfect sound on stage.

To clarify, acoustic panels are not soundproofing; rather, they are devices that help reduce noise from the outside entering a room – or reduce noise from inside a room leaving it. Having these handy means that you won’t have to turn up the volume on your amp as loud as you usually would.

Do acoustic panels actually work?

This is the question that many people have. And it’s completely understandable. After all, they’re not cheap and there are a lot of people out there trying to make money off of every musician’s hard work. The fact that these panels are relatively new can also be a deterrent for some musicians, because they’re so unfamiliar with them.

But believe it or not, these devices actually do work. There are countless forums and reviews on the internet where users talk about how effective these acoustic panels are. More importantly, any musician out there with some experience in the studio knows how crucial these devices are – even if it’s just a small improvement.

How to choose the best acoustic panels?
The first thing you’ll want to do is decide what shop to go with for your acoustic panels. Research different places around your area and check out their reviews online. If you’re desperate enough, you could also order online, but I wouldn’t recommend that unless you know exactly what you want. Make sure the shop has a good reputation.

Then, you’ll want to figure out the size of your room. If you go to a music store they should be able to help you figure that out, but if not it may be wise to invest in an online calculator that will help you define how much soundproofing you need.

Finally, you’ll want to decide what material your panels will be made from. There are two main materials – acoustic foam and ideal porous fabric. Foam is more effective but fabric is more portable and easier to set up. Each have their advantages so choose carefully based on what’s most important for you.

What to do if you’re on a budget?

If you’re just starting out, purchasing a couple of acoustic panels for your recording studio could set you back a couple hundred bucks. This can really cause problems for new musicians who are trying to pay off student loans or buy musical equipment. If this is the case, there are some cheaper alternatives you can look into.

The first alternative is soundproofing your home studio. With some clever planning and expertise from an electrician, this could even be done for free! Another option would be getting new amps and/or microphones that don’t produce as much feedback when amplified. You can also try some portable panels as a first timer.

Are portable sound proofing panels worth it?
These panels can be a great investment for the musician that wants to ensure they have a new home studio setup that works properly. The goal of these devices is to reduce noise from carrying over into the room – this becomes easier since you have less sound coming into your studio in the first place.

You can even make them yourself, which would free up some money as well! Home DIY acoustic panels aren’t nearly as effective as their professional counterparts, but they’re definitely an improvement over nothing.

What should I look for in my portable acoustic panels?
Size – When picking out acoustic panels, you should choose based on how much soundproofing you need. Some musicians have their soundproofing measured by their room, so this would be your most optimal choice. Worst comes to worse, you can always have the doors closed during your recording sessions and open them up after for live performances.
This is an important step because you want to make sure you’re getting a good amount of soundproofing without having to sacrifice anything else. Look for panels that are able to fit in with the overall design of your room and have a decent size as well – no need to go overboard with these things!

Dynamic Range – Dynamic range affects how effectively an acoustic panel will work in a room. It’s important to keep in mind that this range is loud enough to block most of the high end sound from making it into the room. You shouldn’t worry too much about this, especially if you have a small home studio setup but would still like to achieve a full range of sound.
A good example is those vintage Roland SP-808 drum machines and their sub-woofer, which created a booming sound with practically no fillings – they simply used the body of the machine as an acoustical panel (don’t say I didn’t warn you!).
Material – Your best option here is acoustic foam, because it’s cheap and effective. But if you’re trying to save some money, you could always invest in cheap PVC piping and line it with fabric to save yourself some trouble. Just remember that fabric won’t offer as much soundproofing as foam will. Rest assured though, a bit of fabric around your room’s pipes and ducts isn’t going to hurt anything!

Sound Absorbency – The higher the absorbent rate of your acoustic panel is, the less sound will enter your home studio room from the outside. Keep in mind that this is only possible when you have a recording studio room that doubles as an isolation booth. This is just another reason why customizing acoustic panels based on measuring the size of your room would be ideal.
A bit of good absorbency won’t hurt though – it all depends on what you’re trying to achieve. It can be a safety precaution or just for convenience. The takeaway here is that you should definitely invest in acoustic panels if your home studio is any smaller than 100 square feet!

What is the best way to use these panels?

This really comes down to personal preference, but there are some general things you should consider when using acoustic panels. First of all, you’ll want to put them somewhere where they won’t get too much traffic and they can stay out of the way. You could put them up and behind some equipment or along a wall where no one’s going to disturb them while recording.
When applying the panels, you’ll want to ensure they’re securely attached to a surface that’s sealed on all sides (i.e. not brick). You can also use some expanding foam or sealant as a second layer for added soundproofing.
Then, you can direct the sound through them in whichever way you prefer. You might want them covering all of your monitors to prevent noise from getting picked up by your room’s microphone or even have an acoustic barrier all around your I-Beam, which would prevent it from getting too loud when playing guitar in front of it.
Finally, we recommend that you try and make as few holes as possible when setting up your acoustic panels.

What are some portable acoustic treatment?
Here are some of the better soundproofing treatment panels that you can pick up.
How loud will they be? – This only matters if you’re interested in silencing your studio early on or playing live shows. If not, this shouldn’t be a concern at all.

Sound absorbers – These can be quite effective for acoustic treatment since they’re designed to absorb a lot of sound. They’re quite cheap and easy to install as well, which is why many musicians complain that the result isn’t nearly as good as it could be if you had a proper isolation booth with acoustic panels.

What you’ll want to do is get one that’s nice and thick enough for what you’re trying to accomplish. You might even want to add a second layer of fabric or foam inside the panel’s casing for additional sound control.

Soundproofing panels – These are great for people who prefer some more fanciness. They can be a bit more expensive than their counterparts, but they push air into the room to make it sound like you’re in an acoustically treated studio.
You’ll want to find one that’s big enough for your room and have some space inside of it as well – this allows sound to move through more effectively when playing on the drums or other loud instruments.

Acoustical foam – This is basically the choice for musicians who don’t want to spend too much money on acoustic panels, but still want something along those lines. Foam is cheap and effective in reducing sound, but you’ll need quite a bit for really good results.
You’ll want to use exactly the same techniques as you would with acoustic panels. Cut out the foam in a way that it fits together nicely and can be sealed properly. You’ll also want to find a very thick piece of foam so that it absorbs sound well.
Isolation booths – If you have the budget and space for one, we’d recommend checking out an isolation booth. They are quite expensive, but offer excellent soundproofing for both recording and live shows.

The idea behind these is that they’re pretty much like a small recording studio on their own – they’re used primarily in small studios to isolate everything beautifully from the outside world (or just block out noise).

That’s pretty much all there is to soundproofing your home studio!
In the end, there are a few basic rules for soundproofing your home studio, but that’s about it. Make sure you do your research and try to find the best solution for your needs, but chances are you won’t need more than that! Happy soundproofing!
What I learned from this article: I also found out that the bigger the room is across the span of all speakers/monitors/speakers, the better control you have on what kind of sounds come through. Some people have a small room and some people have large rooms – this is unavoidable.

All rooms have their own sound profile, which is what both you and the room’s acoustics are. Finding out what your room sounds like is a good starting point on soundproofing your home studio.

The bigger the studio space, the more possible ways of soundproofing it you have – but then again, expensive materials can provide better results (e.g. acoustic foam).

Part of the job is simply to minimize sound loss in your room. It is not a hard and fast rule, but there are some things that you can do to prevent sound from entering your home studio as well.

Soundproofing your home studio is not rocket science, but it certainly can’t be done in half an hour – there are many factors that come into play.

Don’t expect to know everything about it after reading this article! There are all sorts of things required for soundproofing a home studio, so make sure you carefully look over the thing before you start implementing these ideas. The more time and effort you put into it, the better results you’re going to get.

If there’s one thing you should take away from the above, it would be to make sure you have a solid understanding of what acoustic treatment is (e.g. foam, cement blocks, etc.) and how they’re used for soundproofing your home studio.
The more you know about it, the faster and better results you’re going to get when applying them! The only way of improving soundproofing a home studio is by putting in as many hours of work as possible.

I hope that this article has been able to help those looking for good soundproofing ideas in their home studios. If you have any questions or comments on this article feel free to post in the comments section below.