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Acoustic Treatment: Affordable Kits, Unique Products

Acoustic treatment manufacturers sell solutions comprising a variety of physical products that must be arranged, positioned and applied correctly to work correctly. The goal in employing three treatment tools—isolation, diffusion and absorption—is to create an acoustically improved environment in which to work, one that should ideally provide a relatively flat frequency response with little room-influenced coloration.

Affordable Kits

The leaders in affordable yet effective pre-packaged acoustic treatment kits include Auralex and Primacoustic, the latter being a division of Radial Engineering. From a variety of sub-$200 Roominator absorption/bass trap kits to its lovely SonoSuede absorption collections, Auralex offers a wide range of effective treatment packages that are easily augmented as a workspace is acoustically honed.

Primacoustic’s London Series of prepackaged absorption kits are also easily augmented over time and notably feature fabric-wrapped Broadway high-density 6-pound per cubic foot Fiberglas panels; I have personally installed a customized Broadway panel kit in my own studio and have been pleased with its performance, especially with placement guidance provided by the company.

The Manufacturers

In many cases, unique solutions are vital in solving acoustic anomalies not so easily wrangled with prepackaged treatment kits. Below is a rather comprehensive collection of acoustic materials companies, their areas of product expertise, and explanations of their most unique creations. Within this group of manufacturers and solutions, audio types will be hard-pressed to not find an ideal treatment material or patented acoustic innovation for their needs.

Established by acoustic engineer/physicist Arthur Noxon in 1984, Acoustic Sciences Corporation is an acoustic research, design, and product development company. They are very well known for their patented TubeTrap, a pressure-zone, corner-loaded bass trap voiced with a treble range diffuser panel.  

Acoustics First offers a large array of acoustic materials, including sound absorbers, barriers, diffusers and bass traps made of materials including polyurethane and Class-1 Melamine foams, Fiberglas, wood, plastic and metal. Of particular interest is Acoustic First’s Transfusor, a transparent diffuser panel created to fit standard 2×2-foot fluorescent light fixtures.

Acoustical Fulfillment is a new firm founded by Auralex alumnus Gavin Haverstick, a seasoned acoustician also heading his own consulting company, Haverstick Designs. His first product is the FLEX-48, a patent-pending design that allows users to change the ambience of a room within seconds to adapt to various applications, making it more “live” or “dead” depending on needs and taste. Its two main components are the FulFill Acoustical Panel and the reflective Flex-Shield. The brushed stainless steel Flex-Tray serves as the mounting device for both the absorption panel and the shield. 

How does it work? When fully exposed with no shield in place, the FulFill panel behaves as a passive absorber, removing acoustic energy from the room. When the Flex-Shield is installed, a barrel-type diffusor is created; the higher frequencies will be scattered evenly throughout the room, retaining liveliness, while the mid and low frequencies continue to pass through to the FulFill panel. The air gap between the Flex-Shield and the FulFill panel combined with the sympathetic vibration of the Flex-Shield increases the low frequency absorption of the panel.

Founded in 1989 by Michael Binns, a native of Richmond, Va., Acoustical Solutions was born via relationships with acoustical treatment companies Illbruck and Acoustone while Binns worked with local recording studios and completed his degree at Virginia Commonwealth University. Today, Acoustical Solutions manufactures and distributes a wide range of products—panels, fabrics, foams, bass traps, booths and enclosures, ceiling and floor treatments, doors and windows, sound barrier materials, HVAC noise and vibration control systems, and more. Among those are suspended AcoustiCloud Ceiling Clouds, fabricated with a unique polymer stretching system to cap each cloud, creating a tailored appearance. Thirty fabric colors and up to 23 different shaped clouds are available.

Along with providing a wealth of acoustic treatment knowledge on its Website, Auralex Acoustics offers a comprehensive collection of acoustical product solutions, including acoustical foam, diffusers, bass traps, construction components, and various other notable products. The company’s Website offers information about its remote consultancy services that are actually quite simple to employ. Introduced as the 2016 NAMM Show is the intriguing GeoFusor, Auralex’s new sound diffusor based on the geodesic dome pattern. According to the company, GeoFusor’s shape offers smooth, even diffusion and allows back filling with absorptive material for enhanced low-end control. It is wall and ceiling mountable and is offered in two sizes (1×1-foot and 2×2-foot). The 2×2 GeoFusor is sized to fit in ceiling grids and offered in fire-rated and non fire-rated variations.

ClearSonic offers the SORBER panels such as the S2 baffle, a 1.6-inch thick fabric covered Fiberglas wall treatment device. Built for easy portability, SORBER panels are light and easily mountable on a variety of surfaces. When custom configured with ClearSonic panels, SORBERS can be used to create better-balanced isolation spaces, booths and even rooms.

Building on its trademarked Quantum Acoustics technology, Delta H Designs has introduced the latest in its ZR absorption series, the ZR Micro Twin, now available from retailers such such as GC Pro and Lift AV or direct from Delta H. Combining two of its ZR Micros into one package, the Micro Twin is twice the surface area of the original ZR Micro. According to the company, the ZR Micro Twin is best applied in situations requiring lifelike acoustical imaging. Recommended uses are in pairs behind speakers or as part of a system with a Custom Design Layout, and it can be applied for a variety of acoustic applications, The ZR Micro Twin sports dimensions of 48x24x1.5 inches.

The maker of “the world’s most efficient acoustical diffuser,” ESR offers the Roundffusor1, a combination diffuser/low-frequency absorber made of hard polystyrene. According to ESR, using the Roundfussor1 in a standard group of nine to 15 pieces drastically reduces a room’s overall reverberation time, as much as a much larger and more expensive absorptive surface would do.

Founded by Oliver C. Eckel in 1952, Eckel Industries provides sophisticated acoustical test facilities and noise control products, specializing in acoustical test chambers and facilities, architectural acoustic panels, audiometric rooms/booth and suites, as well as specialized engineering and design services.  Of specific note are Eckel’s Eckoustic Functional Panels, fire resistant absorption panels that can be spot located on walls or ceilings. Its patented design includes “V” ridging, reportedly improving absorption by holding the polyethylene encased acoustical fill away from its perforated metal face. In addition, the ridging increases the stiffness of the panel and aids in protecting the face from damage.

GIK Acoustics, a leading acoustic treatment manufacturer based in Atlanta, has expanded its of Alpha Wood Series to include larger panels as well as corner bass traps. GIK first introduced the Alpha Wood Series in late 2015 with the launch of the 4A Alpha Panel; later, at the 2016 NAMM Show, GIK debuted its Corner CT Alpha Bass Trap, large 2A Alpha Panel with freestanding supports as well as the 6A Alpha Panel. These products are now available for direct sale worldwide. The 4A Alpha Panel is constructed as a 23.75×23.75×4-inch wood-framed panel filled with rigid Fiberglas absorption materials; its core is made from 100 percent recycled materials, environmentally friendly without any formaldehyde or urea formaldehyde, notes the company. The panel is then wrapped in fabric and finished with a blonde veneer wood face, reportedly designed for even, one-dimensional scattering. The wood face is crafted to allow low-frequency waves to pass through to the Fiberglas panel for better low-end absorption.

Golden Acoustics’ Golden Section Broadband diffusers are visually interesting acoustic panels available in a variety of dimensions for both wall and ceiling applications. Golden Acoustics even make a full Golden Section tuning column in custom lengths up to 24 feet. Flat-mount Golden Section options include the full broadband ceiling panel, center ceiling/triple corner panel, end ceiling/double corner panel, full wall broadband panel, and a wall panel quarter section inlay.

Markertek—one of America’s largest pro audio retailers—offers a full line of soundproofing and acoustic treatment products under the Markerfoam brand. Markerfoam products include ceiling and wall tiles, acoustic pads and baffles, acoustic sealant products, portable isolation booths, and acoustic blankets.

MBI Products Company’s Cloud-Lite Baffle is the industry’s original fully encapsulated absorbent baffle and is available in finishes of PVC, nylon, polyester, vinyl, and weather resistant fabrics. Other MBI offerings include the Lapendary Panel and the Colorsonix absorbent and decorative wall panel, which is available in a wide range of dimensions, thicknesses and colors.

MSR Acoustics offers pre-engineered acoustic treatment kits that vary upon a given room’s size. StudioPanel Acoustic Treatment Systems include a balanced collection of diffusers, absorbers, bass traps, and various other panels with specific mounting directions, effectively making complex placement issues simpler for the end user. Notable StudioPanel components include the Bazorber slotted low-frequency absorber, CloudPanel fabric-covered ceiling panel, and the SpringTrap, a ported corner bass trap for ultra-low frequencies.

Netwell Noise Control makes an extensive range of noise control and acoustic design products including polyurethane acoustic foam panels, bass traps, ceiling tiles, wall coverings and fabrics, even isolation tools such as duct-work wrapping materials.

Primacoustic’s acoustic solutions include bass traps and diffusers, wall and ceiling absorber systems, Fiberglas absorber components, and much more. The company’s comprehensive website offers acoustic treatment insight and notably valuable tips. Of note, Primacoustic’s Paintables Cloud series features three different shapes of absorptive acoustic panels that can be used as ceiling clouds, baffles or wall panels to reduce excess reverberation. These paintable panels are the ideal sound abatement solution where acoustic treatment must integrate with the aesthetics of the room. The line includes the circular Cirrus, the hexagonal Hexus and the square Altos. Each panel is made from 1.5-inch thick high-density 6-pound glass wool for even absorption and feature resin-hardened edges with micromesh that together fully encapsulate the panel to prevent dusting. The Cirrus, Hexus and Altos are available in 36- and 48-inch diameters. As with all Primacoustic panels, Paintables have been independently tested for acoustic performance and fire-tested to achieve the most stringent Class-A ratings.

RealTraps are a leading provider of very effective broadband absorption solutions with their complete line of their affordable and portable bass trap products. MiniTraps, MondoTraps, MicroTraps, GoboTraps, and the aesthetically unobtrusive SoffitTraps all offer various and impressive absorptive benefits. As an added perk, RealTraps offers detailed acoustic theory and product application information on its interesting website. Discriminating studio owners, such as Cphonic Online Mastering’s Kevin McNoldy, have invested heavily in RealTraps products and have gleaned great acoustic results.

RPG Diffusor Systems, one of the leading acoustics firms in the world, is a maker of attractive and functional diffusion systems for a wide array of environments. RPG, top studio designers’ go-to solution, specializes in intricate custom diffusers made of a variety of materials and for mounting in a variety of areas. It would be too much to list all that Dr. Peter D’Antonio does; he’s a sure-fire acoustics Hall of Famer.

Massachusetts-based dealer Silent Source sells a wide variety of foams, barriers, baffles, bass traps, diffusers, and much more, but also markets two of its own signature products. HushFoam panels are very absorbent open-cell polyurethane foam wedges, and WhisperWedge is a 2×4-foot flat foam absorber available in thicknesses from 2 to 4 inches.

Sound Control Room is the source of the Saturn polycyndrical diffuser, an acoustic treatment tool resembling a giant aspirin for use on walls and ceilings. Other custom SCR products include their own 3-Panel absorbent booth and Instant Studio, a full-frequency mobile control panel.

Taytrix offers clients a simple and innovative way to acoustically treat an environment—the StackIt GoBo System, which is ideal for mobile recording rigs and temporary production spaces. Available in three styles and two colors, StackIt GoBos feature multiple layers of insulation covered with fabric on both sides and measure 46×15 inches, or 30×8-inches wide. Both Plexiglas and natural maple panels are available for the StackIt product line. Taytrix also builds studio furniture and provides design/build acoustic services, too.

Specializing in sound isolation enclosures, WhisperRoom is a partner of Auralex Acoustics, among others, in crafting modular, semi-permanent rooms for purposes ranging from recording, broadcasting, voice-over work, testing and other applications. WhisperRoom offers 20 sizes and two levels of sound isolation, including Standard (single wall) and Enhanced (double wall) models. Optional features abound, including caster plates, ventilation silencing systems, wall windows, audio and XLR jack panels, wide-access doors, and more.

Strother Bullins is Technology Editor for NewBay Media’s AV/Pro Audio Group. Contact him at [email protected].