What are Acoustic Panels?
What are acoustic panels? Find out how to use them and where to integrate them in an office or work space.
Acoustics is sometimes referred to as the ‘science of sound’. When talking about acoustics, you’re essentially talking about the way sounds in a room behave.
Walking into a room with poor acoustics often means that the sound tends to reverberate off of hard surfaces that reflect the sound, rather than absorbing it. This causes a high level of reverberation, which ultimately diminishes the quality of the sound. Thus the reason acoustic paneling was created! This is also a great way to divide office space while using soundproofing dividers and panels.
How Do Acoustic Panels Work?
So, what are acoustic panels exactly and how do they work? Acoustic panels used to either diffuse sound or absorb sound. The idea is to use the panels to minimize background noise and reduce echoes in a room. Acoustic panels can be installed both vertically and horizontally. Acoustic baffles, acoustic boards, and sound panels, typically all refer to the same thing.
Acoustic panels are a relatively new thing in the world of acoustic solutions. The basic principle behind acoustic panels is a combination of three factors; sound absorption, diffusion, and attenuation.
These things are what help to improve the sound and acoustics of a room, whether it’s a room in an office or a room elsewhere. All three factors have a direct effect on the functioning and effectiveness of an acoustic panel.
How to Use Acoustic Panels
Acoustic panels should be used whenever and wherever you need to overcome issues of background noise and reduce reverberations caused by sound waves moving through space.
Acoustic panels can be designed and created to work as either absorbers or diffusers to help optimize the acoustic conditions, and you can try both horizontal and vertical acoustic panels. Both are good for different things, depending upon your needs.
Vertical panels can both diffuse and absorb sound to reduce the intensity of sound transfer––meaning it helps to stop sound waves from traveling. This type of sound panel also helps reduce background noise to more tolerable levels.
Possible ways of incorporating vertical acoustic panels include ceiling suspended panels, freestanding panels, and wall-mounted panels. We offer a wide variety of ceiling and wall-mounted panels to suit your acoustic needs.
Similarly, horizontal acoustic panels can also be used for the direct absorption and for the diffusion of sound waves, depending on the design of your room. Like vertical panels, this is achieved by creating horizontal acoustic panels using sound-absorbing materials, such as acoustic foam.
When the sound waves hit the material, they are absorbed and converted into heat through the friction with the material. Horizontal acoustic panel solutions include ceiling suspended panels.
To improve the acoustics of a room, it’s a good idea to have both vertical and horizontal panels, as both offer different things that help contribute to better acoustics.
Types of Acoustic Panels
One of the most commonly used types of acoustic panels are wall-mounted ones. These vertical panels work best in helping to minimize background noise.
Wall-mounted acoustic panels are ideal for smaller spaces where you can’t spare an entire wall for acoustic solutions. They are often seen in restaurants and bars, and are sometimes hidden behind wall décor.
You can also create something like an acoustic moss wall to incorporate some greenery and create fresh vibes in a room, alongside improving the acoustics. Juniper Solutions offers a range of wall-mounted acoustic panels, in various shapes. Many of them could be used for something creative like this.
Ceiling acoustic panels are often of the horizontal variety. These are especially beneficial for larger, more open spaces, where you want to localize any noise and improve the quality of sound.
A creative way of using ceiling suspended acoustic panels is to create a cloud-like appearance for them. You can do something like this by enhancing them with hanging lamps.
We offer several ceiling suspended panels here at Juniper Office Furniture Solutions and would be happy to help you in planning and customizing your next project to improve the acoustics of your new office.
Freestanding acoustic panels refers to multi-purpose acoustic panel sets that you can use for different needs and setups, that don’t have to be mounted to a wall or ceiling.
Often these panels are simple acoustic dividers, ideal for creating small open cubicles that are still quiet and free of distracting background noises. There are also booth panels that allow you to create completely separate sound-proof booths, depending on your office needs.
In addition to these three types of paneling, you also have to consider the shapes of the different types of sound absorption panels. The main shapes are:
- Smooth paneling
- Eggcrate paneling
- Wedge paneling
- Spade paneling
- Grid paneling
- Pyramid paneling
Each of these shapes work a little differently, and some more effectively than others depending upon the needs of the room.
When to Use Acoustic Panels
Below are some of the most common ways of utilizing both horizontal and vertical acoustic panels to minimize noise and maximize the quality of sound, no matter how large or small the room may be.
To Maximize Space
Acoustic wall panels are an ideal solution even if you don’t have a lot of space to work with. You can even get customized, wall-mounted acoustic panels that match and reflect your brand colors and logo, so that they not only improve acoustics, but also contribute to the decor and ambiance.
To Reduce Hard Surface Areas
Oftentimes, the reason behind poor acoustics in an auditorium or office is that there are just too many hard surface areas. Most of the time, these hard surfaces are the ceilings.
By using solutions like suspended acoustic panels, you can help reduce the square footage of these hard spaces and improve the acoustics of the entire room.
To increase Quality of Sound
In the world of science and acoustic solutions, something called the proximity effect is often referenced. The proximity effect states that the closer a panel is to a noise source, the more the different sound frequencies can be suppressed.
Using convex acoustic reflectors at different heights can be an excellent way of minimizing resonance in a room and dramatically improving its quality of sound.
Where Should You Use Acoustic Panels?
Regardless of why you’re using acoustic panels, it’s important to determine the right spot to place them in order to make the most of them. Finding the ideal placement for your acoustic panels is typically determined by the following factors:
Whether you need to panel a large auditorium, an open-floor office space, or something smaller, the room size is an important consideration.
With smaller rooms, sound waves usually bounce off a wall when it hits the first and closest hard surface near it. To overcome this issue, wall-mounted acoustic panels can be ideal.
When rooms are larger, the sound energy traveling through the room decreases due to distance losses. However, some sound waves will still reflect instead of dying off.
When these waves hit the ceilings they often can significantly distort the sound. To remedy this problem, try going with suspended horizontal ceiling panels. For optimum performance, be sure to hang the panels at differing heights.
The main purpose of a room depends on the kind of activities it’s designed for. For example:
- In a condo or hotel, you might use acoustic panels to enhance privacy and inhibit the transfer of sound between units.
- In an auditorium, you might need acoustic panels to improve the quality of sound by minimizing background noise and echoing.
- In a library, you might install acoustic panels just to reduce the amount of background noise.
- In a dance studio, acoustic panels might be installed to minimize the sound transfer of dance music to other units in the building.
Apart from these major factors, any furniture present in the room, as well as the material specs of the room––a concrete block room and a room built of wood will have different sound requirements––plus all the items contained in the room, each play a role in the type needed and the placement of acoustic panels.
This is because the number of items present in a room and the material of them and the material the room is made from, all determines how many sound waves will be reflected and how many will pass through, thus helping you determine how much acoustic paneling you may need.
Acoustic paneling can be a great choice for many offices that need a little extra boost in the acoustics of the room and they can serve more than one purpose. Sound absorbing panels are also a great idea for how to reduce noise in small office spaces. You don’t have to sacrifice style for function! Be sure to check out the different acoustic paneling options we offer, we know there’s a solution to fit every need.