How to Estimate Your Room for Sound Absorption (Plus Acoustic Products to Help!)

From reducing noise to improving aesthetics, sound-absorbing features have the potential to enhance our living and working spaces in so many ways.

However, determining which sound absorption products to incorporate and where to install them can be a little bit intimidating — especially if you’re unfamiliar with acoustics and the role of sound absorbing acoustic products.  

We know what you’re thinking…where do you even begin when measuring your space for optimal sound absorption? And if you want to add things like acoustic panels, where do you put them? Don’t worry, we’ve got you covered! We’ll walk you through how to do all of the above, plus provide some pretty cool (if we do say so ourselves) sound-absorbing treatment inspo.

light grey sound absorbing ceiling tiles with circle cutout pattern above lounge area

Sound-Absorption Calculation 101

An important part of optimizing your use of sound absorbing wall and ceiling panels and tiles, ceiling acoustics, acoustical lighting, and other acoustic products all starts with two things: determining how much coverage you’ll need and how the room will be used ie: a cafeteria and an employee break room will need different coverage than an executive boardroom. 

While formulas are available, there are handy sound-absorption calculators that make it easy. You just need to enter your room’s dimensions, and you’ll receive calculations for minimal and recommended coverage. 

Even more conveniently? Some calculators break things down further into panel sizes and quantities, answering the frequently asked question, “How many acoustic panels do I need?” 

Depending on budget, timeline, and other factors, many people begin with minimal coverage and incorporate additional coverage as necessary. 

Additionally, it’s important to note that the absorption coefficients of materials also factor heavily into their sound absorption effectiveness. 

For example, fabric and other soft materials have higher absorption coefficients, while hard materials like wood, stone, and glass have little to no absorption coefficients. The takeaway? Materials with high absorption coefficients offer the most bang for your buck. 

So which material is actually the best for sound absorption? Well, it really depends on the interior construction and other finish materials being used in a space. It could be as simple as sound absorbing fabric drapery, rugs, or any sound absorbing ceiling or wall material. 

Where to Place Acoustical Panels

If you’ve ever wondered where to put acoustic products, the answer is surprisingly simple: wherever you want to improve productivity, comfort, sound quality, and aesthetics. 

While there’s no one-size-fits-all solution to placing acoustic products because of the different space constraints and acoustic needs, a room’s reflection points are excellent places to start. The sweet spot to place these acoustic products would be within 3-7’ above the finished floor on two perpendicular walls. However, high ceilings may also require acoustic product coverage depending on room conditions. 

What is a reflection point? These are hard surfaces where sound waves reflect and reverberate, causing an amplified effect (think the echoing of a cave). These include ceilings, walls, corners, and floors. Using acoustic panels, acoustic rugs or other floor coverings, and acoustic lighting in these locations is one of our favorite (and design-friendly) ways to absorb sound waves and lessen echoes and reverberation in a room. 

Sound Absorbing Treatment Ideas and Inspiration

Looking for ideas and inspiration for sound-absorbing products in a space like yours? Different rooms mean different sound-absorbing solutions, plus it will ultimately depend on how you want to use the product (whether it’s for a design purpose or for noise reduction). Still need help deciding where to start? Here are four space scenarios, along with our very own product recommendations. 

Estimating Private Office Acoustics

1. Private Offices

If you’ve ever tried to be productive in a private office only to be interrupted by unwanted  noise, you know how frustrating it can be. Incorporating one or more of these acoustic products can help you create a quiet workspace conducive to productivity:

Our top recommendation? Acoustic panels are commonly used in private offices to improve the acoustic environment and reduce unwanted noise. Because private offices can often suffer from poor acoustics due to hard surfaces such as walls, floors, and ceilings, sound waves can bounce around and create echoes and reverberation.

Installing acoustic panels can help absorb sound waves, reduce echo and reverberation, and create a more comfortable and productive working environment. This is especially important for private offices, where concentration and privacy are essential.

Open Office Space Acoustic Sizing Estimates

2. Open Offices

While open offices have many benefits, they also have some major downsides, with sound management at the top of the list. These acoustic products offer powerful acoustical solutions:

Conference Room Sound Absorption Size Estimate

3. Conference Rooms

Conference rooms support a variety of activities. These products can help create inviting and productive group spaces for meetings, working lunches, and other gatherings: 

Estimating Commercial Space Acoustic Sizes

4. Commercial Spaces 

Noisy commercial spaces are the opposite of welcoming. These acoustical solutions not only help with sound absorption but also shine in terms of architectural design. 

While venturing into the world of acoustics can seem overwhelming, it’s well worth the effort. The best part? Today’s innovative acoustic solutions from industry innovators like Unika Vaev help create quieter and more comfortable environments (and more beautiful ones).