Sound Absorption Requirements for a Full Room Acoustics Treatment

How much absorption material is necessary for an effective room acoustics treatment?
It’s a fair question to ask before starting a sound improvement project. Though there’s no one-size-fits-all answer, we can offer some guidelines and considerations for obtaining the right sound.

The right amount of absorption for a room acoustics treatment depends on four main and related variables:

•   intended use of the room and the sound source;
•   room size, including ceiling height;
•   materials in the room, including furnishings and wall, floor, and ceiling type; and
•   the type of absorption used.

Start by defining success: Does the room sound need to be only lightly corrected, or does the room construction or purpose demand serious sound deadening?

As a general rule, a moderate percentage of “live” (untreated) space is preferred—without it, a room sounds flat and lifeless. Use the following wall coverage percentages as a starting point for your room acoustics treatment (assuming absorption products rated .65 to 1.0 NRC - Noise Reduction Coefficient):

Light absorption (5 to 25 percent coverage)

– Light absorption is appropriate for live recording or listening rooms, offices, conference rooms and rooms where people gather and converse.

Moderate absorption (25 to 50 percent coverage)

– Moderate absorption suits listening and control rooms that typically feature more subdued music, as well as larger business spaces. Moderate absorption of around 50 percent is a good estimate for many home theaters.

Heavy absorption (50 to 100 percent coverage)

– Heavy coverage suits drum rooms, music practice space, rooms that handle high-energy music. Vocal booths and recording isolation booths require the most absorption.

It’s impossible to give a precise percentage without analyzing each unique space.  The amount of absorption necessary as a room acoustics treatment will vary significantly based on size, furnishings, and construction materials, so consider those elements carefully. For example, a larger room may require more absorptive material, carpeted floors and soft furnishings absorb sound and therefore will decrease the amount of additional absorption material needed, and paneled walls or large amounts of glass may significantly increase the necessary treatment.

We offer a free and personalized room analysis form that you can use to submit information about your space, and one of our acoustics specialists will review your information and contact you with advice tailored to your specific needs. If your application is for a particularly large space or is a commercial application, use our large/commercial room analysis form.

Also bear in mind that some sound absorbers have a higher noise reduction coefficient (NRC) than others, and the right amount depends on the level of absorption required, the aesthetic needs of the space, and the budget. Audimute offers three distinct absorption products to meet any need: sheets, eco-C-tex®, and panels. Panels, our most decorative and effective option, rate a 1.0 NRC, while the less-expensive eco-C-tex rate the same 1.0 NRC and sheets  rate .65 NRC. 

There’s a lot to consider when deciding on a room acoustics treatment, so don’t go it alone. Contact Audimute at 866-505-MUTE (6883) or chat (using our link on the left side of this page) with a professional on this site for more information on how our sound absorption products can work for you.