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Acoustical Wall Panels on a Budget | Studio Soundproofing

Updated on December 27, 2015

Acoustic Foam Studio Wall Panels for Recording On The Cheap

Recording music is always a tricky task. Whether you're doing instruments or vocals, you have to have the right setup in order to achieve that polished and professional sound everyone seeks. As part of your studio, acoustical foam wall panels are a great way to increase the sound quality of your recordings, and it's not too expensive either.

Foam has really come into vogue lately for recording purposes, due to its ability to soundproof a room and dampen the sound. It's highly recommended that any acoustic recordings you do have some form of dampening, soundproofing or sound well. The best acoustical wall panels will make anything picked up by your microphone sound a million times better than they would without.

This article will be showcasing a few great and cheap acoustical wall panels of various makes, and it will hopefully help you find great solutions for your studio setup. We'll talk a little bit about how acoustic studio foam wall panels work and how to place them to best effect. If you have any questions about setup or placement please leave a comment at the bottom of the article. Let's begin.

Foam Acoustical Wall Panels in the Studio: A How-To

So what's the big deal with foam acoustic wall panels anyway? Walk into any given studio and you're bound to see panels like the ones listed below or something similar arrayed along the walls of the recording booth. Here are a few details about how they work and the proper placement to get the best effect.

  1. Dampen and Trap Frequencies:

    It may seem strange, but when you're doing an acoustic recording, whether an instrument or a vocal performance, you don't actually want every bit of the frequency to show up in the recording. The human ear has an ability to filter sound that the average microphone does not. By dampening the frequency, high pitched and lower notes are evened out for a more even sound that's a lot better for mics to pick up.

  2. Echo and Boom Reduction:

    A major problem with recording in most rooms is the issue of echo. Sound waves reflect off the walls and hit the microphone at odd angles, resulting in an echo-y effect that sounds amateurish. What's more, you can also get an odd 'boomy' effect due to the resonant nature of the room amplifying bass frequencies and minimizing mids and highs. Acoustical foam wall panels reduce both of these undesirable issues.

  3. Acoustic Foam Wall Panel Placement:

    When placing your panels, you need to think of where the sound waves will be reflecting. It's not necessary to cover the walls, you just need to put groups of panels in the middle center of most walls. If your room includes a lot of angles you'll want to be more liberal with the foam panels. If you have a standard square room, a few panels on the center of each wall should do it. The acoustical foam wall panels diffuse and dampen the sound perfectly leaving a neutral frequency that's recording friendly.

Acoustic Wedge Soundproofing Studio Foam Tiles

12 Feet of Acoustical Wall Panel Coverage

This great looking set of cheap studio foam wall panels is a nice choice for any type of recording studio setup. It's a good amount of coverage overall and it should be more than enough for a vocal booth or smaller studio space. They're inexpensive enough that you can get a couple of sets easily if you have a larger space.

With its diagonal cut style, this is a great acoustic dampener, and it's built to last a long time without crumbling or becoming brittle, so you won't have to replace it any time soon. It's a good overal frequency absorber and if you get a good bass sink (like a couch or large chair) in a room you're probably covered. It's a cheap studio foam acoustical wall panel set I recommend to most new recorders.

Auralex Studiofoam Designer Acoustical Wall Panel Kit

Cheap studio soundproofing foam panels from an industry leader

Auralex is a great brand name in the recording studio soundproofing industry, and their proprietary products are top notch. I like this set because they vary up the angle at which the foam is cut in order to make the dampening and absorbing qualities more effective. This kit may seem expensive, but keep in mind that you're getting 24 individual foam wall acoustical panels that are each a foot squared, so that's actually a lot of coverage.

Another valuable thing is the kit includes the adhesive that you'll need to affix these panels to your walls, and an instructional booklet that walks you through the steps of attaching them to set up your studio. It's an aesthetic thing, but you can get the panels in many colors, like burgundy or dark blue to match your décor. Expect great results with these guys.

CornerBlox Bass Traps: A corner acoustic wall panel for bass frequencies

The CornerBlox Bass Traps aren't so much panels as solid blocks of foam meant to be wall mounted in the corners of your room. They're great if your room has a lot of corners, and they prevent bass frequencies from overwhelming the mix. If you're recording in a room of any size, I always recommend having some sort of bass sink, even if that's just an old couch. These are more effective, and they compliment acoustical wall panels nicely.

If you don't want to mount them in a corner, you could always mount them where the ceiling and wall meet, which can sometimes be a more unobtrusive look. Each set includes four blocks, which is generally good for an average sized room. They're also asymmetrically cut, with a 12" side and an 8" side so they'll fit even in smaller corners. Avoid the murk and muddiness of bass heavy recording with these awesome bass absorbing acoustical foam wall panels.

SoundTrax Pro Studio Acoustic Foam Wall Panelling

Professional grade, thick and unique studio foam panels

SoundTrax has created an excellent product in these large acoustical wall panels, intended expressly for studio use. First off the cut pattern is unique, no standard wedges here! The panels are extremely thick at around 2" thick each, and this kit includes 12 panels and should have enough coverage for most small to mid-sized studio spaces, depending on your coverage needs.

The winding pattern refracts the sound waves and provides excellent absorption, which has the overall effect of cleaning up your sound and contributing to audio clarity. It's particularly effective in the mid to high end range, and does a decent job with bass frequencies too. If you experience murkiness in your mixes, you might want to get a bass trap too. These are relatively cheap studio foam that will make even an audiophile happy.

Next Acoustics Small Studio Foam Starter Kit

An acoustical wall panel kit with everything you'll need

If you're unsure whether your paneling will cover all the bases, it might be a good idea to get a full kit like this one. It's not too much more than some of the other individual panels listed earlier, and it includes several varieties of wall panels.

With 12 of the SoundTrax acoustic foam studio panels like the kind listed above, and 4 of the CornerBlox bass traps, your studio should have full frequency coverage.

What's more, this kit includes the required adhesive tape for properly mounting it in your studio. I recommend this kit to anyone with a small or home recording studio they're trying to set up. If you end up needing more panels you can always order more, but this will probably be more than enough to get you rolling.

I like this package because it includes everything you'll need to get rolling without any guesswork. And you can always expand if more is necessary.

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