Acoustic panel prices: when are they not expensive?

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Acoustic panel prices: when are they not expensive?

Category: Acoustic Tutorial, Hi-fi, Professional

The price of acoustic treatment products can vary quite considerably. It is not uncommon to see products 3 times higher than others in terms of price.

But then, why such a difference?

This is what we will see in this article. We will see in particular that we must talk about price per project, as well as quality and equivalent result. It is therefore advisable to compare the price, the final reverberation time and the service.

The interest of reasoning in square meters processed and not in price per panel

The resulting tests and technical sheets

It is very difficult to compare acoustic products with each other for several reasons:

  1. Some display alpha sabine curves, others with equivalent absorption area
  2. Some will test with air plenum whereas their product is intended to be hung on the wall. This type of test will significantly improve performance on “paper”. While in reality, the product will have a much lower performance than advertised
  3. Some companies have extensive experience in these tests, so they know perfectly how to use them and thus optimize the performance of PV.
  4. Others will do the tests themselves, without going through a laboratory. The curve therefore has no scientific value. It’s therefore possible that the curve to be much better than reality.

The technical sheets of a product are therefore a good indicator to get an idea of ​​the price of an acoustic treatment. However, they should not be the only indicator of relevance. Thus, professional tests or independent case studies carried out with quantified results will bring an undeniable plus on the quality of the product.

The final result

Very often, a salesperson will accompany you and tell you the number of signs to put to obtain an interesting result. Certainly, this one will give you an overall price for the project. Salespeople often use ratios in terms of floor space that provide correct results. But it seems more relevant to obtain personalized acoustic simulations according to your room characteristics and the panels used. This is what a technician brings. A quote without a technical indicator will be of more limited interest.

Also, an acoustic simulation, even basic, will allow to have a more neutral opinion on the pure acoustic result.

In fact, the raw performance of a acoustic panel can only be assessed in terms of:

  • A specific application
  • An amount
  • A placement

An acoustic simulation can highlight that an ultra-efficient panel on paper will not bring satisfaction once installed if the quantity applied is not sufficient.

It therefore makes sense not to compare project prices that lead to the same result. A project that ends with a reverberation time of 0.6 and one that ends with a reverberation time of 1.2 on the same frequencies does not sound the same at all.

It is therefore wise not to reason in price per panel, but:

  1. In price per project
  2. Looking at the gain in terms of reverberation time
  3. With comparing similar technical services
  4. With ethical criteria, if it matters to you

Technical service

Beyond the product, it is important to know if an advisory service is included in the price. If not, what is its price.

For an individual and certain professionals, this is a service on which savings can be made. When you do not need a standardized result or the measures required by your management, it is possible to settle for a standard technical service.

In fact, most acoustic studies are invoiced between 1,000 and 4,000 pounds. This type of service is of little interest for small rooms or small budgets, which can therefore pay more for the study than for the products themselves.

For information, at PYT Audio, we include acoustic advice in all our studies. It is free. It includes the evolution of the reverberation time and advice on the number and positioning of the panels.

Example of cheap acoustic panels

We offer, however, other types of services as part of more standardized needs:

  1. Ray tracing: with 3D image of the future room with integrated acoustic solutions, virtual visit and different acoustic simulations
  2. On-site measurements: with the measurements of an acoustician

The quality and the responsible side of the materials

The quality of the materials has an impact on the direct and indirect price of the product.

Rock wool and glass

Today, many panels are made with glass wool or rock wool. These products have the advantage of having good acoustic properties and a low direct cost.

However, it is important to know that they are classified as products with “possible carcinogenic effects“. Many studies have shown their danger to health. When other studies have said otherwise. Since large companies use them a lot, it is legitimate to ask questions of lobbying. Not being scientific, we will not answer this question. Just know that these materials are controversial and have sometimes been compared to asbestos. As a precaution, we have chosen to never use this materials in our products.

Eco-friendly materials

There are ecological materials which also have very good acoustic properties. Often the direct cost is higher. However, these materials have many other virtues which make them even less expensive if we reason with an overall cost to society.

Societal approaches

Beyond the quality of the materials, societal approaches can also have a slightly more expensive cost because:

  • They may require significant testing costs
  • Labels attesting to this approach also have a cost

Using eco-friendly materials comes at a cost. The great interest lies in the quality of these materials and in the positive externalities generated by this type of purchase: lower CO2 emissions, environmental protection, etc.

Ecological materials are also far from being all fire resistant. Thus, they require significant engineering and testing costs.

Most labels attesting to a societal approach also have a cost linked to certification and its renewal (payment of the audit, administrative costs, etc.).

Performance: understand with concrete examples

Here is a concrete example to better understand the result to be achieved. You will therefore better understand the subtlety of the acoustic parameters.

Each piece is unique, so we will rely on values ​​that we find regularly in our studies. We will therefore study 2 types of parts:

  1. Standard size : 2.5m high under ceiling and about 50 square meters
  2. “Non-standard” size: beyond 5 meters of ceiling height and almost 100m square meters

First room: a room with a standard size

In this example, we have therefore set the characteristics of the part. Here is the summary:

  • 50 square metters
  • 2.5 meters of high ceiling
  • Plasterboard walls and ceiling
  • 10 square meters of glass surfaces
  • Floor tiles

All the tests are carried out with the same panel: the MUTUM Luxury.
20 square meters of panels are applied in the volume (40% of the floor area).

This gives us an initial reverberation curve between 1.3 and 1.8 seconds of reverberation time. This initial curve is, below, in red.

A reverberation curve with panels in application is also generated in blue:

  • On the left capture: the panels are tackled against the support (wall or ceiling)
  • On the right capture: the panels are suspended
Acoustic performance curve
Acoustic performance curve by PYT Audio

We can clearly see the differences in performance, with the same panel, but installed differently.

On the next 2 captures, let’s now see the subtlety between an official acoustic test report expressed in alpha sabine and an official test report expressed in equivalent absorption area.

We will not hide it, equivalent absorption zone is more widely used in the technical sheets. Indeed, the curves amplitude is greater, and therefore more rewarding.

Acoustic curve in alpha sabine
Acoustic curve in equivalent absorption area

On the 2 curves above we can think that one of the panels is 2 times better!

And yes, on the one hand the curve rises only to 1.2, while on the other, it rises to 2.4 …

FALSE: it’s the same panel, the same measurements. Except that on the right, the equivalent absorption curve completely distorts the deal if we do not know the difference between these 2 types of measurements!

As a manufacturer, we can make the numbers more interessant. The alpha sabine curve is therefore more neutral. If as a customer, we do not necessarily see the difference, and our gaze is on the highest value, the acousticians and the software make a difference. Let’s go back to our room.

Reverberation time in alpha sabine
Reverberation time in equivalent absorption area

On the left, a simulation with the alpha sabine values, on the right, the values ​​in equivalent absorption area.

You don’t have to be very experienced to see that the result is not the same. However, it is the result on the left, the least advantageous, which will be more representative of the reality of the gain to be hoped for.

Second case with a room with “loft” or “open space” dimensions

In this example, we have therefore set the characteristics of the part. Here is the summary:

  • 100 square metters
  • 5 meters of high ceiling
  • Plasterboard walls and ceiling
  • 20 square meters of glass surfaces
  • Floor tiles

All the tests are carried out with the same panel: the MUTUM Luxe.
40 square meters of panels are applied in the volume (40% of the floor area).

This gives us an initial reverberation curve between 2.2 and 2.9 seconds of reverberation time. This initial curve is, below, in red.

A reverberation curve with panels in application is also generated in blue:

  • On the left capture: the panels are tackled against the support (wall or ceiling)
  • On the right capture: the panels are suspended
RT60 in alpha sabine
RT60 in absorption area

Here, we see that in a much larger room, with the same proportion of panels, we do not achieve the same results. While bringing a significant reduction, the reverberation time remains higher.

In the first example, the hanging panels provided “over quality” with a result of 0.4 over a large part of the spectrum. The room will therefore be a little “deaf”, which is not of particular interest for a standard room. However, in this second example, they appear to be a solution to be favored.

Indeed, the ideal is not to exceed a reverberation time of 1.2 seconds, except in the bass (from 125 to 250hz) which can only exist with a sound system.

Do not hesitate to read our tutorials on acoustic panels for open space and on noise reduction in restaurants.

Final analysis of the 2 cases

In our 2 examples, we note similarities.

  • A reverberation peak at 1khz
  • The bass reverberation time which remains longer even after treatment

Hanging panels are more efficient:

  • The plated panels absorb less frequencies under 500hz
  • The reverberation time is divided between 2 to 3 with acoustic panels

Why ?

  • Frequencies around 1kz tend to increase.
  • The absorption of the bass is more complex and is impossible with a small thickness
  • The annoying frequencies are located between 400 and 4000hz (vocal frequencies, noises of cutlery,…). These are the decisive frequencies.

To sum up :

  1. The reverberation time will therefore be reduced by 2 or 3 in the vast majority of cases. Similarly, the processing is more important on the vocal frequencies and the treble because these are the frequencies which generate the most noise. (400 to 4000hz)
  2. Veneered panels bring very good results, often sufficient, but hanging panels are to be preferred in rooms with high ceilings.
  3. It is very important that the acoustic simulations are carried out with an absorption coefficient in alpha sabine and not in equivalent absorption area so as not to be disappointed with the result
  4. Small rooms often only require 25% absorbent surfaces
  5. Large parts cannot be treated efficiently without a large treatment surface or products with high absorption capacity
  6. You must ensure the quality of the products with test reports or in-situ tests carried out by specialists

Conclusion, when is a wall acoustic panel is not expensive?

As mentioned in the preamble, it is much more logical to reason in square metters and in performance to assess whether an acoustic panel is expensive or not. The service can also be taken into account, in particular within the framework of standardized requirements.

To give you a more precise idea, know that we offer solutions from € 30 / m², with an average of € 45 / m² treated for standard parts. This represents a classic cost of € 3000 including tax for rooms of 50m² with a standard ceiling height.

When it comes to large volumes, however, the cost will be higher, for the same performance. The cost per m² will rather be around 120 € including VAT per m².

If the installation is understood, and with a detailed acoustic study, the cost can then go up to € 200 per m².

Do not hesitate to contact us to find out more.