I was looking for an effective and inexpensive way to improve the acoustics of any room. I discovered that the best soundproof acoustical ceiling tiles and panels would block out unwanted external noises and absorb echoes, turning any space into a quiet sanctuary. More than just effective sound barriers, they can also improve the aesthetics of your space.
In this article, I’m going to explain all you need to know about using acoustic tiles for soundproofing and sound control. Afterward, I’m even going to review some of the best options on the market to help you determine which solution is the best answer to your audio control problems.
Top Pics for Best Acoustic Ceiling Tiles:
- Armstrong Ceiling Tiles
- Arrowzoom Acoustic Soundproofing Insulation Tiles
- BUBOS Acoustic Tiles
- soundsulate Sound Absorbing Acoustical Drop Ceiling Tiles
- Ceilume Acoustical Ceiling Tile
Top Pics for Best Acoustic Ceiling Panels:
- Foamily Acoustic Studio Panels
- RHINO Sound Proof Panels
- ATS Acoustic Panels
- Acoustimac DMD Stagger Acoustic Panels Kit
- DEKIRU Upgraded Acoustic Panels
- TroyStudio Acoustic Panels
What Are Acoustic Ceiling Tiles
You’ve probably seen acoustic ceiling tiles many times without giving them much thought. These panels are used in many different applications to help control the sound of any room. They are square or rectangular panels made from acoustic materials that absorb sound to help with noise reduction.
Most often, you’ll see them in a drop-ceiling. This is a metal gridwork frame that the acoustic ceiling panels sit inside of. One advantage of this type of ceiling is that you get easy access to the ductwork, electrical, and plumbing above that makes it much easier to repair than a traditional drywall ceiling.
These panels can have a variety of different traits that make them better or worse for certain applications. For instance, some are fire rated so you won’t need an additional fire barrier behind them. Others are designed to drop away if a fire occurs so that sprinklers can eliminate the flames.
More than just fire safety, they also vary greatly in aesthetics. From plain white and black tiles to different patterns and colors, you are sure to find an acoustic ceiling tile that suits your preferences. If you want something even more unique, some tiles can even be painted, though not all of them.
Often, you’ll see these ceiling tiles in schools, office buildings, auditoriums, and other professional applications. But they’re also commonly used in condos, home theaters, game rooms, and even recording studios where sound control is of the utmost importance.
What Are Sound Absorbing Ceiling Panels
Sound absorbing panels are large acoustic panels that can nullify reverberations and echoes. They do this by absorbing the energy of the sound waves before they can bounce back out into the open space.
These panels are often fabric wrapped and thick so that they can provide as much sound absorption as possible. When the sound waves hit these panels, there is enough material to slow down the waves and kill their energy, effectively stopping the sound.
While they are excellent at cleaning up echoes and reflections, sound absorbing panels are not as proficient at blocking sound from external sources. If you need to stop the sound of traffic or neighbors from getting in, then you want soundproofing acoustic ceiling tiles.
Are Acoustical Ceiling Tiles and Panels Good for Soundproofing?
Sound absorbing ceiling tiles and panels can do a lot to improve the sound of any room. For example, they can absorb echoes and reverberations, which cleans up the sound inside of the room for improved acoustics. This is especially great in large rooms with lots of echoes, or spaces that will have many people or many sounds at once.
Moreover, they can also block noise from entering or exiting the space, making the room and even the surrounding areas quieter. This is excellent in any space that you want to keep quiet and avoid sounds from outside bleeding through.
School rooms, offices, and even recording studios can benefit from this type of panel since they tend to be areas where you don’t want external noise contributing to the noise inside the room.
Acoustic Ceiling Tiles and Panels Noise Reduction Capabilities
Now that we’ve discussed what these tiles are and how they can help clean up the sound of any space, it’s time to talk about how effective they truly are. There are three main ways that the sound absorption characteristics of these panels are measured.
Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC)
The noise reduction coefficient measures the ability of a particular material to absorb sound. It’s rated on a scale of 0-1 with higher numbers representing better sound-absorbing characteristics. This will tell you how well the panels stop echoes and reverberations.
An NRC rating of 0 means that a material does nothing to absorb sound. On the opposite end of the spectrum, an NRC rating of 1 means that it absorbs all sound.
Some of the best acoustic ceiling panels have an NRC rating of about 0.8, which means that they can absorb a good deal of sound waves that hit them. For reference, an NRC rating of 0.8 is about the same rating that good acoustic panels in a recording studio will provide.
Sound Transmission Class (STC)
Sound transmission class is a rating given to different materials that measures their effectiveness at soundproofing. A higher STC rating means that a material will prevent more sound from passing through.
An STC rating of 35 is about average for walls in standard homes. At an STC rating of 50, you would have to strain very hard to hear a normal conversation through the material.
High-quality acoustic ceiling panels will have an STC rating in the mid to high 20s, meaning they will block only a portion of sound from outside sources. However, ceiling tiles usually have some type of material above as well, which will increase the soundproofing ability of the whole ceiling.
Ceiling Attenuation Class (CAC)
Ceiling attenuation class determines the ability of a ceiling to prevent sound from transferring to an adjacent room or other enclosed space. The higher CAC rating a ceiling has, the better it blocks sound.
A CAC of 25 or less is considered low performance and will allow a lot of sound to transfer between rooms. Any rating above 35 is considered high performance and will do a good job of reducing sound between rooms.
Some of the best acoustic ceiling tiles have a CAC rating in the low to mid-40s. This makes them extremely effective at preventing sounds from bleeding through the ceiling and into adjacent spaces.
What Are Acoustic Ceiling Tiles And Panels Made Of
Fiberglass ceiling tiles are low density, so they tend to be moisture resistant and hold up well over time. They have a good NRC rating so they can help control reverberations and reflections. However, they tend to have a lower CAC rating than other materials, meaning they don’t do well at preventing sound transfer between rooms.
Polyurethane foam is great for reducing high-frequency reflections thanks to its absorptive properties. But it’s not as good at reducing low-frequency reverberations. It’s also not the best for soundproofing since the low CAC rating means it won’t prevent sound from transferring across rooms.
One advantage of polyurethane ceiling tiles is that they come in a wide variety of patterns and designs. Some of them are very ornate and attractive, and they can also be painted, unlike many other materials used for making ceiling tiles.
Melamine Acoustic Foam
Ceiling tiles made from melamine acoustic foam tend to provide great sound-absorbing and soundproofing characteristics with high NRC and CAC ratings. They are also one of the most expensive options and are offered by only a few manufacturers.
Acoustic panels made of mineral fibers are effective at sound blocking thanks to their higher CAC rating. That said, they don’t have the best NRC rating because they aren’t great at absorbing lower frequency sounds, although they do well in higher frequencies.
Best Soundproof Ceiling Tiles Reviews
1. Armstrong Ceiling Tiles
These acoustic drop ceiling tiles from Armstrong cover 64 square feet per box. Each tile is 2’X2’ and 16 pieces are included in a pack.
They drop right into place in any standard suspended ceiling grid. No glue or staples are necessary, just set the tile in place and move on to the next one.
Thanks to the non-directional texture, your whole ceiling will look uniform and your installation process will be considerably quicker. They’re also very easy to cut, meaning you’ll waste less time and finish the entire job efficiently.
These tiles resist sagging for a long lifespan. They’re also mold and mildew-resistant, making them suitable for areas with high humidity levels, but not outdoors. To make sure that your investment is protected, a 10-year warranty is also included.
For the environmentally-conscious consumer, the Armstrong ceiling tiles are completely recyclable. They’re also made from up to 56% recycled materials. Moreover, they’re a USDA-Certified BioBased product.
Crafted from mineral fiber, they are effective at blocking and absorbing sound for a noticeable improvement in the acoustics and soundproofing of your space. You can also choose from six surface textures from smooth to fissured to provide the aesthetics that you’re looking for.See Prices >
2. MAMaiuh Acoustic Foam Tiles
With seven different color options to choose from, these are an effective and attractive way to improve the acoustics of any room. They feature a wedge-shaped pattern that will scatter the sound waves, further reducing reverberations and echoes.
These tiles can be easily attached to any ceiling by glue, staples, or even just with double-sided tape. They’re very light, so you’ll have no problem installing them yourself, and they won’t weigh down the ceiling. No additional support is needed for these tiles.
The MAMaiuh foam tiles are 12”X12” in size, and you get 10 of them in a package for a total coverage of 10 square feet.
While they are very effective at sound absorption, these tiles aren’t the best for soundproofing. They are soft and spongy, giving them a high NRC rating but a low CAC Rating. Because of this, they’re perfect for home theaters, recording studios, game rooms, instrument rooms, and other places where sound control is the goal.
Since they’re made from soft foam, these tiles are easy to cut to any size or shape you need. They do have a bit of a smell fresh from the box, but it dissipates within a few days.
3. Arrowzoom Acoustic Soundproofing Insulation Tiles
Designed by audiophiles, the Arrowzoom acoustic soundproofing insulation tiles are excellent for reducing echoes, reverberations, and reflections. This makes them perfect for many different applications, such as recording studios, offices, or media production facilities.
These tiles are constructed of polyester fiber, which is very absorbent and can greatly enhance the acoustics of your room. They’re not the best option for stopping sound transference between rooms, though.
The Arrowzoom tiles are non-toxic, making them safe around children and harmless to the environment. They’re non-corrosive, so they won’t get damaged over time or cause damage to your home.
Even more impressively, they’re fire-retardant, unlike many of the other options available. You can also clean them easily, so they remain as attractive as the day you installed them.
Lightweight and easy to install, you can mount these directly to your existing ceiling with spray adhesive, staples, or adhesive tape. They’re also aesthetically pleasing and can match almost any decor since they’re available in seven different colors.
Depending on how large of a ceiling you need to cover, you can purchase these tiles in packages of various sizes from eight pieces up to 96 pieces. Each tile measures just under 12”X12”, so a 96-piece set will cover just about 96 square feet.See Prices >
4. BUBOS Acoustic Tiles
The BUBOS acoustic tiles are the densest in the market, providing excellent sound absorption. Within the normal range of human hearing, they reach a sound absorption coefficient above 0.9, with an average of over 0.8. This means they can eliminate unwanted noises, making the sound of your room clearer overall.
Thanks to their incredible density, these panels are up to 10 times better than acoustic foam, low-density polyester products, or traditional acoustic panels.
With no chemicals, no irritants, and no toxins, these tiles are completely safe. They’re also fire-resistant with a B1 level flame-retardant classification.
Many acoustic ceiling tiles are available in multiple colors, but the BUBOS tiles take the cake when it comes to visual selection. You can choose from many different colors, patterns, and designs, including flags, animals, brick patterns, mosaics, and plenty of other original choices.
Despite being so dense, these panels are lightweight and very easy to install. They can be attached directly to your existing ceiling using basic double-sided foam mounting tape.
Six panels are included in each pack. Each panel measures 12”X12” for a total of six square feet in each package.See Prices >
5. soundsulate Sound Absorbing Acoustical Drop Ceiling Tiles
Built specifically for drop ceilings, the soundsulate sound-absorbing acoustical ceiling tilessoundsulate sound-absorbing acoustical ceiling tiles are an effective solution for rooms with too many undesirable echoes and reverberations. They are crafted from soft, high-quality fiberglass. The rigid non-woven facing provides a nice finished look and further aids in the acoustic characteristics of these tiles.
These tiles are available in several different sizes and thicknesses. You can get them in 24”X24” squares or 24”X48” rectangles. They’re available at 1” thick in packages of 80 square feet total, or 2” thick in packages that cover 40 square feet.
The soundsulate ceiling tiles have a high NRC rating of 0.7, meaning they absorb 70% of reverberations and reflections to drastically improve the acoustics of any room. More than just absorptive, they are also effective at reducing sound transmission between rooms.
These tiles are lightweight and very easy to install in any drop ceiling grid. Simply set them in place and they’re done, no glue or staples required. If you need to resize them, they’re very easy to cut with a utility knife.
Impressively, these tiles are class A fire-rated, which is harder to find in acoustic ceiling tiles. On top of this, they’re also mold-resistant, so they can be used in high humidity areas and they’re also very easy to clean.See Prices >
6. Ceilume Acoustical Ceiling Tile
Ultra-thin and feather-light, Ceilume polyline acoustical tiles are only 0.013” thick, about the same as a business card. They’re made from rigid vinyl with a geometric pattern that’s great for scattering reflections and echoes.
Each case of the Ceilume ceiling tiles includes 14 pieces. They’re each 2’X4’ in size, so a single package will cover 56 square feet of ceiling space. They’re also available in 2’X2’ squares.
These tiles are meant to be used in a standard drop-in ceiling with no glue. They can be easily trimmed with scissors making the installation process very simple and quick.
Class A fire protection rated and FDA compliant, these tiles are even safe for food preparation areas. Plus, they’re GREENGUARD certified for indoor air quality, so they’re safe for use in children’s areas as well. They’re also fully recyclable to minimize the environmental impact.
They don’t absorb dust or moisture, so they’re perfectly acceptable for high humidity spaces. This makes them extremely easy to keep clean and also prolongs their lifespan. Since they’re only available in a bright white color, this is a major advantage.
Unfortunately, since they’re so thin, they’re not very effective at absorbing sounds. They are useful for blocking sound transmission between rooms though.See Prices >
Best Acoustic Ceiling Panels Reviews
1. Foamily Acoustic Studio Panels
Available in packs of 12 or 24, the Foamily acoustic studio panels are an excellent product for absorbing unwanted noises such as reflections and echoes. Each tile covers one square foot and is 1” thick. The wedge shape of these panels means that they will scatter whatever reflections aren’t absorbed for improved acoustics throughout the entire room.
Since they’re so effective at reducing flutter echoes, waves, and reverberations, the Foamily tiles are great for recording studios, game rooms, and even home theaters.
There are four colors for you to choose from; red, burgundy, charcoal, and blue. You can even alternate colors for a unique appearance that will improve the looks of almost any room.
Since they’re made from ultra-lightweight acoustic foam, these tiles are extremely easy to install directly to your existing ceiling. Simply add double-sided tape or spray-on adhesive to the back and apply them to the ceiling. Alternatively, you could also use staples or nails if desired.
You can easily cut and shape each piece with a pair of scissors, making it easy to get a perfect fit on your ceiling, even around lights and other fixtures. They are easy to rip though, so you’ll need to be careful when doing so.See Prices >
2. RHINO Sound Proof Panels
Available in dark grey, matte black, and silver-gray, the RHINO acoustic panels are an attractive way to eliminate unwanted echoes, improving the acoustics of any space. They are available in two sizes; 12”X12” and 16”X12”.
Lab-tested to provide an NRC measurement you can trust, these panels will absorb 95% of sound, nearly eliminating all reverberations and echoes. They’re commercial-grade, so they’re suitable for home use as well as professional offices and other applications.
Built from 100% polyester fiber, the RHINO panels are completely safe to the touch. They also don’t release any toxins or chemicals, so they’re safe to breathe in as well since they don’t alter the air quality at all. Adding to the safety of these tiles is the class B1 flame-retardant rating.
These are the highest density on the market, meaning they’re not just good for sound absorption, but they’re also effective at soundproofing. They can block a considerable amount of sound from transferring between rooms.
On top of all the benefits, the RHINO soundproof panels are also very easy to install since they’re so lightweight. They can be attached directly to your existing ceiling using a few pieces of double-sided tape.See Prices >
3. ATS Acoustic Panel
With an impressive noise reduction coefficient of 1.0 out of 1, the ATS acoustic panels are one of the most effective ways to eliminate unwanted reverb, reflections, and echoes of all kinds. These panels are a full 2” thick, making them much thicker than most of the other panels reviewed here. This thickness allows the ATS panels to absorb more sound than competitors, making them excellent for large, loud spaces such as auditoriums, studios, and open living spaces.
Since they’re so effective, you won’t require as many of these panels to control the sound in any space. You won’t need to cover the whole ceiling, just a few of these strategically placed should do the trick.
Handcrafted in the USA, these panels feature furniture-quality design and workmanship that you can count on to last a long time. They’re also attractive, covered in a high-quality 100% jute fabric that’s available in black, burgundy, and ivory.
Each panel is 2’X4’, covering a total space of 8 square feet. They’re also quite a bit heavier than other acoustical ceiling panels, weighing about 10 pounds each. This means they’re a bit more difficult to hang as well since you can’t just drop them into a frame. You’ll need to install them with nails or screws instead.See Prices >
4. Acoustimac DMD Stagger Acoustic Panels Kit
Acoustimac is a well-known and well-trusted name in acoustic panels. Their DMD stagger acoustic panels kit provides six separate panels that will cover an area of 18 square feet. Each panel is 3’X1’ in size and 2” thick for superior absorption.
You also get two colors, three panels of each shade. This allows you to stagger the colors and create an aesthetically pleasing look.
Rated at NRC .95, these panels will absorb almost all reflections and echoes to drastically improve the sound in any room. This means you won’t need to cover the entire ceiling to get the desired effect. Just a few of these panels is as effective as an entire ceiling of smaller drop-in ceiling tiles.
These panels are considerably heavier and larger than many of the small options on the market, so they’re also harder to install. Luckily, these include all the installation hardware you need.
More than just acoustically viable, the Acoustimac DMD panels are also safe and sturdy. They feature a class A fire rating so they won’t burn very fast or make the fire worse. They’re also built with a cabinet-grade wood frame inside that provides plenty of stability and strength.
Though excellent at controlling unwanted sounds and absorbing echoes, the Acoustimac panels aren’t great for blocking sound transmission between rooms.See Prices >
5. DEKIRU Upgraded Acoustic Panels
Thin, light, and effective, the DEKIRU upgraded acoustic panels are a great choice for acoustically treating any space. You can choose from ten different color options to get the desired look that fits your room. If you wanted, you could even stagger or alternate colors to create interesting patterns on your ceiling.
Made from 100% polyester fiber, the DEKIRU panels are very high-density but still completely safe to breathe and touch for kids, pets, and adults. This means you can use them in any room without having to worry about the safety of your loved ones.
These panels are very effective at absorbing unwanted noise from inside your room. Say goodbye to reverberations and echoes once you install these panels. Moreover, they can even block external sounds from transferring through the wall by breaking the direction that the sound waves are traveling.
Speaking of installing, these are very easy to attach to your existing ceiling without the need for a suspended grid. Just apply spray adhesive or double-sided tape to the back of the tile and press it to the ceiling for a solid fit.
Each panel is 1’X1’ in size and just 0.4” thick, with 12 pieces to a pack. They can be easily cut to any size with a utility knife or a pair of scissors to make sure they fit in any difficult areas.See Prices >
6. TroyStudio Acoustic Panel
These super-dense polyester fiber panels from TroyStudio are available in sizes of 16”X12” and 32”X24”. You also get your choice of four colors, including camel, white, gray, and black. Though not the most impressive selection, all the colors are neutral and should work well in most environments.
These panels are great at noise control and reducing reverberations, making them perfect for recording studios, isolation shields, home theaters, offices, game rooms, and more. While they’re most effective for acoustic control, they’re also sufficient sound proofers thanks to their thickness and impressive density.
Safe and environmentally friendly, the TroyStudio acoustic panels feature a class B1 flame-retardant rating. They’re also environmentally friendly and completely odorless, so you don’t have to worry about your family breathing in any toxic fumes.
Lightweight and easy to cut, you’ll have no trouble installing these panels. They can attach directly to any surface, such as your existing ceiling. Just use spray adhesive or double-sided tape to hold them up. They can also be cut very easily to fit them into tight or irregular spaces.See Prices >
Things to Look for When Choosing Acoustical Ceiling Tiles and Panels
1. What Are You Trying to Soundproof?
Before deciding on which ceiling tiles are best for your situation, you need to figure out what you want them to do.
What kind of room are you soundproofing? Do you want to block sound from transferring into or out of the room, or do you want to absorb reflections in the room for better acoustics?
A home theater would do best with sound-absorbing ceiling panels that can stop echoes and reflections. Better acoustics in the theater would mean a better movie experience with a cleaner sound and less excess noise.
On the other hand, if you’re trying to make your home office as quiet as possible, but you can hear the sound of your children playing in the next room, then you want panels with a high CAC rating that will block the sound from getting into your room.
2. What Type of Acoustic Product Do You Need?
Once you determine what you want the acoustic ceiling panels to do, then you can decide what type of product you’re looking for. If you want better soundproofing to stop noise from getting in or out of your room, then you want something with a high CAC rating such as panels made from mineral fibers.
If you’re just trying to improve the acoustics in your room by reducing reverberations, then you want a product with a higher NRC rating, such as fiberglass or polyurethane foam.
3. Sound Ratings
Next, you’ll want to compare tiles to see which ones have the highest CAC or NRC ratings, depending on what effect you wish to get. Even among ceiling tiles made of the same material, there can be a lot of discrepancies between brands and products. Look for the ones that have the highest ratings you can find.
How do you plan to install your ceiling tiles? A drop ceiling is one very common way to install them. This would include a metal frame that hangs below your current ceiling. The drop ceiling tiles will just drop into the grid and be set in place.
Some tiles can be glued or stapled directly to your existing ceiling. This is a simple and easy method, but it doesn’t work for all tiles. It’s also going to reduce the soundproofing abilities of whatever tiles you’re using.
Once you’ve determined what ceiling tiles you want to use, you’ll have to figure out how many of them you need. To do this, you’ll want to measure how much ceiling space you have. Once you know the area you need to cover, you can order the right amount of tiles to fit your ceiling.
Make sure that you order some extra tiles just in case. Sometimes, you’ll end up breaking one, or some of them along an edge may need to be cut to fit. This would mean you’ll have less coverage than expected. Ordering a little extra can save you a lot of hassle in the end.
There is a lot of variance in the cost between different acoustic ceiling tiles. Some are very affordable while others will cost an arm and a leg. Even between two tiles made of the same types of materials, there can be major price fluctuation.
Even if you think a certain material is better suited for your application, sometimes, the expense of it can force you to choose a different material. Keep this in mind when making your decisions about what material tiles to choose.
Whether you want to stop unwanted noise from leaking into or out of your space, or you want to improve the acoustics of your room by absorbing reflections and reverberations, acoustic ceiling tiles are an excellent way to achieve both. They’re also easy to install and attractive, which is why they’re such a popular choice.
With so many options on the market, it can be difficult to decide which ones to go with. For best soundproofing ceiling tiles, I recommend the Armstrong ceiling tiles that were great at absorbing echoes and blocking sound transfer from other areas. They fit right into a normal drop-in ceiling frame and have a great lifespan protected by a 10-year warranty.
For the best sound absorption panels, I suggest the Foamily acoustic studio panels. These 1” thick wedge-shaped foam panels are great for reducing flutter echoes and all reflections with a high NRC rating, making them an excellent choice for many applications like studios and home theaters.
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