Should You Put Acoustic Foam Behind Speakers?

Acoustic foam reduces echoes, but it doesn’t stop sound output. If you have speakers near a shared wall or on the floor, you might be wondering if acoustic foam will make a difference. After all, lowering the noise going into the room (and going out of it) will improve the sound quality and reduce unwanted noise complaints.

You should put acoustic foam behind the speakers because it prevents noise from echoing back into the recording hardware. Speakers put out a lot of sound waves, all of which should be absorbed by acoustic foam to preserve audio clarity and quality. Place the foam at the same height as the speakers.

Throughout this article, we’ll discuss whether or not you should put acoustic foam behind your speakers, why it can improve the sound quality, and the proper placement of the speakers and acoustic foam.

Table of Contents

Should You Put Acoustic Foam Behind Speakers?

Do Speakers Need Acoustic Foam Behind Them?

Speakers need acoustic foam behind them if you want the best sound quality. Placing acoustic foam or acoustic panels behind your speakers offers numerous benefits that you won’t get with bare drywall. You can also use dense soundproof curtains, but acoustic foam is almost always the best choice for at-home acoustics or studio-quality recordings.

According to Easy Home Theater, speakers need to have their resonance dampened by acoustic foam for the best results.

So, what should you know before putting acoustic foam behind your speakers?

  • Acoustic panels and acoustic foam aren’t the same. Acoustic panels are often much higher quality than acoustic foam. They typically work better for most soundproofing applications. If you want to get the most out of your speakers, it’d be better to choose acoustic panels. However, they cost a bit more than foam pads.
  • Your speakers shouldn’t be touching the acoustic foam. All sound insulation requires an air gap. If there’s no gap, the insulation will let sound waves through the walls. Your acoustic foam will be useless. Always get acoustic foam that’s dense enough to absorb sound waves but thin enough to place conveniently throughout the room.
  • Get the densest, thickest acoustic foam for your speakers. Density prevents sound waves from moving through a surface. Thickness allows your acoustic foam to have more space for density. While density is more important than thickness, combing these features will ensure your acoustic foam performs as efficiently as possible.

Does Foam Make Speakers Sound Better?

Acoustic Foam makes speakers sound better by limiting excess sound waves, preventing noise from coming from another room, and reducing echoes in a recording room. Foam pads also improve speaker sounds because they allow the final recording to sound much clearer and less artificially adjusted.

Here’s a detailed list of reasons you should put acoustic foam behind speakers:

  • You won’t have to deal with nearly as much white noise. Extra sounds from fans, air conditioners, people talking, TVs, and so on can distort an audio recording. Whether you’re recording music or simply listening to various audio clips through the speakers, lowering the white noise will make a noticeable difference.
  • Your microphone won’t pick up too much audio from the speakers. Speakers produce a lot of volume, especially if they blow out. When you play your speakers with a microphone recording everything, you’ll run the risk of recording everything twice. However, placing acoustic foam behind the speakers stops this in its tracks.
  • The speakers won’t echo throughout the room. Speakers are notorious for echoing in small rooms. Adding acoustic foam behind the speakers will prevent reverb and echoing, regardless of the room’s size. We suggest adding acoustic foam to the ceiling to prevent sound waves from bouncing vertically.
  • Acoustic foam drastically increases audio quality. Every sound that comes through the speakers will be the exact signal played into them by your software. In other words, you won’t have to worry about audio distortion from the sound waves diminishing through the walls. All of the sounds will be preserved.
  • These foam pads prevent noises from leaving the room, which could stop you from hearing the full sound. It’ll also make it so people in the next room or outside don’t have to hear the speakers. When sound waves move through the walls, they lose some of their clarity. Acoustic foam retains the sound waves while absorbing the echoes.

Acoustical Surfaces mentioned it’s important to keep in mind that soundproofing foam doesn’t actually eliminate 100% of the sound waves. Instead, it absorbs the sound waves, stopping reverb and echoes. Furthermore, these foam pads stop your microphone from picking up white noise from HVAC systems outside of the room.

How High Should Speakers and Acoustic Foam Be?

Speakers and acoustic foam should be below ear level and a few feet above the ground. Most recording studios have their speakers around chest height. However, your home might call for different speaker heights. Wherever you place the speakers, make sure the acoustic foam is right behind each of them.

Whiteboards and Pinboards recommend placing your speakers between four to five feet above the ground. This placement ensures the sound waves won’t echo off the floor or the ceiling. It also reduces vibrations. That being said, it’s best to cover as much of the walls and ceilings with acoustic foam as you can. If you only have a few panels, place them behind the speakers.

I’ve also written a guide on the appropriate thickness of acoustic panels. After reading the guide, you’ll learn that 1-inch foam can’t effectively block outside noise in a recording environment. Click on the link to learn more. Is 1-Inch Acoustic Foam Enough for Soundproofing?

Wall-mounted speakers are the best. They offer the least sound wave resistance and vibrations. However, if you don’t have wall mounts, consider putting the speakers on tables or desks. Keep them on foam pads to reduce their vibrations. The speakers should face toward the center of the room at a 45-degree to 60-degree angle for maximum audio clarity and reduced echoes.

Final Thoughts

Acoustic foam can help your speakers, but it’s important to remember the audio equipment you use. Adding foam behind the speakers will improve the recording’s noise floor, ensuring you don’t record unwanted white noise. Elevating the speakers and acoustic foam pads can also help quite a bit.

Juan Louder
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Juan Louder

I started SoundStudioMagic to learn how to record my own audiobook at home, and now I'm addicted to all the latest techniques and gear.

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