Are you tired of hearing every creak, cough, and conversation from the next room? Maybe you’re setting up a home studio and need to tweak the acoustics to perfection. Sound absorbing panels can be the perfect solution for controlling noise. But with so many options, how do you know which ones will really make a difference? Enter NRC and STC ratings – two important numbers to look out for when selecting the right panels for your space.

sound absorbing

Measuring Sound Absorption

The Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC) is a single-number rating that measures how much sound an acoustic product can absorb. This rating is important for spaces where you’re more concerned with reducing the overall volume of sound rather than controlling the transmission through walls. The scale ranges from 0 (perfect reflection, no absorption) to 1 (perfect absorption).

Higher NRC values indicate better noise reduction. For example, a material with an NRC of 0.60 will absorb 60% of the sound energy that hits it.

The NRC Scale and Its Application

Understanding the NRC scale is crucial for selecting the right sound absorbing panel. Here’s a simple breakdown:

Panels with high NRC ratings can significantly improve the acoustics of a room by reducing echoes, harsh sounds, and overall noise level. When shopping for panels, aim for an NRC that matches the needs of your space.

Understanding STC (Sound Transmission Class)

In contrast to NRC, the Sound Transmission Class (STC) measures how well a material can reduce the transmission of airborne sound through walls or partitions. Unlike NRC which focuses on absorbing sound within a space, STC rates a panel’s ability to block sound from one space to another.

Deciphering the STC Rating

STC is a comparative value. It represents the damping of sound as it passes through the panel, relative to the ability of a standard 1/8″ thick panel of single-layer gypsum wallboard to prevent the transmission. Typical STC ratings might fall within the range of 30 to 60, with higher numbers indicating better sound isolation.

A higher STC rating is crucial for privacy and compliance with building codes. For instance, a home office may require an STC rating of 35, while a high-security area might need a rating of 55 or higher.

Choosing the Right Panels

Selecting the right panels involves more than just looking at one rating. Balancing NRC and STC for your specific situation is key.

Consider the material’s density and thickness, as these physical properties influence both NRC and STC. Keep the purpose of the room in mind and choose panels that offer a balanced solution that enhances comfort and efficiency.

Installation Guide

It’s one thing to have the right panels, but it’s another to install them correctly for optimal performance. Here’s how:

Be mindful of the fact that while strategic placement is important, overdoing it can result in a dead-sounding room.

Maintenance and Upkeep

To maintain the performance of your sound absorbing panels, regular maintenance is essential:

Taking these simple steps will ensure that your panels continue to do an excellent job at controlling sound and enhancing the acoustics of your space.


Sound absorbing panels are a valuable tool in acoustical management.  Understanding the NRC and STC ratings is crucial for selecting the right panels for your needs. Remember to balance these ratings while considering the purpose of the room, and follow proper installation and maintenance guidelines to ensure optimal performance. With the right panels in place, you can create a more comfortable, productive, and pleasant environment free from unwanted noise.

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