When you sing at home, whether you’re recording, practicing, or doing karaoke, don’t you notice you sound differently compared to when you’re singing in studio or on stage? And when you record using your phone in your room, you’ll hear that there’s a ringing echo. That echo could be tinny or deep. That’s what we call sound reflection in the industry. And guess what, I’ve got something here for you – Auralex’s soundproofing to get rid of that annoyance.
That introduction was a bit forced; don’t you think? Today, I want to review Auralex’s StudioFoam® Pyramids®. However, it’s a bit of a challenge since soundproofing is a broad topic to discuss, but hey, we’ll get right to it.
Before Anything Else
Why should this topic or product matter to you? There are three reasons why you need soundproofing and acoustic treatment to “advance your career”. I can say that, may I?
First, those unwanted reflections make you sound awful and could end up discouraging to you.
Second, to prepare yourself for self-recording which leads to the essential processes of vocal execution, evaluation, and revision.
Lastly, improving your self-perception.
All of those reasons are connected together. Think of yourself as a painter. While working on an oeuvre or masterpiece, an artist stops and takes a step back to see his progress. He looks at his work at every angle. If he finds something distasteful, he’ll get back to it and repaint.
The same goes for you. Self-recording allows you to reevaluate and polish rough edges. Soundproofing and acoustic are kind of a treatment-like ingredient, just like a painter needs light to get a better view of his art.
With a more accurate and better representation of your work, the more you can spot errors or improve upon weak areas.
Let’s Go and Take a Look
The target product I’ll review today is Auralex’s StudioFoam® Pyramids®. They are foam panels designed to ‘absorb’ sound in a space. They are strategically attached to walls and ceilings to reduce the noise that bounces around in a room.
To appreciate this product, let’s take a look at some vital information about soundproofing. I’m not so sure if everyone is with me about this subject, I’ll help you out and give a short explanation.
Soundproofing can be split into two: acoustic treatment and room renovation. Acoustic treatment often deals with improving the quality of sound inside a recording room by discarding left-over sound in space. Soundproofing through room renovation is the method of reducing noise going in and out of an enclosed area.
There are processes involved in both, but we’re not getting into that here. I’ll spare you from information overload. If you want to deep dive into it later, you better save this link to Auralex’s Acoustic 101 tutorial.
To have a clearer understanding of acoustic treatment, try going to your bathroom. Close the windows and the door shut. Sing or speak heartily as you want. You can hear some sweet echoes, right? Those echoes you hear are reflected sound resulted from your voice bouncing off the flat and solid walls, floor, and ceiling.
Reflections inside a bathroom make you think you’ve got what it takes, true? However, if you go sing to another room and do the same process, this time you sound like a failure.
The way audio waves are reflected, and their quality depends on the size of the enclosed area, building materials used, and the pieces of furniture inside. Most of the time, a bathroom has an excellent combination of those factors. It must be cool to turn your bathroom into a recording booth, but for now, I think you need to let it go.
To get the same quality or better recording than a “bathroom vocal booth,” you must perform acoustic treatment to your room. And that’s where the StudioFoam® Pyramids® come in.
Have a Closer Look
I’m sure you’ve already been in a recording studio before and saw these gray foam boards with spikes on them. Nine out of ten, what you saw is a Pyramids® panel from Auralex. If the owner is an avid percussionist, it’s definitely that.
From afar, they appear like matted rubber. If you get near one, it looks like regular packaging foam that comes with the stuff you get from Amazon. However, if you get close enough, you’ll see that it’s distinct from those cheap packaging materials.
Unlike regular acoustic foams, StudioFoam has a uniform foamy look like the top layer of a latte. It isn’t as glossy as conventional boards, and it’s softer than a sponge cake. Please, don’t even try to taste it (kidding!).
The Pyramids® have two thickness options: 2” and 4”. Note: Thicker is better. It also comes in three colors: Charcoal, Burgundy, and Purple.
Performance-wise, it specializes in killing audio in the mid and high range. If you have a thick nasal voice, this panel makes your voice sound warmer and brighter. If you sound tinny and sharp, it will lessen your vocal’s treble.
How Does It Benefit my Music Studio?
Use the StudioFoam® Pyramids® to treat any type of recording space (e.g., control rooms, music studios, and isolation booths). Install it temporarily or permanently, depending on what you feel like today. It comes with an instruction manual, which will help you on how to do either way.
It also works well with muddy monitors and amplifiers. Despite being marketed as an absorption tool, it’s capable of delivering decent soundproofing. With it, you can be confident in practicing how to scream, yarl, and hit high pitches without worrying that you’ll burst the guy next door’s eardrum. Freedom!
The StudioFoam® effectively takes down standing waves and fluttering echoes. It dampens most reflections and ringing. If you play bass or have a bass player in the studio, the board can also eliminate slapbacks. Say goodbye to the unnecessary rumbling and mini quakes.
With this in your homemade recording booth, the only concern left is AC hum (the low static noise when you turn on most audio equipment). Aside from recording, use your room to practice. It mildly eliminates some sound from leaking out. If you use a voice dampening mask, you can be belting out like Christina Aguilera all night and you won’t have to worry about waking anyone up.
On the other hand, if you’re planning to start a music studio, rest assured that the StudioFoam® passes UL 94 (a material fire safety standard), fire regulation is taken care of. This is why most recording studios prefer this compared to other acoustic panels and the regular home recording booth types.
It delivers what Auralex promises. However, the end result still depends on you. You need to install them and rearrange your room according to the recommendation by the company to make it work to its full potential.
A Few Flaws but Workable
The biggest obstacle for you as a singer, especially if you’re just starting out, is it’s cost. Fun fact: Auralex’s reason they started on acoustic panels is to help consumers avoid the high cost of the boards in the ’70s. The irony of it is, today, it is selling one of the most expensive brands in the market. Despite that, it’s a decent trade-off for the equipment considered as the industry standard.
I usually make rounds on the web when I start a review. One comment captured my attention. According to the criticism, the foam panels rip easily. Of course, it’s made up of foam. Acoustic materials are often fragile and should be handled with proper care.
I saw another comment about a person who was unable to stick the panels. Know that regular and cheap glues won’t make foam boards hold. Be sure to only use the adhesives Auralex recommends, which are Tubetak, Foamtak, or Temp Tabs.
“It doesn’t work.” This is not actually a con, but it’s more like a common complaint. Most of the time, it’s the buyers that cause it. There are two scenarios when this happens.
First, the buyer improperly installed it or did not follow the instruction manual. Second, this is a popular product. It has become common for malicious companies to make imitations of it. So only buy from authorized sellers. I will post some links down below.
The Auralex StudioFoam® Pyramid is a foam panel made for professional studios. The only thing that may hinder an average singer from using this material for acoustic treatment is the price.
This can definitely give you another opportunity of inspecting the state of your singing proficiency through self-recording and the freedom to sing your heart out without bothering anyone around.
Sure, you can settle for foam boards made for garage bands and live streamers. However, if you genuinely want to hear your voice and know how it actually sounds, StudioFoam® is worth investing in. This is especially true if you aspire to become a pro and send EPs and demo tapes around.
Anyway, remember that it is prone to have imitations. It’s pricey, and you can’t really determine its genuineness until you install it and gauge its performance. To get the authentic ones, you can get these foam panels from Amazon.