I have built a vocal booth for my own studio and plan to line it with acoustic studio foam (a.k.a., "egg-crate foam"). However, acoustic foam is very expensive (http://www.amazon.com/Acoustic-Foam-1-1-24-18/dp/B0002ZPLPC/ref=sr_1_6?ie=UTF8&qid=1381863674&sr=8-6&keywords=studio+foam) and can cost hundreds of dollars to fill a 140 sq. ft booth.

Are there appropriate and cheap alternatives to studio foam? If you think the cost of studio foam is justified, please explain why.

  • Try this. I seems less expensive. usafoam.com/acousticfoam/eggcratefoam.html
    – user11455
    Dec 3, 2014 at 2:25
  • If you look into the subject, you don't need to fill the entire room. With that stuff on every wall + ceiling, it will actually be unnaturally dead sounding. Strike a balance, and do a little more research... Dec 3, 2014 at 16:50

7 Answers 7


The point of sound absorbing foams is that they a) have lots of air spaces and b) have angles that divert sound. The second part is relatively easy, but making sure to get consistent sound absorbing characteristics of the appropriate type of foam, along with the appropriate amount and size of air spaces and an acceptable level of durability does make it relatively costly to make.

Honestly, properly preparing a studio space can easily cost several grand in materials to do properly, so a couple hundred bucks is already pretty cheap. There are budget alternatives, but they aren't generally that much cheaper and can be more difficult and time consuming to work with.

Acoustic foam is a) relatively easy to work with, b) produces consistent results and c) is reasonably durable. That makes it worth the price in my opinion.

Heavy blankets and/or fiberglass can do the job too, but both have their own challenges. (Blankets can be pricy and heavy by the time you have enough of them, fiberglass is messy and can't be as easily removed.)

  • Thanks a lot for your answer. Though I know it wasn't a part of my question, do you have thoughts on the difference between 1.5inch thick foam vs. 2.5 or 3? The price significantly changes with thickness
    – mcranston18
    Oct 15, 2013 at 21:44
  • @mcranston18 - unfortunately I do not. I can tell you that the thicker it is, the more it is going to dampen, but I really don't have a lot of direct experience with it because I haven't had the chance to build my own studio yet, only work with others, so I don't know the before and after.
    – AJ Henderson
    Oct 16, 2013 at 0:58

There are no "truly cheap" solutions to sound treatment, I'm afraid - unless one has access to free materials.

I'm in the similar situation as you are, and what I usually do is DIY some sound absorbing panels. Size depends on your situation. If you want a universal, reusable solution, then build some 24" x 48" x 4" panels and fill them with fiberglass or wool-based sound absorber.

You can then stand or hang these panels as needed.

You'll need:

  • some wood and L-brackets to build the panel's frame;
  • sound absorbing material (Roxul Safe-n-Sound 23x47 will do just fine, get them from Home Depot/Loews) to fill it up;
  • some sound-transparent fabric to stretch and staple over the frame. Fabric serves to stop fibers from flying off to your place; and also as a decorum. In a pinch, cheap burlap works fine - just make sure the one you chose does not produce some bad smell (it happens!)

For vocal work, they (most music stores) have a product that wraps half-way around the mic. I have used them myself, and they work very well.

They cost a bit, but are substantially cheaper than treating an entire room.

  • Voxgaurd makes one. sE Electronics makes one called "Reflexion Filter". Couple that with a noise reduction plug-in like Waves W43 and you've got a really good solution.
    – Don Nickel
    Oct 15, 2013 at 19:57

Acoustics is a deep subject, but here is a pretty good primer: http://ethanwiner.com/acoustics.html

That said, a simple and excellent solution is to make absorption panels yourself. Make a frame from 1x4 inch wooden boards (fir, plywood, whatever). Cut a 4 inch sheet of mineralwool to fit inside the frame (or dimension the frame to take a whole sheet), finally staple an old cotton bed-sheet or similar to the back and front of the frame - and you're done. The cloth keeps the dust inside the frame.

Mineralwool is usually rated as fireproof, so you're good there.

I have several of these in my small home studio and they work wonders.Place them directly on the wall for mostly high-freq damping, or put some space between them and the wall to damp mids and lower mids. Putting them diagonally across corners between walls/ceiling, wall/wall, or wall/floor is a good idea also - if you have the space.

Read more in that link above, or google "diy acoustic treatment".

Build a few of these and save some money for more gear!


The expensive foam has a better fire rating and is designed for commercial facilities that need to meet fire code and insurance requirements. The house brand of foam items at www.markertek.com do not have as good a fire rating, but they are very affordable. They have sheet egg crate, blade tiles, and bass traps. I have no affiliation other than being a satisfied customer.

Don't cover the whole room. Do some googling on acoustic room treatment. I have some sheet egg crate behind my speakers to kill reflections, some blade tiles on the opposite wall to break up reflections, and bass traps in the rear corners. There's about 85% of the original walls exposed, and I have a nice clean listening environment.


I use to work at a local news station. In their edit bay they choose to carpet the entire room, floor and walls that is. for them that was a more price efficient choice. The solution worked very well.


Silicone and fiberglass are worthy materials for being installed as insulation for acoustic panels. Fiberglass is more affordable and can be easily found.

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