Have you ever wondered why some indie music studios or garage bands have egg trays on their walls? Is it just an aesthetic choice, or is there some science behind it?
Dive into the curious world of egg trays and sound as we explore whether these everyday items can indeed dampen those pesky noises.
How Different Materials Respond to Sound
Before we dive into the acoustic properties of egg trays, let’s first understand how materials generally react to sound. At its core, sound is all about waves — how they move, hit, and interact with various surfaces.
When sound waves encounter dense and heavy materials like brick or thick glass, they tend to reflect, causing echoes. It’s akin to how light bounces off a mirror.
On the contrary, soft and porous materials, like foam or certain fabrics, absorb sound. They act much like a sponge soaking up water, preventing sound from rebounding back into the room.
But there’s another dimension to this interaction: diffusion. When sound waves meet a non-uniform surface, like a diffuser panel or our subject of interest, the egg tray, they scatter in multiple directions. This scattering reduces echo by spreading out the sound energy rather than allowing it to concentrate in one direction.
Armed with this understanding, we can now evaluate the acoustic role of egg trays. But first…
How Did Egg Trays Become Associated With Soundproofing?
It’s almost like an urban legend: the story of the struggling artist using egg trays to soundproof their makeshift studio. But why egg trays?
Egg trays gained DIY popularity probably because they looked a lot like fancy acoustic foam panels. Musicians and garage band rockstars started pinning them up, hoping for a studio-esque vibe.
Affordability and accessibility also play a massive part. For many, it is a cheap alternative to expensive acoustic treatments, and their texture seemed like a good fit for diffusing sound.
Do Egg Trays Really Have Acoustic Properties?
Okay, so egg trays have an interesting history, but do they genuinely work? Let’s delve into the science.
The unique shape and texture of an egg tray do indeed help in the diffusion and scattering of sound waves. The undulating, concave design breaks up sound waves, making it harder for them to reflect directly back, which can reduce echo.
However, when it comes to the material composition of egg trays, they aren’t as efficient as some might believe. Typically made of paper pulp or lightweight foam, their ability to absorb sound is relatively low. They might offer some level of absorption, but it’s nowhere near what professional-grade materials provide.
Their Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC) rating hovers around 0.30, though this can vary depending on the specific tray type and its usage. For instance, a study found that using the inverted surface of the tray is more effective than its usual surface. Moreover, closed egg boxes outperform trays.
For comparison, high-quality acoustic foam panels boast an NRC of 0.70 or higher, which is considerably superior. Speaking of acoustic panels, let’s delve a bit further into that topic.
Comparing Egg Trays to Commercial Acoustic Panels
Professional acoustic panels are crafted with a singular purpose in mind: sound control. Typically made from foam or fabric, these panels are designed for optimal sound absorption, and their NRC ratings frequently approach the perfect score of 1.
In contrast, egg trays don’t measure up as favorably when compared to these panels. Being harder, thinner, and less porous than foam or fabric, their ability to scatter sound waves might be commendable, but their absorption efficiency leaves much to be desired.
So, while egg trays might be a fun DIY hack, if you’re serious about soundproofing, commercial panels are the way to go.
See also: What Does Acoustic Foam Do?
DIY Soundproofing: How to Use Egg Trays Effectively
If you’re on a budget or love a good DIY project, and you’re keen on using egg trays, here’s how to get the most out of them:
- Coverage is key: The effectiveness of any soundproofing material increases with coverage. It’s simple — more egg trays mean fewer naked walls reflecting sound back at you. Make a mosaic of egg trays, leaving no space uncovered.
- Layer up: Consider using multiple layers of egg trays to enhance their soundproofing capability.
- Pair with other materials: Why rely solely on one material? Pair your egg tray setup with other sound-dampening solutions like beefy bookshelves filled with books, cushy sofas, or even some DIY baffles using thick blankets.
As you can see, while they might not be the first choice for serious soundproofing endeavors, with a little ingenuity, egg trays can still play a role in your acoustic arsenal.
Drawbacks and Considerations
Before we conclude this article, it’s crucial to highlight the potential drawbacks of using egg trays. Here are the most significant concerns:
- Fire safety: This can’t be stressed enough. Egg trays, especially those made of paper pulp, can be flammable. Their proximity to electrical fixtures, devices, or equipment should be approached with caution.
- Style over substance: While some might appreciate the avant-garde appearance of egg tray walls, it might not be everyone’s cup of tea. It’s a functional choice that might require some decorative compromises.
- Setting expectations: As resourceful and innovative as they are, egg trays are not professional acoustic solutions. Their utility is somewhat limited in the grand scheme of soundproofing.
Now, after highlighting all the pros and cons of using egg trays for soundproofing, it’s time to address the pivotal question that’s probably on everyone’s mind.
Conclusion: To Egg Tray or Not to Egg Tray?
Egg trays, while a creative DIY solution, are not the ultimate answer to soundproofing. They can scatter sound to some degree, but absorption is limited.
For those on a tight budget or looking for a temporary solution, they might be worth a shot. But if sound quality is a top priority, investing in professional treatments is the better choice.
So, in the epic battle of sound vs. egg tray, it seems like the egg tray is, well, a tad scrambled.