We have a particularly small room, about 12ft by 8ft, we use it for boardgames and roleplaying games.

As is typical for these games, discussion often gets heated, getting louder and louder.

Someone suggested accoustic tiles, which would absorb some of the sound, reducing the feedback that made people get louder and louder.

They also found somewhere we can get them fairly cheap.

But do they actually work to decrease sound in the room?
Or are they only good when there is a very noticeable echo?
Do I need to fully cover the walls, or would scattering half a dozen (or more) have a noticeable effect?

It is hard to tell if there is a echo, as the room and thus the delay is small. The walls are mostly plasterboard. so that should already be absorbing alot of sound (i would think)

I should mention:

  • The roof is unable to be coated in tiles as it has a painted mural on it.
  • The back wall is unable to be coated in tiles as it is covered by a book shelf. (The books should absorb the sound anyway, right?)
  • The Front wall is unable to be coated as it is a full hight and width window
  • The remaining two walls are about the be coated about 50% each as one has a whiteboard and the other a cork board. Thus a smattering of acoustic tiles is all we could get.

Plasterboard is quite reflective, actually.

Armstrong states that their "High Noise Reduction Coefficent" tiles absorb 70% or more of sound energy striking the surface. One version claims a NRC of 0.90, which would appear to imply 90% of sound energy absorbed. That probably is within a specific frequency range - I rather doubt the effectiveness of acoustic tile for low bass energy (musical) for instance. However, that probably smiles upon your application as it's likely weighted for human voices, given the typical use of the product.

As such, yes, they absorb sound, but check the NRC before investing in cheap acoustic tile, as it may not be inexpensive, just cheap, if the NRC is too low...

  • Thanks. Do you have any comment on how well just using a scattering of them would work, as compared to covering a wall? Aug 30 '14 at 1:05
  • 1
    nrcratings.com/nrc.html rate Gypsum (typical "plasterboard") at a NRC of 0.05 so every section of gypsum you leave exposed would reflect 18 times more sound than a section covered with 0.90 acoustic tile. A few scattered here and there will help some, but not nearly as much as a more complete job, just on that basis. For a traditional approach, start by covering the whole ceiling, and consider extending down the upper part of the walls.
    – Ecnerwal
    Aug 30 '14 at 2:23

"Do you have any comment on how well just using a scattering of them would work, as compared to covering a wall?"

I would cover the whole wall and consider a similar material for the ceiling. The reasoning behind that is this way you will get maximum benefit.

There are a few other things to consider as well -

1) In a small room attempting random placement on the walls is going to look pretty weird. Full wall coverage is just plane going to look better.

2) Placing individual tiles on the wall leaves them projecting out from the the adjacent wall surfaces. The edges and corners are going to get knocked up and buggered over time making it look like a mess.

  • I have updated question to explain that there are only limited places they can be put. Aug 30 '14 at 4:04

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