The Acoustics of Perforated Panels

Published : July 19, 2016

In offices, overwhelming background noise reduces productivity, and facilitates distraction. In schools, poor acoustics can hinder student concentration and academic achievement. In industrial plants, machine-generated noise frequently amounts to an unpleasant, or even harmful atmosphere for workers.

So, how can you control unwanted sound? The answer lies in careful architectural design and refurbishment.

Perforated panels have emerged as a popular noise abatement solution for buildings – offering atmosphere control in the form of noise-reducing ceilings, muffling exterior cladding, and interior acoustic screens. Perforations in metal panels can be carefully designed according to both aesthetic and acoustical needs; so building owners not only achieve sound reduction, but also maintain a beautiful appearance.

Sound Transparency Solutions

If your aim is to reduce overall noise pollution in your building, designers often use panels as sound transparency solutions. In this method, perforated metal panels act as decorative and protective coverings for special acoustic material installed in the space. The material underneath the perforated panel cladding scatters, reflects, or absorbs sounds as necessary – while the paneling itself “disappears” acoustically, allowing sound waves to pass through without interruption. The primary design goal here is to choose a perforation that allows the best possible sound transparency; as the amount of sound a panel can absorb depends on the size and number of its perforations, an expert can help you craft the most effective panels for your space.

Architectural experts may install sound transparency solutions as exterior cladding on a building’s outer walls, blocking many outdoor sounds from passing into the property. Indoors, these acoustical options work well as interior wall partitions, or suspended ceilings – managing sound produced within the building itself. A perforated ceiling prevents sound from bouncing around a building at an increased volume, and wall partitions minimize sound reflection between offices that can cause distraction.

Tuned Resonance Absorption

Sometimes, the acoustical goal of a building isn’t to reduce all noise, but to absorb certain noises within particular frequencies. An opera house or theatre might want to absorb the sounds of machinery and audience chatter, while maximizing the performances or films.

Perforated panels are used in these cases as resonant sound absorbers. Instead of becoming a transparent doorway for sound, the metal works alongside a trapped layer of air designed to modify the acoustics of certain sound frequencies – a process called tuned resonance absorption.

In order to reduce certain sounds while maintaining the volume of others, perforated panels are carefully designed to allow various air particles to move through the holes, as they respond to specific sound waves. Once the client has determined the frequency (or range) of sound they’d like to minimize, a designer carefully crafts a perforated metal panel, installed with a layer of air trapped between the metal and the wall. The perforations and the size of the air layer are both catered to the specific range of sound waves the client would like to control.

Air particles from different sound waves move back and forth through the panel at different frequencies. When sounds at the chosen frequency flow through the panel’s specific perforations, the air moves more violently through the holes, converting the acoustic energy into heat and friction – which then dissipates from the environment, drastically reducing the noise. With this method, an opera house can dim the sound from audience voices, for instance, without affecting the sound coming from the stage or performers.

Using Perforated Panels for Acoustic Purposes


Choosing the right panel solution for noise abatement in your building requires careful consideration of your end goals, as well as your aesthetic design preferences. Work with an expert in the field, to determine the best application for your building, and the nature of the noise you’d like to address. Oftentimes, perforated panels are customizable according to almost any requirement – which is part of what makes them a popular choice in many architectural endeavors today. Whether installed inside or outside of your building, perforated panels designed just for you will not only ease your noise woes; they’re sure to add a uniquely elegant decorative touch to your space.  

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