Us vs Auralex: Which Acoustic Foam is Better?
Foam Factory, Inc.
Independent Product Testing Results
Re: Acoustical Foam Products
Sound is a non-tangible factor that is not easily measured. As a result, an acoustic customer must rely on a seller to provide trustworthy performance data to have a reasonable set of expectations for sound treatment products. Unfortunately, sellers do not always provide this data. Even when data is provided, it may not be independent, third-party testing results. This is due to the fact that such testing is expensive and may ultimately yield results that show a product doesn't live up to its claims. This represents a real problem for the acoustic customer, because unbiased test data is vital to ensuring that the product being purchased will address the particular need it is being purchased for.
In 2011, given the growth of its acoustic division, Foam Factory, Inc. engaged Riverbank Acoustical Laboratories to conduct standardized third-party acoustic performance testing. Nearly all of Foam Factory's acoustic foams were performance-measured during the evaluation. Actual results are available in PDF form at the bottom of this page. This disclosure allows our customers access to current and reliable product performance values before the point of sale. Foam Factory also had comparable products from leading acoustical foam competitor Auralex tested and compared to their own products. This allows customers to compare and assess a product's capabilities, qualities, and price differences.
We are pleased to announce the results of our acoustical treatment line. In addition, many of our products compared favorably to the Auralex products, measuring either similarly to or greater than the tested performance values of Auralex. These findings are particularly noteworthy given that Foam Factory's products are offered at a much lower price point than Auralex's products.
EXAMPLE #1 - Two-Inch (2") Wedge Foam Tiles
Though this acoustic tile is offered at a substantially lower price at Foam Factory, independent testing demonstrated that Foam Factory's 2 inch wedge foam tiles exceeded the acoustic scores of Auralex's corresponding product nearly across the board. Further, the actual values of the Auralex products were lower than the stated values provided on their website.*
Differentials in performance were recorded at 100Hz, 500Hz, and 1250Hz, where Foam Factory outperformed Auralex in NRC rating by .11, .06, and .18 respectively.** Overall, the Auralex tiles had an NRC rating .10 less than Foam Factory's tiles (and .25 less than Auralex's stated value).
One (1) twelve (12) pack of 4' x 2' x 2" tiles sells for 74% less at Foam Factory.
Auralex charge: $524.69 or more/ Foam Factory charge: $135.98
EXAMPLE #2 - Corner Bass Absorbers (12" x 12" x 24")
While again being offered at a substantially lower price by Foam Factory, independent testing demonstrated that Foam Factory's corner bass absorbers held an overall NRC rating nearly identical to that of Auralex.
Foam Factory's absorbers tested higher than their competitor at 200Hz, 250Hz, 4000Hz, and 5000Hz intervals. Overall, Foam Factory's absorbers received an NRC rating of 1.20. Auralex absorbers received an NRC rating of 1.25. Also interesting is that Auralex's products missed their stated performance values for tested frequencies of 315Hz and higher by an average of .14.
A corner bass absorber sells for 62% less at Foam Factory.
Auralex LENRD bass absorber charge: $43.09 per unit or more/ Foam Factory charge: $16.00
Price vs. Performance Discussion
Admittedly, some of Foam Factory's acoustic solutions tested lower than Auralex's comparable products. However, the price-to-performance ratio was always heavily in favor of purchasing acoustic products from Foam Factory.
EXAMPLE A: Four inch (4") pyramid foam tiles sold by Foam Factory received an overall NRC rating of .65 while Auralex's product rated at .90. However, Foam Factory charges $137.99 for a 6-pack of these pyramid tiles (4' x 2' x 4"), while Auralex distributors sell the same 6-pack for $580.49 or more. This is a 76% difference in cost for a 0.25 difference in NRC rating.
EXAMPLE B: Female broadband absorbers sold by Foam Factory received an overall NRC rating a mere .05 less than the Auralex product. However, Foam Factory charges $108.99 for a set of 4 of male/female absorbers, while Auralex distributors sell the same items for $562.49 or more. This is a 80% difference in cost with only a 0.05 difference in female broadband absorber NRC rating.
EXAMPLE C: Four inch (4") wedge tiles sold by Foam Factory received an overall NRC rating only 0.1 less than the Auralex product. However, Foam Factory charges $122.99 for a 6-pack of these wedge tiles (4' x 2' x 4"), while Auralex distributors sell the same item for $581.39 or more. This is a 78% price difference in cost for a 0.1 difference in NRC rating.
Additional Testing Information
Standardization: The Riverbank Acoustical Laboratories test results for Foam Factory are reported in standardized values. Standardizing the test requires every tested sample to be lined with steel. The steel lining is a control factor, but has the effect of reducing overall performance results as a result of adding a reflective surface that is typically not going to be in place in real-world applications. However, non-standardized tests may fail to fully expose the strengths and weaknesses of all products on a level plane and, even if done unintentionally, can create false performance claims. For these reasons, standardized test results should not be compared to non-standardized performance claims.
Test Frequency: While testing is always better than not testing, test frequency must remain an important consideration when attempting to evaluate competitors' stated performance values. Product manufacture, pour, and production technology in the foam industry changes frequently. Likewise, the processes and techniques for optimization, safety, and quality are ever-changing in this arena as well. It is also worth noting that testing standards and procedures themselves may evolve over time as well, adding to the importance of having more recent testing data.*The biggest discrepancy between actual performance and claimed performance for Auralex was from 500Hz to 2000Hz, where based upon the seven sound intervals, the product recorded values about .36 lower than the claimed value.
**These values should be interpreted on the NRC scale where 0 represents a reflective sound material and 1 and higher represents an absorptive material.
Complete Lab Results
1 Inch Wedge Foam
2 Inch Wedge Foam
3 Inch Wedge Foam
4 Inch Wedge Foam
1 Inch Pyramid Foam
2 Inch Pyramid Foam
3 Inch Pyramid Foam
4 Inch Pyramid Foam
Corner Bass Absorber
Male Broadband Absorber
Female Broadband Absorber
1-1/2 Inch Eggcrate Foam
2-1/2 Inch Eggcrate Foam