GIK Acoustics is known for its beautiful, effective, professional room treatment solutions, so you may be asking why an acoustics manufacturer of their stature would bother to offer foam panels at all. Though it may be true that foam treatment is not as dense or effective across the mid and lower frequency range as fiberglass and rockwool treatment, foam can be quite helpful in taming higher frequencies that might be causing flutter in a boxy room – like a home project studio for example. Another bonus of foam is its lower cost.

We've all seen the cheap purple and gray colored mattress pad treatment stapled to the walls of small rehearsal spaces and home studios – the new 23.5-inch square GIK acoustic foam panels are definitely not the knock off egg crates you've seen before – they look REALLY good! These elevated, lightweight foam panels come with a choice of the same beautiful, modern "diffusion plates" found in their higher-end treatment options (choose between Impression [Tape Op #127] and Alpha series designs with multiple color options). Combined with the 2-inch thick foam, the machined cut, veneered fiberboard plates not only look good but help in shortening decay times of frequencies in some of the low midrange through the high midrange (mostly between around 300 Hz through 5 kHz).

My pile of gear/editing "suite" is currently occupying our breakfast nook at home. It's the worst space one can imagine for listening or referencing, with room dimensions (width, length, and height) that are almost exactly the same, and frequencies bouncing off surfaces everywhere. Similar to other foam treatment, the GIK foam panels are intended to be mounted on the wall with spray adhesive. This can cause some conflicts if you don't own the space or don't intend to install these permanently. At $49 a panel, I wasn't too worried about having to replace the treatment when I moved back into a more permanent mix space, but thankfully, GIK is planning to offer an upgrade soon with an option that will allow you to use nails on tabs for wall mounting.

Initially, I asked for four Alpha series panels in a white square pattern – think Danish design implemented in a Death Star wall pattern. I intended to mount two of the panels on each of my sidewalls at the first early reflection point, but after further consideration and testing, I found the four panels worked best placed together in a geometric design on my back wall. Combined with a few DIY bass traps and rockwool sidewall absorbers, I was able to wrestle the more gnarly room modes into submission. The real key for me is that the GIK's truly defined the room as a music/listening space in a tasteful way at a super-affordable price. In addition to home studios and B rooms that may be on a budget, I can see these panels being a benefit for taming commercial spaces (offices and restaurants), and for home use (reflective living rooms, home theatres, gaming rooms, etc.). I have to mention one more time how damn cool these look! Check out the web site for finish and pattern options. Browsers beware; at this price, once you look, you're sure to buy.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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