Price From €78 per panel
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SMAD Reference & SPAD Acoustic Diffusors key features:
- 4x SMAD Reference Panels €379
- 30x SMAD Reference Panel bundle €2,349
- 4x SPAD Poly-cylinder Acoustic Diffusors €999
- Lightweight acoustic panels
- 400 x 400mm, 325g
- 9mm or 17mm thickness
- Choice of four or 45 colours
- Multi-layer and multi-density structure
- Easy installation
- Diffusors reduce SPL while retaining dynamic range
It’s easy to get caught up in the latest software and equipment, but if your room doesn’t sound good, then you’ll struggle to hear what you’re doing. French company PYT Audio specialises in discreet, decorative acoustic panels to reduce noise and optimise sound.
We were sent a batch of 15 SMAD Reference acoustic-treatment panels, which have a multi-layer and multi-density structure to give the best performance at a minimal thickness, plus four SMAD Reference Exclusive panels that are essentially the same, but in fancier colours. To round things off, we also received four SPAD Poly-cylinder Acoustic Diffusors, which feature what PYT calls a mechanical inertia-increase system, and concave resonance-suppressing device. All the pieces are covered in a particularly sexy Alcantara suede that’s smooth to the touch, with a choice of four colours for the main range, and 45 for the Exclusive range.
The pricing varies a little depending on the bundle, but if you buy the basic pack of four SMAD Reference panels, then it works out around €95 per panel. If you go for a bundle of 30 panels, then it comes down to around €78 per panel. Although the units we were testing were 17mm thick, there are 9mm versions, alongside several other products including large and small bass traps.
One of the unique selling points for PYT’s panels is the ease with which they can be attached to the wall, due to their minimal weight and size, and each tile comes with sticky velcro tabs that can be used to attach the panel to any surface. The beauty of this is that you’re not committing to a specific placement and you can experiment by repositioning the panels at different points. In theory, if you were doing some recording away from your studio, you could even chuck some panels in the car and use them just for the session.
Of course, if you do this a lot, then the sticky tabs will lose their grip, but they’re cheap enough to replace. The Diffusors needed slightly more installation, but the attachment is essentially a picture hook, so still very easy to mount.
We added the tiles to our studio room alongside our larger bass traps, and took measurements for before and after using RØDETEST’s FuzzMeasure 4. As expected, the deep subs were unaffected. But we were surprised to see a reduction in decay times around 60Hz, showing that despite their size, these panels can still control some of the lower frequencies.
They also reduced an upper-midrange bump and cleaned up a bunch of the tails on the waterfall graph, meaning decay times were much more consistent in the upper frequencies. In practice, we could hear a difference in the room as everything felt tighter and the bass was a little more solid. The difference wasn’t as night-and-day as when we first added our large, full-range traps, but then these aren’t really comparable products, as they’re smaller and more discreet.
There’s no denying these are high-quality, good looking panels, but in terms of pure bang-for-buck acoustic treatment, there are more affordable options out there. Yet we can see these panels being especially useful if you can’t, or don’t, want to put heavy-duty fixing on your wall, or if you’re looking to supplement some larger traps with good-looking smaller tiles.
Spot Panel From £33
They’re not as discreet, but GIK Acoustics has a small 600 x 600 x 50mm Spot Panel (£33 each), or art panels with your choice of image in a range of sizes (£35–£310).
Control Cube £49
Not quite as small as the SMADs, these Control Cubes (£49) are approx 600 x 600 x 50mm, and are easy to install. Made from high-density glass wool, they don’t have the PYT’s high-tech multi-layered design.