Room Acoustics

GIK Acoustics Acoustic Art Panels | No Filler Review


One way to integrate acoustic panels into your décor is to buy printed panels. These acoustic absorbers have an image on their fronts rather than a solid color fabric. The image can be one that you purchased or one that you own. Because of Copywrite issues, you can’t just grab an image off the Internet. But, if the reseller has the correct licenses, if the image is in the public domain, or if you own the image (took the picture yourself), then you can have it printed on a panel. This No Filler review will focus on the GIK Acoustics Acoustic Art line of absorption panels.

Pros

  • Competitively Priced
  • Good wrapping
  • Well saturated colors
  • Handmade
  • Large selection of images
  • Many size options

Cons

  • Pricier than non-printed panels
  • Color matching not great
  • No installed hanging hardware
  • Expect shipping delays
  • Clunky layout tool
  • Custom sizes not offered

Author’s Note: A “No Filler” review is just that. No filler. We won’t be giving long, flowery descriptions of how the products make us feel. No beating around the bush to tell you what we thought could be improved. This is review is the facts and only the facts. We’ve all got better things to do than to read someone pontificating.

Quick History

I ordered a set of three GIK Acoustics Acoustic Art Panels (link) for my home theater. We already had a bunch of 2′ x 2′ x 2″ panels in the room, and I wanted something that looked a little nicer than the black squares I had DIY’ed. I was fortunate that one of my AV Rant listeners had volunteered some art that his wife had created. So I had two things I needed: a common size and some original art. I headed over to GIK Acoustics to place my order.

Ordering GIK Acoustic Art Panels

The interface promises to be user-friendly, but I found it clunky. They have a search function for their gallery that will pull up a bunch of thumbnails. In my tests, most of these don’t work. You drag them to the template, and nothing happens. Uploading your own image is fairly easy and works well. For best results, you’ll want to make sure you have an image of the highest resolution possible, and one that is in the right aspect ratio.

My images were rectangular instead of the square I was printing them on. This forced me to cut off parts of the images. I ordered these panels during the COVID pandemic. GIK creates these panels by hand, so shipping was delayed. If you are in a rush, make sure to call them before ordering to confirm shipping times. Other retailers don’t give you any design options. They just accept your image and send you a proof. I’m not sure if that is better or worse.

Art Panel Fit and Finish

I’ve made a lot of DIY acoustic panels, so I know what a well-made panel should look and feel like. This is a well-constructed panel. The frame is tight with no give. The corners on the wrap are perfect with just the right amount of staples. I was surprised they didn’t glue the fabric down as well, but it probably wasn’t necessary. My one knock is one I can’t totally confirm. On my monitor, the background of the images looks more brown than grey. The printed panel definitely looked more grey.

While the colors on the panels were well saturated, they weren’t as vivid as I expected from the images. Since I don’t own the originals, I can’t confirm. But this is a common complaint when people buy printed panels: Don’t expect the colors to match exactly. That said, the image itself is sharp. It doesn’t look like it is printed as much as it is a part of the fabric. Also note: the photograph of the panel is much more washed out than the actual print. In the room, it looks more brick instead of blood red.

My last complaint is about hanging hardware. I found, after I had installed my own hardware, that GIK had included some sawtooth picture hangers. That’s not how I prefer to hang them so I used wire. At the premium that you are paying for these panels, I wish GIK had included a dropdown menu with hanging options that could be installed by them. While it isn’t a hard thing to do yourself, it would be nice if they at least offered to do it for you.

Value

On GIK’s website, their 2′ x 2′ x 2″ panels cost $225 for a box of six panels. A single Acoustic Art panel runs $125 for the same size. That’s an extreme premium over the standard panel, but not out of line with what you’d expect to pay elsewhere for printed panels. If you are looking to cut this cost, you could order the box of panels from GIK and have your fabric (make sure it is acoustically transparent) printed elsewhere. You could then wrap it yourself. Or just DIY the whole thing. GIK offers all the materials you need.

Conclusion

In the end, I’m very pleased with the GIK Acoustic Art panels. The fit and finish are great, the image is sharp and crisp, and I’m happy with my purchase. Do the colors look exactly like the original? No. But I knew what to expect before I ordered. Sure, I could have created the same for less money, but their prices are reasonable and lower than many. Recommended!


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