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At last: Beautiful sound tiles that look like art

Tame your room's harsh acoustics with Baux sound-absorbing tiles.

Baux wall tiles can be arrayed in fascinating patterns. Baux

Room acoustics in a typical home leave a lot to be desired. Acoustic problems may be barely noticeable when people are talking, but music and movies can excite echoes and harshness that wreak havoc on sound quality.

Thick rugs or drapes can help, and other strategically placed sound-absorbing materials can really make a difference in perceived sound quality. Sound absorbing panels are available from a variety of suppliers, but most are downright ugly, so Baux's tastefully designed tiles were a pleasant surprise. The tiles are also used in large offices and public spaces to reduce the din.

The tiles are made out of a mixture of wood, wool, cement, and water; the company's spokesperson readily admitted that combination of materials has been used for sound absorption since the 1930s. The raw material is fire-resistant and looks like straw; the tiles are finished with a plastic-based lacquer. Baux sells tiles in six shapes and two sizes, in a vast assortment of decorator-friendly finishes. Designers can mix and match tiles to create unique patterns.

Sound absorption isn't the same thing as sound isolation; Baux tiles won't reduce sound "leakage" to other rooms. Bona fide sound isolation is a much more expensive proposition that requires the design skills of trained professionals and construction. Wall tiles from Baux or anybody else can't stop sound from passing through walls, floors, or ceilings.

Another set of Baux tiles Baux

Tile prices start around $180 per square meter (that's approximately 40 inches square) of wall coverage. Baux is based in Stockholm, Sweden. The company will soon have a US distributor, but right now customers worldwide can order the tiles directly and get regional pricing information by contacting Baux via the company's website.