Cheap Acoustic Panel DIY

[Eric Wolfram] wrote in to let us know about a simple and cheap acoustic panel DIY he put together.  When installing a home theater acoustics are often neglected (especially if you spend so much on the TV you cannot afford any furniture for the room) resulting in reduced listening quality and poor spacial sound imaging from your surround system (also responsible for the furniture problem). The addition of sound absorbing panels helps control the acoustics of the room and may even class up the place a bit.  These are also come in handy for home studio usage where a low level of reverberation is preferred.

The panels are relatively simple to produce on a budget, just a sheet of 2″ thick dense fiberglass board glued into a wooden frame and covered in a sound-transparent fabric. [Eric] goes into a lot of the material selection process to help you along your way. The best part about the project (aside from its obvious utility) is that all of the materials can be found cheaply at your average home improvement store, with the exception of the fabric.  [Eric] mentions that you can substitute colored burlap if need be.  Once the panel is assembled and glued it just has to be hung on the wall of your choice like a large heavy picture frame. This could certainly help the acoustics and reduce some slap-back echo in your warehouse/shop. We might have to try this one over the weekend.

Thanks [Eric]!

Comments

  1. lasershark says:

    will be more effective at low frequency absorption if hung in such a way to allow a 1″ – 2″ air gap between wall and panel.

    • Eric says:

      That is correct. I chose A-mounting for the tutorial because it is easier to mount and less intrusive to the space. My goal was to present something easy and inexpensive that people could actually build and install. You could more easily E mount (with spacing) the panel for your ceiling treatment. Maybe I’ll show how to do that in a follow-up post. Thanks!

    • Eric says:

      Yes, you are correct. The reason I chose A mounting (no gap) is because it is easier to do and less intrusive into the space. Given the low frequency absorption properties of drywall, I think we should be reasonably ok with this.

      Mounting with a deeper space would be more manageable on the ceiling. Maybe I’ll show how to do this in a follow-up post. Thanks!

  2. kyoorius says:

    The WAF* for that choice of panel covering is particularly low.

    *http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Wife_acceptance_factor

    • Eric says:

      lol.. wife approval may vary. I actually recommend using a solid color fabric (as I said in the article). We spent most of the time trying to line up that pattern correctly. A solid color could have been wrapped in 10% of the time :)

    • Eric says:

      lol, wife Acceptance rates may vary! Maybe let her choose the material!

      I actually recommend using a solid color fabric, as stated in the article. Most of our wrapping time was spent trying to get that pattern straight. It took a lot of measuring and checking. If it was a solid color, we would have been done in 10% of the time.

  3. fartface says:

    You do not need “acoustic fabric” go and find anything that you can blow through easily.

    Also he needs to build bass traps as well. back upper corner of your room add a triangle of acoustic foam to soak up bass resonance and it makes a huge difference.

    Me> I cheated. the theater room I carpeted the walls and added only two small acoustic panels to suck up some really strong nodes. Building acoustic panels has been happening for decades.

    cheap carpet on the walls is highly effective in a home theater.

    P.S. a home theater is not your TV and surround in your living room. IT’s a room with a projector and is dedicated to watching movies I.E. a small theater room.

    • Faelenor says:

      You are wrong, this is a home theater, as defined by almost all websites and online dictionaries.

    • Eric says:

      Think of a porous sound absorber as a low pass filter on the reflection. The thicker the material, the more effective it is against a longer wavelength (lower frequency). Carpet is good at absorbing upper mid and high frequency sound, but will not be very effective at lows and lower mids. This may explain why you felt the bass was a little boomy and muddy, even after treatment.

      A 2″ thick mineral wool panel is much more “broadband.”

    • Eric says:

      Think of any porous sound absorber as a low-pass filter on the reflection. A thicker material will be more effective against a longer wavelength (lower frequency).

      Carpeting is very affective at absorbing high and upper mid frequencies, but allows lows and lower mids to pass. It’s possible that the carpeting was was why you felt your room to be muddy and boomy after installation.. thus needing bass traps.

      The cool thing about 2″ panels is that absorption starts to drop off where your drywall walls start to become effective absorbers (below 250Hz). The composite of both is quite broadband. Therefore, in a drywall room, with a sufficient quantity of well-placed 2″ panels, you really shouldn’t need bass traps.

  4. fartface says:

    Fogrot, semi rigid fiberglass ceiling tiles work perfectly for this and can be purchased at any home improvement store. a lot easier to get then his special acoustic insulation.

    • Eric says:

      The fiberglass board is actually very easy to get. You can walk into any insulation supply house and buy it on the spot. For the insulation I used, you can find a dealer here:

      http://www.roxul.com/residential/where+to+buy+roxul

      Owens Corning and Johns Manville have similar locators. It takes like 10 minutes.

      You can’t get it at Loews or Home Depot yet, though.

      Acoustic ceiling tile could work too, just note the thickness issue for porous absorbers. That stuff is meant to be mounted with a very deep airspace, E400 style.

    • Eric says:

      The fiberglass board is actually very easy to get. You can walk into any insulation supply house and buy it on the spot. For the insulation I used, you can find a dealer here:

      http://www.roxul.com/residential/where+to+buy+roxul

      Owens Corning and Johns Manville have similar locators. It takes like 10 minutes.

      You can’t get it at Loews or Home Depot yet, though.

      Acoustic ceiling tile could work too, just note the thickness issue for porous absorbers. That stuff is meant to be mounted with a very deep airspace, E400 style.

  5. arfink says:

    Looks very cool. I can think of a couple rooms in my house that’d do well with a few of these to cut down on the ruckus. Like the kitchen.

  6. Rob says:

    If you wrap them around small children, will that cut down that noise too?

    • Eric says:

      well, what about lining a small closet with these babies and locking them inside?

      • nope says:

        A small amount of sound deadening material applied carefully around the sound producing orifices tends to work quite well.

        I’ve found that you have to pick your fasteners wisely; staples seem to result in a screeching noise. Glue is perhaps the most aesthetically appealing.

        Also, you will want to consider the WAF of this solution. I’ve found it tends to be quite low. Circumstances vary, however, and it might work for you.

      • gbsd says:

        sounds good to me, though I haven’t tried a double-blind listening test yet. Hand me that screwdriver would ya?

  7. Laura Harris says:

    One of the most effective bass trap designs uses large (e.g., 6″ID/9″OD) rigid fiberglass pipe insulation. The length of the cylinder determines the effective frequency range of trap. 4 to 6’long is common for many home environments. These traps usually stand on end and look very much like cylindrical tower speakers.

    To make them, you strip the foil off the surface of the pipe insulation and then re-cover the insulation with grill cloth or some other decorative-yet-acoustically-transparent material. Cap the ends with a dense material- many use thick wood but slabs of marble or glass will also work.

    Locating them is a matter of locating the “boom” spots- places in your room where the bass becomes unnaturally loud- often in corners of the room. Place the traps as close to these areas as possible.

  8. Edward says:

    The TV has “The Cabinet of Dr. Caligari” showing on it.

  9. not trying to be rude, hack, possible, but looks like a polished turd. why use that when you have two obtrusive tower speakers on each side? sound Q? – nope, because they are not pointed correctly, as well as the zoble line will be way off. again, not trying to be rude, but its kinda like lets pretend to achieve something cuz it looks cool.

    • Eric says:

      I’m sorry that people are mean to you in life and that leads you to take it out on my poor blog.

      The “aiming” looks off because the photo was taken off-axis. I assure you that all seating locations are well within the coverage pattern of all loudspeakers.

      The directivity of a 5.25″ driver and dome tweeter is nothing to be concerned about (within reason). In fact, this lack of directional control is another reason WHY acoustic treatment is so important.

    • Eirinn says:

      Apologizing before being rude does not make you less of a prick :)

      Man: I’m sorry for stabbing you in the face.
      Woman: what?!
      Man : *stabs woman in the face* It’s OK! I said i was sorry about it in advance!

      Point: woman is still stabbed in the face,

    • Rob says:

      Srsly, dude? Keep it classy, yo.

  10. Kenneth_Caldwell says:

    What kind of speakers are those? I really like them. Late me know where i can pick them up please.

    Thanks Kenneth Caldwell

  11. Eric says:

    Thanks for publishing this hackaday! I will post a reply to some of the questions and comments after work.

    • Jesse Congdon says:

      No problem! Like I said I am really considering throwing up a few of these, my computer is in a basement corner and Ill surely get warmer acoustics with a bit of deadening. Also blank wall coverage.

  12. Rob says:

    Seriously digging those stained glass windows!

  13. Motorcyclist says:

    wow…lots of opinions on this hack!

    One thing that’s very effective for reducing standing waves is relocating the sound source into the corner of the room rather than the flat wall areas. This is free and may even provide aestheic interest to the furniture layout if you have enough room, and if not, the remote controls all work better because you’re closer to the components!…lol

    We used to make sound deadening panels out of used carpet, glued together in layers with ordinary 3m contact spray adhesive, then covering with a complimentary fabric for appearances. But the main sound enhancement came from placing high tweeter locations for a broadened stereo/ quad sound image, and the clarity enhancement of corner placement of the larger drivers.

  14. Lewis says:

    Haha, I did something like this the other day! Difference being I did a whole wall with 170mm rockwool compressed into a 144mm frame, with a thin acousticly transparent sheet stabled over the whole thing

  15. Martin says:

    Acoustic foam tiles placed on a frame and covered with speaker cloth easy http://www.acoustic-foam.co.uk for some cheap tiles

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