Here at Acoustics First®, we are often asked about wood acoustic treatment for spaces ranging from recording studios and auditoriums to churches and home theaters. Although the acoustic properties of wood are comparable to other reflective materials like gypsum and thermoplastic, wood’s superior aesthetic makes it a desirable treatment (wood is often perceived to “sound better” simply because of its visual properties).
Our newest wood acoustic treatment, ArtDiffusor® Trim, is a versatile, high frequency quadratic diffuser that can help improve the clarity of speech and music. Both Profiles (Type A & B) offer diffusion in similar ranges and allow for customizable installations. The different profiles can be used individually or together to modify the aesthetics of a room, while achieving the desired acoustic performance. In fact, in recent tests of ArtDiffusor® Trim, alternating the A and B profiles resulted in the best diffusion. Some examples of different installations include:
- Back wall Diffusion for a theater, listening or mixing studio.
- Slatted Ceiling Absorber.
- Installation over or behind stretch wall
- Chair rail, door and window molding.
ArtDiffusor® Trim can come in lengths up to 8’ and is available in Maple (other woods can be quoted). Later in this article we’ll walk you through how to build your very own diffusion panel using 4’ lengths of ArtDiffusor® Trim.
Diffusion at a Glance
Where typical fiberglass and foam panels absorb sound by transferring sonic energy into kinetic and thermal energy, diffusers act to scatter the energy, creating ambiance and a sense of open space. The function of sound diffusers is not to remove energy from your room, but to redistribute it, accurately reinforcing the sound source by controlling standing waves and flutter echoes, while retaining the room’s “liveliness”.
As is the case with any sound absorbing panels and diffusers, the treatment needs to cover enough critical surface area to make a noticeable impact. Simply installing a single piece of ArtDiffusor® Trim will not significantly improve the acoustics of a room. One way to ensure enough improvement is by using ArtDiffusor® Trim to build a series of diffusion panels and installing them as you would sound absorbing panels.
Building a Diffusion Panel – A step by step guide
- Plan out your Panel: Find out how many ArtDiffusor® Trim boards you want in your panel assembly. Our diffusion panel was to occupy an alcove that was 29” wide and each board has a width of just over 3.75”, so we opted for 7, 4’ boards. Remember, alternate type A and B profiles for optimal diffusion.
- Install the lower support board: This is what the ArtDiffusor® Trim boards will “stand” on. It is best to install acoustic treatment above chair rail height (3’-4’), to ensure that it’s effective around ear height. Measure and use a level to mark where the support board will go, install drywall anchors for a sure hold into the drywall, then drill and screw the support board into place. Be sure to countersink the holes so the facing strip has a flat surface to rest against.
Install the upper support board: This time using the ArtDiffusor ® Trim boards as a guide, measure, level and mark the location of the upper support board. Again, using drywall anchors, mount the upper support board (don’t forget to countersink!).The picture shows both support boards installed.
- Attach lower facing strip: Use facing strip that is approximately a ½” wider than the support board. Line up the facing strip next to the support board and mark your screw locations ensuring that they won’t run into the support board screws. Drill the holes and counter sink, lining up the boards so the ½” overlaps on the top, and screw into place.
- Partially attach upper facing strip: Same as the lower facing strip, but mount so the ½” overlap is on the bottom, and only screw one side in so it’s easier to slide in the ArtDiffusor ® Trim boards later.
- Slide in Art Trim: Slide in the ArtDiffusor® Trim behind the facing strip and use biscuits to fit the boards together. We decided to position the boards with an approximately 1/8” spacing.
- Finish attaching upper facing strip & admire your new DIY Diffusion Panel!