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DIY – Nouveau™ Home Theater Back Wall

It wasn’t a difficult install, but these Nouveaus made this space sing.

Adding Nouveau wood diffusers to a home theater is not as daunting a task as it may seem, and can be done with a little planning and a few tools.  This install used an ingenious mounting method to ease the final install.  Instead of mounting the z-track to the wall directly, it was mounted to sheets of plywood which were hung with Gorilla/Hercules hooks.

The first task was to pick a stain. You can use the back of a plank to get an idea of how the poplar will respond to the different options.  Poplar has a very interesting and varied structure that will take stain differently than some other woods. Darker stains may be more consistent, but don’t reveal the character and variation in the wood.  This install chose a Smoke Gray which grayed out soft areas and browned the harder heart wood. A semi-gloss clear coat was used to finish.

Using the back of the Nouveau, you can see how the stains will “take.”

While the stain dried, the mounting plywood was cut down to hide behind the planks. Four hanging straps with eye-loops were then added to the top edge of each of the plywood sections, and spaced to avoid studs.

Industrial hanging eyelets were added to the top edge of the sheets to make them easy to level and hang with the Gorilla Hooks.

The Z-track that would normally be installed on the wall was installed on the opposite side of the plywood.  This will make it easy to hang the Nouveaus onto the sheet after it’s on the wall.

Z-Bar track was added to the top and bottom of the plywood sheet to accept the z-bars that are going on the back of the finished Nouveau planks.

After the Nouveau planks are finished with the staining, and left to cure for a few days, they are ready to have the mating Z-bars attached to the back.  They are installed with the same spacing as the Z-tracks on the plywood sheets.  This will make it easy to align them after the plywood is hung on the wall.

The z-bars are measured, marked, and installed at the same spacing as the z-tracks on the plywood.

The Gorilla/Hercules Anchor hooks are rated to around 50-60 lbs each. The Nouveau planks are roughly 25lbs each (at 48 inches) and each section has 4 hooks supporting 4 planks plus the weight of the 3/8″ plywood.  The hooks are installed so that the plywood will hang level – with the weight distributed evenly across all four hooks.

When installed properly and leveled, each of these hooks will hold up to about 50-60lbs each. In this configuration, they should only need to support about half that.

Finally, the Nouveau planks are installed into the Z-Tracks on the plywood, and moved into position.  Because the z-bars were installed square and level, there is no shifting, and they hang true.  The undersized plywood sections disappear behind the planks leaving the impression that the planks are floating slightly off the wall.

The install doesn’t look much different from a direct mount z-track installation, with a small gap against the wall.

While this mounting method may not be ideal for every scenario, this was an effective way to install 8 Nouveau™ planks with only 8 small hook holes in the wall.  These can now be installed in apartments or temporary environments with minimal damage to the existing walls – and once you are done, they’re easy to take down and reinstall somewhere else. You just need a level!

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3 Years of the Aeolian® Sound Diffuser

3 Years of the Aeolian®

It may seem a lifetime ago, but we are celebrating the 3rd Anniversary of the release of the patented Aeolian® Sound diffuser.  During development, our team ran numerous models and simulations, revising the design, and optimizing the performance to create the iteration we have today.

The development workflow of the design included computer optimized geometry, performance simulation, rapid prototyping, and full acoustic performance and validation testing.  This was one of the first uses of this completed workflow, and while we are always refining our development processes, this was a huge leap forward.

We now look back at the release of the Aeolian® as a milestone in our history, where we developed something more than a product… we developed a better way to design a product.

Here was the original blog post about the Aeolian®.

Happy birthday.

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DIY – Custom Absorber using Sonora® Black Tiles

Let’s say you need some Sonora® Black scrim ceiling tiles for a home theater project, and you order a few extra – “just in case.” Now that the install is done (and you have a few left) you can do something with them… like making a cool absorber panel with lights!

With some DIY knowledge, you can make an absorber masterpiece!

Everyone will have a different vision, but the basic supplies are…

  • Acoustic Absorber Material (ex. Sonora® Black Scrim Ceiling Tiles)
  • Wood for frame
  • Acoustically transparent material/fabric (This one uses a polyester fabric map)
  • Material to enclose the back (fabric scrim)
  • Wood to mount lighting (This is a 1″x 4″ with espresso stain)
  • Lights (here are custom, black-pipe light fixtures, but use other lights if desired)
  • Wiring (Wirenuts, electrical tape, lamp cord, etc.)
  • Assorted screws, staples, hanging hardware, PPE and tools.

Note: This is not a detailed DIY, as everyone will have a different set of materials and project goals, but these will show the basic steps to create a panel like the one above…. Here we go!

Cut the wood and make a frame that will hold the acoustic material, and the fabric to enclose it. Make the frame big enough to hold the material, and still be covered by the fabric.  Make the frame as rigid as possible. Predrill your holes and make it square. Make it tight enough to hold the acoustic material with friction, but without crushing it.

Cutting frame material using a miter box.

This design is an old map that was printed on a lightweight, polyester fabric banner material. This one is roughly 4′ x 6′ with extra material around the edge to wrap it around the back of the frame. It’s best to have your starting fabric oversize – the graphics sized to the frame, with a boarder wide enough to wrap to the back for fastening. (In this case we will simply staple it to the back of the frame.)

This is the printed fabric material that will be the face of the absorber.

Lay out the material and attach it to the frame. Be careful when putting the frame on the material. Take care in lining up the graphic to the frame, and keep an eye out for wrinkles and folds.

Put the face material face down.

Lay the frame onto the fabric, wrap the fabric to the back, and staple it to the frame.

Make the corners as neat as you can. Don’t spend too much time, this will be covered.

 

Fastening doesn’t need to be perfect on the back, but you do want it to be secure. Trim up the excess material if needed, and then flip it around and see what it looks like.

Now that you’ve attached it to the frame, let’s focus on the lights!

You could just fill it with the material and hang it like this if you didn’t want the lights, but this project is going the extra mile!  We will attach a board to the top of the frame and attach the lights to that. This board will support the lights as well as the the frame. The hanging straps and rings will be attached to this as well, so don’t select a board that is too thin or flimsy.

Clamp a piece of wood to the top, like a mantle, and screw it to the frame.

How you mount the lights to the board and run the wires will be different if you are using different fixtures. This was made with 5 custom, black-pipe fixtures, that are basically just a flange, two 90° elbows, some pipe, and a lamp fixture mounted in a 1 1/4″ pipe reducer/coupler. Wire was stranded lamp wire (black and white), and it was left long to assist routing the wiring inside the panel.

Mark the fixture location and drill a hole for the wire. Run the wire through the hole.

Orient the fixture and attach.

The flange on these lights had 3 screw holes. Some washers and wood screws were used to attach them to the frame. The remaining fixtures were then measured and mounted – paying close attention to keeping consistent spacing and orientation of the lamps.

Note: This will vary depending on the type and number of lamps you use.

Measure for the next fixture and repeat until all the fixtures are installed.

Now that we have all the fixtures mounted, let’s finish the wiring and put in the material!

(WARNING: If you are not comfortable with wiring – this is the point where you call in a friend, electrician, Wikipedia, or whatever other resource you use to make sure you don’t electrocute yourself, burn down the house, etc.  Acoustics First assumes no responsibility for your DIY projects – but we wish you good luck!)

Flip the panel around to get at the wiring… hopefully you remembered to use long pieces!

Using wire nuts and electrical tape, wire all the black wires together and all the white wires together.

This wiring was all attached to a lamp cord that had a pre-molded plug, and readily recognizable hot (black) and neutral (white) wires. This entire fixture is being controlled by a smart outlet (“Alexa… Turn on the Awesome World Map.”), but could just as easily be hard wired to a junction box, or wired with an inline switch.

This is a good opportunity to test the lights and wiring, before installing the acoustic material and covering the back.

Now we can insert the acoustic material.  Sonora® Black Scrim Ceiling tiles are easily trimmed to fit with a sharp knife.  They are fiberglass!  So… wear gloves minimize exposure to the fibers.

Test the lights then insert the acoustic material into the frame (Sonora® Black Scrim ceiling tiles) and organize your wires.

Covering the back of the panel will keep the Sonora® tiles in place, and keep any stray fibers from escaping. This will also make the panel easier to move in the future – without worrying about the tiles falling out or snagging on the wires.

Trim the excess off. It doesn’t need to be pretty back here, remember this will be up against the wall.

Cover the back of the panel with material and staple it into place.

Spin the map around…

…and enjoy the glow…

The hardware used to hang the panel will depend on a few different factors – wall construction, stud availability, final panel weight, etc.  Make sure you use appropriate hardware for your environment.  In this case the final panel weighed less than 30 lbs, and the decision was made to use drywall anchor hooks and industrial hanging eye loops.

Making sure the panel is level, and hang it on the wall! Then, sit back and enjoy the great looks and improved acoustics!

Now is a great time to get up and do some creative home improvement projects!  Improve the acoustics of your home theater, living room, or home office… and have a cool new focal point for your space.

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Sonora® Panels welcome congregations back “home.”

Sonora® Panels on the back walls and balcony help to make the space sound more intimate.

As people begin to head back into their places of worship, the focus on acoustics has again come to the forefront. Many have been streaming services and listening to music in their homes, where they had short reverb times and good acoustic clarity. They are experiencing a stark contrast in the large reverberant churches to which they are returning. By adding acoustic absorption in a space, you can improve clarity and reduce reflections which can fatigue the listeners.

The Sonora® Panels above are helping to break up the reflections coming from the balcony face and the rear balcony wall, improving the clarity of the voices and the music within the space.  This helps to create an intimate and comfortable acoustic environment for those in attendance – and makes it feel more like home.

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Art Diffusor® Nouveau™ – Limitless possibilities.

ArtDiffusor® Nouveau™ on a wall with a dark stain – framed.

Hey! Here’s another installation of our new ArtDiffusor® Nouveau™. For this install, these four boards were not only stained, but also framed out to enhance the design aesthetic.  From different paints and stains, to mounting techniques, there are limitless possibilities for customization to create your own unique and functional sound diffusing arrays.

ArtDiffusor® Nouveau™ on a wall with a dark stain – framed.

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