Archive for category HOW TO

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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DIY – Back Wall Diffuser Array/Bass Trap: Revisited

DIY - Diffuser Array/Bass Trap

DIY – Diffuser Array/Bass Trap

bass trap foam diffuser - sideThis month we thought we’d share a few Real-Life pictures of an idea we first introduced back in summer of 2013: The “Back Wall Diffuser Array/Bass Trap”.

Isolation Hanger

Isolation Hanger

This is the DIY project which incorporates our Art Diffusors®, Cutting Wedge® foam and a couple of isolation hangers into one large free-floating unit, which is acoustically decoupled from the wall.

This particular array was put together by a music producer/bass player for his home. As you can tell from the pics, the construction of this unit was executed beautifully and it’s very close to the original concept drawings.

It’s never too late to get started on your own DIY project.

Real World - DIY

Real World – DIY

Visit the Original DIY page to find out how to make your own. 

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DIY Wood Diffusion Panel – ArtDiffusor® Trim

DIY Wood Diffuser Panel - Using ArtDiffusor Trim

DIY Wood Diffuser Panel – Using ArtDiffusor Trim

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).

Two different profiles that work together!

Two different profiles that work together!

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

  1. 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.

    Plan your Layout.

    Plan your Layout.

  2. 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 Lower Support.

    Install the Lower Support.

  3. trimwall-supports

    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.
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  4. 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.

    Lower facing strip installed.

    Lower facing strip installed.

  5. 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.

    Partially attach top facing strip.

    Partially attach top facing strip.

  6. 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.

    Slide in ArtDiffusor® Trim panels.

    Slide in ArtDiffusor® Trim panels.

  7. Finish attaching upper facing strip & admire your new DIY Diffusion Panel!

    Final DIY Diffusing Wall Panel with ArtDiffusor® Trim!

    Final DIY Diffusing Wall Panel with ArtDiffusor® Trim!

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Acoustic Treatment for your Home Theater or Listening Room

Any good theater or listening is acoustically treated to ensure the sound coming from the speakers is what arrives at the listener’s ears. Conditions common in small/medium rooms, such as flutter echo and comb filtering, degrade the clarity of music and speech. Here are some tricks to get a full and accurate sound out of your home theater or listening room. For those visually inclined individuals, the accompanying video shows how a critical listening space would ideally be treated.

Bass Traps – low-end control
Low frequency problems are common to almost any room, regardless of size.  The good news is that most of the time the solution is simple. By installing bass traps in the corners of the room you can prevent the excessive bass build-up. If bass frequencies are allowed to build in the corners, it causes the bass frequencies to become muddy and undefined. The more corners you cover with a good trap, the better bass response you get from the room.

Having bass traps in all corners is best. That said, if you only have budget for two, having bass traps in the front corners of the room should be the highest priority. Fabric wrapped absorbers look as good as they sound, and Geometrix™ by Acoustics First, fit the corners like a glove.

Broadband Absorption – tame the ring.
To control the flutter echo caused by reflective parallel walls, it’s vital that the first refection points are treated with broadband absorption (wall panels). More than likely, your TV and/or sound system is in a fixed position, and your listening position will be relatively fixed as well. This should make the early reflection surfaces easy to locate. Sound travels in all directions from the speaker, including behind it, so put absorbers behind it on the wall. Don’t forget the floors, ceiling, and the wall behind you – sound will bounce off those as well.

Hang broadband absorbers over all the early reflection points – left, right, front and back so they are centered at ear height.  Placement is the first key to getting this reflection free zone.  The second is the right choice of absorber. To match your fabric wrapped bass traps, the simple choice is get some more panels wrapped in fabric. The Sonora® line of broadband absorbing panels coordinate with the bass traps, and come in a plethora of sizes and mounting options to work in your space.

Diffusers – put life back into your space.
Diffusion will give us something we couldn’t attain through absorption – a sense of open space.  Even after treating with absorbers, there are still areas of the room where sound waves will sit, because your room is a fixed box with fixed speakers.  Diffusers scatter the energy, creating ambiance with residual energy. This simple step does not remove energy from your room, but redistributes it into a soundscape that can make you forget you are in a room at all. In order of priority, the rear walls, front wall and ceiling are the most important surfaces to install diffusers.

There are many ways to diffuse the sound and coordinate with your room, from the fabric covered HiPer™ Panel and Double Duty Diffusers™, to the striking line of Art Diffusors® like the Model C, which can be painted to match your décor.

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DIY – Treating a Wall – BlockAid® and SoundChannels®

AcousticsFirstOn many occasions, we get asked about common ways to treat a wall (or walls) either for broadcast, podcast, or other voice recording scenario – where they not only want to tame the reflections within the room, but also block a certain amount of sound coming into – or leaving the room.

Budget is frequently an issue, major construction is usually unwanted, but effective results are always required.

We’re going to show you how to handle a room upgrade – cut down on the sound transmission and cut the room reflections – all with the same skills required to hang high quality wall coverings!  Let’s see how you can cover a wall with BlockAid® vinyl sound barrier to block unwanted sound, then go back and cover that with an absorptive layer of Sound Channels® wall covering  to finish it off!

This treatment is not recommended for renters, as this is not an easy upgrade to undo.  However, if you have an extra bedroom you are using as Podcast studio, this is a great way to treat it… Let’s get started!

Installing BlockAid®

Measure the wall for the first panel length. Mark the panel width on the wall.

1. Measure the wall for the first panel length. Mark the panel width on the wall.

Measure and Mark the length of the wall on the BlockAid®

2. Measure and Mark the length of the wall on the BlockAid®

Use a straightedge and a razor to cut the BlockAid® to length.

3. Use a straightedge and a razor to cut the BlockAid®.

Using a trowel, apply vinyl tread adhesive to the wall, covering the whole area where the first panel is going. (You marked the wall right?)

4. Using a trowel, apply vinyl tread adhesive to the wall, covering the whole area where the first panel is going. (You marked the wall right?)

Hang the panel starting at the top, install a few screws to hold it in place while the adhesive sets. (You will probably need a friend to help, as BlockAid® is a pound per square foot!)

5. Hang the panel starting at the top, install a few screws to hold it in place while the adhesive sets. (You will probably need a friend to help, as BlockAid® is a pound per square foot!)

Using your hands and a putty knife, smooth out all the air bubbles from behind the BLockaid® so that you get a good bond when the adhesive cures.

6. Using your hands and a putty knife, smooth out all the air bubbles from behind the BlockAid® so that you get a good bond when the adhesive cures.

Repeat the steps for the next strip. Measure, Mark, Cut, Trowl, Hang...

7. Repeat the steps for the next strip. Measure, Mark, Cut, Trowl, Hang…

Make sure you line up those seams! push them right up agaist each other. Smooth out the air bubbles, cut out any outles, trim any extra... Let dry!

8. Make sure you line up those seams! push them right up agaist each other. Smooth out the air bubbles, cut out any outles, trim any extra… Let dry!

Good job! Now, take a breather while that dries, and notice how much less sound is passing through the walls.  This is when you will notice that the sounds are now coming from under the door, and through the leaky old window.  These can be taken care of in different ways…. but the easiest way is the same way you deal with keeping the cold out!   Get some weather strip, a door skirt, seal the gaps around the frame of the door, and windows, maybe go out and buy some heavy curtains for the windows… if you have some leftover BlockAid®, you can always get some Industrial Velcro and temporarily stick a piece over the window!

Installing Sound Channels®

1. Remove the Screws from the BLockAid® - if you didn't already... then same as BlockAid®, measure the wall, mark it, measure and cut a piece of Sound Channels® and start troweling on the Chapco!

1. Remove the Screws from the BLockAid® – if you didn’t already… then same as BlockAid®, measure the wall, mark it, measure and cut a piece of Sound Channels® and start troweling on the Chapco!

2. Well, when you get tired, make your friend finish troweling out the adhesive to cover where the panel is going. (You are going to overlap the seams.)

2. Well, when you get tired, make your friend finish troweling out the adhesive to cover where the panel is going. (You are going to overlap the seams.)

3. Starting at the top, hang the Sound Channels® overlapping the seam of the BlockAid under it. Smooth out the air bubbles with your hands. Make sure it lines up well. No screws needed!

3. Starting at the top, hang the Sound Channels® overlapping the seam of the BlockAid® under it. Smooth out the air bubbles with your hands. Make sure it lines up well. No screws needed!

4. Measure and cut the next strip, carefully following a rib in the fabric, while your friend, (who is way better at troweling than you are anyway,) preps the next section with adhesive.

4. Measure and cut the next strip, carefully following a rib in the fabric, while your friend, (who is way better at troweling than you are anyway,) preps the next section with adhesive.

5. Best practice is to run the fabric in the same direction every time. Not just with the ribs, but in the same direction it comes off the roll. So find the top.

5. Best practice is to run the fabric in the same direction every time. Not just with the ribs, but in the same direction it comes off the roll. So find the top.

6. After you find the top, start hanging from the top, lining up the seams and smoothing out the bubbles as you go.

6. After you find the top, start hanging from the top, lining up the seams and smoothing out the bubbles as you go.

7. Keep those seams tight as you go. Keep smoothing... almost done!

7. Keep those seams tight as you go. Keep smoothing… almost done!

8. Trim up the extra and repeat as many times as needed.

8. Trim up the extra and repeat as many times as needed.

That’s it!

Don't forget to trim around those outlets!

Don’t forget to trim around those outlets!

This treatment is a common first step in treating many professional broadcast studios – it gives you extra isolation with the barrier and takes the edge of the sound reflections.  Many professional environments then go back and add some additional treatments such as bass traps, diffusers, and broadband absorber panels – especially if these studios are planning on bringing in any musical guests.

This isn’t just for home studios.  It works great for kids play rooms, bedrooms, home theaters, home gyms, and any place you want to block sound and tame the sound inside the room.

Customize your space as you will, but this treatment is a consistent winner for cost and performance, and is a great way to get started without breaking the bank!

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