Archive for category Product Applications

Unity Spiritual Center of Woodstock – Acoustic Update

When the Unity Spiritual Center of Woodstock wanted to use their sanctuary for more varied community events, it became apparent that they needed to address the acoustics of the space to meet the demands of those functions.

Acoustician Cameron Girard ran reverb calculations and provided a comprehensive treatment proposal utilizing Sonora wall panels. Sonora panels are a great solution for worship and performance spaces, offering excellent broadband sound absorption in an attractive, customizable finish. In addition to controlling the specular wall-to-wall reflections (echoes) which degrade speech and music, the recommended treatment aimed to reduce excessive reverberation by approx. 50%, significantly improving intelligibility. Cameron’s clear panel layout facilitated a simple installation that was performed by handy volunteers from USGW’s congregation.

Sonora Panels tamed reflections from the back wall and lowered the overall intensity. This increased clarity while keeping the ambiance that the congregants enjoyed.  Acoustic changes that tame a space don’t need to destroy its acoustic character… they can be focused to manage some of the elements that produce unwanted artifacts.

back corner of hall

Sonora Panels help to tame the harsh reflections coming from the back wall, corner, and angled fascia.

The front of the room received some more Sonora Panels, but reinforcing surfaces from the ceiling were left reflective to allow any unamplified voices from the stage to carry into the audience.

unity front view

Notice how the Sonora panels are used to control the reflections on the back and sides of the stage, but the ceiling is left mostly reflective.

Now a full year removed from this project, How did it turn out?

”The sanctuary at the Unity Spiritual Center of Woodstock turned out beautifully both visually and acoustically. The folks at USCW are very pleased and the old sanctuary now has new life with more activities and recognition from the community as a great new venue for many things both church and community based including concerts and stage productions.” – George Muligano USCW

Another Happy Client!

Reach out to Acoustics First for a treatment recommendation for your performance space or worship facility!

, ,

Leave a comment

ArtDiffusor® Model C vs. Aeolian®: Similar, yet different.

Art Diffusor Model C vs. Aeolian Sound Diffuser

For this installment of “Similar, yet different” we look at The ArtDiffuser® Model C and the Aeolian® Sound Diffuser.

While these two diffusers look very different, there are a fair amount of similarities between them.  Their physical size and depth allow them both to be great mid-frequency diffusers, but did you know that the Aeolian® started life as a blocky-looking diffuser – just like the Model C?  It’s true!

ArtDiffusor® Model C array on a hanging bass trap.

The mathematics behind the two diffusers is similar, but the implementation is different.  While the Model C retains its “blocky” appearance, the Aeolian has run through a mathematical process called “bicubic interpolation.”  Without turning this into a math-heavy post, if you take a “blocky” design like the Model C and run its geometry through bicubic interpolation, you get a “curvy” surface like the Aeolian® – It “smooths” the transition from one block to the next in a 3 dimensional matrix.

While they did not begin as identical geometries, they were similar in their height ratios – with the Aeolian® starting with fewer blocks in a more random distribution, and a slightly taller maximum height.  They both effect similar frequency ranges, with the Aeolian® going slightly lower and higher due to its depth and interpolated surface.  The pattern and type of the diffusion is also different because of the different geometries – the Model C has blocks, and the edges of those blocks introduce a great deal of edge “diffraction” – which is what happens when a wave interacts with an edge, or corner, of a surface. It bends and shears around the edge, which helps break up the continuity of the waveform, where the Aeolian® takes the approach of redirecting most of the energy off a randomized and continually-curved surface.

Aeolian® Diffuser array on the back wall of Big3 Studios.

It is important to note that the two are similar, yet different in their absorption numbers as well.  With the Aeolian® being deeper with a single large cavity, it provides a bit more absorption in the low frequencies than the Model C, which is a more rigid geometry containing smaller elements.  Depending on the space, this may be a useful addition to the diffusive properties.  While some spaces need the extra absorption, some are pretty well balanced already and are just looking to “sweeten” the sound a bit.

On the surface, they are both a nominal 2’x2′ square of thermoformed Class A plastic with lightly textured surface.  That is the extent of the visual similarities, and we cannot hide the aesthetic differences between the two devices. The ArtDiffusor® Model C is a “classic” diffuser.  Many have been looking at these for the better part of 3 decades now.  It’s a classic design at this point with no need for introduction – it is what the quintessential diffuser “looks” like.  In fact, when many people think of a diffuser – the Model C is what they visualize!  The Aeolian® is a modern rendition of the classic design. Using modern calculation techniques, we can now present the type of diffusion the Model C is famous for, in a different way.

While the two geometries look entirely different, and perform a bit differently, they have a common heritage as mathematical, 2-dimensional diffusers.  You could say that the Model C is the grandparent of the Aeolian®, and that pedigree has been passed on – having a similar foundation, but a different final interpretation.

 

, , , ,

Leave a comment

ArtDiffusor® Model C and Model F – Similar, yet different.

Model C vs Model F

We often get asked about the functionality of the different diffusers, and one of the frequently asked questions is about the differences between the ArtDiffusor® Model C and ArtDiffusor® Model F.  We will cover some of similarities and differences in the design, functionality and use of these two devices.

Design.

The Model C and Model F use identical math to come up with their basic structure, they even have angled faces – the main difference between the two is that the Model F elements are ½ of the Model C’s height, length and width – and then it is duplicated 4 times in the same footprint…  The Model C is nominally 2’ x 2’ x 4” deep.  The Model F is four quadrants that are nominally 1’ x 1’ x 2” deep – like little scaled down Model C’s… This makes them visually similar and aesthetically compatible.  This low profile design makes the Model F more desirable for ceiling installs in spaces with very limited headroom – like basement studios that have low ceilings.

 

Performance

Due to the different size of the elements on the two devices, they have very different frequencies at which they are most effective.  The Model C is a mid-frequency diffuser by design… having larger elements and deeper wells than the Model F.  The Model F is primarily a high-frequency diffuser, due to the small elements and lower profile.  Both diffusers are tuned to different frequencies as their “primary range,” and while they do affect lower and higher frequencies than they are designed for – it is to a lesser degree, or the product of absorption.

What does this mean?

The Model C has a primary design range of 1KHz to 4KHz.  This is where it is primarily designed to work.  It can and does diffuse below 1KHz and over 4KHz – just to a lesser degree than its primary design range.

The Model F has a primary design range of 2KHz to 8KHz, and again, it does diffuse outside of that range, but to a lesser degree.

The angled caps of both the Model C and Model F help to extend their high frequency range by reflecting sound in different directions at higher frequencies – causing the sound to scatter spatially.  The different heights of the elements cause sound reflections to be offset “temporally,” or in time. The sound that hits the higher elements is reflected sooner than the sound that hits the lower elements – travelling further before it is reflected.   This time offset, changes the “Phase Coherency” of the reflection; the larger the difference in the heights, the greater the offset in time.

The size of the elements matters as well. The shorter wavelengths of high frequencies can diffract and scatter off of the smaller elements of the Model F more readily than low frequencies, which see the Model F as a slightly angled & mostly flat surface. However, the lower frequencies are more affected by the larger and deeper elements of the Model C.

How do these differences help define their use?

The Model C is a great all around diffuser – it covers a wide range of frequencies, throws a very predictable 2D diffusion pattern, and it is tuned to a very musical range.

The Model F is a great high-frequency diffuser.  It targets a few very specific, yet important issues.  High frequencies are responsible for some nasty problems in rooms.  Flutter echoes, ringing, comb filtering, and other artifacts are particularly noticeable in higher frequencies.  If your room is otherwise performing well acoustically, the Model F can help tackle that last hurdle to make a good room into a great room.

Model F and C

Many critical listening environments use both the Model C and Model F to tune the diffusion in their space.

 

While the white Aeolians® on the back wall are the visual focal-point on in Big3 Studio A, look closely at the ceiling and you will notice a large array of black Model C’s and Model F’s. These help to intermix the diffusion of different frequencies in the large control room.

Due to their aesthetic and functional compatibility, many rooms benefit from using both.  Model C’s addressing the bulk of the Mid-range diffusion, and the Model F smoothing out the top end.

I hope that this highlights the unique properties of both the ArtDiffusor® Model C & ArtDiffusor® Model F – and helps to demystify their function and use in your space.

, , ,

Leave a comment

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!

, , ,

Leave a comment

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.

, , , , , ,

Leave a comment