Archive for category Home Entertainment
Posted by Acoustics First in Absorption, Art Galleries, Articles, Auditorium, Broadcast Facilities, Diffusion, Home Entertainment, Home Theater, HOW TO, Industrial Facilities, Media Room, Multipurpose Rooms, Music Rehearsal Spaces, Offices, Product Applications, Recording Facilities, Studio Control Room, Teleconferencing, Theater on April 29, 2022
For the May 2022 edition of “The Construction Specifier,” Acoustics First was asked to illustrate the use of absorption and diffusion in creating optimal acoustic spaces. The article is a great reference for understanding the types of acoustic absorbers and diffusers, as well as some use scenarios like offices, critical listening spaces, and larger communal spaces.
Note: This version has been edited and the advertisements are removed. The full published version of the May 2022 digital edition can be found on The Construction Specifier’s website here.
Posted by Acoustics First in Absorption, Auditorium, Home Entertainment, Home Theater, Multipurpose Rooms, Music Rehearsal Spaces, Music Tracking Room, Press Release, Product Applications, Products, Recording Facilities, Recording Studio, Studio Control Room, Theater, Uncategorized, Vocal Booth, Voice Over, Worship Facilities on May 24, 2021
Bass frequencies are difficult to control… and there is sometimes a tendency to overuse standard, broadband panels to try to absorb everything in order to get rid of that bass. However, this method is unbalanced and has the side-effect of leaving a room sounding muffled and boomy.
Physics! High frequencies are easier to absorb than low frequencies. So, when you ONLY use broadband absorbers, they easily remove the high frequencies and leave more of the lows. Overusing broadband absorption in a large performance space can be a disaster – leaving an environment lacking energy and feel – many describe this condition as a room sounding “dead.” (Not good!)
So how can you treat the boomy bass without killing your rooms with too much broadband absorption? Can you just take out the bass? Unfortunately, it is impossible to ONLY absorb the bass, but we can LIMIT the amount of high frequency energy that we absorb to balance out the response.
Acoustics First® presents… the Sonora® LFC – Low-Frequency control panel.
The Sonora® LFC looks like a standard Sonora® Wall panel, but looks can be deceiving! At 4-1/8″ thick, it is virtually indistinguishable from a High-Impact Sonora® panel – however the interior structure of the LFC is optimized to attack the bass frequencies and smoothly roll off the high frequencies. Let’s take a closer look at the performance difference between the Sonora® LFC and the standard Sonora® panel.
When you look at the performance charts, you will notice that the standard 4″ Sonora® panel starts to “roll-off” in the lower frequencies below 125 Hz – it still absorbs them, just to a lesser degree. We designed the Sonora® LFC panel to focus on those frequencies below 125 Hz – while allowing the other treatments to handle the rest! This allows you to use fewer broadband panels, and still have some high-frequency energy for diffusers to spread around – thus creating a more balanced acoustic environment.
The Sonora® LFC is an engineered solution using the same high-performance materials as our other products, but combining them in a way that optimizes them for Low-Frequency Control – hence Sonora® LFC! The magic is in the way those materials are used.
All of the materials used in an acoustic environment have a function – “Diffusers,” “Absorbers,” and “Bass Traps” are all general descriptors of product functions. Some diffusers are also Bass Traps. Some bass traps are also broadband absorbers. Some diffusers use absorption for amplitude grating. By combining a dampened, resonant trap with multi-density fiberglass, the Sonora® LFC focuses on making acoustic spaces more balanced. For controlling the bass without sucking the life out of a room, the LFC Panel is an outstanding tool for refined Low-Frequency Control!
There are many home theaters of note, but rarely is one created (at this scale) by the singular dream and dedication of one man. Ken Fritz involved Acoustics First® early in the project to perform acoustic measurements of the space, and his theater became the first large-scale installation of our newly developed HiPer® Panel. From beginning to end, Ken says that he spent more than 25 years on the realization of his dream – and others have taken notice.
There have been numerous write-ups of Ken’s theater, which was constructed (from the ground up) specifically for this purpose. The walls are hurricane grade block construction, the roof-line is constructed to improve the acoustics, the walls are clad in HiPer® Panels, the bass emanates effortlessly from in-wall enclosures – and just look at those custom built arrays that Ken designed and constructed by hand! This project is more than just a labor of love, it is an obsession with excellence.
This obsession covers every aspect of the room and the system, with everything being either built by hand, customized to his specifications, or simply the best you can get! If there is a “home theater mountain,” Ken built a skyscraper at the summit – but don’t take our word for it…
You can watch the one-hour documentary telling the story behind the dream – in Ken’s own words.
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!
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.
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.)
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!)
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.
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.
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.
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.
For anyone new to the world of acoustics, there is a multitude of terms, coefficients and numbers that are thrown around. This flood of information can seem intimidating, especially to beginners. In this series, acoustician Cameron Girard of Acoustics First® hopes to help you distinguish between what’s useful and what’s not.
Part 2: How Mounting in Testing Affects Sound Absorption Data
As I discussed in my previous article, the best way to compare the performance of sound absorbing panels is by referencing the Sound Absorption Coefficient (SAC) and Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC). However, these coefficients are often used as marketing tools. Be on the lookout for companies that list absorption coefficients and NRCs without mention of a particular testing standard or mounting method. It’s vital to check for this information, as direct comparisons to competitors and other materials can only be made if their testing procedures are the same.
The sound absorption of a material that covers a flat surface not only depends on the physical qualities of the material but also on how the material is mounted during installation. The mountings specified in laboratory tests are intended to simulate conditions that exist in normal use, such as direct wall mounting and installation into a ceiling grid.
Many materials for treatment of walls or ceiling are tested using what is called Type ”A” mounting. Type ”A” mounting means the test specimen was placed directly on the test surface of the reverberation chamber. Lay-in ceiling tiles, on the other hand, are often tested using ”E400” mounting. The ”E” designates a sealed air space behind the specimen (simulating the air gap between a dropped tile ceiling and the structural ceiling) and the number after the ”E” is the depth of the airspace in millimeters. The airspace behind the acoustic material affects the sound absorption by acting as a bass trap. The deeper the cavity behind the panels is, the lower the fundamental of the “trapped” frequencies will be.
To see what this look like in terms of actual numbers, let’s take a look at how different mounting methods effect the sound absorption coefficients of Acoustics First’s HiPer® Panel (a low-profile, composite absorber/diffuser panel).
Since the HiPer® Panel can be used effectively in multiple applications; we had it tested in accordance to the two most-common mounting procedures, Type E-400 and Type A. The results of the laboratory tests are as follows:
Sound Absorption Coefficients
|1″ HiPer® Panel||1″||E-400||0.43||0.28||0.51||0.76||0.99||1.10||0.65|
|1″ HiPer® Panel||1″||A||0.09||0.28||0.78||0.75||0.94||0.85||0.70|
As you can see from the chart, the sound absorption coefficient at 125 Hz varies greatly between E-400 mounting (SAC of .43) and Type-A mounting (SAC of .09). If mounting the HiPer® Panel in a ceiling grid, with a sizable airspace, you can expect significant low-frequency absorption, but mounting it on a wall (Type-A) will result in much less absorption at 125Hz.
Other mounting methods are available, but are not used as frequently. Here are some of the basic mounting designations (See ASTM E795 for more information.)
Type A mounting – Test specimen laid directly against the test surface (wall panel on drywall).
Type B mounting – Test specimen cemented directly against the test surface. Type B mounting is intended to simulate acoustical ceiling tiles or other sound-absorptive products adhered to a hard surface with an adhesive.
Type C Mounting—Test specimen comprising sound-absorptive material behind a perforated, expanded, open facing or other porous material.
Type D Mounting—Test specimen mounted on wood furring strips.
Type E Mounting—Test specimen mounted with an air space behind it (dropped tile ceiling).
As we’ve discussed, acoustical data can vary greatly depending on the mounting method used during testing. Acoustics First tries to include as much information about testing procedures as possible, because we feel an informed client makes the best client.
Contact Acoustics First for your all your sound control needs!