How to Build Your Own Acoustic Panels (DIY)

Last Updated on Wednesday, 4 June 2014 09:10 Written by AcousticsFREQ Thursday, 13 October 2011 08:41

Make Cheap, Easy, Attractive DIY Sound Absorption Wall Panels

Also Check out our Complete Guide to Home Theater Acoustics for more information, including where to place your acoustic panels.

Total Cost is about $20 per panel, or $2.50 per square foot.

Tools Required

 

 Sound absorption panels trap acoustical energy (sound) and prevent it from reflecting off of the surfaces they cover.  The panels are used to eliminate echoes and reflections that muddle or color amplified music and speech.  These wall panels will also reduce reverberation levels in a room, which can sometimes provide ambient noise reduction.*

*Note that choral music, piano, orchestral instruments, group singing, and pipe organ benefit from reasonably reverberant acoustics, with many reflective surfaces.  Installation of sound absorption material can harm musician performance and sound quality for these specific applications.

 Suitable applications for sound absorption panels include:

  • Improving surround-sound imaging and clarity for dvd/blu ray movies, sports, or video games in a home theater
  • Reducing slap-back echo and reverberation in large halls, auditoriums, and contemporary churches
  • Reducing chatter, din, and noise in crowded gathering spaces, restaurants, or bars
  • Providing more accurate listening conditions in recording studios and control rooms

Note that sound absorption material is often called “soundproofing.”  I believe that the term “soundproof” is usually misapplied, which will be discussed in another post.  Sound absorption panels are NOT able to significantly reduce sound transmission through a wall between two adjacent spaces; they are intended to improve sound quality and reduce noise levels within the room that they are installed. Commercially-manufactured sound absorption panels are available in two common varieties:

1) Molded melamine foam wedges and eggcrate (e.g. Auralex, Sonex, etc.):

Auralex Studiofoam

 

 

2) Decorative fabric-wrapped fiberglass panels (e.g. Wall Technology, Fabricmate, etc.):

Wall Technology Panel

The acoustic properties of each of these are very similar, with all of them absorbing approximately 100% of incident sound energy at mid and upper frequency ranges.  Feel free to compare Sabine absorption coefficients at your leisure.  These material types are mostly differentiated by their visual appearance.

 

An important consideration for any sound absorption panel, though, is thickness.  A thicker panel will more effectively absorb a longer wavelength (lower frequency) of sound.  Therefore, when choosing an acoustical material, consider the frequency content (tonal spectrum) of sound that you seek to absorb. For placement on drywall surfaces, the following rules of thumb should be helpful:

- For human voices, crowds of people, and speech use 1” absorber thickness

- For amplified music with bass and drums or cinema surround-sound use 2” absorber thickness (or greater)

 

The necessary quantity and placement of sound absorption material for a given space is determined by the specific type of listening functions occurring there.  Extreme ends of the spectrum range from traditional/classical worship spaces which are entirely hard-surfaced (great for pipe organ and choral music) to THX-certified cinemas and movie theaters which have sound-absorbing materials on all wall, floor, and ceiling surfaces.

 

Consider which wall and ceiling reflections need to be eliminated and cover those entire areas with sound absorption treatment.

 

Pricing for manufactured, two-inch thick, fabric-wrapped fiberglass sound absorption panels is usually $6 to $8 per square foot. I have seen sound absorption panels priced as high as $12.25 per square foot! Given the large square foot area that needs to be covered to achieve a suitable home theater acoustic, this falls well outside of the average consumer’s budget.

I may annoy a few people by telling you this, but you can make your own sound absorption panels for MUCH less.  What follows are explanations, instructions, and specifications for very effective sound absorption panels.

 

The essential elements of a sound absorption panel include:

     1) The sound-absorbing core material (performs the acoustical work)
     2) A sturdy wood frame (holds the fabric tight, provides something to fix mounting hardware to)
     3) An acoustically-transparent, decorative fabric cover (makes it look nice)

Step 1:  Select a sound-absorbing core material

The sound absorbing core material must have the following characteristics:

  • Dense fiberglass board insulation (not loose batt)
  • Unfaced
  • 3lb to 8lb density
  • 2” thickness

Three acceptable material options include:

Johns Manville 817 Spin-Glas 6lb pcf, 2″ thick: ~ $3.73 per square foot.

Owens Corning Fiberglas 705 6lb pcf, 2″ thick: ~ $3.06 per square foot.

Roxul Rockboard 80, 8lb pcf, 2″ thick: ~ $0.78 per square foot.

 

These can be purchased from your local insulation supply dealer.

Click to find dealer locators for:  Johns Manville  -  Owens Corning  -  Roxul

 

 

My prototype panels were built with the Roxul RHT 80 insulation, which is the least expensive sound absorption material that I have found.  The Roxul acoustical performance is similar to the Owens Corning and Johns Manville products, but it is softer and has a less regular shape.  The manufacturer-supplied sound absorption coefficients are as follows:

2″ Roxul RHT 80       2” Owens Corning 705        2” Johns Manville 817
125 Hz = 0.39             125 Hz = 0.16                          125 Hz = 0.38
250 Hz = 0.84             250 Hz = 0.71                         250 Hz = 0.93
500 Hz = 1.08             500 Hz = 1.02                         500 Hz = 1.10
1000 Hz = 1.01          1000 Hz = 1.01                       1000 Hz = 1.07
2000 Hz = 1.02          2000 Hz = 0.99                       2000 Hz = 1.07
4000 Hz = 1.01          4000 Hz = 0.99                       4000 Hz = 1.07

Sabine absorption coefficients are roughly the ratio of reflected sound absorbed.  So, at a given frequency range, a 1.00 coefficient equals a 100% absorption rate (0.71 equals 71%, etc).  Note that these figures are provided by the individual manufacturers and tested in different labs.  It is safe to assume that each of these materials is equivalent to the others.


Step 2:  Build a wood frame around each panel

For the wood frame, I used a 1” x 2” furring strip, which is inexpensive and available at any hardware store/lumber supplier.  Due to actual dimensions being less than nominal, a 2″ deep furring strip will give the finished panel a “beveled edge” appearance.  A 3″ deep furring strip will give the panel a perfectly flat face.  Carefully check each strip to ensure that it is straight and not missing significant chunks of wood.
  1. For each panel frame, cut two segments of furring strip to 49-3/8” and two segments to 24” (check measurements with your sound insulation panel and furring dimensions).
  2. Arrange wood segments around the fiberglass panel.
  3. Position the insulation such that the bottom face of the panel is flat and level with the wood frame.
  4. For each corner:
    • Pre-drill a pilot hole for one corner to ensure alignment and prevent the wood from splitting.
    • Apply wood glue.
    • Screw wood segments together.
  5. Remove panel core from frame, apply spray adhesive to entire perimeter, them firmly re-seat. (glue will hold the insulation in position within the frame).
  6. Allow 24 hours for wood glue and spray adhesive to dry.

 

 

 

Step 3:  Select a sound-transparent fabric; wrap the panel

The purpose of the fabric cover is to give the panel a handsome, decorative appearance. To ensure that sound penetrates through to your fiberglass insulation (rather than reflects off the surface), you must ensure that your fabric is acoustically transparent.  A simple way to test this is to hold the fabric to your mouth and exhale through it.  You will sense a level of airflow resistance through the fabric.  Select a material with very little resistance.  Solid vinyl, leather, or acrylic-backed fabric is not acceptable for this application.

The most common fabric choice for commercial panel manufacturers is Guilford of Maine Panel Textiles.  This is a high-quality material.  That being said, there are a great variety of inexpensive fabrics that can work equally well.  Colored burlap is a very common choice.  My prototype panels use a Keepsake Calico paisley material purchased from a local fabric store.  Considerations for your fabric cover:

  • Must be “breathable” and sound-transparent
  • Ensure that your fiberglass panel is not visible through the fabric
  • Beware that fabric with visual patterns will be tricky to line up squarely when stretched over the wood frame

To stretch the fabric to your panel:

  1. Lay a 62” length of fabric (face down) on the floor.
  2. Place your framed panel on top of the fabric with the flat/level/even side facing up.
  3. Have a friend wrap the fabric around the backside of the panel and staple it to the wood frame every 3” along one of the edges.
  4. Stretch the fabric tightly along the opposite edge and staple, continuing along the panel edge at 3” intervals.
  5. Repeat steps 3 and 4 for the top and bottom edges, taking care to neatly fold each corner.
  6. Apply spray adhesive underneath the remaining loose fabric areas on the back side of the panel.

 

Panel Back

Panel Front

 

Step 4:  Mount the panel to your wall or ceiling

Detailed steps for finding the best placement locations for sound absorption panels in a home theater can be found in our detailed article: Where to Place Sound Absorption Panels in a Home Theater.

These panels can be mounted similarly to a heavy piece of artwork.  Use your discretion and judgement to make sure that your panel is safe, secure, and stable.  I screwed two heavy-duty D-Ring hangers on each side of the wood frame, measured to exact spacing. These were hung on two 20-lb rated picture hangers.  See the Equipment List below for hardware recommendations.

 

 

Step 5: Listen

Now you are ready to enjoy your music or home theater the way that it was intended. Most people are surprised to hear what music and movies sound like in a properly-treated acoustic environment. The audible difference cannot be overstated; it is like night and day.

 You will probably need quite a few of these panels to get the desired outcome, so repeat the above steps in an efficient assembly-line process until you have treated all of the desired wall and ceiling surfaces.

 

 

 

June 4, 2014 update:

Here are some photos from a recent build by our reader Mike:

photo 1 photo 2 photo 3

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Join the discussion on our new AcousticsFREQ.com online forum! Check it out at www.acousticsfreq.com

 

 

 



88 Comments

  1. Cheap Acoustic Panel DIY - Hack a Day   |  Friday, 21 October 2011 at 10:43 am

    [...] Wolfram] wrote in to let us know about a simple and cheap acoustic panel DIY he put together.  When installing a home theater acoustics are often neglected (especially if [...]

  2. Grant Muller   |  Monday, 24 October 2011 at 10:14 am

    Great Build! I did the exact same thing in my home studio several years ago. I went with the Owens-Corning and used jute burlap coffee sacks as my fabric (super breathable fabric). Turned out really nice, and way cheaper than the foam.

    If I build anymore I’ll go with the much cheaper Roxul…

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  10. Allegiance Records recording and design   |  Wednesday, 11 January 2012 at 8:41 pm

    Great website. A lot of helpful info here. I?m sending it to several pals ans additionally sharing in delicious. And obviously, thank you for your sweat!

  11. jazz2600   |  Thursday, 12 January 2012 at 11:42 am

    What if the fabric should ever need to be changed? Would the glued portion of fabric being removed destroy the panel back?

    Could the fabric be trimmed away from the frame (leaving the old fabric glued to the back of the panel) and new fabric applied over the back? Would this secondary layer adversely affect the efficacy of the panel itself?

  12. AcousticsFREQ   |  Thursday, 12 January 2012 at 12:46 pm

    Good point! You actually don’t NEED to glue the fabric at all. I did it to make the thing look more finished and neat. If you wanted to change the fabric eventually, I would suggest cutting off the excess and not gluing it down. Then you could just pull out the staples and re-wrap.

  13. Matt   |  Saturday, 14 January 2012 at 1:58 pm

    Wonderful article! I’ve seen several DIY articles on this topic, and this is BY FAR the best!

    The article suggests several times that many panels are needed, but it’s worth pointing out that in many rooms, a significant improvement can be had by simply putting one panel on each side where the primary reflection of each speaker occurs on the way to the listening spot. Second would probably be the reflection off the wall behind the speakers. Many pros I know also like to have a bookshelf behind the listening spot, with books and other knickknacks added randomly to diffuse the rear reflection (maybe with some absorption).

    No doubt you realize this, but the article might make some think the goal is to cover walls extensively. 2-6 panels would probably double or triple the quality of most listening rooms. I’ve also read somewhere that having about 25% of a room surface absorptive is ideal for conversational clarity. So, wanted to add these two cents into the mix.

  14. Chris   |  Saturday, 21 January 2012 at 8:26 pm

    @ matt

    “I’ve also read somewhere that having about 25% of a room surface absorptive is ideal for conversational clarity”

    yup,

    this company in Aus think its about 35%. http://www.cmfacoustics.com.au

  15. Aaron   |  Friday, 27 January 2012 at 9:13 pm

    Hypotheically, if I used many of these, would it dampen incoming sound from my neighbors apartment, and baffle outgoing sound ?

  16. AcousticsFREQ   |  Sunday, 29 January 2012 at 1:03 pm

    Sound absorption materials (like these panels) are useful in eliminating reflected energy within a space.. so, they can absorb echoes, reverberation, sound reflections, etc. However, they are not an effective barrier to prevent sound from transmitting to an adjacent space. You will need to improve the Sound Transmission Class (STC) performance of your wall assembly. That’s a tricky task, that usually requires a construction project. I recommend hiring an independant Noise Control consultant to help you. Check out http://www.ncac.com for options.

  17. Aaron   |  Sunday, 29 January 2012 at 4:47 pm

    Eric, thank you for your quick reply! Unfortunately I am renting, and doubt construction is possible for me. I just recently moved from an apartment because of bass from the tenant below me, now I am hear voices from the neighbors, which is slightly more bearable. Any suggestions for that? I am thinking about trying out Audimute Sound Absoprtions sheets.

    http://www.audimutesoundproofing.com/Audimute-sound-reduction-curtain-noise-proof-your-band-room-soundproofing-existing-walls.aspx

  18. Jim   |  Tuesday, 31 January 2012 at 8:48 am

    Eric, is there a specific reason as to why you chose Roxul RHT 80? Did you consider the Safe ‘n’ Sound product from Roxul? http://www.roxul.com/residential/create+a+quiet+home+with+safe%E2%80%99n%E2%80%99sound I’m just wondering if you were familiar at all with the Safe ‘n’ Sound, and if you considered the RHT 80 a better product for sound absorption. Thanks.

  19. AcousticsFREQ   |  Tuesday, 31 January 2012 at 11:46 am

    Jim,

    That product is a batt insulation for installation within a wall cavity. It will help improve the sound transmission loss of the wall, but does not absorb reflections off of the drywall surface. The Safe N’ Sound material does have excellent sound absorption performance, but is not firm enough to be ideal for a wall-panel installation. The RHT 80, or equivalent products,are what you want for the DIY sound absorption wall panel construction.

  20. AcousticsFREQ   |  Tuesday, 31 January 2012 at 12:01 pm

    Aaron,

    This sound barrier blanket may give you a few decibels improvement, if you cover 100% of the common wall surface, leaving no gaps and seams. However, it might not be cost effective for the small improvement you will gain. Sorry to say, but you are not going to get a worthwhile improvement without modifying the wall assembly.

    If the noise is affecting your sleep, consider using some soft ear plugs (Howard Leight MAX1 Earplugs Uncorded NRR33 Box/200 Count)

    …or try running some pink-noise masking. Check out simplynoise.com

  21. Jim   |  Wednesday, 01 February 2012 at 11:55 am

    Sounds good, Eric; thanks for the quick reply.

  22. david b   |  Wednesday, 01 February 2012 at 11:13 pm

    I am building similar absorbers from your guide using 4″ rigid fiberglass in 4′ x 8′ frames for my home and studio. However, it is the neighbor above me that is sometimes bothered by the transmission of sounds going up through the ceiling. Between the floors is about half a foot or a foot of space I assume. Will it make a significant difference and is it possible to fill the space between the joists with loose fiberglass batting using a machine?

  23. AcousticsFREQ   |  Monday, 06 February 2012 at 11:42 am

    Using a 4″ core material in your panels will improve the low-frequency absorption characteristics, but is not always practical for everyone. That’s why I used the 2″ core for the article. If your floor/ceiling cavity is currently empty (no insulation), then adding a thick batt insulation will make a noticeable improvement. It may not get you all the way there, but will be noticeable and worthwhile. There are lots of blow-in insulation options out there (search google). Make sure you use something that does not harden or become rigid. You want the equivalent of loose batt insulation in the cavity to eliminate resonance.

  24. John B   |  Wednesday, 29 February 2012 at 10:38 pm

    I am looking to reduce the terrible echo in my kitchen and your DIY panels look like a good option. This may be kind of a silly question, but how did you hang your panels from the ceiling?
    Also, not knowing much about acoustics, if I just want to reduce echo from people talking (and children screaming =) ) are there optimal places to put the panels, or would I just want to cover as much of the hard walls/ceiling as possible?

  25. AcousticsFREQ   |  Wednesday, 29 February 2012 at 10:57 pm

    John, I used D clips and the screw-in hooks, but you’ll want to use your best judgement. Check out the picture frame mounting stuff at the hardware store, it’s really no different than hanging a large piece of art. Also, it doesn’t have to be perfectly flat to the wall or ceiling. The sound absorption properties actually improve if you leave a little space. I just posted a new article that may give you some ideas about how to find the best placement location. Check it out here: http://acousticsfreq.com/blog/?p=432

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  27. Luke   |  Wednesday, 27 June 2012 at 7:10 am

    Eric, are the acoustic properties for these panels bi-directional? I’d like to make one for my home office in the basement and hang it on the inside of the door leading down to reduce noise from the upstairs (my kids!). Also, any recommendations for this project such as a door sweep (that will not mar vinyl flooring with repeated use) and “weather” striping? Many thanks!

  28. Ac   |  Wednesday, 27 June 2012 at 9:20 am

    Luke,

    Unfortunately, this sound absorption panel will not significantly improve the sound transmission class (STC) of that door. These panels will improve sound quality by absorbing unwanted acoustic reflections, but do not act as a barrier for sound transmission. I would instead look at treating the door itself. At some point, I plan to do a little series on this site about noise control because it is a very common question. In the meantime, here are a few pointers:

    1) Start with a thick, heavy solid core wood door (not hollow core)
    2) Use a neoprene bulb compression seal around the perimeter (sides and top) http://www.ngpinc.com/product_view.cfm?nProduct_ID=42
    3) Use an exterior grade threshold seal or automatic door bottom at the base of the door.

    It is important to maximize the mass of the door and the quality of the seals. Make sure you achieve an airtight seal to the door frame.

    If you wish to achieve even more isolation, you could add a second door (treated as above) on the other end of the stairwell.

    I hope this helps!

  29. Luke   |  Thursday, 28 June 2012 at 9:32 am

    Eric, many thanks. “Mitigation over time” is probably a better description of the approach I’m willing to take (read: minimum $). So would I be right to assume that I will get the most improvement as a function of area (ie, door mass, then threshold seal then perimeter seal)?

    Secondarily, the door opens to the stairwell (wood stairs with sheet rock walls and ceiling) leading down to the basement floor landing. So the stairwell seems channel sound coming through the door, reflect off the sheet rock basement wall at the bottom landing and into the basement. The stairs will ultimately be carpeted. Would this panel be of any significant benefit on the basement wall at the bottom of the landing (perpendicular to the door)?

  30. AcousticsFREQ   |  Thursday, 28 June 2012 at 4:42 pm

    Luke, complete door treatment (as described above) should be your first priority. Adding sound absorption material to the intermediate space (carpet, wall panels, etc.) will provide some additional improvement as well, but not as significant of a change.

  31. Luke   |  Friday, 29 June 2012 at 2:26 pm

    Eric, much appreciated!

  32. Joe Williams   |  Thursday, 19 July 2012 at 5:47 pm

    Thank for a very well done set of instructions! I have been without acoustic anti echo treatment since 1994. My wife hated my cardboard egg crates. I now have a 20ft x 20ft theater room since 2006 and the echo is killing me. The wife and daughter do not notice it.
    The cost to do this has stopped me every time. I was hoping the price would drop on this stuff but every time I check it is still too costly.
    I have thought about doing it my self but I was stuck on foam. Fiberglass is a very good material to use thank you. Joe Williams

  33. Anthony S   |  Wednesday, 25 July 2012 at 11:47 pm

    Hello, I’m looking for Roxul RHT 80 in my area of Los Angeles, CA. I went to the Roxul RHT 80 website and got the local distributors. I called them all and they don’t even know what I’m talking about. Did the name change? is it no longer RHT 80? Do anybody know where I can get some Roxul RHT 80 or equal alternatives?

  34. AcousticsFREQ   |  Thursday, 26 July 2012 at 10:06 am

    Anthony,

    I contacted Roxul customer service and they gave me these dealers who have purchased Roxul RHT80 it in the past. They may have it in stock or can order it for you.

    CWCI Insulation
    City of Industry, CA 91745
    626-369-4424

    Pacific Insulation
    Benicia, CA 94510
    707-741-2963

    If anyone else has trouble finding the product, try calling Roxul Customer Service at 1-800-265-6878.

  35. Anthony S   |  Friday, 27 July 2012 at 2:38 am

    Thanks man I’ve been searching all over for the last 3 days. I have a question though is this RHT 80 on this website
    http://www.atsacoustics.com/roxul-rockboard-80.html

  36. Vijay Garg   |  Wednesday, 08 August 2012 at 3:20 pm

    I am having difficult time to find RHT 80. I heard that cork is also an excellent sound absorb er. Do you think natural cork sheet can give good result?

  37. AcousticsFREQ   |  Wednesday, 08 August 2012 at 3:57 pm

    Vijay,

    If you can’t find any of the three products listed in my article, then look for an equivalent 3lb/sq ft to 8lb/sq ft density rigid fiberglass insulation board.

  38. Peter   |  Monday, 13 August 2012 at 6:09 pm

    Excellent. Just what I needed for my home cinema (buying finished acoustic panels are quite expensive here, so I’ll definitely go the DIY way)

    Thanks a lot for the guide,
    Peter

  39. Bexter   |  Sunday, 19 August 2012 at 7:24 pm

    Hi and thanks for the info. I am a Kindergarten Teacher and am looking to absorb sound in my very echo-y classroom. I live in Canada and was wondering what material I could use that is available here? Thanks for your website!
    Bexter

  40. AcousticsFREQ   |  Monday, 20 August 2012 at 9:04 am

    Bexter,

    Roxul is actually a Canadian company, so I would guess that you should have no problem obtaining the RHT80 or a similar product over there: http://www.roxul.com/

  41. Bart   |  Tuesday, 11 September 2012 at 11:30 pm

    Would the home “comfortboard IS” from Roxul be a suitable alternative? I can get it in 1.5″ thicknesses. The other options listed just are not locally available to me. Looking at the accoustic values on the spec sheets it would appear to be close. Thanks.

  42. AcousticsFREQ   |  Wednesday, 12 September 2012 at 9:33 am

    Yes, it looks like that would be a suitable alternative. Check to see if you can get the 2″ thickness or consider using 2 layers of 1.5″. The thickness is important for improving low frequency absorption.

  43. Lahino   |  Wednesday, 19 September 2012 at 4:15 pm

    Hi, i have a question. Im using the metric system, and the density you mentioned is a little bit confusing for me, shouldnt it be cubic foot? How important is the density of the material? Because in my country Ive found many suitable materials, mainly I was looking for insulation(mineral and fiberglass) with better acoustic properties (average sound absorption coefficient 0.90 – 0.95 in band 125 -4000 Hz).

  44. AcousticsFREQ   |  Wednesday, 19 September 2012 at 5:17 pm

    Lahino, Absorption coefficients are more important than material density. If you have an insulation material that has been tested and performs well, then use that. Note that performance down to 63 Hz is important to consider.

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  46. Gary   |  Friday, 19 October 2012 at 10:37 am

    Thanks for the great article! It’s inspired me to build some panels. My local insulation supplier here in Maryland is AC&R and they carry Knauf Insulation Board (http://www.knaufinsulation.us/products/commercial__industrial/air_handling_insulation/insulation_board_with_ecose.aspx), which at 2″ thick and 6.0 PCF looks to have pretty good sound absorption coefficients.

  47. Jack   |  Tuesday, 30 October 2012 at 8:16 pm

    How bad would the sound absorption of these panels be if they were covered with a very thin plastic film? I’m thinking of doing that to contain any dust fibers and make them safer to be around.

    Any thoughts?

  48. AcousticsFREQ   |  Tuesday, 30 October 2012 at 9:40 pm

    Jack,

    The US government has excluded mineral fibre from its list of carcinogenic materials. Which is good because the stuff is used in many different ways in commercial and residential construction, including as HVAC liner material. Mineral fibre dust is only a concern in high quantities, such as for people who work with the material. So, you should wear gloves and a mask when you are handling or cutting the insulation to avoid irritation from breathing in high concentrations of dust. More info on health issues with mineral fibre: http://www.roxul.com/stone+wool/health+and+safety Also, I have never seen any evidence of fiber dust coming from my fabric wrapped panels.

    Encapsulated insulation will have a reduced absorption rate at higher frequencies, so if you wish to go that route I would find a material that is acoustically tested with encapsulation.

  49. Michael   |  Saturday, 03 November 2012 at 8:41 pm

    Starting my DIY build of these panels on monday, my question concerns the material. Did the Keepsake Calico work out or was it to heavy? My problem is the right material I did research yours and its 100% cotton, so in theroy if I stay with the guidlines of that material I should be ok, provided yours did work out. As you stated “Prototype” so curious if the material changed or ???

  50. AcousticsFREQ   |  Monday, 05 November 2012 at 8:53 am

    Yes the fabric shown in the article worked out great. There are lot of different options for this, however. Anything that is fairly “breathable” should work well.

  51. Grace   |  Tuesday, 06 November 2012 at 6:39 pm

    I wish I knew someone in Washington who I could pay to do this kind of stuff. I am useless at this sort of craft and it looks like I’m about to spend a bucketload to drown out the family of wild animals living in the unit above me.

  52. Darla   |  Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 4:45 pm

    We are considering using duck canvas which is very durable like denim but you can still see light through the fabric. We were thinking the durability may be needed because the walls we are covering are in a gymnasium in a family center for our church. They will be up high but the possibility of a basketball or volley ball hitting them makes us worried about using burlap or a light weight fabric.
    Also is Roxul’s AFB the same as the RHT-80?

  53. Darla   |  Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 5:04 pm

    I guess I forgot to ask the question if you thought the thickness of the duck canvas might cause poor performance for the panel?

  54. Darla   |  Tuesday, 20 November 2012 at 5:12 pm

    Also, we are thinking about just hanging this stuff by screwing through it to the wall so we don’t need to build the wood frame…..is that a good idea?
    Why or why not?
    We have never seen or felt this material. We have no idea how rigid it is? Would screws or staples through the material mess up its sound absorption qualities?
    We just have no idea what it looks like or just how rigid it is, but we are hoping we can do this without a wood frame.
    Any ideas or info you have for us would be greatly appreciated.

  55. AcousticsFREQ   |  Wednesday, 21 November 2012 at 10:58 am

    Darla,

    I would suggest using one of the acoustical core materials described in the article or something with equivalent sound absorption coefficient ratings.

    The canvas cover should be acceptable as long as it is breathable and permeable (i.e. not “backed”), see the fabric section of the article.

    Regarding the frame, please follow the instructions for construction and mounting in the article. This is the easiest, least expensive, most effective way I have found to make these panels. Remember: if you deviate from the recipe, you can’t expect the dish to come out as intended! I hope this is helpful. -Eric

  56. Carlos   |  Thursday, 06 December 2012 at 4:45 pm

    Thanks for this tutorial.. About to build my own Aborbers.

    Amazon has some Roxul products but not the RHT 80.

    http://www.amazon.com/Roxul-Rockboard-Mineral-Wool-Board/dp/B006C10IR6

    It seems like they are identical though but different names. The “Rockboard 80″ also has a density of 8 Pounds per Cubic Foot.

    Eric, do you know what the main differences are? Seems like this product will do the same job.

  57. Casey   |  Sunday, 09 December 2012 at 2:25 pm

    I’m currently in the process of buying a home and plan to make one of the bedrooms my music room. The room has two windows, which I plan to cover with these DIY panels. But I also am curious as to where or how man panels I should have in addition to this in order to enhance my music recording, which involves acoustic drums, vocals, and amplified guitars. Is there some method or general idea to follow in order to achieve better quality recordings?

    I love these DIY panels because I have a good feeling I can make the room both aesthetically pleasing while reducing annoying background sounds in my recordings.

  58. AcousticsFREQ   |  Sunday, 09 December 2012 at 6:47 pm

    Casey,

    The techniques shown in my article “Where to place acoustic treatment in a home theater” will apply to your recording studio project as well. However, you’ll be substituting the instrument locations as the source point and the microphone locations as the receiver position. I would also recommend getting THIS BOOK for a very good overview of architectural acoustics and recording studio design techniques. I hope this helps, Good Luck!

  59. AcousticsFREQ   |  Sunday, 09 December 2012 at 7:07 pm

    Carlos,

    I think these may be the same panels, but resold from another company. The price is actually similar to what I paid from a local insulation supplier. SO, I would say go ahead with these! Thanks for the tip.

  60. peter   |  Monday, 07 January 2013 at 1:22 pm

    As these panel effectively consist of a wooden frame with insulation in between, when they are used as ceiling panels won’t they tend to sag after a period?

  61. AcousticsFREQ   |  Monday, 07 January 2013 at 3:25 pm

    Peter,

    Thanks for asking. No, it will not sag if you follow my instructions. I have recommended a rigid mineral fiber insulation board as the acoustical core, which will hold its shape. If you use a standard fiberglass batt insulation, then yes, it would sag.

    -Eric

  62. Jeff   |  Wednesday, 16 January 2013 at 8:44 pm

    Great article!

    I’m about to start my first panel, but I’m having trouble getting any of the insulation materials here in south Florida at a reasonable cost. For example 1 panel with shipping is almost $30, 6 panels of the RHT 80 is $100 after shipping. I can’t find a supplier in my area. I went to Home Depot and picked up 3 5/8″ 2′x4′ acoustic ceiling tiles. Using all 3 panels would give me a thickness of 1-7/8″. Do you think that would provide comparable absorption coefficients?

  63. AcousticsFREQ   |  Thursday, 17 January 2013 at 10:06 am

    Jeff,

    I think your plan should work as long as the tiles are high performance (high NRC) and not backed by foil or any other non-permeable material. You could also add a little airspace behind to improve the low frequency absorption rates. How much did that cost compared with the rigid insulation?

    -Eric

  64. Jeff   |  Thursday, 17 January 2013 at 8:54 pm

    Eric,

    I bought the USG Ceilings Fifth Avenue 2 ft. x 4 ft. Lay-In Ceiling Tile (3-Pack) from Home Depot. It was $18.52 for all three panels. The panels are made of Fiberboard material. The NRC is 55, but since I’m using three panels would it be higher than that? The price is pretty comparable to the six pack of RHT 80 ($115 for 6), but this way I can build one at a time – I probably only need 3 panels in my room, maybe 4 at the most – so the rest would be wasted. Do you think the RHT 80 would be that much better and worth it? How did you get your RHT 80 for $6.60 / panel?

  65. AcousticsFREQ   |  Monday, 21 January 2013 at 11:03 am

    Jeff,

    Well, it depends whether the NRC performance of those tiles is limited by its thickness, or surface reflection. That could be something for me to try to test in my quest to find the cheapest DIY absorption panel possible. The price I list in the article is what I purchased the originals for from Allied Insulation in Milwaukee. If you contact Roxul’s support line, they can probably find you a wholesale retailer in your area.

  66. jeff   |  Monday, 21 January 2013 at 12:29 pm

    FYI: Updated Roxul customer service phone number: 855-876-3755

  67. AcousticsFREQ   |  Tuesday, 22 January 2013 at 1:00 pm

    Ok, thanks!

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    [...] might be of interest to anyone who wants to make their gun quieter: http://acousticsfreq.com/blog/?p=62 Anyone know of a good circuit simulator? Gandolf probably eliminated all other possible designs, [...]

  69. Casey   |  Thursday, 16 May 2013 at 2:33 pm

    This is a great DIY article and I definitely plan on making a few of these for my office! I am not far from the Milwaukee area so would be willing to drive to save on the ridiculous shipping that other places are charging to order these. Do you have a part number that you used with Allied when you contacted them?

  70. AcousticsFREQ   |  Thursday, 16 May 2013 at 4:24 pm

    It was Roxul RHT 80

  71. Jon   |  Wednesday, 05 June 2013 at 5:54 am

    First off, great article! Exactly what I was looking for.

    I am a photographer and have lots of stretched canvas photos in my apartment. If I have deep enough frames, can I insert the Material behind stretched canvas with ink and get enough acoustic transparency? I would love to be able to make the photography functional as well as decorative. Thoughts?

  72. AcousticsFREQ   |  Wednesday, 05 June 2013 at 8:07 pm

    Jon,
    That is an interesting question. Is the stretched canvas very permeable? Could you easily breath through it if you held it up to your mouth? This will determine whether it will be acoustically transparent or reflective at high frequencies. There are companies that market a “photo faced” acoustical panel, but they do a lot of R&D to make sure the cover allows sound to pass through into the sound absorptive core. Check this out: http://www.gsacoustics.com/acousti-image.aspx

  73. Jon   |  Friday, 07 June 2013 at 7:15 am

    Very cool! Thanks for the information. I’ll try to breathe through the canvas and see hoe permeable it is. I am guessing hat darker pictures with more ink may be more problematic, but I’ll give it a try when no one is looking. :) . Thanks for the quick feedback!

  74. Nick   |  Friday, 12 July 2013 at 11:13 am

    Hey Jon, I’ve made these for a number of restaurants and I’m currently building some for a motion therapy gym. They do work great. The problem I’ve encountered in these situations is that these kinds of spaces typically have large areas of glass at the street side of the space. Any thoughts?

  75. AcousticsFREQ   |  Friday, 12 July 2013 at 11:48 am

    Nick,

    It will be hard to absorb sound reflections from a glass surface without affecting the view through the window. Plush draperies can help. There are also some micro-perforated clear acrylic sound absorption materials on the market. See here: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Micro_perforated_plate

    -Eric

  76. Nick   |  Friday, 12 July 2013 at 11:54 am

    Thanks for getting back so quickly, I’ll look into that. My client is asking about B.A.C. Panels. How do you feel they compare to your system?

  77. Mark   |  Sunday, 10 November 2013 at 2:26 pm

    Can the solid insulation you recommend be cut safely into different shape like circles and diamonds?

  78. AcousticsFREQ   |  Sunday, 10 November 2013 at 3:28 pm

    Yes, mineralfiber/fiberglass is safe, but it is an irritant so make sure you wear gloves and a mask. Cut it outside if you can to minimize the dust fibers in your house. -Eric

  79. Paul   |  Thursday, 21 November 2013 at 2:17 pm

    Great Post. Where did you find the Roxul Rockboard 80 for $6.60 per panel? The Amazon.com link is $12 per panel (plus shipping it is $18). Thanks.

  80. AcousticsFREQ   |  Thursday, 21 November 2013 at 2:56 pm

    Paul,

    In the article I give a link for finding local insulation suppliers for Roxul, OC and Johns Mannville. If you buy from one of these distributors, the price should be lower. Also, in some areas Owens Corning 703 may be less expensive than the Roxul. You are looking for a local insulation supply warehouse.

  81. Tom   |  Tuesday, 03 December 2013 at 6:12 am

    I was able to purchase Roxul for $6 per panel in the Chicago area at an authorized dealer. I have to drive a little to pick them up, but nothing terrible.

    I purchased black burlap for my fabric, from JoAnn fabric but I am concerned it will show through. I got it for 20% off so I thought it was worth a try. About $6 per panel.

    Took me 20 minutes to find enough straight wood at home depot to build 6 panels. But paid about $1.74 per panel. Because I was concerned about the wood showing through, I spray painted the wood flat black. Another $1 per panel.

    So without screws, hanging hardware and glue (which I have), I am at ~$15 per panel.

    I was thinking about miter cutting the corners on the wood for a cleaner fit. May not be worth the hassle since they are going to be covered.

    Thanks for the tutorial.

  82. Paul   |  Sunday, 22 December 2013 at 10:37 pm

    I’m going to place an order for RHT80. The Roxul site shows RHT80 in a rigid form and in a flex form. Which form was used for the build? Thanks! The band can’t wait to build these and move into our bigger room! -Paul

  83. Joshua Smith   |  Sunday, 09 February 2014 at 10:02 am

    I just finished building a set of these, if you’re a person who doesn’t feel like they have a lot of skill in completing projects like this (i am one.), lemme tell you, it is super easy to do, mine turned out great. I ended up using Roxul Safe N’ Sound after doing some research, and you can get 12 3″ batts for $42 which is a great deal, this was easily available at most of the Home Depots in my area, so no tough hunting. if you use 2″ strips of wood for the frames, each frame costs about $5 or $6, and then it’s just making a fabric choice and making sure you have the other supplies entailed.

    I recommend the Safe N’ Sound for your material as it is specifically made for sound/fire insulation. Thanks for the tutorial!

  84. AcousticsFREQ   |  Sunday, 09 February 2014 at 10:30 am

    Josh,

    Thanks for the kind words! Send me pics and I’ll add them to the article.

  85. Nancy   |  Tuesday, 18 March 2014 at 4:19 pm

    I’m working on panels for a restaurant with low ceilings. The cover fabric needs to meet fire codes and scrubbable. I’d like to use a marine/automotive vinyl for those reasons. How much sound absorption will I be sacrificing? I tried the “breathe test” and it hardly moves. Thanks!

  86. AcousticsFREQ   |  Wednesday, 19 March 2014 at 4:27 pm

    Nancy,

    I am sorry to say that if the fabric is not permeable, then it will be somewhat sound reflective, especially at higher frequencies. There are products available that are washable though. Take a look at this: http://www.ecophon.com/en/Product-Web/Hygiene/Hygiene-Advance-Wall-C3/

  87. Jim   |  Saturday, 05 April 2014 at 4:27 pm

    Thanks for the inspiration. I made three panels. Two are the ‘standard’ 24×48 that you did here in this article, and I made a large one that is 55×89. The large one is behind our sofa with LaserDiscs framed and hung on it. I did it that way for aesthetic reasons. You can see how they turned out here: http://www.livgeek.com/blog/2013/11/22/diy-building-acoustic-treatments

    Again, thanks for such a detailed article.

  88. Brendan Bell   |  Tuesday, 08 April 2014 at 5:10 pm

    Hey. Just wanted to say thanks for the awesome guide! I just built 6 of these for my home studio, and they’re working great! I’ll probably need to do another 6 but this is a huge step in the right direction. I couldn’t get any of the insulation types you recommended – at least not for a reasonable price, but what I discovered was that Roxul Comfortboard IS has nearly identical absorption coefficients at 3″ thickness as the Rockboard 80 at the same thickness, and is much more widely available. I used 2 x 1 1/2″ boards per panel, and I’m very pleased with the results, for a fraction of te cost of buying pre made panels. Thanks again for all the info!

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