High fidelity is key to quality sound reproduction, whether in the recording studio or in the home listening environment. Often the room in which a listener hears sound reproduced is the weakest link in the signal chain. Simple acoustic panels can help even out the frequency response of a room and deaden resonances that colour the sound. You can make your own acoustic panels with some wood, batt insulation and fabric for less than it costs to buy specially made panels.
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Decide on size. Acoustic panels do not have to be a certain size, but different sizes and thicknesses will provide different degrees of sound absorption. As a general rule, a thicker acoustic panel made with heavier materials will absorb more sound and will absorb low-frequency sounds better. Be sure you consider where you plan to hang the panels when considering size.
Build a frame. This does not have to be complex, but can be if you are a skilled carpenter and would like visually interesting panels. The most basic construction is built from four equal lengths of two-by-fours. Use nails or screws to build a simple rectangular frame.
Attach a backboard. You can use a piece of plywood cut to the size of your frame for the backboard. Attach it at the edges to the frame using nails or screws. Be sure that the nails or screws are flush with the back of the acoustic panel, or you may have difficulty mounting the panel.
Fill the frame with insulation or foam. You can use standard batt insulation to fill the frame. If the insulation has backing, you can use spray adhesive to secure the insulation to the backboard. If the insulation is not backed, simply pack it in tight. You can also use foam such as egg crate or specialised acoustic foam instead of insulation.
Cover the panel with fabric. The type of fabric you use is up to you, but be sure you get enough to fully cover your panels. A heavier fabric will provide more absorption but may also cause some reflection at extremely high frequencies. Attach the fabric to the edges of the acoustic panel on the back with staples, tacks or adhesive. Be sure to pull it tight around the frame.
Mount your acoustic panel. You can attach hooks to the top of your panel if you wish to hang it from the ceiling, or you can attach a bracket to the back to mount it directly on the wall. Either way, be sure you are mounting directly to a stud or ceiling joist. If you cannot mount it to a stud, be sure to use drywall anchors.
Tips and warnings
- You can make lighter acoustic panels by leaving out the frame. Get a piece of backing material, such as plywood, and attach the insulation or foam directly to the board. Cover with fabric and mount like the heavier panel.
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