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  1. #1
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    DIY Room Treatment Idea?

    I recently thought of this idea to treat the walls and corners of my future audio room... lining the walls with pipe-insulation tubes, the long, foam 'noodles' you can get at Home Depot or other home-supply store.

    This stuff is made of similar material that other 'commercial' products are made of. They are designed to protect against thermal energy transfer, and in theory, should have similar effects with mechanical (acoustic) energy.

    Several can be placed in a 'bunch' to make a cylinder of greater diameter and place in the corners. Along the walls (critical points, or the whole wall) they can be spliced lengthwise and secured via the adhesive strip. If the foam has some sort of reflective property, only a miniscule amount incident waves will reflect toward the listening spot since the foam piece is round; some waves will be reflected back toward the speakers and toward the front wall, others will be reflected in a direction behind the listening spot to the back wall.

    Since these pieces cost about $0.25 each, you may be able to spend anywhere from $20-50 to treat the entire room. And, because they are usually black or a dark grey, they can match any decor, and that's huge for the wife (who should be in the kitchen baking me a cake).

    Has anyone here tried to treat their room with these, or thought of it? Any experts have critiques about using this substance to treat the room?

    The room I am going to put the system in is filled with leftovers from the previous house and won't be ready until 'yard-sale season.'

    Cheerio,

    THOB
    Last edited by the hand of boredom; 01-18-2006 at 07:43 AM.

  2. #2
    M.P.S.E /AES/SMPTE member Sir Terrence the Terrible's Avatar
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    My only comment would be that you do not know how absorbant/reflective this stuff is. Neither do you know what frequencies will be affected by it, so it more like a shot in the dark IMO. I think what makes manufactured room treatments so effective is because we know exactly what they do, what frequencies they affect, how the sound is reflected and scattered, and exactly how to fit them all together to create good sound.
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  3. #3
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Sir T is right...
    If you're interested in a DIY trap, you could check out:
    http://www.geocities.com/jonrisch/a.htm

    Another (similar) option would be to use rigid fiberglass or mineral wool for panels. I'm currently working on several large wall panels and 2 corner traps with both of these materials, gonna wrap them in dacron and then cover it with a nice fabric. Should complement my foam treatments nicely.

  4. #4
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    Aah, yes...

    Quote Originally Posted by Sir Terrence the Terrible
    My only comment would be that you do not know how absorbant/reflective this stuff is. Neither do you know what frequencies will be affected by it, so it more like a shot in the dark IMO. I think what makes manufactured room treatments so effective is because we know exactly what they do, what frequencies they affect, how the sound is reflected and scattered, and exactly how to fit them all together to create good sound.
    I thought about the unknown factor of absorbancy/reflectivity of the foam pipe covers; true, one won't know until it is set-up. For about $20, IMVHO, I think it would be worth a shot... at the very least, set them up at the first reflection points (one can get away with about 10 pieces total... each one quartered to yield 40-3ft strips; cost $2.50).

    I'm also putting this out from the viewpoint of the audiophile on a budget... you know, expensive taste, dirt broke bank account.

    In your opinion, Sir T (as I bow), with all the manufacturers of good treatments out there, how do you recommend to 'properly' treat a room, and how much would that cost? I'm thinking that a minimum expense would cover initially the first reflection points, then all four front corners (two side, one up, one down), then the attack (front) wall?

    Respectfully,

    THOB

  5. #5
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    A lot of it comes down to what issue you're trying to deal with. I agree with Sir T that you want to get some idea of the absorptive properties of the materials you're dealing with. Fortunately, with things like fiberglas boards and acoustic ceiling panels, that information is available thru the manufacturer's websites.

    I've done the "shot in the dark" approach and it worked fine for me, but only because the acoustics in my room were pretty bad to begin with and any additional absorption would have helped the sound quality. If you have a room that has a lot of slap echo, then it might be worth trying some of the homemade approaches. Unlike with commercial products, building materials are very inexpensive, so even if they don't improve your sound quality, the out-of-pocket expense is still less than the cost of an interconnect.

    In order to do it right, you'll need RTA software and use materials with tighter controls on the acoustic properties. But, on a budget, tweaking until it sounds better is of course another alternative! If you're using a subwoofer, then I think the DIY bass trap could be a good first step. Or you could try EQ'ing the sub. EQ is a form of room treatment because it addresses room-induced issues, and can focus very precisely on problems that your room might cause.
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  6. #6
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    About the room

    Quote Originally Posted by Woochifer
    A lot of it comes down to what issue you're trying to deal with. I agree with Sir T that you want to get some idea of the absorptive properties of the materials you're dealing with. Fortunately, with things like fiberglas boards and acoustic ceiling panels, that information is available thru the manufacturer's websites.

    I've done the "shot in the dark" approach and it worked fine for me, but only because the acoustics in my room were pretty bad to begin with and any additional absorption would have helped the sound quality. If you have a room that has a lot of slap echo, then it might be worth trying some of the homemade approaches. Unlike with commercial products, building materials are very inexpensive, so even if they don't improve your sound quality, the out-of-pocket expense is still less than the cost of an interconnect.

    In order to do it right, you'll need RTA software and use materials with tighter controls on the acoustic properties. But, on a budget, tweaking until it sounds better is of course another alternative! If you're using a subwoofer, then I think the DIY bass trap could be a good first step. Or you could try EQ'ing the sub. EQ is a form of room treatment because it addresses room-induced issues, and can focus very precisely on problems that your room might cause.
    "point and shoot" I guess worked for you, so here's hoping I can get similar results. The room the system is going into is a quasi-basement. It is on the bottom floor of the townhouse, the floor and side (interior wall) are concrete, with the wall having a layer of insulation and drywall. The front and back wall have a layer of brick behind drywall and insulation. The other side wall is completely exposed to the exerior. The room isn't 'quiet' by any means, and right now, with all the stuff in there, there is a slight slap echo.

    How much would it cost to build two of those Risch bass traps?

    THOB

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    The cost on the Risch website is $150 for four panels and four bass traps. If I recall the panels are more expensive than the bass traps. Maybe $50 for the bass traps? Its really just hog wire, fiberglass insulation and burlap.

    I have not really worried too much about room treatments, but don't think the wife would be too keen about acoustic wall panels and bass traps in the living room! Eventually I would like to build a dedicated home theater and listening room in the basement and these bass traps might be something I'll try if I think I need them.

  8. #8
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by the hand of boredom
    "point and shoot" I guess worked for you, so here's hoping I can get similar results. The room the system is going into is a quasi-basement. It is on the bottom floor of the townhouse, the floor and side (interior wall) are concrete, with the wall having a layer of insulation and drywall. The front and back wall have a layer of brick behind drywall and insulation. The other side wall is completely exposed to the exerior. The room isn't 'quiet' by any means, and right now, with all the stuff in there, there is a slight slap echo.

    How much would it cost to build two of those Risch bass traps?

    THOB
    There are other options for DIY treatments that aren't as expensive. StudioTips.com has some excellent diy panels that use either mineral wool or rigid fiberglass. They can be made thinner, and are almost as effective, depending on what you're looking for.

    I like the triangular "Superchunks"...I'm actually building these to complement my Auralex wall treatments.
    http://forum.studiotips.com/viewforum.php?f=8
    The folks in the forum are very friendly and a few have taken the time to e-mail me personally with instructions and explanations for setting up my listening rooms.

  9. #9
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    Go for it, I did the cieling tile approach similar Wooch. The $40 I spent on the project is dollar for dollar, the most effective piece of my system. My guess is that with the pipes at the very least you'll get a little diffusion due to the shape. They probably won't to much for low and mid range freqs, but they could take a little edge off the highs. If you're trying to eliminate slap (flutter) echo, I think they will probably have some effect. The potential gain probably outweighs the potential loss (the money you've wasted if the project is a total bust). The cost of your project is going to be less than a single pro bass trap or acoustic panel. I'd say start with a small amount of treatment and go from there, you'll be able to notice how it is affecting your sound as you go.

    Remember that you don't want a dead room either (I don't think you could get there with the tubes anyway), but have an idea where your room acoustics are, and what you are shooting for.

    Listen to your system and do the 'clap' test (from different locations within the room) as you add treatments.

    Also, if the tubes work for you, you can cover them in breathable fabric to improve the look a little.

  10. #10
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Bacchanal: Could you elaborate on your ceiling tile apporach? Did you buy those large squares and use them on your walls or something? How many, where, etc? Sounds like a great option.

  11. #11
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    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    http://forum.studiotips.com/viewforum.php?f=8
    The folks in the forum are very friendly and a few have taken the time to e-mail me personally with instructions and explanations for setting up my listening rooms.
    Nice linkage kex, the forum looks very informative.

  12. #12
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    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    Bacchanal: Could you elaborate on your ceiling tile apporach? Did you buy those large squares and use them on your walls or something? How many, where, etc? Sounds like a great option.
    Yeah, you can see them in my user gallery. They worked well mainly because my room is pretty bad (squre, cathedral cieling, lots of flutter echo). I used 8 2'x4' tiles covered with burlap. The are on 3 walls of my room. The fourth wall is all fireplace and window. My room isn't really a great example, because my setup just isn't the best. A bad room with acoustical treatment is still a bad room. Ideally you'd want to put some diffusion in the room as well. I have a couple friends who own studios, so I get tips now and then.

    I still have some flutter echo, but it diminishes much quicker with the panels in place, and the sound is acceptable at moderate volumes. Eventually I'll probably go for something more elaborate, but this solution took about $30 and an afternoon of work.

    A realy cool diffusor that one of them uses is a really thin piece of plywood bowed outward and attached to the wall with wooden slats. He puts these in his large recording room in between absorbers. They look nice, and the overall sound is great.

    Here are some pics
    http://www.therecordinghouse.com/Studio.html

  13. #13
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by bacchanal
    Yeah, you can see them in my user gallery. They worked well mainly because my room is pretty bad (squre, cathedral cieling, lots of flutter echo). I used 8 2'x4' tiles covered with burlap. The are on 3 walls of my room. The fourth wall is all fireplace and window. My room isn't really a great example, because my setup just isn't the best. A bad room with acoustical treatment is still a bad room. Ideally you'd want to put some diffusion in the room as well. I have a couple friends who own studios, so I get tips now and then.

    I still have some flutter echo, but it diminishes much quicker with the panels in place, and the sound is acceptable at moderate volumes. Eventually I'll probably go for something more elaborate, but this solution took about $30 and an afternoon of work.

    A realy cool diffusor that one of them uses is a really thin piece of plywood bowed outward and attached to the wall with wooden slats. He puts these in his large recording room in between absorbers. They look nice, and the overall sound is great.

    Here are some pics
    http://www.therecordinghouse.com/Studio.html
    Looks great. I have a friend who runs a small studio as well, what a great resource. Actually built him a pair of Monitors last month and helped him remodel a section of the studio he gave me a bunch of Auralex panels and the mineral wool and fiberglass I need for my HT room...so it's working out pretty well.

    Any idea what a Noise Reduction Coefficient for the ceiling tiles would be?

  14. #14
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    Never mind, I did a few searches and these ceiling panels tend to have an NRC of about 0.5 to 0.55. For the money, that's not bad at all, and I bet those numbers could go up if you doubled-stacked them or stuffed fiberglass or polyfill in with them. Compare that to say, my Auralex 2" foam panels that have an NRC of 0.8, but cost about $2.10 per sq ft, and you've got a good argument for value here.

    Hmmm, got me thinking now...I have a few friends that will probably take advantage of this....

  15. #15
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    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    Never mind, I did a few searches and these ceiling panels tend to have an NRC of about 0.5 to 0.55. For the money, that's not bad at all, and I bet those numbers could go up if you doubled-stacked them or stuffed fiberglass or polyfill in with them. Compare that to say, my Auralex 2" foam panels that have an NRC of 0.8, but cost about $2.10 per sq ft, and you've got a good argument for value here.
    Exactly, but remember the NRC value is an average. It doesn't tell you (unless specified) at what freq range the material is most effective. From what I've seen cieling tiles and most inexpensive foam will do okay at the high end, but they don't absorb as much in the high-mid, mid freq range.

    Owens corning 700 series insulation is probably some of the best stuff around in terms of price/performance if you need a fair amount of material. http://www.owenscorning.com/comminsu...s700Series.pdf
    See NRC chart at the bottom of the pdf.

    Auralex products are superb, they are in a totally different ballpark (from cieling tiles). You can get some pretty good value out of their room kits, but you're talking from a couple hundred to several hundred dollars (or more) depending on room size. And if you're spending that kind of money, you want to be doing more than just experimenting.

    I'd say that if you feel the need to treat a large room with Auralex products and the like, you might as well hire yourself an acoustical architect, who can professionally asses your sound requirements. You may pay as little as couple thousand dollars for a pro treated room, well worth it if you're loaded and building a dedicated HT room.
    Last edited by bacchanal; 01-19-2006 at 09:28 AM.

  16. #16
    Loving This kexodusc's Avatar
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    I've got some OC 703 and 705...Mineral (rock) wool is also comparable in performance to the OC 700 stuff. It's a lot cheaper too, but the downside is it has to be mounted to a frame, so adding time and small cost of hardware, I can see the choice being impractical for some. But I like puttering around so I'm going to use some of that too.

    I can't decide between burlap or Guilfords of Maine fabric for covering though. I'm not sure the GOM is worth almost triple the price per yd.

    I'm not hiring anyone, but I do have a lot of help from some people who've done this stuff for money before...I've picked up a few books on the cheap, too. For my purposes just treating 1st adn 2nd reflection points, behind speakers, and adding corner bass traps is a start. I've only got enough material for about 40% coverage, which is still below what both Auralex and others recommend for a home theater/listening room (I've seen as high as 80%, but that's just too much for me I think). We'll work on diffusors next probably for the rear ceiling area, not sure what I can do there, might have to spend some money on some Auralex products if I don't like the DIY options.

    I won't get home until Friday evening so maybe this weekend we'll be able to start actually installing the stuff. I'm interested to see how it goes.

    Yeah, the Auralex stuff is a quality product. My buddy gave me some other acoustic foam products from other vendors they use in the studios. I'll use them after I run out of Auralex. They seem to perform almost as well, but one can easily tell by look that it's not quite as thoroughly scrutinized in the finish department as the Auralex foam. You might not think it matters, but if you start tacking panels up to make fancy geometric shapes, a slight imperfection can turn into a glaring one. Not sure if the higher price for Auralex is justified or not, but for folks like me with a spouse, you can appreciate looks factoring into a decision.

  17. #17
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    Great replies on this thread! The panel arrangement that I have in my room is pretty much the same one that I've had for four years (just started as a $16 experiment during a trip to the hardware store), except that instead of lining them along the wall, they are now suspended off of a high-mounted molding using hooks, fishing line, and some C-clamps.

    For a while now, I've been thinking about upgrading the panels from ceiling tiles to rigid fiberglas boards. (it would raise the NRC from about 0.6 to 0.8, but the fiberglas' absorptive properties extend further into the midrange and are a bit more even than the ceiling panels) I've also been thinking about trying out various bass trap designs. In addition to the much referred to Jon Risch design, there are also different foam-based designs. I might need to opt for those options such as the Auralex LENRDs due to WAF reqs.

    Another treatment that I thought about trying is absorbers in the upper corners by the ceiling junctions. Eighth Nerve makes something for this purpose, as does Echo Busters.
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  18. #18
    Forum Regular gonefishin's Avatar
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    In addition to all the above information....Ethan Winer's acoustic pages are very good reads. I'd just do a little more reading about rooms before taking stabs at any particular soultion.

    have fun!

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    Many great posts here...

    Quote Originally Posted by Woochifer
    Great replies on this thread! The panel arrangement that I have in my room is pretty much the same one that I've had for four years (just started as a $16 experiment during a trip to the hardware store), except that instead of lining them along the wall, they are now suspended off of a high-mounted molding using hooks, fishing line, and some C-clamps.

    For a while now, I've been thinking about upgrading the panels from ceiling tiles to rigid fiberglas boards. (it would raise the NRC from about 0.6 to 0.8, but the fiberglas' absorptive properties extend further into the midrange and are a bit more even than the ceiling panels) I've also been thinking about trying out various bass trap designs. In addition to the much referred to Jon Risch design, there are also different foam-based designs. I might need to opt for those options such as the Auralex LENRDs due to WAF reqs.

    Another treatment that I thought about trying is absorbers in the upper corners by the ceiling junctions. Eighth Nerve makes something for this purpose, as does Echo Busters.
    There is some really good discussion on this thread, as Monsiuer Wooch has stated. There is definitely more accessible resources than I had thought there might be.

    More reading to do now I guess. What about egg cartons... do those work?

    Just kidding.

    At this point, it's about figuring how much dough I have to spend, then deciding what is the most important aspect of the room to treat.

    Thanks all for the discussion so far. Please, stay, have some tea, talk more.

    THOB

  20. #20
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    Quote Originally Posted by the hand of boredom
    More reading to do now I guess. What about egg cartons... do those work?
    Absolutely!

    Just not very well. Actually, I was just reading that egg cartons actually make pretty good makeshift diffusors because of the shape. They're more reflective than absorptive though.
    Not recommended for home use though because, well, they're pretty f'n flammable....good luck explaining that one to the insurance adjustors.

  21. #21
    Forum Regular Woochifer's Avatar
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    BTW, this is probably the best overview of available room treatment products that I've seen.

    http://www.hometheaterhifi.com/volum...s-12-2004.html
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  22. #22
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    Quote Originally Posted by kexodusc
    Absolutely!

    Just not very well. Actually, I was just reading that egg cartons actually make pretty good makeshift diffusors because of the shape. They're more reflective than absorptive though.
    Not recommended for home use though because, well, they're pretty f'n flammable....good luck explaining that one to the insurance adjustors.
    What about spraying it with that spray stuff made by Rockford Fosgate??? Supposed to be for car audio to 'deaden' or 'dampen' the environment... that could possibly to the trick, eh?

    THOB

  23. #23
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    What about spraying it with that spray stuff made by Rockford Fosgate??? Supposed to be for car audio to 'deaden' or 'dampen' the environment... that could possibly to the trick, eh?

    THOB
    I've never used it personally, but I know a few DIY-ers who've tried in speakers with not so great results compared to standard acoustic foam or even dacron.
    But outside a speaker cabinet it might work better? Seems like an expensive solution for the area we'd need for "in home" use, though.

  24. #24
    Forum Regular gonefishin's Avatar
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    With the ceiling tiles...you really need to stack them with at least 3 panels thick to start getting decent performance. They are nice...especially for an inexpensive "travel" treatment. But the Owens 703 (705) 3# and 6# boards are nicer. 2" thick gives decent results for reflection points (better if used with some spacers in between the panel and wall). 4" or thicker for the corner bass traps works well. The thicker you stack them the lower they abosorb. The NRC measurments are also only...so useful...because they deal with frequencies for speech reproduction. There are some nice charts at various websites that have some of their own test measurments.

    You can also save some money on the Owens Corning or Knauf (competitor) fiberglass boards (3# and 6# boards) if you get non FSK. The bare boards are a considerable amount cheaper. For the cheapest combination, when I was making my panels...I used one carton of FSK face 2" 3# board (this board had the FSK side closest to the wall). Then I glued the cheaper (non-faced) 2" piece to that for a total of 4". I can't remember how much the foil scrim carton was...but I'm thinking it was something like $30.00 more per carton.

    Also, I've had some difficulties finding out what the facination with burlap fabric, to cover panels and traps, is?

    I know that you want something that isn't going to reflect any high frequencies...but why the burlap recommedations?

    Near as I could find out...Many times todays Burlap fabric is a desnse, yet open weave of 100% cotton. If you would blow thru it you may encounter a fabric that does allow for air to pass. Yet, similar to a screened window...the rest of the material is quite course and dense. A screen window is actually over 70% closed...the "weave" is what allows for the passage of air.

    Now...if you could actually get some real burlap (created from jute, hemp or flax fibers) you actually have a very course strong fiber. I really don't see how real burlap would be a good choice either??? Regardless...what is being called "burlap" today...is not burlap.


    Then you also have recommedations for some slighlty more expensive acousticaly transparant fabric. Is this simply material similar to speaker grill cloth? (for a side note...I certainly can't imagine any speaker grills being covered in burlap)

    But if this is fabric similar to grill cloth...aren't you then talking about a 100% polyester fabric with a very loose interlocking weave? If so...you can get these in varying thickness and weave...you can also get the polyester fabric in anything from an extreme dull "sheen" to a high gloss type silk sheen. But wouldn't an extremely light thread and loose 100% polyester interlocking dull weave perform well?

    Then you have a comaprable light thread with a loose interlocking weave in 100% cotton. Which is much lighter and looser than many of the fabrics out there today that are being badged as "burlap".




    *ok...I'll duck now *

    thanks,

    dan
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    Quote Originally Posted by gonefishin
    With the ceiling tiles...you really need to stack them with at least 3 panels thick to start getting decent performance. They are nice...especially for an inexpensive "travel" treatment. But the Owens 703 (705) 3# and 6# boards are nicer. 2" thick gives decent results for reflection points (better if used with some spacers in between the panel and wall). 4" or thicker for the corner bass traps works well. The thicker you stack them the lower they abosorb. The NRC measurments are also only...so useful...because they deal with frequencies for speech reproduction. There are some nice charts at various websites that have some of their own test measurments.

    You can also save some money on the Owens Corning or Knauf (competitor) fiberglass boards (3# and 6# boards) if you get non FSK. The bare boards are a considerable amount cheaper. For the cheapest combination, when I was making my panels...I used one carton of FSK face 2" 3# board (this board had the FSK side closest to the wall). Then I glued the cheaper (non-faced) 2" piece to that for a total of 4". I can't remember how much the foil scrim carton was...but I'm thinking it was something like $30.00 more per carton.

    Also, I've had some difficulties finding out what the facination with burlap fabric, to cover panels and traps, is?

    I know that you want something that isn't going to reflect any high frequencies...but why the burlap recommedations?

    Near as I could find out...Many times todays Burlap fabric is a desnse, yet open weave of 100% cotton. If you would blow thru it you may encounter a fabric that does allow for air to pass. Yet, similar to a screened window...the rest of the material is quite course and dense. A screen window is actually over 70% closed...the "weave" is what allows for the passage of air.

    Now...if you could actually get some real burlap (created from jute, hemp or flax fibers) you actually have a very course strong fiber. I really don't see how real burlap would be a good choice either??? Regardless...what is being called "burlap" today...is not burlap.


    Then you also have recommedations for some slighlty more expensive acousticaly transparant fabric. Is this simply material similar to speaker grill cloth? (for a side note...I certainly can't imagine any speaker grills being covered in burlap)

    But if this is fabric similar to grill cloth...aren't you then talking about a 100% polyester fabric with a very loose interlocking weave? If so...you can get these in varying thickness and weave...you can also get the polyester fabric in anything from an extreme dull "sheen" to a high gloss type silk sheen. But wouldn't an extremely light thread and loose 100% polyester interlocking dull weave perform well?

    Then you have a comaprable light thread with a loose interlocking weave in 100% cotton. Which is much lighter and looser than many of the fabrics out there today that are being badged as "burlap".


    I think it's all relative. I wouldn't say there is a fascination with burlap. It is by no means the best fabric out there, but it does work well. I use the cheap burlap-like stuff that you can buy in the craft department at you local megamart. The threads are very loose, and you can see through it if you stand close enough to the panels.

    The real reason I'm using burlap, is that it matches the colors in my room. I remember reading somewhere that someone did some testing of acoustic coverings and burlap performed surprisingly well, but I can't remember where now.

    Anyway, I think as the NRC of your panel material gets higher, the use of burlap (or any covering material) starts to have a more significant effect on the panel performance. In my case, I'm using single ceiling tiles to fight flutter echo, and the burlap isn't really effecting the panels ability to achieve the performance I desire. In reality, I suspect that burlap may be providing some diffusion where it doesn't allow sound to pass through. If I were trying to absorb a wider frequency range, I would probably be a bit more demanding of my covering material, but I probably wouldn't be using ceiling tiles in that case.

    You mention stacking several ceiling tiles to improve performance. Another idea would be to suspend the tiles a couple inches off the wall using blocks or something like that. This is a technique that studios use with pro-quality panels to improve the NRC a little. Obviously this isn't going to work with solid backed panels, but it will certainly work for foam and possibly ceiling tiles.
    Here is an example

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