DIY acoustic panels are perfect additions to that newly-installed home theater system. These easy-to-make and cheap acoustic panels don't just boost the sounds and improve listening quality, they're also a lot easier to make than they seem.
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DIY Acoustic Panels Creative
Step 1: Plan Your Build
Acoustic panels, otherwise known as sound absorption panels, stop extra sound from reverberating off a room's surface.
People use these to get rid of echoes that might color or muddle speech or music as it bounces off the walls. They absorb mid to high frequencies, softening return noise, and providing a much cleaner sound enjoyment.
Acoustic panels are perfect not just for home theaters, but also for home mixing or recording studios as they also provide ambient noise reduction.
They are not, however, soundproofing, which prevents the movement of sound from one room to another. In contrast, sound absorption panels improve the sound quality within a room by preventing sound from bouncing around the room and creating echoes.
In planning for your build, it's always important to consider the size and thickness of your DIY acoustic panels.
Thicker panels are able to better absorb lower frequencies of sound. However, making homemade acoustic panels that are too thick may also end up being too bulky for your room.
Consider which surfaces you want to cover. THX-certified movie theaters usually have sound-absorbing material that covers the surfaces on walls, floors, and ceilings.
If this is a simple home theater, then covering the walls should already be enough. Additionally, while you can modify these based on the size of your room and the surface area you wish to cover, typical DIY acoustic panels are 2″-4″ thick with dimensions at 2'x4′.
Step 2: Decide on the Sound Absorbing Material You'll Use
Once you've decided on the thickness and dimensions of your DIY acoustic panels, it's now time to decide on the sound absorbing material you will use.
Mineral wool insulation and fiberglass are some of the best materials for DIYers. The greater the density, the better the sound absorption or noise reduction coefficient (NRC).
Owens Corning 703 is the generally preferred option, though it may be pricier than most sound absorbing materials and slightly harder to find. Roxul or Rockwool Mineral Wool Insulation is a cheaper alternative that's both easier to find but also works just as well.
Step 3: Decide on the Fabric That Will Cover the Panels
Next, you also have to decide on the kind of fabric you'll use to cover your DIY acoustic panels. They have to not only blend with the colors of your room, but also be noise permeable.
Guilford of Maine is the typical option, though it may come at a bit of a price. It does, however, come in 12 different colors, has a 30-pound tear strength, and has a fire-retardant finish.
For alternatives, you can try holding the fabric up to your face and breathing through it. Don't use the fabric if you feel a slight resistance.
Step 4: Prepare Your Materials and Tools
For two 2'x4′ DIY acoustic panels, you'll need the following materials and tools:
- Cross-head screwdriver bit for drill
- Small drill bit for pilot holes
- Serrated knife
- Staple gun
- Tape measure
- Forty 1-5/8″ #6 wood screws
- Wood glue
- Four 8'x4″x1″ wooden boards
- Two 2'x4'x2″ sound absorbing material
- 2 yards of fabric
Just multiply these materials by the number of DIY acoustic panels you will be making.
Step 5: Cut the Wood
Get your four wooden boards and cut two boards in half and two boards in quarters. Most local hardwares can actually do this for you for free.
Step 6: Build Your Panels' Frames
Place your wood up to each other to form a box. Make sure to place the 2′ pieces on the inside so that the length of each DIY acoustic panel is 4′ and not 4'2″.
Next, at the top and bottom of each 4′ piece, drill two pilot holes. Keep in mind that the holes should be roughly half an inch from the top and bottom of the board.
Before using your drill to drive in the screws, you can also apply wood glue for additional strength.
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Step 7: Reinforce the Frames
The next step reinforces the frame's overall strength while also creating a placeholder for the insulation. Start by taking one of the 2′-long pieces of wood and placing it in the middle of the frame.
Drill two pilot holes down from what will become the DIY acoustic panel's front. Once in place, the piece of wood should sit about 2″ from the panel's front.
This will secure your sound absorbing material in place at the front of the panel.
You can also add corner pieces by cutting 45-degree triangles and placing them at the corners of the frame. Make sure to level them with the support you added at the middle of the frame.
Again, for extra strength, you can apply wood glue to both your support and triangles.
Step 8: Trim the Insulation as Precisely as Possible
Using your serrated knife, carefully trim the insulation to fit as tightly as possible inside the frame you just built. If necessary, make several cuts until you trim it down to a size that has an almost perfect fit within the frame.
Make sure to leave as little space as possible on all sides. This protects the sound absorbing material by preventing any sag or slump.
Apply adhesive to the edges of frame and the insulation to give it an even stronger connection.
Step 9: Wrap the Panels in Fabric
Lay the fabric down on the floor before carefully putting your frames face down on top of the fabric.
Keep the panel at the center of the fabric. Make sure to leave about 6″ of fabric on all sides before cutting it.
Now, wrap one side of the fabric and staple the material to the back of the frame. Keep the staples at 3″ intervals.
Pull the fabric tightly from the opposite side and do the same. Repeat these steps for the remaining two sides before folding the corners neatly and stapling them tightly as well.
You can choose to trim off any excess fabric or just attach it to the back of your DIY acoustic panels with adhesive.
Step 10: Mount Your DIY Acoustic Panels and Enjoy
Mount your acoustic panels to your walls. Afterwards, grab a beer, turn up the volume of your home theater system, and enjoy the high-quality sounds within the room.
Aside from DIY acoustic panels, there are other ways to really make the most of your home theater system. That Home Theater Dude shows you how:
Acoustic panels are a must-have if you want to make the most of your home theater system. These DIY acoustic panels are not only cheap, but they're also easy to make and highly effective.
Do you have questions or suggestions about building your own DIY acoustic panels? Share your thoughts with us in the comments section below!
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