Build Your Own Acoustic Treatment Panels For Under $30

Build Your Own Acoustic Treatment Panels For Under $30

DIY Acoustic Panels – How to build your own room treatment and Vocal Booth!

DIY Acoustic Panels around $30 each!

One thing that has always bothered me is my untreated home studio. Every professional studio I’ve worked at or visited has had rooms with proper acoustic treatment. Last week I decided to have my home studio join the ranks of these treated rooms! This post covers the many hours of research, planning and building that went into making my very own acoustic panels for treatment and a vocal booth.

The first thing I did was visit the numerous websites that talk about room acoustics and panels. This alone took me about 40+ hours of research. Room acoustics and panels are a very complex science that takes YEARS to master. What I learned is that, despite the daunting amount of intricacies involved with acoustics, it IS possible to make your own acoustic panels for a small amount of money.

Luckily, I ran into a professional acoustician, Doug Greenlee from soundkinetics.com, at a studio get together. He provided me with a great starting point. If you ever plan on building a professional set up there is no substitute for hiring someone like Doug!

I found a TON of people who have built their own panels providing me with the motivation and knowledge to make my own. I’m going to keep the rest of this post as straight to the point as possible from here on out. If you want to learn more about acoustics or see other people’s plans I added a handy bibliography at the bottom for all your researching needs!

 

THE PLAN:

Make 8 versatile acoustic panels in one day that can be used as wall panels, baffling and a portable vocal booth for UNDER $250.

THE PARTS FOR 8 ACOUSTIC PANELS:

Total Cost = ~$220

  1. Rigid Fiberglass Panels (Owens Corning 703, Knauff 3lb. density, or Johns Manville 3lb. Density are all suitable panels)
    1. Finding this material can be tricky. After calling 8 local insulation suppliers I FINALLY found it at a place called Internation Technifab.
    2. Cost:$104 for 8 Knauff 3 lb. density fiberglass panels.

      Bill for 8 Knauff 3 lb. density rigid fiberglass panels
  1. Fabric (Breathable fabric)
    1. Buy this at Joann Fabrics which has weekly 50% off sales! CALL THEM FIRST TO BE SURE THEY HAVE ENOUGH FABRIC!
    2. Options: Jet Set, Black Felt, Speaker Grill. I chose Jet Set for its sleek look and cheap cost. Be careful though because stretchy fabrics can be very difficult to fit on the panel without folds!
    3. Cost: $43 for 16 yards of Jet Set Black.
      Jet Set Black Fabric
  1. Wood for frame:
    1. Home Depot 1X3-8 furring strip. (Pick the straightest wood possible with the least amount of imperfections)
    2. Cost: $32 for 19 pieces(This leaves a bit extra for mistakes. It’s easier to return it than go back)
      1X3-8 Furring Strip from Home Depot

 

  1. Other parts from Home Depot:
    1. Rubber screw bumpers $16(To hold the panel an extra bit off the wall. This prevents tearing of fabric, marking of the wall and achieves more bass absorption.

    2. Picture Hangers $9(Pack of 50 to hang the panels securely to walls)

    3. Screw Eye Zinc Plated 212 $4(Used to attach picture wire to)

  1. Parts from Ace Hardware:
    1. Picture Wire $10(25 feet of 30 lb. rated wire) AVOID any thin cheap 28 gaugewire!

    2. Electrical Tape $4 (Used to cover up imperfections in the wood and cover the picture wire.
  2. Tools:
    1. Staple Gun with a full pack of 3/8 inch 10mm staples. If you can find black staples it would look nicer
      Electric staple guns work just fine.

      If possible, buy staples that match the fabric color!
    2. Miter Saw to cut the wood.
    3. Hammer and nails (50 nails should be about enough)
    4. Plyers (Used to screw in the Screw Eyes)
    5. Wire Cutter (Used to cut the picture wire)
    6. Table to set your panels on as you work (At least 62”X62” recommended)
    7. Power screwdriver (Used to attach the bumpers)
    8. Marking Pencil (Used to mark the wood for cutting)
  3. Other important accessories:
    1. Gloves, protective glasses and a dust mask. Handling fiberglass can be hazardous and it isn’t too precautious to wear the gloves and mask while working with it.
    2. Packing tape or duct tape. This holds the fabric in place as you work. This is ESSENTIAL if you are using a stretchy fabric like Jet Set.
    3. Black Sharpie (Used to cover staples)
    4. Optional, but HIGHLY recommended: Microphone stands and Mic Clips with screws (Used to hang the panels up for baffling or vocal booths)

PUTTING IT ALL TOGETHER:

My awesome helpful father Cutting wood and marking using a template piece
  1. Build your frames
    1. Start by laying down a piece of the fiberglass. Then put the boards around it and measure how long they need to be.
    2. Cut the pieces for one frame (each piece of wood gives you 1 24” piece and 1 49 ¾” piece.)
    3. Evaluate your wood pieces to decide which side should be the front and the back. Cover up any imperfections with the electrical tape.
    4. If these pieces work out properly then use them as templates to mark the other pieces of wood. This saves you time in measuring them out.
    5. Once they are all cut nail them together with two nails at each intersection. Then lay the fiberglass down inside the frame.
    6. Secure the fiberglass to the frame with a nail on each side of the frame. This keeps it a bit more stable.
  2. Fabric
    1. Get out your fabric and cut it into 60” pieces. After cutting your pieces will be 58” X 60”.
    2. The lacy side of the Jet Set Fabric (The 58” side) goes on the top and bottom of the panels.
    3. Set the fabric on the table so one side is just barely hanging off the edge and the other side is hanging off quite a bit.
  3. Making the panel
    1. IF YOU ARE USING A STRETCHY FABRIC you will need to use tape to secure it tightly as you attach the fabric!
    2. Put your Framed panel on top of the fabric.
    3. Fold the fabric doubled up over the frame and staple it across the edge.
    4. Crease the fabric and bring it down the panel. Tape it down as it starts to take form. Staple it only after it is pulled very tight and looks clean.
    5. Now flip the fabric over the top of the panel.
    6. Pull the fabric as TIGHT AS POSSIBLE in the very middle and tape it down. This allows you to get tight seams and a professional look!
    7. TRICKY STEP: Fold the fabric under itself then pull it out so the fabric is as TIGHT AS POSSIBLE on each corner. If you don’t do this it will bunch up and look cheap.
    8. Again, once you have it very tight and no bunches use tape to hold it all in place. Then go and staple the top and bottom down.
    9. Now go to your final edge and pull it tight. Use tape liberally to hold it securely as you work. Did I mention this is the only way to make it look clean 😉
    10. SUCCESS! At this point you are VERY close to having a finished panel. If you are confused see the photos for clarity or leave a comment!
  4. Attaching Picture wire and bumpers
    1. Get out the bumpers. Attach four bumpers to four of the panels 5” from the top and bottom. Then attach four bumpers to the other four panels 6” from the top and bottom. This allows the panels to stack better when alternated.
    2. Attach two screw holes 13 ¼” from the top of each panel. This measurement is very important so panels stay aligned on your walls so be careful!
    3. Get out the picture wire. Pull it through one side, pull it under, put it back through, then twist it around itself at least 6 times for a secure knot. Then use your plyers to crimp the wire together nice and tight.
    4. Pull it out to the other side and cut it at 29”.
    5. Attach this wire the same way. When it’s through be sure to use your plyers to pull it as TIGHT as possible. This will ensure the wires are all the same length and look level when hanging on your wall.
    6. Once it’s pulled tight use your plyers to crimp the wire together tightly.
  5. Finishing touches
    1. If you’ve made it this far you must be EXCITED! Almost there!
    2. Use your black electrical tape to cover the frayed picture wire. This makes it look professional and prevents snags.
    3. Use a black sharpie to color the staples. While not necessary, it does make it look more polished.

THE RESULTS:

Finished DIY Acoustic Panels as a vocal booth attach to microphone stands

Vocal booth and a wall panel in the background

I am amazed at the results of these panels. Not only do they work INFINITELY better than Auralex treatment, they look professional and really make a difference in my room. They also work great as a vocal booth or light baffles. I wish I would have made these YEARS ago.

The 3 lb. density panels absorb enough bass and reflect just enough sound to make the room treated, but not ENTIRELY dead. Make sure you make the frames for your panels. It makes them solid and professional looking and the small amount of reflective space added is well worth the extra stability! It wouldn’t take a lot of tweaking with this design to build a thicker baffle or add lots more Owen’s Corning to make them into a bass trap. See the links below for details on this.

Do yourself a favor and get this done early on in your career. Why would you buy something like one SD Electronics Reflexion for $300 when you can get 8 full sized panels for $70 less??? For less than $250 it’s a no brainer to build these. If you have more money it’s probably a better bet to go with a professional company to save you the time and offer their expertise. However, anyone with some free time that wants to stretch their budget should ABSOLUTELY build their own panels.

I’d like to thank my very supportive dad for taking the time to help me build these things. It made building them way more efficient and fun. I recommend you build these with a friend for the same reasons.

I hope this motivates you to build your own panels. Please share your thoughts, questions and anything else here. Thanks for stopping by 🙂

 

*UPDATE* – NEW POST – Build your own Foley Pit:  I just wrote steps about building your own Foley Pit! If you love this post, then you’ll really enjoy learning how to make your very own wooden foley box for your home studio!

http://www.playdotsound.com/portfolio-item/build-your-own-foley-pit/

 

LINKS:

Doug Greenlee – Acoustician Professional

http://www.soundkinetics.com/

MORE INFORMATION ABOUT ACOUSTICS AND ACOUSTIC PANELS:

http://www.gearslutz.com/board/low-end-theory/515220-so-say-im-going-start-treating-my-room.html

http://www.readyacoustics.com/education.html

http://gikacoustics.com/education.html

http://www.ethanwiner.com/acoustics.html

http://www.gearslutz.com/board/bass-traps-acoustic-panels-foam-etc/518685-one-more-diy-acoustic-panels-thread.html

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=1312693

http://www.avsforum.com/avs-vb/showthread.php?t=255432

http://www.atsacoustics.com/

http://www.soundonsound.com/sos/dec07/articles/acoustics.htm

 

 

UPDATE

A friend of a friend named Hwbilly Schleifer decided to use these plans to build his own studio treatment! I’m glad people are finding these plans useful. I thought I’d show the photos here so you can see what they look like in different settings!

 

Thanks for visiting the Aaron Brown Sound blog! Come back soon for more posts about video game audio, audio engineering, sound design, composing and all other things relating to being an audio professional 🙂

Linked In Profile: http://www.linkedin.com/in/aaronbrownsound

Demo Reels: http://www.aaronbrownsound.com/resume-awards-demo-reel/

About: http://www.aaronbrownsound.com/about/

 

 

  • R brown

    I have seen these panels in person and thay are excellent. Aaron’s research made the easy to build and they work incredibly well.
    I love the black “2001 A Space Odyssey” shape and design. They are a classic from day 1.
    An excellent project that does not require a lot of craftsmanship.
    The panels were nailed together and staples attached the fabric.
    They are light and very attractive.

  • Steven

    Nice post Aaron! I’m not sure how I stumbled on to your blog but I’ve been researching this topic off and on for months. Your straight forward guide pushed me over the edge…I’ve started following it step by step. I’m very hopeful that these panels as bass traps, etc will make a night and day difference to my recording and mix process. Thanks for taking the time to post this.

  • admin

    Hey Steven,

    Glad you found it informative! It isn’t nearly as hard as it seems and soon enough you’ll have some awesome professional panels!

    If something isn’t making sense along the way please let me know. I tried to document every single step to save other people time and effort. I’ve got some excel documents filled with research that I left out of this article to keep it straightforward and simple.

    Send me pictures when you are done! You’ll be glad you built them for sure 🙂

    -Aaron

  • eliza

    hi aaron. i do voice over work from home and need my sound to be as pure as possible, do you think that adding acoustic foam to the panels and maybe a rooftop will be beneficial?

    thanks!
    eliza

  • admin

    Hi Eliza,

    The more treatment you have in that type of situation the better IMO. Are recording in the same
    Room as your gear? Also, are you using a shotgun mic, condenser, or dynamic mic?

    If you built three of these panels they would really block a lot of sound, but if your room is noisy they won’t get rid of all the noise. There’s a reason pro studios have well designed isolated open vocal booths for tone! If you are using an SM7b or similar dynamic I’d worry more about eliminating noise than specific room treatment since dynamics don’t pick up the room as much.

    Also, be wary of “solutions” like the SE microphone reflexion filter as these don’t work for that application.

    Aaron

  • Andrew M

    Hey, love the design and i’m going to give it a try asap, just a quick question though, do you know how much each panel weighs once its all together?
    Cheers

  • admin

    Hey Andrew, I never actually weighed them, but I just compared it to some other items and it seems to be right around 11 lbs.

    I know some other similar panels are about that weight as well. It’s hardly heavier than the Owens Corning is since the wood is thin and only on the outside.

    Hope that helps 🙂 I could probably find a way to weigh it if you really need to know.

    Aaron

  • Jose Hernandez

    Hey Aaron, I love this! I am new to acoustics and sound proofing. I have a SMALL room, maybe 12×12 or 15×15 with drums. guitar and bass. I want to do the same set up, would you have any recommendations about substituting the fiberglass with anything else? That website you added was very helpful, however, I am in California, and getting those shipped would cost A LOT.

  • admin

    Hey Jose,

    Glad you found it useful 🙂 I’d first try to get Owens Corning locally at Home Depot, lowes and construction companies. It’s more rigid and tends to look better than many counterparts like rockwool. I know a friend who used rockwool and was dissapointed afterwards because it turned out lumpy! I’m sure you can find Owens Corning or generic equivalent if you call around.

  • Santiago

    Thank you so much for taking the time to post step-by-step instructions!!! I’m not very clear on how you are fixing the fiberglass to the wooden frame. Can you email me or post a close-up pic?

    Again, thank you so much – this is very helpful.

  • admin

    No problem 🙂 glad you found it useful.
    The frame fits the fiberglass well and Owens Corning is pretty rigid so we just put 8 nails through the frame into the fiberglass. 2 on each side. I think it would be fine with 1 on each side.

  • dinh

    Hi Aaron,
    Thanks for sharing your project. I’m thinking of building these panels for a conference room because the room walls, ceiling, and floor are very hard. The sound in the room tend to have too much echo effects. I don’t know the technical term of the effects because I’m not an expert in sound. Would these panels help dampen the room sound?

  • admin

    Hi Dinh,

    These panels would definitely help. What you are probably hearing is a ping/slapback delay. It occurs when two walls are parallel and bare. These panels are excellent at prevent such echo and reflections. Obviously, the room size and dimensions will greatly affect what room treatment you need, but these will help 🙂

  • Judy

    That was awesome!!!

  • johnny_b_good

    In the 3rd photo, there is 2 panels for 1st reflections and a skinny one for the ceiling. And I don’t see any bass traps. Clearly these people don’t have a clue on acoustic treatment.

  • Aaron Brown

    Johnny_b_atroll,
    These are clearly initial reflection panels people can make at a cheap price. I didn’t end up building bass traps as I first planned, but I linked to plenty of material explaining how to do so. Besides, most bedroom studios don’t have enough space for proper bass traps to be added.
    You strike me as someone who would be a lot of fun at parties! Your observation skills are about as sharp as your grammar skills.

  • robboyd

    Very nice detail here. You went to a lot of trouble to share this so cleanly. Nice job!

    Robb

  • Zena

    Hi, I’m a 11 years old girl and I plan to find someone’s help for building these to put in a storage( large enough for a tiny studio)but it’s under the stairs. So do I need to put it on the celing or the door?

  • Aaron Brown

    Hi Zena,
    This depends on a lot of variables such as room dimensions, angles, speakers, room modes, etc.
    I could try to help you more if you post the dimensions of the space with a picture of the room or diagram of the room 🙂
    There could be some big concerns with acoustics in a small storage space.

  • Dylan

    Just wondering how you hung the mirror point ceiling panel? Cheers

  • Keenan Trevon Serrano

    Do we need half as much of material if we are aiming to make 4 panels?

  • lame james

    I have built these for my apartment studio .I enjoyed using them so much that I will never record or mix without them ever in life.I built six panels which gave me four free standing panels and two wall mountable ones.instead of building a frame I used the wood to build legs for the four free standing panels.so I could move them where I liked. Either against the wall or in close proximity to the performer.they took my recording to the next level overnight, due to the fact I used them for mixing as well.I do hip hop and rnb.I record using a mxl 3000 mic going into a presonus blue tube into a lexicon lambda interface ,to PC,then to sonar 8. I have had ppl tell me my songs sound like they come straight out of a studio.which a lot do to mixing and recording every day for ten years.it cost me about $350 to build them after seeing simalar panels that costs $150 each.so be looking to save half of $600 or more making them on your own.you must have panels when recording vocals cuz it tames the reflections coming to the mic that bounces for the singer of the wall and back into the mic.no amount of eq or any other processing will get rid of this that.I’m like most of you.learning on a budget and have very little money to waste.it is beyond worth it and an absolute must have.do it,,,do it,,,do it,,,do it,,,do it now,,,,,

  • Michał Łagunionok

    Do you want place your logo on your absorber?
    We are the only one company on the market which produce graphic acoustic panel.
    Look at our works on http://www.akukustik.com/#!gallery/c24fc
    Learn more on http://www.akukustik.eu
    Write to us on http://www.facebook/akukustik

  • Saul Wentz

    You mentioned that these panels cost under $30 to make, but the tallied price is over $200. Did you mean the cost is under $30 per panel?

  • Aaron Brown

    I would imagine that would work out…

  • Aaron Brown

    Hanging a ceiling panel is a bit more work. Using eye hooks, Nylon line/chain, and more eye hooks is the typical solution.
    Check out this guys youtube video for an example. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0HBlIOTZflM

  • Aaron Brown

    Yeah, the price works out to under $30 each. I made eight for under $240.

  • Saul Wentz

    If you can’t afford to build all of the panels that you plan to have in the final set up, is it ok to build them in pairs until the desired number of panels is reached? I’m thinking if you can maintain left/right symmetry it would be ok. Or do you have to install all the panels at once?

  • Aaron Brown

    Absolutely! What each room needs is unique. Having four to control initial reflection points will still be a huge improvement compared to no treatment at all. Then you could build more to cover tangential spots as well as bass traps, corner traps, and ceiling clouds in the long run to further tune as needed 🙂

  • Saul Wentz

    OK, cool! Thank you for answering these questions of mine and for the step-by-step instructions. I’ll use this site as a primary source of reliable information when I begin treating my room.