Nominated for AIAS Sound Design of the Year Award

Nominated for AIAS Sound Design of the Year Award

I was recently nominated for the AIAS oustanding achievement in sound design for my work on Uncharted 3. Although it didn’t win, it was an absolute honor to be a part of such a talented team at Naughty Dog. Their team does an amazing job of focusing on bringing all parts of the gaming experience together and being as cohesive an experience as possible.

It is great to be considered along such great sounding games like Battlefield 3 and Need for Speed: The Run. Congratulations to the Battlefield team for winning the award. The game indeed sounds excellent and their tech is pretty damn cool as well 🙂

http://www.interactive.org/

 

 

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 🙂

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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/

 

 

How to break into the professional audio industry – Find and keep your first video game jobs and recording studio jobs.

If you are reading this then you likely aware of how difficult it can be to get your start as a professional audio engineer. Whether you want to work in recording studios or the games industry, breaking in takes more than just talent and dreams. In this post I’ll give you a lot of tips on how to get your big break and stay employed once you do.