Building a Vocal Booth from Scratch - Part 7: "Constructing Custom Acoustic Panels" - Manifesting the ELAmental Underground Studio for Self-Owned-Souls

in Self Owned Souls3 months ago (edited)

Acoustic Treatment & Low Frequency Absorbers

Acoustic treatment in a recording space is the most important aspect in building a booth. Many people building "home-studios" (that term is pretty broad at this point) opt to use products known as "studio-foam". Unfortunately real acoustic foam (more on the fake stuff in my next post) is extremely expensive and only manufactured by a select few companies.

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Foam vs. Insulation Panels

According to most sound engineers, in order to achieve proper acoustic treatment in a given space, your best and by far most cost effective method is to build your own acoustic panels and low frequency absorbers (also known as bass traps or corner traps) in place of using pre-manufactured acoustic foam. Some audio engineers swear by the acoustic panel method to such a degree that they completely condemn the foam all together - saying it is useless for frequency absorption in the low end, and mostly ineffective in the highs as well.
Although I do not 100% agree that the correct kind of acoustic foam is completely useless, it has its place and purpose (especially situational). I do agree that the panels and made-from scratch bass traps do WAY MORE POSITIVE THINGS to the sound than any foam ever could... sonically, scientifically, and otherwise.

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There are essentially only two options for insulation material inside your panel/trap framing: Corning's OC703 (which you have to special order - online only), or a very specific type of mineral wool known as Rockwool Safe & Sound (only sold at Lowe's as far as I know). The rockwool is not only less expensive but actually has better frequency response in some areas of the spectrum, and is at the very least comparable to the OC703 stuff, which to me is not worth the extra money.

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Acoustic Fabric - Guilford of Maine

There are many types of fabric you could choose to custom outfit your panels as well, but whatever you choose, it must be breathable and more importantly FIREPROOF! These panels absorb sound by exchanging heat, and if you select insulation OR fabric that is not fire-resistant, you run the risk of sparking a spontaneous fire at any given moment (crazy right). I was originally going to use a new type of hemp insulation that is similar to rockwool, and also use burlap style hemp for the fabric - but since hemp is known to be highly flammable, I was moved in a more traditional direction.

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I selected this special type of studio fabric called Guilford of Maine that is fireproof and achieves maximum breathability for sound to pass through easily. It was a bit expensive but I am pleased with the quality. This fabric comes in a myriad of colors.
After we built the 2x4 frames, filled them with mineral wool, and stapled the GoM fabric tight around the fronts, we also cut 4 1x2 spacers per panel/trap to float the panels off the walls at least an inch. 2-4 inch float with 2-4 inch frames are recommended for optimal results, however those parameters can be reduced somewhat for smaller sound rooms like the one we built here. We landed on 1 inch spacers with 4 inch frames for this build.

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Connections

After mounting all the panels on the walls with strong tie-wire and screws in the appropriate spots, the only things left to do now are to mount the little bit of proper acoustic foam I planned on mounting on the ceiling and door, apply lighting, and implement an upgraded microphone. I also plan on doing a huge mural on the outside, and a lightning bolt down the cattycorner wall on the interior connecting to a custom made area rug with the Self Owned Souls logo printed on it. Only a few more episodes left in this serious until completion.

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Click Below to View LBRY Video for Part 7: "Constructing Custom Acoustic Panels"

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