How to Make High Performance Sound Absorption Panels for $5

How to Make High Performance Sound Absorption Panels for $5

– There are more people than ever
making media content at home thanks to low-cost gear and increased access to huge audience numbers via the internet, this video perhaps being a case in point. Now, there are a few problems with doing it at home, and in regards to audio, one of these problems that I’ve found is poor room acoustics. So, these are caused by sound waves bouncing back off walls and making the audio sound rubbish, basically. Some recommendations in combating this include putting up foam on the walls, but proper acoustic foam can be very expensive. So in this video, I’m going to be seeing if there are any alternatives to this, and maybe even trying out
normal packaging foam as well, which is very cheap. So, let’s begin by getting a few materials that might absorb sound quite well. I’m gonna try out a cushion, some towels, and of course, some normal packaging sponge. So my setup here consists of a speaker on the bottom, a platform for my materials to go on, and a microphone. And the theory is that the sound, which I’ll be using a tone generator for, will have to pass through the materials to reach the microphone. So I’ll start off with one layer of foam. This is like spongy foam. (descending tones) Okay, so now we’ll move on to a towel. This one should do. I think, personally, that the towels will work a bit better than the sponge,
but we’ll see what the results tell us. (descending tones playing repeatedly) Okay, so now we’ve got all of those recordings. Let’s go to the computer and see which material absorbed the the most energy at the different frequency ranges. That should hopefully tell us
what cheap home materials are decent for sound absorption panels, so let’s go. Here’s a visual representation
of the various frequencies I played back, starting with 17 kilohertz on the left and finishing with 5 kilohertz on the right. This one had no material
in between the microphone and speaker, so it will be the baseline to compare the others to. So, we’ll have a look at the first recording, which was the single piece of sponge. As you can see, the volume levels are a bit lower, but not by much, which is somewhat disappointing. What about the egg-holder-style sponge? Again, it’s not much better despite the extra thickness, however, when we get to the double-layer egg sponge, we start to see some improvement, and it lags only a little behind the performance of the cushion, which is quite surprising. Moving on to the towels, though, we can see that they are
significantly better at absorbing sound. This folded towel, for example,
has roughly the same thickness as the thin sponge, but as you can see, it absorbs much, much more sound. This performance improves even more when two towels are used, so I think it’s pretty safe to say what the winning material is. Now, just to make sure, I’ve done one final test, but this time with the frequencies
going down to 500 hertz. For the sponge, I stacked them together into a four-inch pile, and again, its performance was somewhat disappointing. Move on to a three-inch stack of towels, however, and just wow. It absorbs so much, even in the 500 hertz range. So with that, I can conclusively say that out of these materials, towel is the winner. Well done, towel! So now we need to get plenty of towels to make some sound absorption panels with, and a perfect place to get them
is from your local charity shop. They might look a bit worn,
but they’ll perform just as well. And getting them from charity shops means you can get a load of them for very little money. Alternatively, you could always ask around your friends to see if they any towels that are just worn out and gonna be thrown away. So now we need to construct a frame for the panels. To do this, we’re going to use a long piece of wood, cutting it down into shorter pieces. These will obviously dictate
how big your panels will be, so make sure you measure it up to your liking. As they don’t need to be particularly strong, we can just screw the corners together without any special joints. We can first use a bit of wood glue on one side and then drill two holes for the screws, countersinking them afterwards. Two wood screws can then be used
to clamp them tightly together. Once this has been done for all four corners, you should have a relatively strong frame, which is now ready for the towels. As I want my panels to be white
so that they blend into the wall, I’m going to use this white towel for the outside. First though, it needs an iron to get out any creases. This is only necessary for this one as it’s the only towel that’ll be visible. The towel can then be stretched
around the frame’s perimeter and stapled in place. So once it’s all been stapled on,
you should have a frame that looks something like this. But now what we need to do
is to add the rest of the towel layers so that it absorbs more sound. So to do that, what we’ll do is place the other towels inside the frame and cut them down to size. Six of these in a layer should provide
more than enough sound absorption. These can then be placed in the middle of an uncut towel, stacked one on top of the other. Now we can do the manly activity
of sewing them all together. This needs to be done all around the outside, and then we also need to add some loops at various points in the middle
so that they don’t later sag. Manliness achieved. The towels should now be fixed together nicely, and they can be put back inside the frame. Now, again, we can stretch the towel and staple it in place. The last thing to do is cut off the excess loose towel and that’s the panel completed. They can now be hung up like picture frames. And if you make enough of them, they can make a significant difference to the acoustics of a room. Here’s an example. This is with the sound absorption panels up on the wall and there should be less reverb in this configuration. This is without the sound absorption panels on the wall, and it should sound
considerably less clean than before. Testing, testing, one, two, three. Testing, testing, one, two, three. So, as you could hopefully hear, the difference these panels make
is really quite striking. They’re also quite unobtrusive
in a home environment as well, thanks to their light color. How many of you noticed that
there was one behind me, for example? Now, it’s worth keeping in mind that you can customize them further by ordering a print on some fabric and using that as the front layer instead, which would give you a picture frame as well as a sound absorption panel. Now, I’m sure you’re wondering
just how do these perform compared to proper acoustic foam. Well, I’ve ordered some especially, so let’s find out. (descending tones) (descending tones) So, as we discovered earlier,
the towel does a great job and absorbs much of the energy. But the foam still doesn’t get anywhere near despite being proper acoustic foam and not the budget stuff that is just relabeled packaging foam. Interesting. So, unless I’m doing something wrong with my testing, these DIY panels not only cost much less than midrange acoustic foam,
but they perform better too. Not bad. So, I hope you have fun making your own acoustic panels. And if you enjoyed this video, don’t forget to press that like button and maybe consider subscribing as well. I’m Matt, and you’ve been watching DIY Perks. I hope I see you next time. Now, if you can’t wait until next time, then why not check out one of my previous projects? Like this great looking DIY headphone stand, made out of wood and acrylic, with color-changing RGB LEDs. Alternatively, you could check out how to make this 50-watt Bluetooth music blaster, the very same wireless amp I used to power the speaker in the video when doing the tone tests. They’re both worth a watch,
so I hope you enjoy them.

100 thoughts on “How to Make High Performance Sound Absorption Panels for $5

  1. three years late, this is still great.

    !! Warning for people with hyperacusis !!

    Sound generator in this video almost killed my ears tbh

    cringy rhyme to waste your time.

  2. Also should've tested reflection. Speaker at a 45, meter at a 45 next to the speaker and heavy sound barrier in between to check for reverb and other echoes. Perhaps checking carpet as well. Nevertheless, this is the best acoustic video on the internet and I see why you have so many subscribers.

  3. I wonder if this would work with a hollow door. My son plays his music load and most of the sound comes through the door. If I was to fill the door with towels, would it be as effective? Can you make a video for that?

  4. Thank you for playing high pitched sounds! The neighbours dogs haven't stopped barking in 1/2 an hour, and my ears are still ringing! You're an ass!!

  5. This will not do anything under +-500Hz. If you want the sound to really improve (especially in the lower frequencys) the panel needs to be way thicker. Also you could use damping materials (Mineral Wool), which would come out much better.

  6. Awesome! Now I need to get someone to do this towel panel for me! Thank you so much. Cheap and outstanding performance. Ha ha ha ha ha!

  7. Frequencies at 17k aren’t heard by 90% of your viewers, 10k and 7k don’t have the energy to bounce and reflect much at all, 5k is important but you completely ignored low midrange where the majority of acoustic problems exist.

  8. I would like to have seen the same test done on your completed panels to determine if the assembly method has any effect on the sound absorption.

  9. I wonder whether you could make a perspex box to fit the window and then remove the air to create a vacuum inside the box. Would that work?

  10. Thanks for this! I'd say the $5 claim assumes that we have a lot of random towels we don't need, but it's still going to end up being a lot cheaper than prefabricated panels even if you buy the towels new.

  11. You are right in a way but you don't seem to understand the difference between amplitude and reverb. There are many reasons to spend your money on professional acoustic panels and you don't seem to mention any of them in the video. Number one is that they are designed to reduce reverb and not volume. Second is that they are fire proof. You don't want to create your own funeral furnace regardless if you smoke or not.

  12. Hi Matt, thank you for this wonderful idea. No such thing as a dumb question right….here goes. I want to block sound from coming in to my room. Your panels work both ways? The conversations I hear about acoustic panels is that they improve the reverberation in the room. I want to block barking dogs and sub woofer vibrations. Logic tells me your panels will work, but I'm no sound engineer. Just want to clarify this before I get cracking with the project. All the best Caroline.

  13. Perhaps you could test the panels by projecting the sound against a plain wall then by putting a panel in front of the wall and repeating the test. This would give you a comparative measure of they transmission and reflection reduction of the panels. I wad told by a guy from the UK company Envirosound that for best results you need several changes in material density so perhaps you could try layering towel with foam?
    When I carried out noise testing of diesel generating sets we've used octave (actually 1/3 Octave) analysis so that the manufacturer of acoustic enclosures can target the specific frequency range required. I doubt if you need to worry about the high frequency stuff if you just want to improve the spoken word recording quality.
    That said, when I need some acoustic deadening I'll probably go your route for simplicity.

  14. I made mine with high density packaging foam. They do work to prevent high frequency reflection to a degree, say 1to 4 Khz. Why do you totally disregard that kind of material ? BTW, great job man !!

  15. You are just too damn smart you should be an American anyway thanks for the tip I can use this I have a drum set in an apartment and I'm going to be moving into

  16. I live facing a main road. Reasonably busy but I can hear any passing vehicle. I'm going to try installing some outside frames against the house covering the windows that I can open and close. If anyone knows of a better wait to stop vehicle noise, let me know. Triple glazing or a seperate window frame were also ideas.

  17. So, in order to guarantee I not disturb anyone gaming into the night while using voice comms, I need to encase myself and my gaming equipment/desk in these frames x 3…. Gotcha.

  18. Thank you for this comprehensive test. Did you try it on the windows? Do you suggest me to use it on the windows in order to cut the children noise which is coming from outside of the house?

  19. Any information on the details of the frame size? Towel size etc? Would it be more effective is I made a frame the whole height of the wall?

  20. dude i saw a video that boby owsinski explain sound absoption ( watch?v=1d9WmjTJniI&list=LLG48vddnkYI6H_pX-SNOWyQ&index=3 )
    when he talks about material of sound absorption panels, he said blow through the material and if you feel the breeze other side of the panel than it means it's a good material, what do you think about it and what's logic behind that. Thank you for your answer and time

  21. And now I find myself looking up expensive (relatively) printed towels so my outer layers can look fancy and poster like.

  22. I just love paying a fortune for second hand towels and placing these dust collectors all over my walls then explaining to visitors why I put towels on my walls

  23. As a producer: Bro! The low frequencies matters most. You didn't check them. If you absorbe all the high frequencies mixing would get even harder since your room is even more unbalanced!

  24. Foam only reduces high frequency. Low Freq have much more energy than the highs. This is not high performance 🤣

  25. As per a previous comment, this measured isolation not absorption. Placing a thin sheet of concrete would have yielded even better results… But would still be just as reflective mounted in a room.

  26. Ok, I learned that towels make audio sound “cleaner”. Who’d a thunk it? That’s a tip for keeping it “cheap and dirty”!

  27. I think the frequency has a lot to do with it.
    If I am using music for example my pillow (super thick one) can drop the volume from 69 – 70 db down to about 55 db where the towel folded a few times only drops it by about 5 db

    3216 Hz using a constant tone generator is harder to dampen . The pillow drops it quite a lot but not as much as it does the music and the towel barely has any effect.

  28. I have been wondering what kind of results could be achieved by substituting towels with blankets? Also a fairly cheap option to purchase and easy to work with. Great video by the way!

  29. Ignores basic physics and math. Yes, I can use any material that's more dense to stop more acoustic energy…DUH! Next time he'll be demonstrating that if he forms a concrete block around his head the world goes silent. Amazing!!!

  30. Heavy drapes or carpet would provide the same results, absorbing bass in particular which tends to reflect off of hard surfaces. The air spaces between the cloth help to deaden sound and the same results can be achieved with two layers of 5/8' sheet rock. Modern walls are frequently made with an air gap, to prevent sound from traveling from one room to the next, but that doesn't prevent it from echoing around the room you are in. These days, even a modest stereo system can often "chirp" the room and provide whatever acoustics you want for your microphone. The latest hi-fi systems include 3D sound, not surround sound, and can mix sounds in mid-air as if people were whispering in your ear. You can sort of achieve the same results using tiny transducers that can even be embedded in the walls, causing people to look around wondering where the sound is coming from, but you lose the bass.

  31. I will stick to the egg packing type foam with the irregular surface. I have panels in the corners of my room behind and to the outside of my rear ported speakers. It cleaned up the midrange significantly, as my living room is to small to be ideal.

  32. This "proper acoustic foam" is for completely something else. If you want to compare you should compare to absorbing panels similar to yours. They use rockwool filling. Similar construction.

  33. In the 1960's, thin shag carpeting was used at Bar's and Dining Entrances to mute the outside noises and, in fact, our ears would "ring" because of how well it worked. The same carpet was used on the Floor, Walls and Ceiling.
    Mind you, thin shag carpeting was RAG Material back then and the color RED usually didn't sell very well – so it was cheap. ^__^

  34. So I’m really not sure if that’s the best testing method, and I can’t imagine it helping below about 300hz (and speech can go even lower than 100), but I’m very surprised and impressed, regardless

  35. Большое спасибо за видео. Очень полезное приобретение, а то шумные соседи очень сильно раздражают.)

  36. Great video. And what a surprice result that acustic panel is't very good at what its made of.
    Tjeere might be more suprice results…Maby you could try if acustic panel is better towel than a towel 😀

  37. The frequency range he investigated is absolutely irrelevant to real room acoustics, no roommodes there, nearly everything interesting happens way below 5000 Hz

  38. you're doing a huge mistake : you're testing isolation DnTA related to the transmission lost Rw of the material; whereas the use of this DIY is to generate absorption alpha related to the reverberation RT60. towels are heavier and sure better in terms of isolation, but foam might be much better for room acoustic confort. Nice channel btw

  39. I truly enjoyed this panel making session , How long do these last without getting dusty or musty
    Wonder on how to wash on a seasonal or even yearly basis? Or do we just make new ones? Great idea

  40. The results aren’t quantified. Are we looking at dB differences or voltage differences? All I saw was bigger and smaller graphs without reference to scale or ratio size.

  41. Is there anything you would do to improve this, I've seen the professional sort of sound proof panels for windows use some sort of nylon pad with nylon cloth over it

  42. I want to try and do this to make sound proof window covers, I hope this will work.. now just need like 100 towels cause I have 10 windows to cover, so I can block the sun out of my gaming and sleep environment

  43. Hi, I`m looking for a solution to the noise coming from the street. I`m thinking about cover the exterior part of the wall of my room with panels like this. Will it work?

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