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How To Build Jon Risch’s DIY Acoustic Panels
Jon Risch’s DIY acoustic panels have changed my system more than any other tip and component upgrade. After placing the panels at the primary and diffractive reflection points in the listening room (two behind the speakers and four on the side walls (the two closest panels are actually sitting on armchairs because I can’t move the chairs out of the way)) I heard these improvements. Since that initial listening session, CDs played with the Pioneer DV-47ai and the Taddeo Digital Antidote II have had mixed results: certain frequencies and instruments are too subdued. I’ll remove the Taddeo and see if I get the same great performance as my Airtunes playing MAX ripped Apple Lossless tracks.
Read my tips and tricks for building these panels yourself and save up to 90% on commercial acoustic panels.
Materials needed for 6 17 x 48 inch acoustic panels:
* Home Shop: 24 feet of R-25 insulation (15 inches wide by 8 inches thick)
* Home Shop: 16 4ft 1×4 Std boards
* Home Shop: #8 2 inch screws (I bought self-drilling so I only had to drill the countersunk pilot holes in the long boards of the frame, the shorter boards to the screws without gaps)
* Home Shop: 9/16 staples (you will need long staples to go through many layers of fabric and batting)
* Fabric Store: 10 yards 4 oz. 100% polyester batting
* Fabric store: 10 yards of burlap (let your husband help choose the color so he can’t complain later)
* Electric drill/driver
* Corner throw (spend at least $8, $3 broke immediately when it hit wood, costing me another trip to the home store)
* Staple gun (you will staple like crazy with this project so be sure and get a nice staple gun, I killed half my Black and Decker Powershot on the project and had to buy a new one that still had issues so don’t use the Powershot, get a nice Arrow gun)
* Miter hand saw
* Match the 4-foot studs into 6 pairs
* Take the 4 worst studs and hand saw (or table saw) cut to 12×15 inches, making 90 degree cuts
* Take a small piece of 1×4 and mark the depth at each end of the 4-foot studs
* Drill 2 countersunk pilot holes at each end in the center of the marked area of the long boards
* Use a short and long post with a 90 degree angle vise. Drill the screws through the pilot holes into the short plate. Repeat for the other long and short pair. Now you have two L shapes.
* Attach the two L’s exactly as in the previous step to form a rectangle that is 17″ x 48″ x 4″ deep.
Attach the insulation to the frames
* Once all the frames are done, put two sawhorses (or a storage box as I improvised) in a place where you can easily cut and clean the fiberglass (like in your garage)
*Measure the inside length of your first frame, it should be about 46 inches depending on the accuracy of your long 48 inch 1×4s.
* Put on protective clothing made of fiberglass insulation (I have a respirator, chamois gloves and Tyvek coveralls (sweaty) when I get up).
* Unroll the insulation partially on the cut surface (like a concrete floor) and measure 46 inches long (or whatever the previous inside length of the frame was)
* Place the frame across the saw horses with the horses about a quarter of the length inward from each end
* Push the insulation into the frame with the kraft side up. Staple the paper strips to the frame, securing the insulation.
* Set the first frame aside and repeat for the rest.
Wrap the frame in polyester batting
* Roll out the polyester batting on the same cut surface as the insulation (it should be cleaned immediately)
* Measure the length and add it to the depth of both ends of the frame, including the thickness of the insulation. I decided to cut my batting lengths to 60 inches long (frame = 48 inches long + 2 x 6 inches deep) and leave the width at 48 inches.
* Set the frame on the sawhorses facing up (kraft side of the insulation on the opposite side)
* Place the polyester batting on top of the frame. Adjust the batting length as evenly as possible by placing the batting widthwise so that the side closest to you hangs about an inch below the frame and the opposite side hangs 24 inches down.
* Slide the short side batting between the bottom of the frame and the sawhorses and turn the frame toward you so the 24-inch side falls over the power side of the frame.
* Clamps along the rear frame
* Cut off excess batting and staple ends after folding like wrapping paper
* Make sure none of the insulation is exposed, the batting should completely cover the entire front, back, sides, top and bottom of the framed fiberglass panel.
Wrap the frames in burlap
* Wrapping frames in burlap is just like batting with a few tricks
* Cut the burlap to 60 inches (another suggestion is to start with a cut in the burlap and then pull the string loose from the cut to create a straight line to cut. This didn’t work for me, pulling the string gather the fabric together and then click, at best I could get a straight line over half paragraphs)
* Place the fabric unevenly on the panel and rotate by wrapping the fabric around the back as described above using polyester batting.
* Pull the long sides of the burlap tightly to the back of the wooden frame
* Fold and staple the burlap to the bottom end of the frame as if wrapping a gift
* Remove the sawhorses and pull the open top end to pull the fabric front taut until the wrinkles disappear. Cut off excess fabric and staples.
* Finish with a fabric border to cover the clips
Place the frames in the early reflection points of the listening room
* Ask a friend to move a small mirror along your front and side walls while sitting in your sweet spot. Have your friend mark the points on the wall where you can see the side speaker drivers and the inside corners of the front speakers (or if you’re like me and can’t ask your eight month pregnant wife to walk around slowly with a mirror and tape, you can use a CAD app or this formula and check calculated locations in an approximate location with a mirror taped to the wall)
* Place the panels in the mirror points (I just angle mine against the wall so they don’t fall over, I don’t mount the panels as I have to move them out of the room when not in use ), bass absorption is improved by placing the panels at least four inches from the wall.
* Listen and enjoy!
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