One of the most popular topics on our blog is our post about acoustic dividers, so we thought it was high time to do a follow-up post. In this article, we’ll be going over 10 tips for making a good acoustic divider system even better. Whether you have an old divider system or are just looking for ways to improve your new one, these 10 suggestions will help keep sound from escaping and keep unwanted noise out of your space.
- Look into a kit where everything is already planned out for you
- Use more resilient materials
- Add insulation to the dual side of the divider panel
- Use the right materials for your surfaces and ceiling
- Install a floating ceiling
- Add a linear velocity (LVD) to reduce unwanted sounds and vibrations
- Add lightweight, high-density foam to the walls of your room for additional acoustical absorption
- Combine resilient materials with light-fast polyurethane boards as sound barriers or as baffles for your wall panels or acoustical drapes
- Make sure each panel has at least two layers of material and that the layers are separated by 1/8 inch to minimize sound loss between them
- Make a good sound barrier even better by adding an additional layer of sumptuous fabric to the front of the panel
Before we get started with our discussion on acoustic dividers, let’s define what they are. Acoustic panels are typically square or rectangular in shape and are designed to help control resonance within a specific room or space, thus increasing the quality of sound in that room. They can be made of a variety of materials including but not limited to glass, plastic, wood fiberboard, ceramics or even metals. The dividers in particular are usually made up of many panels that form a divider between two rooms. Sometimes the panels will be suspended from a ceiling that is attached to the wall or sitting on top of a floating ceiling or both. In our previous post, we discussed how acoustic dividers work as well as several different ways to use them in your studio space. In this post, we’ll go over some ideas for making those acoustic dividers even better for your space.
In the video below Dennis discusses how acoustic dividers can benefit any studio and then gives a great tip for making a good sound barrier even better with a second layer of material, such as fabric.
These days there are plenty of companies out there that will sell you an acoustic divider kit to drop into your room. And for a variety of reasons, that’s a really good option. For one, it saves you a lot of time and effort when trying to figure out just how big your room needs to be in order to accommodate the acoustical panels. Even if you’ve done your homework already, often times when you get the panels in your room and start moving them around, they don’t quite fit the way you expected them to or sound tuning becomes difficult. Most companies offer some sort of guarantee with their kits so if there’s any modifications that need to be made at all they will usually take care of it for you. Another really good thing about kits is that they often use the same products in the same configuration to produce the best sound for that specific room. So when you’re purchasing a kit, you’re making an investment into your space because you’ll be able to use them in quite a few different rooms in the future. On the flip side, if there is one drawback to buying kits it’s that they are typically priced higher than using products individually.
Another way to make your acoustic dividers even better is by using resilient materials. Resilient materials are basically made up of any material that has some elasticity or springy quality to it. The reason we mentioned it here is because sometimes the only way to get rid of squeaky panels is to use resilient materials. The problem is that resilient materials tend to cost a little bit more than your typical studio sheetrock or plywood. Luckily, resilience can be added as an afterthought and you can use cheaper materials for the rest of the panels.
What do we mean by resilience?
Essentially, resilient materials are those that have some sort of springy quality, like rubber or even metal springs. We’ve seen resilient panels used in a variety of ways and they seem to work best when they’re sandwiched between other panels and applied to acoustical ceiling tiles or floating ceilings. Acoustical ceiling tiles are essentially a piece of resilient material attached to a heavy duty ceiling grid system. If you want to create your own resilient panels, all you have to do is sandwich some spacers between cheap plywood or even wall board and layer on the resilience of your choice. It’s important to note that resilient materials may make the sound of different frequencies resonate differently in your room so if you’re planning on using acoustic panels in both ears, this might not be the right option for you. But if you don’t mind a little bit of resonance and consider it part of the “studio” sound in your space, this could be an easy and effective way to add some resilience.
Do acoustic room dividers work?
You’d be surprised what a little bit of acoustic room dividers can do for your studio space. In the video below from the “Recorded Sound” blog , 5 sound engineers discuss how they use acoustic room dividers to shape the sound of their space and reduce unwanted noise from getting in through their walls.
Brian Lustmord, owner of Acoustic Artistry says, “I think one of the most important factors is building a proper isolation booth for your monitors. I build my own acoustic panels and have things like lead sheets, or just pure thick absorbent mattresses or framed foam that help me fine tune as much as possible as I go along. I have found that batting and moving the panels around really helps them to develop their character and I think it is beneficial to listen with, and move them around to figure out what works best.
The reason we like panels like this is that they help you control and tune your sound by making sure that you’re getting a nice even frequency response all over your room.
There are a few ways to make panels like this. One is using resilient materials such as wood strips or glass fiber board. The other method is using fine clay or clay-like material such as MDF (medium density fiberboard) or fiberglass bonded carpet tile (AGFA). You can also use wood sheets with drywall held in place by screwing into studs.
What is an acoustic room divider?
Acoustic room dividers are known by a number of names, including sound curtains, sound barriers, sound panels and more. They can be made from a number of materials including acoustic tiles, wood veneer, glass fiber board or any other type of material that is acoustically absorbent.
Acoustic room dividers are basically designed to help reduce unwanted noise from getting into your space through the walls. Because the walls are porous, if they are made out of wood or even sheetrock there is no way to completely stop all the noise from getting into your space. By adding an acoustic room divider you can effectively reduce the amount of noise that gets in by up to 80% while allowing great sound quality through.
Acoustic room dividers are also used for a wide range of other reasons. They can alter the character of a room, reduce echoes, deaden loud sound and electrically isolate your equipment from the space.
Acoustic room dividers come in a wide variety of sizes and materials. They can be attached to walls using a variety of options including clips, velcro, magnets and more. These panels are made from everything from plywood to fabric and everything in between. If you’re looking to add acoustic room dividers to your space, there is an option out there for you!
How do I make my own acoustic panels?
These days acoustic panels can be purchased in almost any size or shape imaginable. They can even be purchased as single panels or as a series of panels that can be combined to create a larger barrier. However, if you’re looking for something a little more customizable and want to DIY your acoustic panels and dividers, we’ve got some tips on how to do it below.
When we think about acoustic panel construction, we often call it “studio panel” construction. The reason for this is because they are typically made from wood and plywood. We start by using ¼” (6mm) MDF (medium density fiberboard). It’s recommended that you use at least ¼ inch (6mm) because if you do a lot of acoustic building in your studio, your panels will get a lot of use and may become slightly prone to cracking or splitting. When choosing the wood for the panels, you want something that is a light color and strong. If you’re going for a darker material it might be more difficult to find the right kind of stain to make sure it has good acoustic properties. The best woods include plywood, solid wood and MDF.
After we cut each panel using our circular saw, we use an angle grinder with a drum sander to create even edges on all our panels.
After this is finished, we use a router to round over the edges. The round over is done with the bevel down so that our edges are perfectly even. It’s important to note that this round over is not necessary for all types of panels. However, it makes for a nicer finish and will give you an even surface so that you can stain or paint them without any problems.
Once we finish with our router, we then take our panels and attach them to the wall using anchors or screws depending on your wall type (most studs, but not all).
Bi-Bi always recommends doing stud wall panels at least 1″ (25mm) from the wall. Depending on the size of your room, this will give you enough room for you to use rubber gasketing on the sheer fabric. This will help reduce noise coming through the wall. The panels should be hung at least 12″ (300mm) apart to allow adequate space for deadening materials and acoustic treatment.
After hanging these panels, we then apply some isopropyl alcohol all over the wood to help seal in any air leaks that may be present in your panel structure or seams between pieces of wood. We then take our drywall screws and screw into each panel to attach them securely to your walls.
How do you make acoustic dividers?
Acoustic dividers are one of the simplest and most affordable DIY projects. To build a good sounding speaker cabinet, you’ll need a wooden box to enclose your speaker, a cloth barrier to cut down unwanted noise from reaching the driver and a rigid panel in front of the speaker to ensure that you don’t have any vibration leaking out.
Building your own acoustic panels is very similar to building studio panels. In fact, you can use many of the same tools when building acoustic panels as well. We recommend using ¼” (6mm) MDF or plywood when building these because it will help with longevity.
After starting out with your panel, cut out the holes for your speaker. You’ll want to begin by cutting several pieces of wood to create the front, back and side panels. You can use MDF or plywood for these, but we like using solid wood because it makes for a cleaner look in your room. This set up will help to cut down on noise coming into the room while providing a sturdy barrier that will work well for all kinds of projects in your home studio.
If you’re planning on using this in an office setting where people are often talking loudly next to you, we recommend adding some foam soundproofing under the panel like this one here .
After creating your panels, it’s also a great idea to add some bracing in between to give you the support you’ll need. This will help support the driver when using a driver that tips up. You can use any type of lumber for this step, but we recommend using 2x4s and maybe two of these guys to help keep everything in place and keep things sturdy.
Acoustic room divider curtains?
Now that you have a few studio panels and acoustic dividers, it’s time to add some curtains or fabric panels in front of them so that you can further treat the area with the perfect amount of noise cancellation.
These curtains are also great because they can be used for other purposes around your house. For instance, if you’re someone who likes to listen to music while cooking, these curtains can help keep the noise coming from your speakers down so that your guests don’t complain about the sound. We think it adds an extra layer of comfort to your home studio!
One final tip for building acoustic panels
The stronger your acoustic panels are the better they’ll be at blocking sound. It’s important to make sure that you build them as sturdily and as well as you can because if they fall apart, you’ll be left with a big mess and a hole in your wall. By following our guide above, you’ll be able to build strong and sturdy acoustic dividers that will last for years to come!
Now you can build your own acoustic dividers for your home studio without spending too much money. If you’re interested in testing out some of our sound dampening products, check them out here .
Or if you’re ready to take it to the next level, check out our Acoustics 101 Series . This will provide you with the knowledge that will help you vacuum seal your silent room, acoustically treat rooms and do some simple acoustical treatments .
We hope that this guide helped teach some ideas on how to build acoustic dividers for your home studio. It’s always fun working with wood and transforming ordinary spaces into extraordinary sounds.
Stay tuned for more material to come on this subject soon!
As long as there are people like you, we will continue to make more DIY guides like this one. We appreciate your support on our YouTube channel, and we hope that you continue to subscribe and help us grow our channel! We also want to ask if you have any questions or comments on this video, please leave them down below!