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. You probably could improve your absortion on low frequencies if the towels were not touching the wall. If you make the frame deeper and letting a 'room' between towel layer and the wall.
    You could test this and let us know the results.

  2. DIY perks. Is there any way to blend a DIY picture into brown and red stains on a towel? On an unrelated note, i have found loads of old white towels in my grandma's cupboard.

  3. I  sure  wish  that  you    WOULDN'T  HAVE  THAT  BACKGROUND  (MUSIC)  playing, YO!!   VERY  ANNOYING/DISTRACTING!!  HARD  TO  hmmm  CONCENTRATE !!

  4. With all due respect sir, your research methodology is wrong. You should account for reflections too

  5. Great work 🏆 how is the absorb characteristics approx please ? Is this a hi-pass Filter or middle bell or LP Filter function ?
    Maybe you can check this easy with a Pink Noise !?

  6. Is there a difference between sound reflection and refraction/penetration. I recon that those are two different properties of the material. Am I correct? If I only looking for to get rid of echo instead of isolate myself from rest of the world is that appropriate test for me?

  7. I have a room that I practice drums in. It’s a perfectly square room with flat walls made of drywall with brick behind, and my drums are in a corner. The reflections are absolutely garbage, so I plan on making some of these to see what happens. I’ll comment back here with how well it worked in case anyone else is wondering.

  8. Towels sold at charity shops are probably not intended to be sold to nerds in search of a echo-dried-out recording room though….

  9. You saved me soo much money dude. I was gonna waste my money on foam, but now I'll just buy the cheapest towels.

  10. After watching this video I really think that most self-claimed audiophiles are audiofools

  11. That acoustic foam isn't really that great. Most pros use fiberglass, rockwool or other alternatives.

  12. Flipping heck mate, that's brilliant!! I was gonna buy the pro stuff. Forget that! I'm off to the charity shop!!

  13. Here’s a challenge for you! How about coming up with a design for a portable, hand-held acoustic baffle for those of us who like to record video outside and want to limit the intrusion of external noise to some extent( so the voice is clearer), without losing the atmosphere of the environment.

  14. and honestly they look suepr clean and nice. i like tha ti could even paint them with fabric paint if i wanted to. awesome idea!

  15. Yeah, but towels can be pretty darn hmmm, pricey. NO? When your talking that MANY, yo!!!

  16. literally as he done his 'many tests later parts' i withdrew my hand off the mouse as i was about to skip it all

  17. At 1:44 these are the wrong way round. The top should be facing down not up. As this will create Diffusion of sound rather than Adsorption.

  18. Thx die your video and all the effort put in. One small note: as it's about acoustics I put on headphones and turned up the volume. But without warning you put all those frequencies at 7:03 to my ear. That hurt a lot.
    Maybe next time you can warn people about it?

  19. This was very interesting! You know you're always lead to think foam is a great sound deadening material. As I thought about it though all those fibers in the towel, going so many different directions, and the air spaces in between. It makes sense, or I am just crazy and over thinking it! LOL Cool video! Who'd you figure out to use towels? Just tried it?

  20. What method would you recommend for curbing sound transmission from room to room? Thank you.

  21. You are supposed to point the egg crate side at the speaker, not the flat side.

  22. If you want to try out the approach before going all in you could just put towels over coat hangers and experimentally hang them on your wall(s) Cost effective studio acoustic treatment design, especially panel numbers and placement, is best done with the ultimate test instrument – your ear listening to your recordings.

  23. I bought a pair of heavy drapes for my wall, and then saw this video arg! well, better than buying a $100 egg tray foams online…might as well buy towels!

  24. This is amazing. I have been building a sound room for ages and this win be a game changer for me. Thanks!!!!

  25. I believe that your method works very well, but towels are not that cheap at all…

  26. This is a great idea and video. Especially if you're looking for a budget solution. But there is one thing about the testing done here, everbody should be aware of. You're measuring the sound traveling through your absorbers – instead of its reflection. The walls of your room would be even more excelling at this test, yet there's a need to treat them. Actually, a perferct isolation will keep all the energy inside the room. The idea of absorption is to change this acoustic energy into heat.
    Let's use light as an analogy: if you'd use a similar testing method, a mirror would seem to be an excellent light absorber. While instead it is a great isolator, but doesn't change a lot of the light into another kind of energy.

    Maybe these absorption panels will still perform better than foam. I don't know. But you will have to do a comparison, when both of them are hung up in your room.

    EDIT: I found this to be a lengthy version of Jun Ji's commentary…

  27. First off, thanks for this video. I think this is pretty well done and is a great starting point for sound absorption for budget sound spaces. Though I have to say that I bet a piece of plywood would perform well in this test condition as it would block a lot of the sound. Though it would sound horrible as a sound pannel because it reflects the sound and does not absorb it. I think a critical test when considering sound-absorbing panels materials is measuring the amount of sound reflected in addition to what is passed through. I would be interested in seeing the same tests done for sound reflection at various angles to see if there is more of the story to be told.

  28. Great idead…Acoustic foam only deadends by not reflecting wave not meant to absorbing in the case of sound proofing.

  29. Awesome demonstration. For years I've been wanting to make my music room acoustically sound. The only problem was there was no budget to work with. Being a retired Disney Imagineer I have lots of imagination to use your idea. I'm going to work on some custom panels and try to place them in corners and large wall open spaces. Thanks for a great idea.

  30. 5 dollar? I thought he used woods, carpentry tools, towels , a dog and lots of time. I think this was a sponge and foam ad…

  31. You look like Elon Musk's autistic cousin.
    And by the way, be careful with electronics around those panels. (Fire risk)

  32. Oh dear! I listened to this splendid video on my rest period working at a large hotel, in the laundry room. I heard it as 'Owls' not 'Towels' . I don't have any scientific measuring equipment available but i am sure the 27 owls (stuffed) i have in my front room now make the TV sound better. I like shows with David Attenbrough best.

  33. Huh, I just have my PC outside my room and I can still hear it. I was thinking about just putting a few of those foam panels between the PC and the wall but maybe I'll just put a towel rack on the wall outside of my room on the wall and put my PC on the other side. This would save my towels until I can get enough of them together to make a panel. The second hand stores here I have never seen towels but I'll check.

  34. QUESTION after you are completed would it hurt sound absorption to paint over the towels ??

  35. You didnt check if these materials reflects voice. So I think the towels dont absorb so much noise.

  36. I wish you had done some testing, with the towels and the foam together and maybe with a more solid board in wood, metal or some kind of fiber/wool behind it. I believe it would be much, much better. 🙂 Nice video any way!

  37. None of these materials will absorb bass frequencies. The best for that is fibreglass.

  38. Wtf is he saying that sound passthrough is an indicator of sound reflection?

    For most other waves that’s a ridiculous proposition. Hey my ceiling doesn’t let light pass through it but it sure as heck reflects light pretty well. Transmission /= reflection

  39. I remember watching this one before. And it's nice to go back over some files to be reminded and remember your techniques

  40. U da damn man, Matt. Subscribed! Your content is all value, straight to the point, no hammy cutesy bullshit and chit-chat. [ Dear internets: more like this please and thank you; it's not a lot to ask. ]

  41. I believe cotton towels have some polyester in them, and there is polyester absorption panels

  42. Foam isn't supposed to suppress sound but control it more which is what it's doing….

  43. BTW the test you did is not absorbing sound but blocking it
    Blocking and absorbing is something else

  44. Planning to create one and place it in front of my windows to block traffic coming from the motor way below, will this work?

  45. Wow great job, I don't have to watch the others with foams saying it works…lies!

  46. This is a bad test this this doesn't test absorbent becous you don't measure reflection

  47. The only way to compare one form of absorption to another is by obtaining MEASURED Absorption Coefficient curves. The way you are doing this is a TOTAL FREAKING JOKE and you should not be displaying such utter nonsense.

    There are companies that spend upwards of millions of dollars performing extensive R&D and the type of foam you are using is NOT properly designed acoustic foam.

    There are 3 of the most well known acoustic foam mfg.

    1. Auralex
    2. Sonnex
    3. Acoustic Fields

    If you look at the absorption coefficient curves of these 3 brands, Acoustic Fields does have the smoothest absorption coefficient curve between 125hz and 500hz. That's where the differences are between ANY absorption treatment, whether it's acoustic foam, towels, or any form of building insulation.

    These companies have their products typically sent off to a 3rd party independent testing facility of people that know how to test and measure absorption products to obtain a final absorption coefficient curve.

    all of these types of materials that are typically professionally tested are only tested down to about 125hz as anything below that and you can't really absorb those frequencies with a simple limp mass material.

    As far as the foam you used, you didn't mention what brand it was, who knows what the heck you used.

    I don't know what makes you think that your tests are worth anything, but it's certainly not how any of the 3rd party independent testing facilities perform such tests.

  48. Matt. I’m surprised you’re not doing voice overs. I would hear you narrate the Bible.

  49. I'm sure your fire retarder drywall company will be very happy when you will try to sue the company for defected material in your next house fire haaa haaaa

  50. That's the strangest lab bench test rig I have seen in a while

    I would have used an enclosure that could isolate both passthrough and reflected sound

  51. Rubber will cancel noise by something like 40db. Foam will dampen the smaller reflections.

  52. When you stretch the towels taut and staple them you are reducing their effectiveness. Ya know how when a trampoline is tight things bounce so effectively off of it? That's what you've done. when you made the towels tight you created a sound trampoline not an absorber.

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