May 28, 2006

Surround Acoustical Panels

Several weeks ago I was patching an anime which had the voices sometimes move into one of the surround speakers as a person moved off screen. When this happened, I immediately noticed a problem. It sounded like those people suddenly moved into a completely different, live, room. And so I decided I needed to put some acoustical panels up to tame the surround speaker acoustics. I was able to go back to California Central Insulation and get some IS300 2.5" semi-rigid fiberglass and then some cotton cloth from the fabric store. And then I started to work on building the acoustical panels.

I built a total of eight panels. Four 2'x4' panels for the ceiling, and four 1'x4' panels for the walls near the top of the ceiling where there would be interaction with the speakers. It probably took me about ten or twelve hours to sew the sleeves for the fiberglass and then mount them on the ceiling and walls, but the results have been worth it.

Mounting the panels onto the walls was not too difficult. I threaded some steel wire through the sleeves and then hung them off eyebolts I screwed into the walls near the ceiling. However, mounting the panels onto the ceiling was very difficult. I could not run a screw through the fiberglass, as it would just go through the entire thing and then the panel would drop. I couldn't hang the panel from the ceiling because there was nothing to attach a hook or eyebolt into on the panel.

So I ended up having to get some transparent plastic wire and screwing four hooks per panel into the ceiling. Then ran the transparent wire between the hooks as a support for the panels. To ensure the panels stayed as close to the ceiling as possible (with some air to serve as a trap), I had to pull the wire extremely tight. Needless to say this was very tiring and hard on my hands. Since there was no one to help me, I often had to use my head or back and stand on the furniture to support the panel as I was pulling the wire.

Unfortunately I don't have the disc which originally made me want to do this to test how well that voice would sound now, but so far I've been very pleased with how much better the surround speakers sound. They are slightly less enveloping but I would say in a good way as the sound is more distinct and clear now. It is too bad that my surrounds happen to be bipole speakers (dipole operation possible) which is good for ambient sounds but bad for distinct sounds. The acoustical panels are making the tweeters on the surrounds much less useful. If I have the chance to upgrade my speakers, I will go for direct firing surrounds. Bipole or dipole operation is not as great in my open room anyway.

Posted by josuah at May 28, 2006 3:23 AM UTC+00:00

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