Will an AlphaSorb Cloud ceiling panel reduce echo in this room? - AVS Forum
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post #1 of 19 Old 01-20-2013, 07:43 PM - Thread Starter
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Hey All,

I'm trying to resolve a pesky echo in my living room where my 5.1 home theater/2.1 listening takes place. As you can see by the photo, it's a large room (opening up to the kitchen behind camera) and I've already placed acoustic panels behind the front towers. The echo is obvious just from having a conversation in the room, but with music beyond a certain loudness I would sometimes describe the experience as not being able to hear the music over the noise.


With the tall ceiling and little where else for further acoustic panels to go, I'm wondering if a ceiling cloud like the AlphaSorb Cloud Mount Sound Panel may help?

http://www.acousticalsolutions.com/alphasorb-cloud-mount-panels

And if so, what size would be required? Would a 4'x4'x2" panel above the couch make a significant difference? Are there less expensive alternatives available, or something intended less for a commercial space? I'd like to stick with one large white panel if possible, as I feel that would be the least obtrusive. Thanks all!



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post #2 of 19 Old 01-21-2013, 10:56 AM
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Originally Posted by Spanbauer View Post

I've already placed acoustic panels behind the front towers.

That's the last place I'd put absorbers. First you have to determine which pair of parallel surfaces is the main culprit. You can do this by noting the pitch of the "boing" and relating that to the distances using a calculator. I'll guess the main problem is between the front and rear walls. A better place for absorbers is therefore on the rear wall behind you. But absorbers on the ceiling will help too, given your wood floors. The brand you linked to is effective, though these are probably less intrusive visually if that's a concern because they can be mounted flat on a ceiling:

RFZ Panels

--Ethan

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post #3 of 19 Old 01-21-2013, 11:09 AM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post

That's the last place I'd put absorbers. First you have to determine which pair of parallel surfaces is the main culprit. You can do this by noting the pitch of the "boing" and relating that to the distances using a calculator. I'll guess the main problem is between the front and rear walls. A better place for absorbers is therefore on the rear wall behind you. But absorbers on the ceiling will help too, given your wood floors. The brand you linked to is effective, though these are probably less intrusive visually if that's a concern because they can be mounted flat on a ceiling:

RFZ Panels

--Ethan
Thanks for the reply, Ethan. I'm attaching a photo of what the rear wall behind the couch looks like. I could start with treating the large rectangle space above the shelf if you believe that would help?

Also thank you for the link to the real traps; you're correct that I'd prefer something which could be mounted flat instead of hanging.



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post #4 of 19 Old 01-21-2013, 12:46 PM
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First of all let me say that the room looks really cool. Thumbs up to whoever did the interior decoration smile.gif

Without seeing the whole floorplan and after seeing what you have on the back wall I would guess it is one of two things:

a) a left / right flutter echo across the listening area, between the window and the other side wall
b) simply that your room doesn't have enough absorption in it, as in it is too 'live'

Flutter echo has a distinctive 'zingy' sound. A simple clap of the hands will reveal flutter echo. If you clap your hands and hear a sound back that seems to increase and decrease in loudness very quickly (the 'zing') then that is a flutter echo.

An easy test for a room being too live is if you speak loudly and can hear the echo of your voice, then to me that is too live for good sound reproduction.

The nicest way to add general absorption to your room if it is too live would be to get some ceiling panels that can be painted to match your ceiling. There only used to be one company (Golterman & Sabo's Pinta line) that made these and they were expensive but now Primacoustic have released their Paintables line which are pretty reasonable cost wise. You can paint them with your ceiling paint. These will blend in unobtrusively with your decor.

If you have flutter echo left to right across the room then putting some thick drapes on the window (stage curtain type thickness i.e. heavy velour) will solve that issue.


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post #5 of 19 Old 01-21-2013, 01:37 PM - Thread Starter
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First of all let me say that the room looks really cool. Thumbs up to whoever did the interior decoration smile.gif
Thank you very much! I can take credit for the furniture and arrangement, but the room itself (materials, colors, etc) is unchanged from the previous owners.
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If you have flutter echo left to right across the room then putting some thick drapes on the window (stage curtain type thickness i.e. heavy velour) will solve that issue.
Unfortunately I am reluctant to hang thick sun-killing drapes over the big windows; I know this is counterproductive to good sound, but the natural light is one of things I love most about the home. I should mention that the wall opposite of that window at the other end of the house has an identically-sized window.
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The nicest way to add general absorption to your room if it is too live would be to get some ceiling panels that can be painted to match your ceiling. There only used to be one company (Golterman & Sabo's Pinta line) that made these and they were expensive but now Primacoustic have released their Paintables line which are pretty reasonable cost wise. You can paint them with your ceiling paint. These will blend in unobtrusively with your decor.
The ceiling is that textured "popcorn ceiling" business they so often use in homes, so painting it to match may not be an option; that said, it's essentially white, and I'd be fine with any single-piece white ceiling panel whether the texture matched the current ceiling or not. What size do you think I would require? Would a 4' by 4' by 2" panel hung over the couch be significant, or do I need to consider 4' by 8'?

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An easy test for a room being too live is if you speak loudly and can hear the echo of your voice, then to me that is too live for good sound reproduction.
There's most certainly an echo if you simply speak loudly - and it's worse in the joined kitchen than it is the living room. So on that note, I guess ideally I'd be improving the room acoustics not just for music and movies, but also to make the room more pleasant for simply having a conversation.

To the right of the bookshelf behind the couch is one of three posters - the other two found in the adjoining kitchen. I've been meaning to replace those three posters with nice frames containing prints of my own photography, but now you've got me wondering if I should forgo standard photo frames and have my photos printed onto ATS acoustic's 24x36 printed panels instead?

http://www.atsacoustics.com/art-acoustic-panels.html

It'd be significantly more expensive ($405 versus $165) and wouldn't look as classy as true framed photos, but it might also be my only opportunity to add some absorbing material to those areas of the house; in that case, do you feel it'd be worth it? An additional photo is attached. Thanks again!



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post #6 of 19 Old 01-21-2013, 02:04 PM
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Originally Posted by Spanbauer View Post

I could start with treating the large rectangle space above the shelf if you believe that would help?

Yes, reflections from stuff directly behind you are always damaging. Though in this case the shelves themselves are behind you.

Also, I decided to flesh out my advice to you above, and created this chart with article that helps to identify the source of flutter echo:

Flutter Echo to Distance Chart

This assumes you have a musical instrument, or a pitch pipe, or some way to identify the musical pitch of the boing sound.

--Ethan

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post #7 of 19 Old 01-21-2013, 05:32 PM
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Originally Posted by Spanbauer View Post

What size do you think I would require? Would a 4' by 4' by 2" panel hung over the couch be significant, or do I need to consider 4' by 8'?
In your room probably the bigger the better as most of the other surfaces are hard. You can get single 4'x4' or 4'x8' but they would be custom, not off the shelf, and so more expensive.
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now you've got me wondering if I should forgo standard photo frames and have my photos printed onto ATS acoustic's 24x36 printed panels instead?

http://www.atsacoustics.com/art-acoustic-panels.html

It'd be significantly more expensive ($405 versus $165) and wouldn't look as classy as true framed photos, but it might also be my only opportunity to add some absorbing material to those areas of the house; in that case, do you feel it'd be worth it? An additional photo is attached. Thanks again!

That's probably not the first place I would invest money, as the sound quality return is likely very marginal, but you will hear an improvement in terms of echo reduction etc in that kitchen area.


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post #8 of 19 Old 01-21-2013, 05:45 PM
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With some basic DIY skills you can easily save $$ and make your own acoustic clouds absorber panels.
I made these 2 years ago, just trying to give you an alternative to buying commercial stuff.
http://www.avsforum.com/t/1312693/diy-construction-methods-of-hang-able-acoustic-panels-not-fixed-frames#post_19987247
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Today's project: Home Theater Ceiling Acoustic "Cloud", status: 1 Completed and installed!

It actually handles the 2nd row 1st reflection points, I'm holding off making the 1st row 1st reflection points Acoustic "Cloud" until I'm done with Bass traps in the corners and do some detailed room readings.

Final BOM:
-(1) 1" x 10" x 12' pine board (ripped into (2) 4" wide boards)
-(1) 1" x 6" x 10' pine board (for the ends and the mid sections)
-Fabric, 56" wide, cut 13' 2" (I got 20 yard roll for all my wall treatments except the side wall ones, which used black speaker cloth)
-drywall screws, 1 5/8 for the end/mid section pieces, 1" for the T and L braces
-T and L braces
- #6 J hooks
-black paint

-electric stapler and staples (I used 5/16 for this project)

I built a 2' x 12' x 4" deep box as shown:


Note: I separated each 2' x 4' sheet "zone" with a 1" x 4" x 23 13/16 support, reason 3/16 shy of 24" is I wanted to "grab" the 2' x 4' sheet lengthwise by tightening the screws, it worked and held the fiberboard nicely.

I used a 24" clamp to squeeze the 2 outside boards together as I did the final tighten.

Has anyone tried to find 1" x 6" x 12' straight lumber lately?

I actually had better luck buying 1" x 10" x 12', dead straight, and then ripping it exactly 4" thick to hold the (2) stacked OC703 sheets.

Got (2) 4" wide 12' long pieces that way, dead straight.

Important to look at the endgrain of boards you buy also, you want boards from the outer rings of the tree, they are more stable.

Having used the simulation software for the 1st reflection points, transferred those locations via blue tape onto the ceiling.

Confirmed their accuracy with 1' x 4' mirror and my wife....she was on ladder holding the mirror flat to the ceiling while I was the one sitting in the chair analyzing

Then, with the build wood box, get exact mtg locations via blue tape and much measurement/cross checking. I'm hanging these into the ceiling joists also.



btw, My favorite tool for long straight lines is still this "Strait-Line 64001 Laser Level", $39 @ Home Depot 6 years ago, it has little pins that hold it even upside down.



I found a simple bread knife worked perfectly fine to cut the OC703



Buy lots of hardware, then decide exact method OJT (on the job)....this is after all my 1st time doing this.

I ended up going with #6 J hooks for both the panel and ceiling, and black chain. Will return most of the stuff you see here.

(and those ATS Acoustic plastic screw in anchors I posted above, they are ok for single panel but not for huge beast like this.)



Made this handy drill jig so I can have straight/inline screws.

The 5 minutes it takes to make these pays off with good results later.



Paint the silver hanging hooks black, use a box as spray booth



Add T and L supports to the box, and of course the fabric ordered and delivered (I got 20 yards of 56" wide forest green fabric).

Cut fabric and get ready to use that electric stapler!



Part II coming shortly....
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Home Theater Ceiling Acoustic "Cloud" - Part II

Showing detail of T and L braces, I was worried about hanging and wanted some insurance for rock solid box.

Note: I drilled and pre-installed all J-hooks, so after the fabric was wrapped I just had to find the hole and re-install them.

Plus, gave exact placement for ceiling transfer of matching locations.





One side stapled taught.



Flip up on edge, now its a 2 person job, my wife pulled down to keep the fabric taught while I stappled.

I should state I was worried about wrinkles, I pulled slightly lengthwise on each end and put 2 temp staples to keep tension longwise for no wrinkles, it worked.



Finish stapling, it's like wrapping a big Christmas gift, keeping the material taught so no wrinkles is the secret.



Edges wrapped like a box gift, this is ceiling side so "perfection" not needed here, still want a secure wrap.



Black hooks and chain waiting for the big box.

Hopefully all the measurements were transferred to ceiling correct, holes drilled correct, etc. Measure 3 times, drill once.



Ta-da! My wife and I hung the panel this morning, here is my youngest son checking it out. 2 ladders, and attaching the far side chain first, then the near side chain.



here is pict from rear of theater, only once did my drill go too far and the chuck "bit" into the ceiling drywall, I spackled and painted that since this pict.

My boy wants to know everything dad is doing and why....luv the guy so much!


Mike R,P.E. clickable DIY hot links:

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post #9 of 19 Old 01-22-2013, 04:27 PM - Thread Starter
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Thank you again for the replies, guys!
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Originally Posted by Ethan Winer View Post

Yes, reflections from stuff directly behind you are always damaging. Though in this case the shelves themselves are behind you.
The shelf is a good though, is it not? My understanding was that a shelf filed with things of varying sizes goes a long way in breaking up reflections?
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Also, I decided to flesh out my advice to you above, and created this chart with article that helps to identify the source of flutter echo:
I really appreciate that Ethan, but to be frank much of that is well beyond me. Fortunately what I do have is a pair of 24x48 acoustic foam panels I've borrowed; what I can do is stand them in different locations in the house and see if they make any meaningful difference. Unfortunately, there's no way to temporarily place them on the ceiling! On that note...
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That's probably not the first place I would invest money, as the sound quality return is likely very marginal, but you will hear an improvement in terms of echo reduction etc in that kitchen area.
You would be correct; I stood those borrowed panels on chairs where the posters currently hang and it made no noticeable difference whatsoever. It's seeming more and more likely that the culprit is either my 8ft ceiling (adjacent from a hardwood floor) or the fact that I have a wall of glass on facing ends of the house.
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In your room probably the bigger the better as most of the other surfaces are hard. You can get single 4'x4' or 4'x8' but they would be custom, not off the shelf, and so more expensive..
It'd be really great if I could have a single 8x8 seamless white panel on the ceiling, as that would be the most inconspicuous. But something that large cannot be purchased, it must be custom built. I'm sure you guys have seen this custom-built ceiling cloud from 2008? I'd love to have this, track lights and all, but it cost thousands of dollars to have engineered/built/installed:
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post #10 of 19 Old 01-23-2013, 10:43 AM
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Fortunately what I do have is a pair of 24x48 acoustic foam panels I've borrowed; what I can do is stand them in different locations in the house and see if they make any meaningful difference.

There you go.
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Unfortunately, there's no way to temporarily place them on the ceiling!

Hang them on strings attached to the ceiling with masking tape or thumb tacks.

--Ethan

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post #11 of 19 Old 01-23-2013, 12:15 PM
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There you go.
Hang them on strings attached to the ceiling with masking tape or thumb tacks.

--Ethan

Who sez thumb tacks are temporary? My little foam fill between a couple of stringers in my basement ceiling has been in place for years (and did reduce weirdness when recording vocals in that relatively limited location).

Of course, it's the basement, and dnobody cares what it looks like (in this partiuclar house, anyway).
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post #12 of 19 Old 01-24-2013, 09:35 AM
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I remember this room from previous discussions, ... it is gorgeous.

There were suggestions for teatment in several manners/locations, but various issues presented that prohibited each except the fronts. I'm glad you're considering additional treatment, as a nice looking room deserves a nice sounding system.

The front wall panels behind the speakers, were really the only location that were deemed aesthetically acceptable, and the ceiling panels suggested, were a nonstarter due to it being a rental. I'm a huge advocate of ceiling treament, ..as it's way under-utilized IMO, ..adds to bass trapping, and doesn't negatively detract from spaciousness, immersiveness, etc.

"It'd be really great if I could have a single 8x8 seamless white panel on the ceiling, as that would be the most inconspicuous. But something that large cannot be purchased, it must be custom built."

As Mike suggested, a DIY ceiling treatment approach could be pulled off (if I can do it anyone can eek.gif ) But I'd like to add that I'm pretty sure I've seen various online panels sources whereby one could custom order whatever size, shape, thickness, material type, edge detail, etc, that one can think of. Sure, if it as spaced off the ceiling it would perform better, but if thats not an option than a thick, surface mounted panel would still help significantly.

It appears as if you more properly optimized the main L&R speakers, .. bringing them out a bit and toeing them in toward the LP. I'd bet that helped a lot.


All the best

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------------------------------------
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post #13 of 19 Old 01-24-2013, 02:14 PM
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Originally Posted by FOH View Post

I remember this room from previous discussions, ... it is gorgeous.

"It'd be really great if I could have a single 8x8 seamless white panel on the ceiling, as that would be the most inconspicuous. But something that large cannot be purchased, it must be custom built."

As Mike suggested, a DIY ceiling treatment approach could be pulled off (if I can do it anyone can eek.gif ) But I'd like to add that I'm pretty sure I've seen various online panels sources whereby one could custom order whatever size, shape, thickness, material type, edge detail, etc, that one can think of. Sure, if it as spaced off the ceiling it would perform better, but if thats not an option than a thick, surface mounted panel would still help significantly.

I may have confused the OP with the word 'custom'. I meant 'custom' as in an acoustic treatment manufacturer will have to make it specifically for you. 4x8 is not an 'off the shelf' size. 4x8 will also mean freight shipping.

An alternative would be as follows:
- create a perimeter using furring strips painted white
- fill center with OC703
- attach fabric channel to furring strips
- stretch white fabric into fabric channel


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post #14 of 19 Old 01-24-2013, 07:12 PM - Thread Starter
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Originally Posted by FOH View Post

I remember this room from previous discussions, ... it is gorgeous.

There were suggestions for teatment in several manners/locations, but various issues presented that prohibited each except the fronts. I'm glad you're considering additional treatment, as a nice looking room deserves a nice sounding system.

The front wall panels behind the speakers, were really the only location that were deemed aesthetically acceptable, and the ceiling panels suggested, were a nonstarter due to it being a rental. I'm a huge advocate of ceiling treament, ..as it's way under-utilized IMO, ..adds to bass trapping, and doesn't negatively detract from spaciousness, immersiveness, etc.

"It'd be really great if I could have a single 8x8 seamless white panel on the ceiling, as that would be the most inconspicuous. But something that large cannot be purchased, it must be custom built."

As Mike suggested, a DIY ceiling treatment approach could be pulled off (if I can do it anyone can eek.gif ) But I'd like to add that I'm pretty sure I've seen various online panels sources whereby one could custom order whatever size, shape, thickness, material type, edge detail, etc, that one can think of. Sure, if it as spaced off the ceiling it would perform better, but if thats not an option than a thick, surface mounted panel would still help significantly.

It appears as if you more properly optimized the main L&R speakers, .. bringing them out a bit and toeing them in toward the LP. I'd bet that helped a lot.


All the best
Hey FOH, wow you've got an excellent memory! The great news is that this place is no longer a rental - I bought it - so I'm now free to nail things anywhere I damn well please. You're correct that bringing the speakers out farther and toeing them in also helped a lot. Now I just want to tame the room so it isn't so live.
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I may have confused the OP with the word 'custom'. I meant 'custom' as in an acoustic treatment manufacturer will have to make it specifically for you. 4x8 is not an 'off the shelf' size. 4x8 will also mean freight shipping.

An alternative would be as follows:
- create a perimeter using furring strips painted white
- fill center with OC703
- attach fabric channel to furring strips
- stretch white fabric into fabric channel
When you put it that way it doesn't sound so difficult. I imagine you can probably walk out of a Home Depot with furring strips pre-cut to the necessary length, negating the need for a saw, yes? My biggest concerns with doing it myself would be 1) ensuring it doesn't look like crap and 2) properly securing it to the ceiling so it doesn't fall on my head tongue.gif

Do you guys think 4x8 would be sufficient, or would 6x6 or even 8x8 be better? I feel like a large square would just disappear better than a narrow rectangle, and I also want to be sure that when I do this - the results are going to be effective.

Thanks again everybody.


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post #15 of 19 Old 01-25-2013, 11:18 AM
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When you put it that way it doesn't sound so difficult. I imagine you can probably walk out of a Home Depot with furring strips pre-cut to the necessary length, negating the need for a saw, yes? My biggest concerns with doing it myself would be 1) ensuring it doesn't look like crap and 2) properly securing it to the ceiling so it doesn't fall on my head tongue.gif

Do you guys think 4x8 would be sufficient, or would 6x6 or even 8x8 be better? I feel like a large square would just disappear better than a narrow rectangle, and I also want to be sure that when I do this - the results are going to be effective.

You could do 8'x8' I think that would be fine and not overkill in your room.

You will need some tools for a clean install (to cut the fabric channel which is plastic and really needs a miter saw, to cut the fiberglass board, to tuck the fabric into the channel). Securing it to the ceiling is quite straightforward. I use metal screw in drywall anchors (EZ-Stud brand) for nearly everything which work awesome and are easy.


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post #16 of 19 Old 01-25-2013, 11:29 AM
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Thanks for the kind words.

If it were me, and I was mounting it directy to the ceiling for aesthetic reasons (re-visit that), I'd go 8" thick, 8' square, fabric wrapped, and if it were being custom made by someone else, I'd chamfer the outer-most edges just for looks.

If I were doing it without mounting it directly, I'd incorporate low voltage rope-indirect lighting, in the space between the ceiling and the suspended 8'x8' cloud, .... that way you score aesthetics and increased performance. However, a well executed surface mounted panel would appear very nice as well.

Being mindful of velocity based absorbers, and boundary acoustics, a 4" panel spaced 4" off a boundary is nearly as effective as an 8" thick panel surface mounted with no space. Ethan, or Nyal can clarify, but they're essentially the same performance ... as it's all about the gap.

You could french cleat a surface mounted cloud, a suspended cloud you can hang in a variety of manners.



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post #17 of 19 Old 01-28-2013, 07:08 AM - Thread Starter
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Thanks again fellas. I can't say I'm comfortable going any thicker than 2", but would definitely consider suspending it an inch or two from the ceiling (for a total of 3-4" depth). Do you think that would still make for a significant improvement?

An eight-foot block hanging 8" down from the ceiling isn't something I think I'd be comfortable with; the ceiling is only about 8' tall and I'm 6'1", so as it is I can already touch the ceiling if I really reach. I imagine that lowering the ceiling by 8" would feel very claustrophobic, and wouldn't be very discrete.

I'm all for some kind of light integration, however. I think lights would not only serve a lacking function (there are no ceiling lights in my living room) but also make the acoustic cloud seem more intentional and integrated. If I could do 3 track lights on either side of the panel, they could point outward and illuminate the corners of the room. Again, basically this but without the fan and with the track lights mounted to the sides of the cloud instead of on the cloud:



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post #18 of 19 Old 01-28-2013, 12:33 PM
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Track lights are likely quite difficult to install nicely in an acoustic ceiling. It's also very hard to find low profile lights.

I've had good luck with thin (2") LED lights from NuLEDs. It's pretty easy to cut a hole in the panel for the light and you hardly need any clearance. The photo below is the star ceiling in our demo theater with these lights installed. They have RGB color changing, gimbal spots and also general white lights. PM me if you want more details.



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post #19 of 19 Old 01-28-2013, 03:53 PM - Thread Starter
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Nyal Mellor View Post

Track lights are likely quite difficult to install nicely in an acoustic ceiling. It's also very hard to find low profile lights.
]
Sorry for not being very clear; I'm imagining the track lights would be mounted beside the acoustic cloud, directly on the ceiling, not on or in the cloud itself. Thanks for the idea though.


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