Once you have an accurate analysis of your room response acoustic treatments can be the single most effective tweak you can make for your system.
The really important first step is to understand your room response. There are many experts on this forum who can help you with measuring your room properly. Ethan Winer at www.realtraps.com is a great asset and he frequently aids folks on this forum with acoustics questions whether you buy from him or elsewhere.
Initially, I had built 2 myself, with wooden frames so that I could do the beveled edge. But it was going to take too much time to build all I wanted so I just ordered them from Soundfold.
I did build 4 bass trap panels that are 4" thick with a beveled edge and covered in black GOM. They match perfectly the panels I got from Soundfold except they are 4" thick. Still waiting on 5 more panels that I decided to add on but I'm pleased with the improvements.
Re: Soundfold panels , I checked it out too and it looks good. Any GOM 701 fabric (they also do a couple other fabrics), hardened edges, 1" or 2" (contrary the web site they no longer do 1.5", which is too bad because that's what I wanted), 6 lb (other weights are optional). For 2", $6.67 /ftÂ², or $60 for a 3x3 panel. Given the price of GOM fabric, I'd say that's pretty good.
GIK Acoustics is very cheap, but they offer only one size and only two colors.
DIY can absolutely be a bargain. You just have to have the skills and patience to do it - though it's not really that hard. FIgure $9.50 for 2" 703, 1.3 yards of GOM @ $14/yard and $8 in wood. Thats about $35 plus 30 minutes or less of labor.
Yes, they can be very easy to build. Even I made them, and I can't hardly swing a hammer or find a stud to save my life. If you want to make them really pretty with routered edges and stuff, it can take a touch more time, but they're super easy there's no reason why people don't treat rooms. The room is one of, if not the most, fundamental components of any audio system (and video too, for that matter!).
Yes, and let me repeat that DIY absorption panels are acoustically every bit as good as professionally built ones. There is absolutely no "secret sauce" that the manufacturers provide. It is simply a tradeoff between building vs. buying.
Lots of good advice here about DIY absorbers. But remember most absorbers 4" thick or less are geared for 500Hz and above. To absorb down low you need some bass traps, to diffuse reflections you can use diffusors, and some even use tuned resonators to control bass. Anyway most rooms need some combination of these devices for optimum results.
If you can't accurately measure your room down to 1/10 or 1/12 octave resolution then there are some basic treatments almost every room can benefit from. Absorbers at the first reflection points, bass traps in the corner, and absorbers behind the speakers usually help all rooms.
Check out the Rives site, Audioholics (look under Get an A/V Education for acoustics), or Real Traps for general articles on acoustics. All of these sites can round out your basic knowledge of acoustics and guide you to a more sensible upgrade.
4" material straddling a room corner will be effective to well below 100Hz. Unfortunately, in smaller spaces as are found in many home theaters, there is simply not the luxury for the type of tuned absorbers of which you speak. Sometimes there is.
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