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  1. #1
    Premium Member
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    Jan 2015
    Location
    Madison, Alabama
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    24

    Default Studio Foam - on a budget

    Anyone ever tried using mattress pad foam (found at Wally-World) as a substitute for the 'studio foam'?
    How'd it workout for you?

  2. #2
    Premium Member
    Join Date
    Mar 2014
    Location
    SF Bay Area
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    78

    Default

    Wall of text ensues::

    You didn't explicitly say what the application is - could be for speakers or a recording studio. But yes - mattress foam works well. There is an ongoing, heated debate in the amateur speaker-builder community about this very topic.

    Whether a room or a speaker cab, the acoustic physics definitely apply the same way. The goal is to stop reflections and break up standing waves. Also, realize that sound is vibrating air and it reflects off any hard, flat surface and/or sharp corners/edges.

    Modern acoustic foam does work really well but it is expensive, so I only use it for high end speaker cabs, a.k.a., audiophile quality. The good news is, there are several cheap alternatives.

    Descending from best acoustic properties:
    1) acoustic foam - comes in egg crate sheets, flat sheets, and hunks for stuffing. Some off-gassing. NASA equation here - you will pay 1000% more to get 2% improvement in sound. In fact, I tried out some the "stuffing" and reviewed it at Parts Express - I called it Expensafoam, and of course, all the purists slammed my review. So I will repeat - yes it has better sound, but the performance/cost ratio sucks balls.
    2) good 'ole fiberglass insulation with the paper/foil side removed - great for PA cabs/large speakers, not so much for inside a room for semi obvious reasons. You must wear long sleeves/mask when working with this material. Super cheap - best cost/performance ratio.
    3) polyester batting from a fabric store and/or mattress foam from wherever - comes in sheets or "stuffing" forms - can be layered for thicker applications - cost effective for large areas.

    To get it right, there is a huge amount of acoustic physics to know and consider whether building a truly "dead" recording studio or high end speakers. But you are certainly on the right track with use of foam. Poorly applied foam, or none at all, will result in horrible, muddy sound with peaks that no parametric EQ will fix. On the other hand, proper application of foam can improve shit speakers/rooms greatly!

    Two case studies :
    1) Back in 1985, our drummer and I built Altec PA cabs and floor monitors from 1982 plans. At that time, they were the best that could be engineered. At that time, the science/practice was to apply fiberglass to back, top and one side only. About a year ago we realized they sounded really bad by modern standards. I gutted them and reapplied fiberglass insulation using modern acoustic science, i.e., cram in as much on all sides (not baffle board) as you can without screwing up internal cab volume. They became crystal clear with far better bass response - just from $20 of insulation.
    2) Dayton Audio B652s (dirt cheap 6.5" bookshelf speakers). Nothing will help that crap tweeter, but I gutted them, rebuilt/replaced the 1/2-order crossovers (single capacitor), and stuffed them with polyester batting, and viola! The muddy sound was much more clear and they can now handle significantly more power without breaking up. Total upgrade cost = $16.

    I hope all my ramblings help.

  3. #3
    Premium Member
    Join Date
    Jan 2015
    Location
    Madison, Alabama
    Posts
    24

    Default

    Thanks a bunch, i learned alot.
    it's for some home recording (aka; home studio).
    I think i'll probably go with the fiber-glass panels and make them somewhat decorative.

 

 

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