Turnkey Acoustic Treatment Packages

Jun 1, 2002 12:00 PM, by Randy Alberts

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Are you thinking about adding a new edit suite or doubling your studio floor space? You can easily turn an unused storage area into a tracking room or create a new voice-over recording booth almost from thin air, thanks to several complete DIY acoustical materials packages and iso booths on the market.

Are you battling front-to-back flutter and standing waves? Excessive side wash and primary reflections? Or is there simply too much bass in your newly created audio space? There are many ways to tackle these acoustic challenges, as well. Although you can certainly pick and choose individual materials to adjust your room (and for more information on those products, read our buyer's guide to acoustical materials in June 2001 Mix), sometimes an all-in-one package is a convenient and cost-effective solution.

In this article, we'll take a look at some of these turnkey packages, focusing on ways to isolate a small to medium space, plus get a headstart on acoustically treating a 15×15-foot or larger room with one package.

THE PACKAGES

Created with the company's Tube Trap, Studio Trap and Monitor Stand components, Acoustic Science's AttackWall ($4,998) provides a portable and repeatable sound field wherever it travels. Placed aside monitors and with its absorptive sides rotated in toward the engineer, the 20-piece AttackWall package creates a well-tuned, soffit-loaded, dead front end that is stated to be absorptive down to 110 Hz while eliminating vertical low-bass bounce. The MixStation System ($1,500) is an economical soundproofing package available for medium and small rooms. MixStation consists of three wall-mounted diffuse panels (front, left and right arrays) and 10 of the company's Sound Panels, 48×8 inches by 2-inch-thick panels available in a wide selection of fabrics. Each Sound Panel's beveled-relief face helps provide absorption from 200 Hz over the entire treble range, and all Tube Trap products use a built-in reflector strip to maintain diffusive brightness.

Check out Acoustic Science's Iso-Wall System package as well (approximately $3 per square foot for wall and ceiling area) when you're ready to get more physical with sound issues and build some seriously sound-treated walls. This multilayered wall package is made up of unique damping materials that utilize a special visco-elastic polymer designed to absorb low-frequency bass energy and keep it from feeding back into a room, resulting in cleaner, richer sound and a better balanced-frequency response. There's even an interactive QuickTime 3-D tool on the company's site that walks visitors through each step of the Iso-Wall installation process.

Offering solutions for spaces ranging from a tiny 34×26-inch vertical square to a 7×7-foot room with an 8-foot ceiling, Acoustic Systems calls itself “a construction company doing custom sound isolation work for several markets,” including pro audio. With prices starting at $4,195, each Acoustic System room is a modular, pre-engineered space with various options for fully floated floors, silenced ventilation, canted windows and handy cable-management packages. The company's BB-141 is great as a single-person voice-over booth; its BB-142 does the same for one person and a lot of desktop audio gear, with an internal 110-volt recessed outlet and externally mounted six-plug outlet strip for surrounding equipment. The Delta 142 booth fits 4-inch-thick panels into the tiniest of studio corners to provide space and soundproofing for a classy-looking voice-over room or a new computer post-production suite.

One of the most affordable all-in-one soundproofing solutions available is the Model 1014 Acoustakit ($398) from Acoustics First. It comes complete with enough foam, bass traps and patented binary-array diffusers to handle any 10×14-foot desktop music production suite or small mixing room. Acoustakit includes the company's Cutting Wedge acoustical foam panels, a selection of their Bermuda Triangle Traps for bass control and original Art Diffusor panels. The kit, which ships in studio-gray foam, comes with complete installation, room layout and technical documentation from the company's new full-time acoustician.

Auralex's line of total room control kits (call for pricing) provide all you'll need to treat a tiny edit space, 20×20-foot facility and everything in between. Ease of installation is primary in all four charcoal-gray kits, starting with the 64 1'×1'×2"-thick foam Wedgies, four LENRD Bass Traps and can of Foamtak Spray Adhesive found in the Alpha 1 Roominator Kit. The Alpha 1 is designed for small rooms — less than 100 square feet with a minimum room dimension of six to eight feet — and the Project 2 Kit does the same for rooms measuring roughly 12×8 feet with two dozen 2'×2'×2" Wedge Panels, eight LENRD Bass Traps and five Tubetak Pro Liquid Adhesives. Deluxe Plus Kit adds six T'Fusor 3-D Sound Diffusor panels to the Project 2 Kit for rooms with 10- to 14-foot walls, and the Pro Plus Kit acoustically treats rooms up to 500 square feet with additional T'Fusors, Bass Traps and Wedge Panels.

Also from Auralex is the MAX-Wall Modular Acoustical Environment Series. (MAX stands for Mobile Absorptive Expandable.) Available in charcoal gray, burgundy and “vivid purple,” each MAX-Wall package combines modular speaker stands, windowed panels, corner couplers and stand-mounted LENRDs in different ways to suit different rooms' acoustical treatment requirements. MAX-Wall panels with 18×12-inch Plexiglas windows can be angled and attached to create convenient vocal and dialog booths built right into a transportable sound wall.

The Acoustic Division of Gretch-Ken Industries, Soundsuckers.com offers a wide selection of standard and custom sound-isolation booths. Each booth comes with a heavy-duty door closure system with compression door seal, a sound-deadening window, internal lighting, 3-inch cable passage hole, 2-inch-thick acoustic foam, and a ventilation system specific to each booth's size to prevent “overbuying” a one-size-fits-all ventilation system. Smaller booth sizes require no extra hardware or parts. A 4'×6'×7'2" premium model booth with all the above and a 1×2-foot window in the door and 3×3-foot wall window, with 1 ⅜-inch walls costs $3,835; an economy version of the same costs $2,499 with 1 ½-inch walls, and a full-blown 8×8-foot premium room goes for $6,835. Custom orders don't upset the Gretch-Ken folks: They recently built a 64×38-foot iso booth for the UC Berkeley.

Another provider of audio isolation is Markertek, with its pair of affordable booths, aptly titled the Portable Double Sound Booth ($1,149) and Portable Sound Booth ($595). The PMB-2 is a single-person booth, and the PMB-3 double-wide (3.5×7×6.5 feet tall), which includes eight acoustic foam panels and all leg, clip and crossbar parts, can isolate two or three musicians or dialog cast members and be combined with another PMB-3 to create a very portable 7×14-foot room. Markertek, which is also a distributor and dealer for many other acoustical materials companies, offers many porta-booth accessories, including a cross-bar microphone mount ($59.95), single- ($99.95) and double-booth ($129.95) cordura travel bags, replacement acoustic foam kits (from $99.95) and low-wattage clip-on lights ($19.95 each, bulb not included).

Primacoustic, a division of CableTek, offers over a dozen all-in-one soundproofing packages for existing rooms. Complete rooms can be treated with the London Studios, New York Voice-Over Booths, Rio Video Suites and Montreal Studios “Prima-kits,” which start at just $200. Good for soundproofing a 14×10-foot desktop production room with a live drum kit, London-14 ($600) is a 19-piece solution that features the company's Europa-63 Flutter Walls for reducing slap echo and standing waves, a pair of Orientique-33 Washboards to dissipate primary reflections, four Australis Corner Traps for controlling the low end in each corner and numerous Scandia-74 Scatter Blocks for soft diffusion. Systems can be customized with other products such as the new Razorblade Quadratic Diffusers.

Studio-in-a-Box Silver Package ($549.99) is the first in a series of project studio turnkey solutions from RPG Diffusor Systems. Including 46 individual pieces, Silver Package uses the company's ProFoam Panels to control comb filtering arising from strong reflections in a small room, ProFoam Tiles mounted in a 1×1-foot checkerboard pattern to provide a variable-impedance surface, and four ProCorners to increase low-frequency absorption down to 125 Hz, while seamlessly integrating with the kit's ProFoam Panels. Studio-in-a-Box Silver Package components come in white, white fleck and gray fleck Class-A Melaflex, and charcoal gray, blue and purple Class-B/C Polyflex material. One kit can acoustically treat a project studio room up to 14×10×8 feet high.

Primarily focusing on custom acoustic treatment designs, Taytrix also offers a nine-piece package of acoustically paneled gobos called Vocal Package ($3,000). Six full-sized StackIt Portable Gobos, each with a Plexiglas window, and three short gobos can be combined in a number of configurations to form a vocal booth and room dividers or amp enclosures. One side of each gobo is made of natural maple for low-frequency absorption and high- and midrange frequency deflection, while the other is covered in absorptive acoustical material. A rounded-edge design allows each Vocal Package gobo to be set up at virtually any angle. Cable feed panels are available, and gobos are offered in blue, neutral, green, oatmeal and slate.

The folks at VocalBooth.com say two people can assemble a typical 4×4×7-foot tall Calvin Mann booth in less than an hour. Each expandable room comes standard with 1-inch-thick hard walls with high-density, 2-inch interior acoustic foam, the company's proprietary 1-inch foam core door with 2-inch acoustic foam, and exterior and interior seals with a door latch system that compresses and locks. Options and accessories include various ventilation system, window, sub floor, foam and caster wheel base choices. VocalBooth.com spaces start at $1,499, and as of this writing, the company was offering the Producer's Special model ($7,399), an 8×12-foot sound room with three windows, two ventilation systems, door window, lighting and sub-flooring.

V-Room Booth from Wenger Corp. is a sound-isolating modular booth for recording studio and broadcast applications that's flexible when it comes to audio relocations. V-Rooms from 3'9"×5' up to 10×10-foot (interior dimensions), ranging from $8,700 to $17,000, come complete with a Wenger technician installation, and options include several window and lighting choices, communications passages for studio cabling, floating floors, extended height doors and variable active acoustics that can simulate 10 different acoustical environments. Other isolation options include horizontal and vertical windows, double doors and a way to increase a V-Room's height by 15 or 30 inches when space allows.

WhisperRoom's line of modular and expandable 7-foot-tall sound-isolation rooms can be tailored from a snug 3.5×2.5-foot vocal booth up to a 8.5×15.5-foot room ($2,185 to $18,525 and up, respectively, depending on options). Each WhisperRoom can expand in wall thickness, size and features when the user chooses from a selection of wall and door window, ventilation system, caster plate and Soundwave Deflection System (SDS) options. (SDS panels are available for all SE2000 Series WhisperRooms, and are used to control soundwave reflections and to convert parallel into nonparallel walls when the user attaches a series of panels to two perpendicular walls.) A ¼-inch-thick window deflector option kit redirects soundwave reflections when microphones need to be placed in front of a WhisperRoom window.


Randy Alberts is a Montara, Calif.-based audio and music journalist. His first book, TASCAM: 25 Years of Recording Evolution, is in final print production; see a preview at www.opendooredit.com.

Acoustic Science

800/272-8823; 541/343-9727
www.tubetrap.com, www.asc-soundproof.com

Acoustic Systems

512/444-1961
www.acousticsystems.com

Acoustics First

804/342-2900
www.acousticsfirst.com

Auralex Acoustics

800/959-3343; 317/842-2600
www.auralex.com

Gretch-Ken Industries/Soundsuckers.com

888/833-1554; 541/322-1908
www.soundsuckers.com

Markertek

800/522-2025; 845/246-3036
www.markertek.com

Primacoustic/CableTek

604/942-1001
www.primacoustic.com

RPG Diffusor Systems

301/249-0044
www.rpginc.com

Taytrix

201/222-2826
www.taytrix.com

VocalBooth.com

541/330-6045
www.vocalbooth.com

Wenger Corp.

800/733-0393; 507/455-4100
www.wengercorp.com

WhisperRoom

800/200-8168; 423/585-5827
www.whisperroom.com






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