I mentioned my DIY acoustic panels In a recent post about my home studio and promised I’d describe how I came up with them. Here it is.

If you’ve ever done any research on acoustic treatment of studios you may have become overwhelmed. Like everything in t, how big he audio world there seem to be many conflicting opinions about: What type of foam to use, how big to make panels, where to put them, how far off the wall they should be….. I could go on but I’m sure you’ve been there. 

As home studio owners we have to put things in perspective. We will never have an ideal space. Everything is a compromise and we can only do so much. So after going down many rabbit holes on the subject and looking at many products, I made my DIY acoustic panels as cheaply as possible. Any improvement, I reasoned, would be good. 

I decided to make wooden frames which I initially planned to leave visible. I thought that would look rather nice. That didn’t happen however as the project developed. I based the panel sizes on what damping materials I had available. Those were a memory foam mattress topper and some good quality leftover carpet underlay. My plan was to sandwich the memory foam between two sheets of underlay. I worked out that I had enough to fill 5, 1metre x .5 metre frames. 

Dae It Yersel – The Wood

My local DIY and timber shop amusingly called Dae It Yersel had a variety of suitable strip wood to choose from. I decided to go with RPD (Red pine – dressed) and chose a 12mm x 45mm profile based on how thick my foam pads would be. This came in 4.5 metre lengths so a quick dab on the old calculator arrived at 4 lengths at the modest price of £18, free delivery. Grand.

DIY Acoustic panels - picture of the wood used for the frames
Red Dressed Pine Strips. I used 12mm X 45mm but would suggest going for something slightly thicker….

I decided that since the wood frames would be visible, to try and do a tidy job on them. So I bought a  mitre block and tenon saw (£8) some “No More Nails” wood glue (£2.50) A can of spray glue (£5) and some grey fabric (£9) from Amazon. When everything arrived a few days later I got started. And made my first rookie mistake.

I stuck the layers of foam and underlay for each panel together with the spray glue and covered them with the fabric. I measured them and cut the wood for the frames to those sizes. My mistake was nit taking into account that my tenon joints made the frames smaller than the panels. I didn’t think this would matter as I could just squeeze the foam in. 

DIY Acoustic panels project - picture of a tenon saw and mitre block used for making frames
Tenon Jointed Corners are nice but remember they make the inside area smaller so cut foam accordingly.

Unfortunately I found that the wood I’d bought was pretty flimsy stuff. When I tried to force my slabs of foam into them, they flexed and corners came unglued. I ended up spending another £5 on some corner brackets and had to strip the fabric off the foam panels and recut them. They looked a bit shit so I decided to cannibalise a duvet cover and cover everything again, including the frames. 

So not a trouble free process but we got there in the end. I even had enough materials left for a fifth panel which got covered in a bit of grey shag pile rug. 

DIY Acoustic Panels – The Techie Bit

My research seemed to support the idea of keeping an air gap between panel and wall. The theory is that any reflections passing through the panels can’t easily bounce back through them after hitting the wall. A double whammy of deadening as it were. To do that I glued a strip of wood across the back of each frame. That also gave me a place to hang them off wall screws. This is ideal for me since one wall is chroma key green for video production. I can just lift the panels off it when I need to. 

I have to say I notice a big difference. The room is small and tall at around 4mx3mx3.5m. Pre treatment it had a noticeable slap back echo with no soft furnishing other than a chair. Now that’s only audible on the loudest of sharp noises. I actually feel the difference just walking in there from the hall. 

One more “Cloud” panel above the monitors is needed for mixing situations but I’m pretty chuffed with it all. I also have a little vocal screen and with that and the panels, Mo’s vocals are sounding better than ever. They also look quite cool. The duvet cover used to cover them is jungle themed so I have two climbing tigers on one wall and two leopard print on the other. 

Compromises And Conclusions

So with the foam and underlay being available the total cost was around £30. I’m sure memory foam and carpet underlay are not the perfect materials but they seem to do the job. I’ve seen a video where a guy made diy acoustic panels using old towels as foam. He even did some proper acoustic sound tests which showed them to be very effective. Like I say, its all a compromise in the home studio world. 

If you don’t have any kind of dense foam available Rockwool RW6 – the semi solid sheet variety is reasonably cheap and apparently good for the job. Upholstery foam, packing blankets are also good they say. A general rule of thumb is to stick the foam against you ear and make a noise on the other side. If you notice a difference then its probably a goer. Remember, in this instance we are not looking for sound proofing but sound deadening.    


I'm Dave Menzies a digital entrepreneur, photographer and guitarist. I live on the Argyll coast of Scotland. My partner and I write, record and produce our own music and videos in our home studio. I love to help individuals discover the lifestyle freedom offered by the digital world and guitarists to develop their own style.