Acoustic diffusers are used to treat echoes and reflections. Unlike acoustic foam panels that are designed to absorb sound waves at different frequencies, acoustic diffusers are designed to scatter sound waves. Acoustic absorbers and diffusers both treat echoes and standing waves, but absorption panels will have a dampening effect while diffusion panels will maintain a more lively sound. Diffusers are often used in combination with sound absorbing panels and bass traps in order to get the desired sound in your room.
The type of diffuser we make in this tutorial is a ‘skyline diffuser’. These not only look very cool but are fairly simple to make. First, let's take a look at the materials you will need.
- 2ft x 2ft flat backboard (plywood or similar)
- Quantity = 1
- Use at least ¼” thick to try to avoid getting a board that warps.
- 2” x 2” x 8ft boards
- Quantity = 12
- These will actually be only 1.5 in x1.5 in
- We used the cheapest construction grade lumber for this demo and it looks nice. Choose whatever wood suits your taste.
- Wood glue
- Quantity = 1 bottle
- We used Gorilla wood glue
- Sander or sandpaper
- Tape measure and square
The first step is to determine how to cut your 2”x2” boards. To find the pattern we used a quadratic skyline diffuser calculator. You can find these programs online for free. The basic concept is to divide your backboard into a checkerboard pattern so that the 2”x2”s can be glued onto the grid. Our grid had 256 spots with 16 rows and 16 columns. The spots are filled with either:
- no board
- a 2 in long board
- a 4 in long board
- a 6 in long board
- an 8 in long board
Now that you have your grid laid out and you know how many boards of each length you need, it is time to start cutting.
After all the boards are cut it is time to begin sanding. We used a little handheld sander and made sure to wear gloves while doing so. The goal here is to make sure there are no rough edges. We didn’t get too carried away with sanding each piece perfectly smooth because there was so many and one of the sides if going to be glued to the backboard.
At last it is time to start assembling your skyline diffuser. Put a little dab of glue onto the 2”x2” piece and then press it onto the backboard in the correct grid position. Keep in mind that you do not need that much glue. If you are pressing the 2”x2” down and glue is squeezing out to where you are having to wipe it up then you are using too much. We used a quarter of an 18 oz bottle.
Finally, you will need to let the glue cure for at least 24 hours before attempting to move your new skyline diffuser.
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