Making and Installing Sound-Absorbing Panels

A crew member applies glue to the edge of a “REVRB” sound-absorbing panel frame in New England Soundproofing’s Waltham, Mass., cabinet shop.

Adding a plywood back to the sound-absorbing panel frame.

Stapling the plywood back to the panel frame.

Spraying the frame’s plywood back with adhesive.

Installing sound-absorbing rock wool fiber insulation into the panel. The insulation comes in one-inch, two-inch, and three-inch thicknesses. Thicker insulation is better at absorbing low frequencies of sound, while thinner insulation is more effective with higher frequencies. Drago typically uses a two-inch thickness to optimize sound absorption across the broadest frequency range.

Slicing the sound-absorbing insulation to fit with a knife.

Fitting the screen-printed cloth covering over the “REVRB” insulated panel. Cloth used for this purpose must be rated to allow the passage of sound waves, so that the sound energy can penetrate the panel surface and be absorbed by the rock wool insulation interior.

A crew member wraps the screen-printed panel cover around the back of the panel and staples it to the panel frame and back. Steve Drago, son of company founder Joseph Drago, sometimes has to tweak the screen-printing source images with PhotoShop software in order to make the images wrap appropriately around the two-inch-thick panel frame edges.

A crew member shows the completed panel before wrapping it in plastic for storage, then delivery to the job site.

On site at La Famiglia Giorgio restaurant in Boston’s historic North End, a crew member drills into the mortar of the restaurant’s brick wall in preparation for hanging a “REVRB” sound-absorbing panel in place.

Tapping a plastic anchor sleeve into the hole drilled in the mortar of the brick wall. The soft hundred-year-old mortar in the restaurant’s brick walls was crumbly and tricky to work with.

Panels for the ceiling of the restaurant were not screen printed, but instead were wrapped in a complementary, but unobtrusive color to blend into the background. A relatively small area of ceiling and wall panels is sufficient to dramatically reduce noise levels in a public space.

A crew member screws into the mortar joint of the brick wall to secure a “REVRB” panel in place.

The crew screws a pair of “REVRB” panels into the brick wall of the restaurant. Using art chosen by the restaurant owner and screen-printed onto appropriate fabric, then attached to the sound-absorbing fiber-lined panels, enhances both the esthetics and the auditory comfort of the dining area. The same method can be employed in many kinds of public space, from doctor’s offices to conference rooms, classrooms, home listening rooms, or auditoriums.

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