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DIY Acoustic Treatment: Gobo, part 1 March 18, 2009

Posted by ConnorSmith in : Acoustics, Project Studio, Studio Setup , trackback

While planning for some recording projects this summer, I realized that a few gobos (mobile, often absorptive, sound isolation barriers) would really be of benefit.    However, I began searching online and found out I would have to spend more than $400 for each gobo… ouch.  I decided to build some myself.

First was the design stage.  I like to use Google Sketchup for design work of this type (its a free program!).  I knew my design needed to

I also wanted the gobo to have one absorptive and one reflective side (for added flexibility of use).

The most important property of sound isolation is MASS.  Typically, more mass means better isolation.  However, more mass means heavier and harder to move.  I decided that a layer of plywood and a few layers of drywall would be a good start for the “massiveness”.  The plywood would be exposed (for the reflective side), and the other side would be 4″ of Owens Corning 703 insulation.  An inner frame of 1×8 lumber will hold the “innards” in and be covered with fabric on all sides, except the plywood side.  Then an outer frame will go over that, for increased strength, as well as to cover the staples and fabric.  Again, this gobo design is purposely adapted for the use of multiple gobos at once.  This is why the gobo is only ~2′ wide.  This way, I can make multiple gobos and have them arranged in any arrangement I need (plus moving a 2′ wide gobo is a lot easier than a 4′ wide gobo).

I would use spacers to hold the 703 up as well as create an air gap in the middle (which should help slightly with the control of lower frequencies as well).

The pictures will show you the reflective side, the absorptive side, and the innards.  I do have a model of the gobo with a window as well, although I am not currently building that one.

The odd hexagonal base was chosen so that I can put two gobos together at up to a 90 degree angle without the bases sitting on top of each other.

Materials Cost:

Grand total – $127, aka I can build 3-4 of these for the amoutn of $ I’d spend buying one.  Plus, its more fun to make your own.

Its even a good deal if you don’t have all the necessary tools.  Even if you have to buy a circular saw, clamps, and a drill, you’ll spend less than buying a gobo.

The next post will show the start of the frame.


The Studio Files


1. Joe Gilder - May 12, 2009

This is great stuff, Connor. Thank you!

It’s so disheartening to shop around for gobos. Auralex MaxWalls, for example, are still a bit pricey, aren’t all that attractive, and they’re mainly made of foam, so there’s not a lot of low frequency absorption. (Like you said, mass is important.)

$127 is a steal for a nice gobo, and you get to make it yourself, plus you get to determine what it looks like (shape, size, color, etc.)

If only we would all give acoustic treatment the attention it deserves, rather than lusting after the next microphone or preamp.

2. ConnorSmith - May 12, 2009


(I assume you saw them, but there are some follow up threads that show the build process)

A lot of the gobos sold online are also on a high stand (leaving a giant gap underneath). This is obviously not a good thing… Anyone who has a few power tools and a little experience with cutting wood should be able to build these no problem.

Acoustic treatment is very very important (as you say). It doesn’t matter how well your microphone and preamp represent the sound if it sounds bad in the first place.

3. Joe Gilder - May 12, 2009

I actually just finished reading the rest of the series. Very cool. I’m impressed. And I can only assume that it works very well. Jon over at AudioGeekZine.com had a nice article on some more portable absorptive panels.


These would be nice “spot treatments” to combine with your larger, more massive gobos. Good times.

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