Owens Corning 703 vs. Roxul Safe 'n' Sound?


I'm going to make some sound absorbing panels to place on the wall behind my listening chair. Owens Corning 703 and Roxul Safe 'n' Sound rigid boards are two choices to make them with. Anyone have experience with both, or even one?
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They are probably very similar. The Owens 703 -might- absorb slightly more sound because it is a little bit more dense (Owens 703 is 3lb, Roxul Safe-n-Sound is 2.5lb), but that is such a small difference.

https://www.atsacoustics.com/page--Selecting-the-Right-Acoustic-Material--ac.html

This page will help you decide between different types of acoustic materials.  Be very conservative when putting in acoustic panels.  Placement is very critical and one panel could suck too much liveliness out of the room.  Placement is critical.  Experiment with different placements.

Thanks for the advice and link. I’m not covering much wall, just right behind my listening chair, and only because I have to be very close to it. The wall behind the speakers and the sidewalls will have diffusion. The room is intrinsically pretty good sounding, for some reason. For room nodes I have ASC Tube Traps and a DSPeaker Anti-Mode 2.0 Dual Core.
I have a number of Owens 703 panels (with Oxford transparent cloth) and wood frames. They are very effective and haven't degraded over time, including having been moved to a couple of different homes. In lively rooms w/dynamic driver speakers they were effective at first & second side reflection points, & on the ceiling at first reflection point. Some I know have dramatically increased perceived depth of soundstage by placing one absorptive 703 at the midpoint between the speakers on the front wall; especially in rooms setup "landscape" w/speakers on the longer wall. 
In my current electrostatic live end/ dead end setup they work great on the wall directly behind the speakers. The spares are useful on the side walls close to the speakers, but don't have nearly as much side-reflected energy to deal with as when I used cone speakers.
Overall, I think Owens 703 & 705 are both good choices and reasonably priced. Cheers,
Spencer
Thanks Spencer. I am able to have my planar speakers (ESL’s and magnetic-planars) 5’ from the wall behind them, so I’m going to try diffusion there first, with absorption only directly behind the listening position---Eric.
Hi Eric
Thought I would pass this along, in case you had not already seen it
They off prefab and DIY in different sizes and 3 different absorption materials and different fabrics and colors
I think the prices are very reasonable.

Brad 

I just recently experimented with diffusion panels on the side walls. They did not work out at all. I was using the 23" x 23" QRD diffusors (the ones from ATS Acoustics). It took some critical listening, but what happens with the diffusors on the side walls is that they will emphasize/boost some frequencies and then subdue/cancel other frequencies. I believe when the sound waves are bouncing around in the slots, it creates enough of a delay that it will cancel out the waveforms of some of the frequencies by the time it reaches your ears. Turning the diffusor upside-down so that the deeper slots or closer or farther from you will totally affect the sound as well. I could not get the diffusors to work on the side walls properly whatever I tried. Since I had to put them somewhere, I put them on the back wall. They seemed to work okay horizontally, because vertically they still cancelled out some frequencies. I would be very careful with using the diffusors. Always test out locations first and listen CAREFULLY before permanently mounting them.

Absorption is good -- up to a point. I have found that just adding a couple too many panels could throw the balance of the room off so that it is absorbing too much sound. What happens is that it starts to suck out too much upper mids/highs and you lose the excitement of the room. It’s a fine line, but once you’ve crossed it, the room becomes dull.

I found the best placement in my room is to have a 24" x 48" x 2" panel behind each speaker (they are in the front corners). Then a 24" x 48" x 2" panel in each of the back corners of the room. Since the speakers are corner loaded, it prevents standing waves which really make the midrange blare/resonate. I found that doubling up the panels in the back of the room (by stacking them on top of each other making a 96" high panel or by doubling up the thickness so that it makes a 24" x 48" x 4" panel) will push it over the threshold where it’s sucking too much sound out of the room. I have a fully carpeted floor, so that is absorbing a lot as well. These are cheap foam panels. I have some Roxul Rockboard 80 on the way, which behave very similar to the foam but with much better bass frequency absorption.

I don’t know which model you have, but the ESL speakers look big, and they might be reflecting sound waves as well as generating them (I don’t know). I’m not sure about putting absorbing panels behind them, unless you put them up towards the ceiling.  Putting absorbing panels behind you sounds like a good idea (since you are so close to the rear wall). Maybe also look at points on the back wall where the speakers are directly aimed at and put absorbing panels there? Or maybe diffusion. Different things to try, lol.

Thanks auxinput. My ESL (old Quads) and magnetic-planar (Magneplanar Tympani T-IV) speakers don’t splatter much sound on the side walls, having the dipole null on either side and being pretty directional at higher frequencies, with the tweeter strips pointed directly towards the listening position at the mid-point of the opposite wall. They will be 5’ from the wall behind them, so diffusion should allow the rear wave to blossom well (one of the best things about planars imo), no need to absorb it. I’m not planning on getting actual real diffusers, having enough LP’s (about 3500), CD’s (around 6000), and books (if I can fit them in!) in racks to pretty much cover the room’s walls.

Thanks for the link Brad, but I don’t see it on my screen. Is it just me?! I need only to cover with absorption the 4’ x 4’ space behind my head on the wall which the listening chair has to be up against, unfortunately, to be able to get the planar speakers 5’ from the wall behind them, a higher priority to me than the lp.

Appreciate the help guys---Eric.

Brad, I would be curious on the link also.  It doesn't appear in your post but I have been looking for DIY panel material.

Bossman
I'm no DIY'er in general but had a decent outcome making 703 panels.  They helped tremendously in my room to kill the first-reflection points.  I've got a total of four 24x48x2 panels in the room and things are sounding great.  I do think that more panels would be too much.  You can see a pic of them in my system page.

Hi Eric

My Room A is enclosed on the outside of the drywall with Roxul Safe N Sound. The Ceiling and two walls. This was done to insulate the room sounds from the rest of the house. The other two walls are against the house walls with regular insulation on the other side of the drywall.

Something to consider, just throwing it out there.

Curtains of various heavy and light materials work and look good. I am using them extensively in the adjacent room. You could hang one ceiling rail behind your listening chair. Curtains, offer the extra advantage of hiding extra speakers. :^)

You could also use one Magneplanar Tympani speaker behind your chair right now - try it. They absorb. I know guys with Acoustats doing this.

Cheers Chris



Sorry about that

http://www.acoustimac.com/

Brad
Thanks Brad, the Acoustimac line looks great, and reasonably priced. A 4' x 4' x 2" panel is only $122, but the shipping to me (NW) is $140! Guess I'll make it myself.
Try the ATS Acoustics website.  You can get two 24" x 48" x 2" panels with Guilford of Maine fabric for $129.  ATS is in Illinois and I'm in California.  Shipping to me would only be $24.02 for these two panels.  I don't know what it would be to your location.  It might be the 4' x 4' size that is killing shipping.  Having two 2' x 4' panels shipped instead might be better.
Eric
I got a shipping quote of $28.95 for 2 ea DMD Mesh Fabric 2'X4'X2" panels to 97223 via Fed Ex ground.  I'm not sure why the difference in cost, but I do remember being quoted a price for the larger panels nearly as much as the panel cost.
There shouldn't be much of a difference in shipping cost between you and myself, being I am in Portland.

Also, Check out Artichoke Records on Hawthorn Blvd, next time you have time on your hands in PDX. There's also a couple of smaller record stores near by, like Jack Pot Records. Artichoke is much larger then Music Millennium. It's kind of a large flee market for sellers. Probably somewhere near 20 or so sellers have there own assigned area and shelving that they sell from, all sorts of stuff. There's some very collectable records behind the counter and in glass case's. For example
last time I was there they had a Mono copy of CSNY De ja vu.

Also Robert Cray at the Aladdin Theater this coming Saturday, $45.00 for a ticket, Doors at 7PM.  Make a day of it do some record shopping and go to the show/concert. Very Good SQ at this venue, 620 seats. Area in front of stage for standing.

  

Thanks again Brad, and howdy neighbor (sort of)! I’m pretty regular at Music Millennium, but hearing of Jack Pot and Artichoke is great news. I haven’t done much exploring in Portland yet, gotta get into it. I lived in Portland in ’77-8, and all the small records stores selling import LP’s and 45’s back then were gone when I got back up here last year, no surprise. But Music Millennium survives! My record store in L.A. was Amoeba, a pretty amazing place.

I’ve been to The Aladdin, saw Joan Osborne last Summer---great room, great show! Hey, if you have nothing better to do this Friday, I’m playing at JB’s Lounge at The Red Lion in Jantzen Beach, next Friday at Vinyl Tap in Milwaukee, and on the 21st at Laurelthirst on NE Glisan. Say howdy, I’ll buy ya a beer!---Eric.

You're right auxinput, a pair of ATS 24 x 48 x 2 panels cost only $37 to ship to me, much better. They even make them 4" deep, which I may go for.
I am going to Billy Crystal on Friday, but I will catch up with you at one of your shows in the bear future.  What is the name of your band?
I’ve been playing with Harvest Gold since September. Songs by Neil Young (of course), Stephen Stills, Gregg Allman, Steve Earle, Hunter/Garcia, Dylan, Guy Clark, Arlo Guthrie, etc. And a few originals, for the right audience. The manager is working towards getting the band in the casinos, where the real money is!
All whom I like.  I will be keeping an ear out for your band. I will let you know when I figure something out via PM
By the way David Crosby will be at the Aladdin May 2nd (cheap tickets)
Also you may be interested in Keefer Sutherland  (yes the actor) Saturday May 6th. He just released an LP; Down In A Hole, Check it out on Spotify. The Show is at Mississippi Studios, another great venue
great venue being its a studio. some balcony seats but mostly lower floor standing room. I don't remember the occupancy, maybe 350.
Also Ryan Adams @ Edgefield June 29th. All general admission seats on the lawn. Around $47.00 (tickets remain, wouldn't wait too long) Go to:
http://edgefieldconcerts.com/events/ryan-adams-band/
I’ve heard good things about Mississippi Studios, but haven’t yet been there. Portland has some great small theaters, and lots of pubs. They pay much better than the clubs and bars in L.A., I’ll tell ya that!
Black Joe Lewis is playing there (Mississippi Studios) soon.


I would like to see Vintage Trouble. Wish they would get back from Europe and do a string on the west coast. 
Sometimes it is easier to buy locally Johns Manville panels:

http://industrialinsulation.com/images/JM800_Series_Spin-Glas_Data_Sheet.pdf
I use ATS Acoustics. Fortunately I live in Illinois and travel there to avoid shipping. Easy to build ones own panels.
@mesch thanks for the info

Thanks everyone. Home depot sells and stocks the Roxul 3" Safe 'n' Sound in a 12-pack of 15-1/4" x 48" panels for $46.27. Such a deal! Lowes sells them in the 24" width, but with a three package minimum. WAY more than I need.

Here's another question: Should I try absorption on the rest of the back wall (behind the listening position), not just directly behind my head?

At $47 for a 12-pack, you can just stack them up in the back of the room to see how it will affect the sound. They 15-1/4" are cut to fit between house frames. If you don’t mind putting up 3 panels instead of 1 or 2, it can be a cheap way to go. The Roxul are only 2.5 lb density, but they might be stiff enough to lay up against the walls. If you do this, be very careful. It is mineral wool fiberglass and always use a filter mouth mask and gloves when handling them.  There's a point where there will be too much absorption in the room.  You'll just have to experiment until you find that threshold.

The panels from ATS Acoustics are mounted in a light wood frame and wrapped with fabric. At $55-76 per panel, it’s really cheap for the build labor. Unless you are fine building them yourself.

Nah, I’ll make one frame sized to fit three pieces of the Roxul in, 45-3/4" x 48" interior. There is 56" between the two doors that flank the listening position, on the wall opposite the speakers. I might put a Roxul strip on each of those doors too, if they prove to be reflecting too much sound over to the lp. The space between the doors and the side walls is far enough away from the lp to be of no concern to me. That’s all the absorption I want---just to kill the first reflection from the speakers pointed at the lp wall.

The room sounds fine overall, no glaring problems as far as I can tell. I have ASC Tube Traps and a DSPeaker Anti-Mode for low-frequency eigenmodes, and MG CornerTunes and EchoTunes for any slap and flutter echo emanating from up near the ceiling. The wall behind the speakers will remain reflective---fine (in fact, preferred) for dipole speakers, as will the sidewalls---no need, due to dipole cancellation. First, I’m painting the room, this weekend, hopefully. I chose Sherwin Williams "Mink", a combination of gray and brown that is absolutely beautiful!

@bdp24 - that sounds great.  Let us know how the panel works out.  My Roxul Rockboard 80 and Guilford of Maine fabric are coming today, so I'll be working on building some panels this weekend to replace my cheap foam ones.  I'm excited.
auxinput, I took another look at the ATS site. They sell a nice frame kit for cheap, and both Rockboard 60 and 80. I'm leaving for tonights gig a little early 'cause there's a Home Depot right by the joint, so I'm going in to check out the Safe 'n' Sound. I guess either will be fine, though if I make my own frames I can make them with a space behind the acoustical material, which will increase the panels low frequency absorption. Choices, choices!

One thing to know about the acoustic materials is that you need massive amounts of thickness if you want to absorb a lot of the lower bass frequencies. Yes, putting a space behind the fiberglass will help because the sound will bounce off the wall and back into the fiberglass. However, if you want to absorb the lower frequencies, you’ll need a very thick trap (like the 6-7" bass traps from GIK). If you want to put multiple layers of the fiberglass in, you need to keep them at the lower densities (like 2.5 - 3 lbs).

I chose the 2" thick 8 lb Roxul because I wanted to limit how much mid/high frequencies it would absorb, but I still wanted decent bass absorption. At a certain point, the denser material will start reflecting sound at a thickness level. A 4" stack of the 8lb Roxul will probably not work any better than a 2" stack. However, putting a 4-8" stack of 2.5lb Safe-n-sound will absorb a lot more bass (as well as a lot more mids/highs).

I didn't expect the extra space behind the panel to turn it into a bass trap! Just to lower its effective absorptive range a little. In the specs chart, it looks as if the Rockboard 60 may be a little better at higher frequencies than the 80, though the difference is marginal and perhaps insignificant. I don't want to over think this! But since the listening position has to be right up against a wall (to allow my dipole speakers to be positioned 5' from the wall behind them), and low-frequency eigenmodes run along room boundaries, absorption at as low a frequency as easily possible would be nice.

So I went to Home Depot last night, and though the HD website stated that the branch I went to had Safe 'n' Sound in stock (even the number of packages), I couldn't find any on the shelves. The HD "dude" couldn't even find it in the stores computer, telling me any acoustical product would have to be ordered. I went in to look at the stuff, to see if it is soft and loose like fiberglass insulation, or stiff like OC703. So Monday I'm going to Lowes, whose website indicates it has 2' x 4' Safe 'n' Sound in stock. We'll see!

@bdp24 I feel your pain, with both HD & Lowes the inventory often doesn't match what online says is there. A frequent time waster. 

Your plan sound solid. If you do want more low freq absortion (i.e. bass traps for those front corners, rock wool was what was recommended to me by an acoustics specialist who consulted on my room and built my custom stuff. The 703 for wall and freestanding panels, but rock wool for the corner bass traps to maximize absorption relative to their volume. Cheers,
Spencer
Thanks Spencer. I had a session today, and the studio owner had real good acoustical treatment of his walls---a mixture of RPG diffusors and absorbers. I have a couple of spare 9" x 3' ASC tube traps---maybe I'll put them right behind the listening chair, with a couple of 2" x 2' x 4' panels stacked on top, for higher frequencies.
I was back near the same Home Depot today with a little time on my hands. I went in and looked for the Roxul Safe ’n’ Sound myself this time, and found it right on the shelf. S’n’S is 3" thick, and soft and loose, very limp, not at all like the OC703 semi-rigid panels, but more like cotton batting. Acoustimac offers empty 24" x 48" DIY panel frames in various depths, including 6". I’ve read that having a space behind the acoustical material will increase a panels ability to absorb low frequencies---a good thing for me due to the listening position being so close to the rear wall, but what if I was to stuff the frame with two layers of the 3" thick S’n’S? Possessing it’s 2.5lb. density, a 6" thickness of S’n’S won’t reflect back much of the mids and highs hitting it, but will that thickness absorb more, or less, lower frequencies than will a single 3" layer with a 3" space behind it? Acoustimac offers the frame both with and without a thin plywood rear back panel. Since my panels will be right against the wall, I surmise that back wouldn’t affect its performance.

I had to google around and think about this question. There really wasn’t a good answer, but...

Putting an air gap behind the panel is not going to absorb more mids/highs that are already being absorbed -- unless you pull the entire panel away from the wall. This allows mids/highs that are coming around the panel to reflect off the wall and into the back side of the panel.

I have read that an air gap behind the panel will enable the panel absorb bass that is an octave lower, but remember that any bass waves going through the panel are going to resonate the wall as well. If you look at the difference between Owens 703 2" and 4".  You’ll see that the 4" thickness is 5 times as affective at 125 Hz (0.17 vs 0.84). Based on this, I’d stack two layers of 3" to make a total of 6" if I wanted to absorb more bass. The "air gap" is really just a tweak to boost bass absorption on thinner panels.

Excellent point about the thickness of 703 being so important at that frequency, but low frequencies are more likely to gather in the corners and the panels behind you on back wall will most likely only affect mids and highs so I would focus on absorption properties at those frequencies for you back wall panels. Corner traps behind you can use air gaps to absorb even deeper in the low frequencies. Corner traps in all 4 corners are the best way to deal with LF issues. The stuff behind your head can help with reflections, flutter echo, etc.in mids & highs. Cheers,
Spencer

All good points, guys. My desire to get some absorption of lower frequencies at the listening position originates from having read that bass modes/nodes build up at not just room corners (though that is where they are most prominent), nor not just also along all the rooms wall/floor/ceiling intersections, but also along the wall itself---sealed rooms sound "bassiest" against their walls.

I know it takes a whole lotta material to absorb very low frequencies (below 100Hz), so perhaps going beyond the 2-3" of typical absorptive wall panels would bring marginal improvement in that regard. I have room to place a 9" ASC Tube Trap at either side of my chair, so I could do that and set the wall panels atop them. The rooms two front corners (behind the speakers) will have 11" Traps stacked on the big boys---the 16 inchers, the rooms back corners stacked 9" Traps.

Thanks again ya'll---Eric.

Yes, that is true.  There can be a benefit to putting bass traps in the middle of the walls.  However, you will only be able to attack some of the axial room nodes (not all).  It's still a benefit, though.  The link here does a room node calculation for my current HT room:

http://amroc.andymel.eu/?l=17.5&w=11.25&h=9&ft=true&r60=0.6

If you move your mouse pointer over each of the axial room nodes (the tallest lines on the frequency chart), you'll see in the "Room 3d" graphic that some nodes will build up on the front/back walls, some will build up on the side walls and some will build up on the ceiling/floor.

Interest article I found here:

http://ethanwiner.com/density.html

Where Ethan Winer found that putting Twelve 3" 703-FRK panels in a room absorbed more bass frequencies than Six 6" 703-FRK panels.  These are frequencies down in the 40-80Hfz area.  Makes me think of using the 703 FRK instead, because my room is becoming a little too dead with the Rockboard 80 panels even.

The amroc program is exactly where I learned of all the modes/nodes in a room! What a great aid in understanding what's going on in any size room, and where acoustic treatment will give the most results. I hadn't seen Ethan Winers article, so thanks auxinput. I'm gonna read it right now.
Ethan has a Manufacturer's forum section on audioasylum that is full of great info relating to room acoustics and treatments. Much of the content is many years old but still among the most helpful I've seen. 
Lately, I've seen his name brought up in some controversy on other topics which I don't recall, but regardless, he is a top educator on room acoustics and he donated much time and energy in helping other with similar situations. Cheers,
Spencer
Thanks a million Spencer. Yeah, I've seen Ethan, an objectivist, and some subjectivists get into squabbles on other sites. He's a "If you can't prove it with measurements, it doesn't exist" kinda guy. That's fine with me when it comes to acoustics!---Eric.
I want to add some information regarding acoustic panels with a wood backing.  I got my order of Rockboard 80 (6 panels).  Two of the panels I was making for another room and I glued 1/4 plywood to the back and then wrapped it with Gilfurd of Maine fabric.  The back panel would allow me to hang it on the wall.  In between the time I was waiting for more fabric, I used these in my audio room.  I found that there was a ringing/blare in the midrange area that was being influenced by these panels.  Through testing, I swapped out other panels and determined that the wood back on the acoustic panel was resonating -- even when the board was on the back side of the fiberglass.  The blare/ringing definitely bugged me.  Long story short, I don't recommend the use of acoustic panels with a solid wood back.  Having a square frame around the edges is okay, but no large surface area that can resonate.
That's great to know aux. Both Acoustimac and ATS offer their DIY panel frames with or without back panels. Without it is!
Spencer---Man are you right about there being a lot of great info about acoustics and rooms from Ethan Winer on Audio Asylum! I did a search there using his name, and the first page came up with 200 threads, and that was just the first page! I got me some reading to do. The first thread I read through was a "heated" discussion between Ethan and Jon Risch, who also appears to be full of knowledge on the subject. Very interesting and informative, thanks for the tip---Eric.
@bdp24 Glad to know it's useful source for you. My take is that Jon Risch was one of the first to encourage others to do DIY builds of acoustic treatments and gave detailed recipes to build stuff like bass traps. He leaned towards cheap and focused only on results, even if it looked so bad that spouses would never accept them in a visible part of their home. Ethan then started RealTraps, which while affordable in audiophile terms (though more expensive than GIK I think), also had fit and finish that make them a little more visually acceptable to many. 
The guys selling panels with art on them have crossed the bridge in terms of looks, but I have no idea how they sound...Cheers,
Spencer

Exactly so Spencer. I have a dedicated room and answer to no one but myself, but I have a fairly developed sense of aesthetics myself, and a desire for a nice looking environment in which to listen to music. I don't have to build any "real" bass traps (one of the disagreements between Ethan and Jon is in regard to what qualifies as one), as in the mid-90's I found thirteen of them, in sizes 9", 11", and 16", for ten bucks apiece (!) in The Recycler, a Southern California weekly "for sale" newspaper.

The music room in my new abode forces me for the first time to sit very close to the rear wall, hence the need for treatment of that wall. I have prioritized having my planar speakers 5' from the wall behind them over the listening position being away from it's wall, as the rear wave of planars really must be delayed at least 10ms behind the front wave, and distance from the wall behind them is the only way to achieve that. Ethan and Jon (and ya'll here on Audiogon) are giving me the info I need to do the rear wall "correctly". Thanks again!---Eric.