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Death By Drywall

Dennis Foley April 5, 2018 No Comments

Everybody, everybody uses drywall in their builds. We don’t have it anywhere near any of our build sites and we have 12 projects going on right now. And one of the arguments against drywall or for drywall if you will is cost obviously. A 4′ x 8′ sheet costs about $10 in most environments.

So we don’t use it. We use strictly veneered plywood and we’re going to tell you why and we’re going to kind of dispute some of the reasons that people use drywall. I think veneered plywood, most markets $60-80 a sheet so there’s a big cost difference. But let’s look at plywood’s advantages versus the cost and we’ll see what we can come up with.

A lot of the arguments for drywall is “Oh, it’s a good sound absorbing material and it’s much better than plywood.” Well, that’s not true, okay? This is a myth that people have bought into over the years and they haven’t checked the data. Let’s look at the data.

Just a half inch piece of drywall we all know what absorption coefficients are. You can look at the rate, you can look at the frequency 125, 250, 500, 1K, 2K, 4K and you can compare the absorption coefficients. 125, almost the same. 250, plywood is actually a little bit stronger in the absorption. 500, pretty close. 1K, 2K and 4K, there’s hardly any difference. So the argument that drywall is a better sound absorption material from 125 to 4K, simply not true. Okay?

That’s another myth people bought into overtime. Don’t assume that because everybody is doing it, that it’s correct. The reasons behind the fact that they’re doing it may not be good reasons at all. They may be doing it because that’s what they’ve read, that’s what they’ve heard, that’s what they’ve seen. Resist. Obey a little and resist much. I mean those are the models when it comes to acoustics. Don’t do what everybody else does. If you look at your old studios that were built in the 50’s and 60’s wood was dominant everywhere. Okay? So were 14-foot ceiling heights which we’ve lost.

So appearance with veneered plywood is off the scale much better than drywall. So you have the flexibility with the appearance you can match and coordinate and contrast with the course and it’s a natural material. We always want to stay with natural materials when we’re dealing with sound and audio in our rooms.

Here’s another big advantage between plywood and drywall. It’s a layered material so there’s some vibrational energy management tools built right into the product. Most plywoods we use have 10, 12, 14 layers to them. So we know from our examples that we want the room to move less. But if we want the room to move less we build the room with materials that take out that kind of energy that causes the room to move.

So a series of layers with plywood we get an energy sink built into the product. We don’t get that with drywall. And the absorption coefficients are about the same. This is going to be the first in a series of where I go after drywall and I’m going to try to change your thinking on it. Don’t just assume that you’re going to use drywall.

Now, if the cost is a factor, change your thinking on it. Don’t just assume that you’re going to use drywall. Now, if the cost is a factor and you don’t have budget because it’s 6, 7, 8-times more money but think about it. You’re just going to skin the whole room in drywall or you’re going to skin the whole room in veneered plywood. Maybe the cost difference is a 1000 to 1500, to 2000.

And ask yourself, would you rather work in a room that’s surrounded by natural wood or crushed rock? Okay? That is your real bottom choice. And we’re going to do other videos on the sound quality of it, okay? So we’ll talk about that later but right now I just wanted to address the thing that I hear all the time “Well, we have to use drywall because it has better sound absorption characteristics than plywood.” And you can see from this data that it’s not true.

This is an unedited transcript from our video series from Acoustic Fields. There will be some errors in grammar and sentence structure that occur during this translation process.

For complete understanding and comprehension, please view the video which is included in this text. For any additional information regarding this topic or others relating to room acoustics, please contact us directly at:

P: 520 – 392 – 9486


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Dennis Foley

I am an acoustic engineer with over 30 years’ experience in the business. My technology has been used in Electric Lady Land Studios, Sony Music of New York, Cello Music and Films founded by Mark Levinson, and Saltmines Studios in Mesa, Arizona, along with hundreds of others.Connect with me on Google+

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