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Effectiveness of Ultratouch for bass trapping
Old 7th August 2019
  #1
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Effectiveness of Ultratouch for bass trapping

Hi all,

I'm hearing contradicting thoughts about how effective is Ultratouch at low frequencies. In my room, I'm more concerned about low mids and imaging.

I've been using Fiberglass for many years but have decided to not use it nor Rockwool for health reasons.

Would love to hear the experience from people using either Ultratouch or any other Cotton/alternative material for panels/traps.

Thanks,
Eitan
Old 7th August 2019
  #2
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avare's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by teomi View Post
Hi all,

I'm hearing contradicting thoughts about how effective is Ultratouch at low frequencies. In my room, I'm more concerned about low mids and imaging.

I've been using Fiberglass for many years but have decided to not use it nor Rockwool for health reasons.

Would love to hear the experience from people using either Ultratouch or any other Cotton/alternative material for panels/traps.

Thanks,
Eitan
What contradiction? Ultratouch has been identified basically since it came out as having too high a GFR for low frequency absorption in bass traps.

This is in blunt straight to the point words. Research has indicated Ultratouch fibers may be MORE DANGEROUS than mineral wool insulation.
Old 7th August 2019
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avare View Post

This is in blunt straight to the point words. Research has indicated Ultratouch fibers may be MORE DANGEROUS than mineral wool insulation.
Thanks Avare. Can you point me to that research please?
Old 7th August 2019
  #4
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I just found this with a quick Google search: https://www.finehomebuilding.com/200...ean-insulation

It's not really about the acoustic properties for studios, and more about building construction and the so-called "green" properties of this type of insulation in general (not specifically Ultratouch), but one paragraph in the article stands out, and is very much applicable to studios:

"It would be fine if denim insulation was actually more economical and a better insulator than the alternative. But it doesn’t cut easily, so it’s more difficult to install correctly, and it doesn’t expand well to fill the cavities. It needs to be treated with fire retar-dants and insecticides and it can hold moisture."

Yup. That's in addition to the poorer acoustic properties, and the poorer health properties that Andre already mentioned.

- Stuart -
Old 7th August 2019
  #5
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Thanks Stuart,

So is there an adequate alternative for Fiberglass/Mineral wool that is stable and easy to frame/contain?

I'm not interested in starting a debate on health, but the fact is, that it's not easy to contain fibers, even when properly installed.

Fabric doesn't seem to contain it well and the truth is that whether it is a health risk or not, these materials are meant to be installed inside walls. Not inside fabric...

It's easy to see that Fiberglass fibers can easily find their way outside a professionally framed, fabric covered panel. I've tested this myself.

Thanks!
Eitan
Old 7th August 2019
  #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teomi View Post
I'm not interested in starting a debate on health, but the fact is, that it's not easy to contain fibers, even when properly installed.
Eitan
You have some kind of proof for this?
I don't mean a DIY panel with a fishing net meant to contain the wool, but a reasonably made object?
And if you could proof it, or just to get piece of mind, you could consider to pack the wool in very thin plastic foil like mylar or sometning.
Old 7th August 2019
  #7
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Quote:
I'm not interested in starting a debate
Don't look know, but I think you already did that!

Quote:
but the fact is, that it's not easy to contain fibers, even when properly installed.
I'm not sure that I'd agree with you on that. When properly designed and properly built, an acoustic treatment device can indeed contain the fibers well. I'm totally with Bert on that. Maybe you just aren't using the right techniques.

And on health issues: Mineral wool is basically just rock. Most people are not allergic to rocks...

Yes, the rock has been drawn into fine fibers, and they do use chemical binders to keep those fibers together and form the panels, but modern binders are pretty darn safe, and the do hold the fibers very well. Those fibers that might come loose can easily be contained in a well-designed acoustic treatment device.

Of course, as with all building materials, you do need to take precautions when cutting it and installing it. Personally, I have a much bigger health concern from cutting things like fiber-cement board, MDF, OSB, concrete, brick and even drywall, than I do from cutting a slab of Rockboard 40.

Quote:
these materials are meant to be installed inside walls. Not inside fabric...
... except for the ones that are designed to be installed inside fabric! Which most acoustic absorbers are...

Quote:
It's easy to see that Fiberglass fibers can easily find their way outside a professionally framed, fabric covered panel. I've tested this myself.
If the fibers are getting out, then I would not use the term "professionally" to go along with "framed" and "covered". Fabric isn't the only material that can be used to contain stray fibers, and fabric certainly doesn't reflect as well as the materials that do contain fbers!

Quote:
So is there an adequate alternative for Fiberglass/Mineral wool that is stable and easy to frame/contain?
Things like acoustic foams are available (several types), as are other types of treatment that don't use porous absorption at all. It all depends on what you need to accomplish, acoustically.


- Stuart -
Old 7th August 2019
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by teomi View Post
I'm not interested in starting a debate on health, but the fact is, that it's not easy to contain fibers, even when properly installed.

Fabric doesn't seem to contain it well and the truth is that whether it is a health risk or not, these materials are meant to be installed inside walls. Not inside fabric...
Write more clearly. What is exactly what you are looking for is mineral wool with a surface designed for being against breathable air. As it turns out these products are designed to used against quite high velocity air. They are duct liners. A data sheet for a typical one {Linacoustic RC} is attached.
Attached Files
Old 8th August 2019
  #9
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I don't know of any actual measurements for ultratouch GFR, basically all there is, is a single set of data to infer from. In practice I've found it to be excellent at mid and high absorption, and rather decent at low absorption, provided you incorporate a large air gap. Not that different from most of the commonly used materials. Do note that ultratouch is less irritating but still really dusty to work with.

Thick acoustic foam is another option to consider. Even better is probably caruso iso bond which has a low GFR version suitable for really deep bass traps.
Old 8th August 2019
  #10
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I will address all the questions so far:

First - the panels I took samples from are all professionally made either purchased online using builders/manufacturers we all know and respect, and ones I custom built.

The ones I custom made incorporate the typical design - wooden frame, either GOM or Acoustimac fabric all around the frame tightly staplegunned, and either 703 or Knauf inside.

It all started when I finished an installation at my studio. After cleaning and organizing - out of curiosity - I purchased a lab test kit and sampled an area on my studio desk and sent it for analysis.
It came back with several Fiberglass fiber findings - more than 4 fibers on 1 cm square, which is considered 'moderate amount'.

I contacted the lab and spoke directly with the environmental scientist who ran the test. I asked him to sent me the images from the microscope. He was gracious enough to send me the pics and also explain how easy it is to identify.

So...I then continued testing and I continually found fibers around the studio.
I decided to test the fabric and surface of finished panels itself. I tested the fabric on numerous panels of different makes and in different locations, and it revealed the same result - lots of uncontained fibers.

The method of testing is quite simple and it's exactly how any lab does it - a piece of low adhesive tape, gently taped and pulled away from the surface and then examined through a microscope.

I didn't just test the fabric - I also tested areas directly underneath panels and on surfaces in close proximity to them. Same results.

The fact that the test revealed lots of fibers coming off the fabric AND also in close proximity of panels makes it very hard to deny that fabric isn't containing it very well. And I don't blame the fabric at all

In closing - I felt compelled to post here not to blame or scare anyone or any maker of acoustic panels, but to simply show factual findings that are undeniable. If you have a microscope and some spare time, you can make this test yourselves.

You can view the images I snapped from the microscope in the link below.

http://handheldsound.com/HHS_Extras/FiberGlass.zip
Old 8th August 2019
  #11
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Quote:
It all started when I finished an installation at my studio. After cleaning and organizing - out of curiosity - I purchased a lab test kit and sampled an area on my studio desk and sent it for analysis.
When you say you "installed then cleaned", how well did you clean? And how long after did you take the samples? After treating a room, there will very likely be fibers floating around in the room for days, maybe longer. You'd have to carefully vacuum everything in the room several times, over several days, as well as ventilating the room, to get rid of most of them.

Another question: How did you identify that the the suspicious fibers did in fact come from the panels you installed? They might have come from somewhere else too...

- Stuart -
Old 8th August 2019
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Soundman2020 View Post
When you say you "installed then cleaned", how well did you clean?
I waited about 2 months before I tested at my studio. In other studios that I tested, the panels have been there for at least a year. Cleaning involved thoroughly vacuuming with a Hepa filter equipped vacuum - several passes.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Soundman2020 View Post
Another question: How did you identify that the the suspicious fibers did in fact come from the panels you installed? They might have come from somewhere else too...

- Stuart -
Samples were taken from the fabric on finished panel and around the area of where panels are. Testing other rooms in my place where no panels are installed showed no findings.

I have central air and I use MERV11 rated air filters which will trap loose fibers if they are flying around. That's probably a good reason why I never found fibers in other rooms. The media on the AC filter is Polyester (not fiberglass in case you were wondering). Also, the size of the fibers which well exceed 500 microns are the typical long fibers that are associated with rigid fiberglass.
Old 8th August 2019
  #13
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FWIW, Ultratouch is easy to cut with a shut and cut and the centerfire blades, works really well for fiberglass too-



It's a little overpriced for what it is, but it has easily paid for itself in my case (even though we had to fix it a couple times).

My understanding is that UT has a high GFR, and as such is bad for supertraps, but is good in 3.5 to maybe 6 inch depths. I know Jeff Hedbeck is a fan, especially when used in shallower applications, or for the deepest part of a large trap (going from low impedance to high).

Having used a bunch if it, it does loft up, but it takes days, weeks maybe even. It is a bit annoying to get it to stay in a stud cavity, but you can staple it in on the sides. Also without a doubt it is less irritating on the lungs and skin than fiberglas in use. It is dusty though, so still should wear a dust mask.
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