Acoustic Treatment: How to Get a Better Sounding Room

Last Updated on December 16th, 2019 at 10:51 am

Acoustic treatment is one of the most difficult to understand parts of building a home studio.

It’s the particular touch that turns an ordinary room into a proper recording environment.

However getting began with acoustic treatment is intimidating, particularly for the average producer. After all, pro studios spend thousands of improving the acoustics of the spaces where they record.

The surprising reality is that it is something anybody could benefit from in a home studio.

In this article, I will go through everything you should know about acoustic treatment.

What’s the acoustic treatment?

Acoustic treatment is the process of growing the acoustic properties of a room for recording or mixing music. The purpose of it is to make your environment sound more neutral and sonically pleasing with controlled ambiance and predictable qualities for recording. It is completed by mounting absorption or diffusion devices in areas where problematic reflections happen.

Absorption and Diffusion

There are two approaches to dealing with problematic acoustics.

The first is to prevent unwanted frequencies from reflecting back into the recording or mixing environment. This way is called absorption.

Acoustic absorbers are made from a material that stops sound energy from bouncing off hard surfaces such as walls and ceilings.

These “trapped” reflections no longer interfere with the direct sound from the source. That makes an enormous improvement to the sound quality of your space—and your recordings.

Diffusion is the other method of acoustic treatment. Diffusion works by scattering problematic reflections in different directions. This reduces its negative impact.

Acoustic diffusers are made of rigid materials arranged in patterns of varying height, size, or surface direction.

In most cases, a mixture of both approaches is important for effective acoustic treatment.

How to acoustically treat your room

Unlucky, there’s nobody size fits all solution for acoustic treatment.

Each room is unique, with different problem areas. However, when you are just getting began with acoustic treatment there are some basic recommendations that could make a big improvement.

To treat your room for recording or mixing you will need to use the following kinds of acoustic treatment:

  • Bass traps—for low frequencies
  • Acoustic panels—for broadband absorption
  • Diffusers—for late reflections.

I will undergo each one and clarify how they contribute to proper acoustic treatment.

What are bass traps?

Bass traps are acoustic absorbers built to prevent problematic reflections from low frequencies. This kind of acoustic treatment requires extra mass and absorptive properties to deal with low frequencies effectively.

They are shaped such as triangular prisms and placed in the corners of the room where bass frequencies build up.

To be effective at low frequencies, bass traps have to be filled entirely with absorptive material.

bass traps

Controlling your room’s bass correctly is essential. Low-end energy could be extra problematic for recording and mixing environments—particularly in small spaces.

The lower the frequency, the longer a sound’s wavelength. For instance, one cycle of a 60 Hz sine wave is almost 19 feet!

Room reflections blend with the direct signal and cause destructive interference even before a full cycle of the wave has been finished.

With almost the entire energy of the sound wave fighting against itself, your bass will disappear in critical areas and build-up in others.

As you process your tracks, you will attempt to compensate by boosting the low end in your combine. Then, Your final product will be far too bassy if you listen anywhere outside of your bad combine room.

Bass traps are an effective solution to those problems.

There are commercial firms that give premium pre-built bass traps, however, it’s also completely possible to build your own.

Actually, all of the kinds of acoustic treatment in this article are surprisingly accessible when you are willing for DIY.

What are acoustic panels?

Acoustic panels are absorbing devices that work for a broad frequency range of sound energy. Bass traps handle the lowest frequencies and acoustic panels care for the rest.

acoustic panels

The next most problematic areas are the first reflection points. It is a key area to use acoustic absorption panels.

These are the places where the initial reflections converge on the listening position with the most intensity.

Every room is different, however, the first reflection points are typically located on walls to the immediate left and right of the listening position.

Acoustic panels are made of a rectangular frame filled with absorbent material and hung on walls.

What are diffusers?

Acoustic diffusers are a form of acoustic treatment that scatter reflections rather than absorbing them.

They are a necessary part of comprehensive acoustic treatment. When you only use absorption, you will end up with an area that sounds unnaturally “dead.”

Diffusion permits you to control room reflections without eliminating them completely.

There are different diffusor styles that each use a different strategy to reduce the negative effects of acoustic reflections.

Diffusion works best for tackling late reflections at points further back from the main listening position, however, it’s still a key part of a complete acoustic treatment strategy.

acoustic diffuser

Royal treatment

It is a commonly misunderstood component of a good studio setup.

There is a lot to learn, however, the basics are surprisingly easy—control reflections and stop necessary frequencies from canceling one another out.

A mixture of bass traps, broadband absorbers, and diffusers is an efficient begin to treat a room.

Use the info in this article to get began on your journey with acoustic treatment.

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