The Three Building Blocks Of Acoustic
I've posted this before a few years ago, but I've been getting so many questions on acoustic treatment lately that I thought it was time for a refresher. While soundproofing the space where you have your recording gear set up can be an expensive and time consuming proposition, treating the acoustics of your room luckily can be quite the opposite. Believe it or not, it's not that expensive and can be done in only a matter of hours if you have all the building blocks on hand.
So what are these building blocks? Here's an excerpt from my The Studio Builder's Handbook (written with Dennis Moody) that explains just what they are.
"Acoustic treatment for your room is built around three main components: acoustic panels, bass traps, and diffusers." Let's take a brief look at each.
You can think of an acoustic panel as a very large picture frame that has sound absorbing material inside instead of a picture. Although you could permanently attach the sound absorbing material to the wall (like most commercial studios do), using a sound panel allows you to move it as needed and even take it with you if you move.
Acoustic panels are easy and inexpensive to make. Above is a video from my YouTube channel. These are also available pre-made from a variety of companies like Ready Acoustics, GIK Acoustics, RealTraps.com, ATS Acoustics, MSR, AV Room Service and many more.
Bass traps work best in corners because bass tends to collect there, but they can also work well spaced off the front and rear walls. Since bass is omni-directional, the traps don't have to be paired or symmetrically placed, although believe it or not, the smaller the room the more you will need. The most effective ones extend from floor to ceiling. If that can't happen, the next most effective method is to just treat the 8 individual corners of the room.
As with acoustic panels, pre-made bass traps are made by a number of manufacturers like the ones mentioned above.
While diffusers can be used anywhere in the room that doesn't already have an acoustic panel, a common strategy that's used by many large commercial studios is to use a diffusor on the rear wall. Doing this is controversial, as there are as many designers who believe that the rear wall should be non-reflective as there are that believe it should be diffuse.
In small rooms where the rear wall is closer than six feet from the listening position, you're likely to have more success trying to absorb the sound with deep traps than you are diffusing it. A bookshelf filled with books is a great natural diffusor (and adds some absorption as well), but shelves randomly filled with objects, or small angle wood blocks can work too. Companies like RPG, Real Traps and MSR also make both off-the-shelf and custom diffusors as well.
With any of these acoustic components, you don't need to spend a fortune to achieve tangible results. That said, it isn't easy to predict in advance just how much of an improvement there will be for any given approach (even for the pros studio designers), so some experimentation is required."
You can find out a lot more about acoustic treatment and how to build a home studio effectively and inexpensively by consulting The Studio Builder's Handbook. You can also read some excerpts from this and my other books on excerpt part of my website.