Acoustic treatment and soundproofing of your home studio is essential if you intend to record audio yourself, whether you sing, rap, create sound effects, do a podcast or play an acoustic instrument. If you’re a music producer and you don’t record your voice or anything else in your home studio, you still need acoustic treatment in order to get the truest, cleanest sound out of your studio monitors.
Why do I need acoustic treatment and soundproofing in my home studio?
Every room has a sound, even if it can be very subtle. Tiny vibrations, wind, traffic and other outside sources generate noise, as well as the equipment you use, such as the fans in your computer. When sound waves interact with each other, they collide and bounce, which alters the way they sound. In order to accurately monitor a recording and get the best, cleanest sound, you have to limit or completely remove the sound of the room. You should also shut out as much external noise as possible by soundproofing your home studio.
Acoustic treatment let’s you control how sound behaves in your home studio
You might not even be aware of the ambient background noises and interference, but you need to ensure that the audio tracks you are composing, recording, mixing, and editing are unaffected by the room you build your own home studio in.
What’s the difference between soundproofing and acoustic treatment?
When people talk about soundproofing, they often mean acoustic treatment, so what is the difference?
Soundproofing blocks out external noise from outside the room.
Acoustic Treatment absorbs ambiance, noise and echoes inside the room.
Basic home studio acoustic treatment
You need a combination of absorption and diffusion to acoustically treat your home studio. The most common problem with rooms that aren’t built specifically for recording is so-called flutter echo, which occurs when sound is reflected between two parallel surfaces, amplifying certain frequencies and producing a sort of “fluttering” sound. This is best treated by absorbing the noise.
Absorption: Absorbs sound waves in order to stop them from bouncing back. The most important spot for acoustic absorption is directly behind your producer’s chair.
Diffusion: Spreads (diffuses) the sound waves, so that no “hot spots” emerge in the room.
How much acoustic treatment do I need?
How much acoustic treatment you need is highly dependent on the room you use as your home studio. In general, somewhere between 25% to 75% coverage of the walls and ceiling is recommended. Try to at least cover the large, flat surfaces and most of the wall behind where you sit. You can always get more foam!
Acoustic foam is the most common way to acoustically treat a room, because it’s (relatively) cheap, very easy to work with and still very effective. Acoustic foam comes in many different shapes, sizes, thicknesses and colors. There are foam panels, foam wedges, foam cubes and more. This means that you can most likely find products that fit your needs perfectly.
- Easy to work with
- Easy to trim to size
Acoustic panels are used to cover the walls and/or ceiling in a home studio. They are sometimes called studio tiles. The cheapest, most common ones are typically made of black or dark grey acoustic foam, but they can be made of a wide variety of materials, including plastic, polyester, wood and fireproof materials. The fancier they are, the more expensive they tend to be, even if they don’t necessarily work any better. As a beginner on a budget, you are probably better off getting more of the cheap acoustic panels than splurging on some that look nicer.
Acoustic sound blankets can be used to section off parts of the room, cover the walls, or even wrap around the spot where you record, to create a miniature recording chamber. Acoustic blankets absorb noise the same way acoustic panels do, but are typically easier to move, since you can hang them up instead of attaching them to the wall.
Bass is composed of long, powerful, low-frequency sound waves that are hard to control. They tend to collect in the corners of a room and give an artificial “boost” to the bass. Corner bass traps are wedges that you mount in the corners of a room to literally “trap” the low frequencies.
Diffusors are a type of acoustic panel, which are designed to diffuse (spread) sound instead of absorbing (trapping) it.
Monitor Isolation Pads
The point of using studio monitors is to get the most accurate sound, so you want to minimize the low-end vibration transfer to the surface they stand on.
If soundproofing is the goal, you cannot rely on acoustic foam and diffusers. They will make your room sound better by absorbing ambient and reflected sound within your studio, but they will not block out external noise.
Density: The thicker the walls are between your home studio and the outside, the less sound will travel through them. By adding layers and increasing the thickness, you will reduce the level of noise.
Air gaps: If it’s possible, creating air gaps in between the layers will further improve isolation.