Advertising
Advertising

Why Your Home Studio Needs Acoustic Treatment

Why Your Home Studio Needs Acoustic Treatment

Technology benefits from the “trickle-down effect” – a phenomenon which lowers the price of consumer goods so that what was once affordable to only the very rich can be had by the common person for a fraction of the price.

This means that, unlike even three or four decades ago, the average music enthusiast can piece together a home studio capable of producing high-quality recordings, with less space taken up and the sort of potential that could only be dreamt of in the early years of music production. In fact, with little more than a moderately-priced computer, a pair of monitor speakers, a DAW (digital audio workstation) and a couple of microphones, you can record and mix in a spare room. But something is missing…

What’s that sound?

    A home studio will never be a professional studio. The former is bound by size constraints, often less-than-ideal surroundings and the acoustic effects of conventional construction techniques. The latter – well, the latter doesn’t suffer from those problems because it’s purpose-built from the ground up. But the biggest issue facing home studio owners is, fortunately, also the easiest to address. It doesn’t require moving or tearing down walls. Rather, it involves treating the chosen room to make it as acoustically honest as possible.

    Advertising

    Room construction – the dimensions and proportions of a space, the thickness of the walls, the insulation, and placement of windows – varies from one home to the next, and furnishings, wall coverings, carpeting, and flooring material all add unique acoustic characteristics. But why should all this matter when you have your head a few feet away from a pair of accurate monitor speakers?

    Sound waves travel fast. Fast enough so that what you think you’re hearing from your speakers has already been colored by the surrounding space. An untreated room has a frequency response – the way it reflects sound back – that is uneven. In short, that means what your ears are telling your brain isn’t true. It’s like taking a photograph of a tree in a field and adjusting the brightness and contrast, then applying a color filter. The outcome is a landscape you still recognize, but it isn’t a true representation.

    Unless you make music for your sole listening enjoyment in the one space it was recorded or mixed in, the end result of an untreated home studio is that what sounds good there probably won’t “translate” well in the real world where most people listen to music. Your mixes will be colored by the excesses and insufficiency related to the unique acoustic properties of your room.

    Why treat your home studio?

    Total acoustic deadening is neither necessary nor desirable. A well-treated space is not covered from top to bottom in foam paneling – that’s more akin to what you’d find in an anechoic chamber. The goal of room treatment, according to Andy Munro – a specialist in acoustic design – is to achieve a “neutral sound balance”. That means that various frequencies are neither exaggerated nor deficient; it means that your ears perceive the source material as it was meant to be heard.

    Advertising

    Dimensional and budgetary constraints may limit the home studio owner in what they can do. However, treating a room as optimally as possible will create a listening environment in which you can learn what a good recording sounds like. You’ll be able to make better decisions which will be evident when your music is played in the outside world.

      The problem with bass

      Of primary concern to the home studio owner are low frequencies. Bass travels far, passing through walls and leaving most of the mid-range and treble behind. If a low-frequency sound wave could be visualized, its cycles – the number of times the wave repeats – would be significantly longer than that of a higher frequency. The unique sonic characteristics of bass make it particularly problematic.

      Left untreated, an average room allows bass to bounce from the wall behind the listener, building up in the corners. The result can be a significant dip – as much as 30 decibels. You might think your music sounds balanced and powerful, with a deep, driving rhythm that supports the entire song, but take it out of the studio, and suddenly it sounds muddy and boomy, with bass overpowering the other instruments. What happened?

      Advertising

      The aforementioned dips – often referred to as “nulls” – altered your perception of the bass in your music. You compensated for what you heard by adding more low-end frequencies. As soon as your music was played in a different environment, the effect of this compensation became evident.

      How to create a bass trap

      The solution to bass nulls is placing a “bass trap” in each corner of your studio. These “traps” are made from material of varying thickness, density, hardness, and softness, sometimes containing air gaps and covered in an acoustically transparent fabric which allows sound waves to pass through without reflecting them back into a room. When low frequencies hit a bass trap, they encounter resistance and slow down. The reflection, dispersion, and accumulation which would be caused by hitting an untreated wall are reduced, resulting in a more even, accurate representation of the sound.

      How many bass traps does a home studio need? Twelve are ideal – one for each of the room’s eight corners, and an additional trap for each of the four vertical junctures between walls.

      The problem with treble

      What about the higher mid-range and treble frequencies? There are two approaches that can be taken. The primary is the placement of acoustic panels, of similar construction to panel-shaped bass traps, at various points on the studio walls. When high frequencies hit an acoustic panel, the sound is absorbed and converted into imperceptible heat, instead of being bounced back at you. Absorptive acoustic panels are an important tool for reducing rapid echoes and the “ringing” effect found in sparsely furnished rooms.

      Advertising

      Another way to deal with troublesome high frequency reflections is through the use of “diffusors “. Unlike acoustic panels or bass traps, a diffusor breaks up sound using an array of three-dimensional patterned surfaces. They may have the appearance of a random arrangement of shapes, but are actually based on precise equations. Diffusors – which should be used only as an adjunct to, not a replacement for, panels – help improve your “sweet spot”, the space where you sit between the speakers, leading to more accurate auditory perception.

      Buy or DIY?

        Whether you make your traps, panels, and diffusors yourself or purchase them will depend upon if you have more time than money, or vice versa. It’s entirely possible to build everything you need and get a good outcome – there are many tutorials to be found online. The drawbacks are the time involved in research, calculation and design, the acquisition of materials and, of course, the creation and installation of the end product. You’ll also need a few basic tools and a space in which to work. The benefit is the money saved.

        Conversely, you can purchase everything you need, professionally made and finished. You’ll save a great deal of time, needing only to install the room treatment products – and with purchasing them comes expert guidance from someone who is already well-versed in acoustics. The only downside is the cost, which ranges from moderately to significantly higher than doing it yourself.

        In either case, your music – whether it’s strictly recorded, electronically sequenced, mixed or any combination thereof – will improve. So too will your mood. You’ll be confident that what you hear in your studio will sound great everywhere else!

        More by this author

        Why Your Home Studio Needs Acoustic Treatment Want to Start Running? See if You’re Ready to hit the Pavement 5 Environmentally Friendly Flooring Options 11 Hidden Benefits of Using Oil Diffusers Which Is More Important to Build Strength, High Weight or High Reps?

        Trending in Lifestyle

        1 12 Causes of Lower Right Back Pain (And How to Relieve It) 2 10 Small Changes To Make Your House Feel Like A Home 3 25 Best Self Improvement Books to Read No Matter How Old You Are 4 10 Best Brain Power Supplements That Will Supercharge Your Mind 5 How to Tell Symptoms of Social Anxiety And What to Do About It

        Read Next

        Advertising
        Advertising
        Advertising

        Last Updated on July 18, 2019

        10 Small Changes To Make Your House Feel Like A Home

        10 Small Changes To Make Your House Feel Like A Home

        Your house is more than just a building that you live in. It should be a home that makes you feel welcome as soon as you open the front door.

        Making your house feel like a home is not something that simply happens on its own. You need to make some changes to a house when you move in, to give it that cozy, warm feeling that turns it into a true home. To help you speed the process, follow this guide to 10 small changes to make your house feel like a home.

        1. Make the Windows Your Own

        When you move into a home, they often come with boring Venetian blinds or less than attractive curtains.

        One of the best ways you can instantly warm your home and make it showcase your style is to add some new window dressing. Adding beautiful curtains not only improves your home’s appearance, but it can also help to control the temperature.

        2. Put up Some Art

        If you have a lot of bare walls in your home, it will seem sterile no matter how beautiful your paint or wallpaper is.

        Advertising

        Hanging art on the walls will instantly give it personality and make it feel like home.

        3. Improve the Aroma

        A house that is not filled with inviting smells will never feel like a home. There are loads of ways you can make your home smell nice. There are tons of air fresheners on the market you can use.

        Incense and scented candles are a nice option as well. Don’t forget that baking in a home is also a great way to fill it with an aroma that instantly smells like home as soon as you open the front door.

        4. Put out Lots of Pillows and Throws

        A great way to make your home look warm and inviting is to place lots of pillows and throws out on the furniture. It is much better to have too many pillows than not enough.

        There is nothing like the feeling of sinking into a cushiony pillow that feels like a cloud to make you feel like you are at home.

        Advertising

        5. Instantly Class up Your Closet

        If your closet is filled with wire or plastic hangers, it will never truly feel homey. To instantly make your closet feel classy, change out your old hangers for wooden ones.

        Not only do they look great, but they are better for hanging your clothes as well.

        6. Improve Your Air Quality

        One of the most overlooked ways to make your house feel more like a home is to improve its air quality.

        The easiest and best way to upgrade the air quality in your home is to change the old, dirty filters in your furnace regularly. Get some air filters delivered to your home so that you always have some on hand.

        7. Fill it with Plants

        Another way to improve the air quality in your home is to fill it with plants. You should have plants in every room of your home.

        Advertising

        They help to improve the air quality and they look beautiful. As well as making your home appear homier, plants also help to boost your mood and lower your stress levels.

        8. Change the Doorknobs

        Most people don’t really give their doorknobs a second thought unless they are broken. That is a shame because changing your doorknobs is an easy way to add personality to your home.

        Changing your old, boring doorknobs to new ones that are works of art will instantly brighten your home.

        9. Upgrade Your Tub or Shower

        There is nothing like luxuriating in a whirlpool bath or steam shower to make the cares of the day melt away. Your family deserves a bit of luxury when they are in their bathroom.

        Install a new shower or tub today to make your bathroom worthy of a place in your home.

        Advertising

        10. Fresh Cut Flowers

        You can make any room in your house feel homier by placing a vase full of beautiful flowers in it. The gorgeous look and intoxicating aroma of fresh cut flowers will immediately brighten your day when you encounter them.

        You don’t have to make all these changes at once. Try one or two a day though, and your house will feel like a home before you know it. The trick is to constantly keep adding these homey touches to make your home a place worthy of its name.

        Featured photo credit: https://www.pexels.com/photo/black-wooden-round-analog-wall-clock-on-brown-wooden-wall-121537/ via unsplash.com

        Read Next