Advertising

Why Your Home Studio Needs Acoustic Treatment

Why Your Home Studio Needs Acoustic Treatment
Advertising

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.

        Advertising

        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

        9 Tips to Make The Most of Your Recumbent Exercise Bike Workout 11 Hidden Benefits of Using Oil Diffusers 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

        Trending in Lifestyle

        1 How to Quit Drinking for a Healthier Body and Mind 2 How to Sleep Through the Night and Get Good Rest 3 Why You Keep Waking Up in the Middle of the Night (And How to Fix It) 4 Best Water to Drink (The Ultimate Guide to Drink for Better Health) 5 3 Steps to Get Rid of a Candida Overgrowth

        Read Next

        Advertising
        Advertising

        Last Updated on July 12, 2021

        100 Incredible Life Hacks That Make Life So Much Easier

        100 Incredible Life Hacks That Make Life So Much Easier
        Advertising

        Want to learn some quick and easy life hacks that are easy to do, low cost and saves you time?

        By tweaking little things in your daily life, it can make your life much more convenient!

        Here’re 100 of the most practical life hacks so you can just pick up any of them right away!

        83 tie a small piece of bright colored fabric

          84 write random letter

            85 use a rubberband

              86 dorm smell bad

                87 lean your phone on your sunglassess

                  89 how to waterproof your shoes

                    90 take a picture of the name card

                      91 iron inside out

                        92 old newspaper

                          93 tumble try shoes

                            keep a card like this

                              SONY DSC

                                94 soap bar

                                  95 make a hole

                                    96 drop the battery

                                      97 use a coozie

                                        98 when taking a picture

                                          use a clean dust pan

                                            try a pants hanger

                                              use your cellphone light

                                                use a spring from an old pen

                                                  quick and easy iphone speaker

                                                    user binder clips

                                                      wrap a wet paper towel around your beverage

                                                        put pancake mix in a ketchup bottle

                                                          clean out an old lotion bottle for your beach

                                                            use a muffin tin to serve condiments at a bbq

                                                              doritos are great for kindling

                                                                use nail polish to identify different keys

                                                                  use a hanging shoe rack to store cleaning supplies

                                                                    freeze grapes to chill white wine without

                                                                      use paper clips to organize your cables

                                                                        almost finished your jar of nutella

                                                                          sick of having a box full of tangled

                                                                            unroll the rim to increase the capacity

                                                                              cut open toilet paper rolls and use as a cuff

                                                                                remove the stem from strawberries

                                                                                  turn an old bottle into a simple little cord holder

                                                                                    for iced coffee and iced cappuccino, use frozen coffee cubes

                                                                                      how to fold a fitted bed sheet

                                                                                        tired of snoozing past your alarm

                                                                                          place a rubber band around an open paint can to wipe your brush on

                                                                                            ut a wooden spoon across a boiling pot

                                                                                              use bread clips to save flip-flops

                                                                                                take pictures of friends holding items

                                                                                                  how i always know which headphone is the left one

                                                                                                    put a stocking over the end of a vacuum

                                                                                                      How to make sure you drink enough water

                                                                                                        user a can opener to open blister

                                                                                                          good sandwich guide

                                                                                                            turn your muffin pans upside down

                                                                                                              50 pounds of groceries and living on the 5th floor

                                                                                                                the right way to make a blt

                                                                                                                  add one teaspoon of baking soda

                                                                                                                    38

                                                                                                                      hair straighteners equals to collar irons

                                                                                                                        stack your clothes vertically to see them all

                                                                                                                          the right way to make cookies in the summer

                                                                                                                            how to clean a blender

                                                                                                                              the right way to eat a popsicle

                                                                                                                                use bread clips to label and organize power cords

                                                                                                                                  to get the built up residue off of your shower head

                                                                                                                                    user a hair clip to orgainize long wires

                                                                                                                                      a frozen saturated sponge in a bag

                                                                                                                                        rub stuck zipper teeth with a graphite pencil

                                                                                                                                          use a soda pop tab

                                                                                                                                            50

                                                                                                                                              51 How to multiply large numbers in your head.

                                                                                                                                                52 How to open a bottle if you dont have a corkscrew.

                                                                                                                                                  rub a walnut on damaged wooden furniture

                                                                                                                                                    kids fall out of bed

                                                                                                                                                      use toothpaste to clear up hazy car

                                                                                                                                                        58

                                                                                                                                                          59 keep pizza out while driving home

                                                                                                                                                            60 put your straw through the tab to keep it from rising

                                                                                                                                                              hold oreos with a fork so your fingers

                                                                                                                                                                Never lose your remotes again

                                                                                                                                                                  hiding your emergency money

                                                                                                                                                                    use a bread tab to hold your spot on a roll

                                                                                                                                                                      if you are at a hotel and run out of chargers

                                                                                                                                                                        keep a square of cardboard in a ziplock bag

                                                                                                                                                                          If you need to pee or smoke at a bar

                                                                                                                                                                            drill holes in the bottom of your garbage

                                                                                                                                                                              use an accented letter as your passcode

                                                                                                                                                                                use a squeeze ketchup bottle top with your shopvac

                                                                                                                                                                                  do something unusual when locking the door

                                                                                                                                                                                    when heating leftovers space out a circle in the middle

                                                                                                                                                                                      dont burn yourself in those hard to reach candles

                                                                                                                                                                                        put a small amount of water in a glass when you microwave your pizza

                                                                                                                                                                                          75 use a piece of paper to organize

                                                                                                                                                                                            use half a pool noodle

                                                                                                                                                                                              pencil case to store cables

                                                                                                                                                                                                78 clothespin to hold nail

                                                                                                                                                                                                  79 make blts

                                                                                                                                                                                                    80 take a picture of your fridge

                                                                                                                                                                                                      81 fill plastic water bottles

                                                                                                                                                                                                        82 right ways to eat chips

                                                                                                                                                                                                          99 if your plug keeps failing

                                                                                                                                                                                                            100 put the banana on the wire

                                                                                                                                                                                                              88 before you throw away a post it

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Source: Reddit LifeProTips

                                                                                                                                                                                                                There you go, 100 awesome life hacks that you can try right now to make your life a lot easier!

                                                                                                                                                                                                                More Amazing Life Hacks for An Easier Life

                                                                                                                                                                                                                50 Top Parenting Tricks and Hacks That Will Make Life Easier And More Fun

                                                                                                                                                                                                                30 Brilliant Camping Hacks I Wish I Knew Earlier

                                                                                                                                                                                                                20 Popular Life Hacks From the Internet Debunked (or Verified)

                                                                                                                                                                                                                Read Next