How to Improve Room Acoustics in Your Home Studio

In Tips & How To by MusicGearo

Young producers who are just getting started with home recording have grossly underestimated the importance of room acoustics.

They assume that their studio monitors and condenser microphone will do the job.

There is a thing to understand why the Acoustic Quality of your room-studio can significantly improve the quality of the production and final output.
Before we start to walk you through the reasons why the acoustic quality of your room studio must be improved, & the detailed process to design a very useful acoustic treatment setup for your room studio; I have to first explain to you what Acoustics & Acoustic Quality I mean.

Studio acoustics, on the other hand, is talking about the principles of how sound works in a closed room. It looks at things you need to do technically to control the sound waves within your recording environment.
Finally, Acoustic Quality has to do with the quality of the sound waves in an enclosed room.

How to improve your room’s acoustic quality?

We all know how to make everything happen in a room studio, how to record, write, produce, mix, & master inside one room. But what most don’t know is how to get the best acoustic quality out of the small-sized room studio.

Different room-sized recording studios have a different acoustic requirement. The requirements vary due to different room sizes and arrangement. So we are going to be looking at how to get the best acoustic quality out of a room-sized studio.

You can improve your room studio acoustic quality with the following solutions

Using “mattress” in your vocal booth:
A very good & thick old mattress is the most cost-effective natural sound absorber you can get in your home, better than pillows and thick blankets, even when used together.

The best and most popular DIY method to improve your sound quality when recording is to firmly place an old mattress against your wall directly behind the singer/recording artist’s back.
Using mattress is an old method that has been tested and certified by experienced professionals who have tried the method a couple of times in their early recording days.

You, however, have to strictly adhere to the following to make the technique work strictly, they are:
You must use a heavy and thick enough mattress to get the best quality. A light mattress is not ideal.

Taking care of bass

Every enclosed room has a bass resonance that is mostly too low. Besides, This will require you to get quality materials to improve the bass quality, which will overall take care of your recording studio’s acoustic quality.
To take care of your studio low bass resonance, you need incredibly thick materials, & good bass traps.
There are different kinds of bass traps based on the frequency range produced. Some are bulky because they work with sound-absorbing materials and are quite effective over a broad range of frequencies.

Other kinds of bass traps work with materials that resonate on a particular bass frequency. They are only effective in narrow frequency range, which must be manually controlled from time to time.
I know this Method of Taking Care of the Bass is starting to get confusing, but don’t worry, you don’t have to stress yourself with all these technicalities. You can improvise by using any thick enough old Couches’ in your home and place them strategically in a position to absorb the bass energy.

Planning

You have decided to treat your studio for acoustics, you have ordered the materials online, or you probably bought them in a local retail store close to you, now it is piled in the middle of the room. The next thing is setting them up and installing them on the wall.
You will want to make sure it is set up in the right places in the studio, to optimize its acoustic performance.
It is essential to take your time and think of creative ideas of how they will be set up, or you don’t want your work to lock like something made by a 2-year-old. Make sure that you get the accurate dimension of the spaces on the wall the acoustic wares will be installed. Also, at the same time, get the best type of glue that will do a perfect job.
All of these requires proper planning, and you have to take your time on it.

Using Reflection Filters

As a young producer or recording artist, getting an original and quality acoustic foam can be a little expensive, probably over your budget. Also, consider the fact that using a mattress might take the space or make your studio look ugly or just too ghetto-looking for artists to come to you. Your best bet is a reflection layer, which has been tested and trusted by many studio owners to be a very practical solution.

Reflection Filter – https://commons.wikimedia.org/wiki/File:Reflection_Filter_%26_Pop_Filter.jpg

How they work is that they absorb the sound reflections around your mic, before entering the room, rather than absorbing the reflections scattered around the room.
The Reflection filters are in the form of a semi-circled absorption panel mounted to your mic, which wraps neatly around the mic.
They are not the best and most effective ways to solve the problem of room acoustics, but produce quality output and are cost-effective compared to setting up an acoustic foam in your studio.

Speaker Isolation

Another right way to improve the acoustic quality of what you produce in your room studio is by isolating the speakers in strategic positions.
You first of a need to arrange your speakers on stands in specific areas in the studio, the positioning of the speakers will help improve the sound frequency and vibrations in places in the studio with low-end frequency.
What all these grammar means is that: by arranging your speakers in strategic positions, you’ll get equal sound output from every angle of the room.

Do I even need to improve acoustics in my studio?

By not giving it the necessary acoustics treatment; all the quality mic, speakers, and equipment you just bought is more or less a waste of money. I know by now you have started wondering why not improving the acoustics of your studio will be harmful to the quality of your job. Here is why you have to treat your studio’s acoustics:

Bass Problems

The problem with bass in every small studio is a great concern for studio owners.
Here is why –  The bass produced from a sound travels very fast, passing through walls which are not adequately treated. It will cause a gradual reduction in the treble and mid-range sounds.
The speed of movement of the bass and its unique sonic ability makes it quite problematic in terms of studio acoustics.

If bass frequency problem is left untreated in a room-sized studio, it starts to bounce right from the wall behind the singer, and transfers to all corners of the room. The result is a significant loss in quality of the sound produced. And if you take it out of the studio for other people to enjoy, it will sound muddy and tattered, because the bass is seriously overpowering the sounds made from other instruments.

A high-frequency sound wave in the studio that causes the treble problem is also a reason to treat your studio’s acoustics. The treble frequency disrupts the overall sound quality of your production.
When played out of the studio or in rooms with different frequencies, you start to hear voice overlap and echoes. It is very disadvantageous to the quality of your work, which will determine how much people will accept or even like it.

The immense advantage of using acoustic foams

One of the most important wares in a studio is good acoustic foam. Trust me, it defines your output quality and tells people how professional you are.
If the studio isn’t built with acoustic quality in mind, it won’t matter the amount of money spent on other equipment’s when people hear the output.
Acoustic foams were not taken seriously until very recently, it was largely due to the misconception of people that acoustic foams are not that important and more or less a waste of money. We have over the years gotten to understand that the reverse is the case, and intact it is one of the most important aspects of a professional studio, whether in a room or a large studio complex.
A significant disadvantage of not installing acoustic foam in your studio is that it makes your studio sessions hard and very un-pleasurable. Recorded songs will be difficult to control, and mixing & mastering will be as tricky as it can get.

A studio without proper acoustic treatment will be very reflective

The recordings will also get out of control because there are no surfaces in the room to absorb the sound waves.
So – by installing acoustic foams, the sounds in the room can be controlled, and the studio can be lively.
Acoustic treatment is the only thing that determines the accuracy of whatever you are recording, editing, mixing, or mastering. It also gives you the ability of recording and monitoring accurately.

Whether your studio is the size of a small room or as large as a basketball court, acoustic foams are the only soldiers that can tame the beast that is your studio and put it under control.

Acoustic Treatment

This chapter is where we talk about various methods of treating your rooms acoustic, and just how crucial acoustic treatment is when setting up your studio space.

Excellent acoustic treatment can transform a distorted and clumsy sounding room to produce crisp, clean, clear, & quality sounds. This is why having the right acoustics in your studio is a must when recording, producing, mixing & mastering.
If the acoustic quality of your studio is not taken care of, songs produced in that studio will sound different, shabby or muddy when produced elsewhere.

By the way, It is essential to note that you are only trying to build a standard studio with the budget you have, and not a full fletched acoustics laboratory. So, therefore, it is wiser to use various ready-made available software to measuring the acoustic quality, rather than wasting all your time and energy with mathematical equations an formulas.

Why bother with acoustic treatment?

Untreated rooms have an uneven frequency response, that is the mixing decision you make solely depends on the sound that is “colored” because you can’t accurately hear the sound being played.
This my friend, is a big problem in the recording studio, no matter the size. The reason is that you can’t tell exactly how your music will sound when played elsewhere.
So, if you want your songs, recordings and mixes to come out well with good quality, and free of interruptions of any kind, you just have to pay keen attention of the quality of the acoustics of your room studio, or the studio will eat you alive.
The following are the best approaches to treating your room acoustics.
Acoustic philosophy: Always keep this at the back of your mind that “in acoustic, when something feels intuitive, it is probably wrong.” Always know that to get the best production out of your studio, you must follow the rules, you must provide the necessary acoustic treatment.
This is not a scenario where you have to bend the rules and manipulate your way through it to get what you feel is the best output from the sounds made in your studio.

Vertical adjustments

If you can afford to acquire a speaker that comes with adjustable stands, good news, you have just been provided with a tool to experiment with positioning your speakers to control the sound waves.

Get the specs right

There is this thing called “Sound Absorption coefficient. It’s a measure of how much sound is absorbed by your acoustic materials. The measurement is between 0 – 1, 0 for no sound absorbed & 1 for complete absorption level.
You can use a sound absorption coefficient to detect whether certain studio gears and wares are right for their specified tasks. If understood, you can also determine what materials to combine together to increase the sound absorption in the across the entire frequency spectrum.

Fabricating panels

The quality of fabric to be used can lead to the biggest expenditure when making your sound absorbers. It might be tempting here to bend the rules and buy the ones with subsidized quality because it’s cheap. Trust me; it will cost you dearly in the nearest future. Bad fabric is just bad, nothing more.
The best thing you can try to do is to bet the best offer for the fabrics from your local fabric suppliers

Take measurements seriously

When you are planning to take the measurement of the sound of your studio, get the best software specifically designed to perform the job. Don’t waste your time testing it with your mic and speakers because you will most likely get a very inaccurate result.

Seek professional Advice

For those that don’t have the luxury of time to build the panels, absorbing materials necessary to fix your studio acoustic, you can always seek professional help. If you can afford their services, while it is quite reasonable most of the time, they will get the studio the acoustic treatment it needs.

If I Making music on studio headphones, do I need acoustic correction?

The answer is no because you do not need acoustic corrections when recording, mixing & mastering with headphones.
Here is the reason why you don’t need acoustic correction for making music on studio headphones.

Monitoring during fixing

The sound traveling to your ears through a pair of headphones is not as much compared to a pair of studio monitors. The sound leaving the pair of monitors can be played at a much higher volume, and the sound also interacts with environments and the sound of the whole studio will badly affect the quality of the production.
Your best bet is a to look for a cheap and quality pair of studio headphones if you can’t afford to cover the cost of acoustic treatment for the entire studio.

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