How to Improve Acoustics in a Room


Our house is full of musicians, and naturally a bunch of instruments follow. In order to accommodate instrument and music equipment storage we decided to convert one of the bedrooms into a music and recording space. Figuring out storage for instruments is easy, but prepping a space for recording is more challenging. I’m currently in the research a.k.a Google process of figuring out how to turn a plain room into a do-it-yourself recording “studio.”

One thing I want to do is improve the acoustic quality inside the room so that any music recorded in it will result in less sound reverberation getting picked up by the mic. Sound can reflect back and forth between opposing walls, as well as the floor and ceiling. Here I’ve put together a short plan of action that should help reduce the occurence of echos in the room and I figured it may also be of interest to some of you, should you decide to do any kind of recording in your home.

    Professionally made panels use a variety of materials like foam, cotton, polyester, and even wood. I found this video by Matt from DIY Perks where he tested out a variety of materials that are commonly thought as good sound absorbers but SURPRISE! A few layers of towels absorbed the most sound out of them all. In this video he shows how to make a panel by packing a number of towels around a blank canvas frame. To save money he suggests that you can buy used towels from your local thrift shop, and I bet you could even get some cheap frames from the decor section as well.

    Without having to do some minor renovation to add more walls into the room (some studios create rooms with more than 4 even walls), various objects like bookcases, drapes on the windows, tapestries, and more frames and prints also help absorb and deflect sounds. Try to not make the objects very uniform so that there are varied degrees of height and depth of items all around. Allow the books on the bookcase to be different sizes and not lined up neatly. Add more towels behind the other prints. Shoot, hang a bunch of drapes on the wall. Go crazy! This design concept is probably not for the OCD types.
    Photos via World Market

    As with the walls, we’ll need to decrease the amount of sound hitting the floor. If your room is already carpeted, SCORE. If not, throw a few area rugs down. If you’ve ever seen a professional recording studio you may have seen area rugs on the floor. I bet you didn’t know they served a purpose other than looking nice! If rugs aren’t your thing, carpet tiles work well. You can pick them up at FLOR or your local home improvement store. Carpet tiles are fun to work with. You can mix and match various colors and patterns and create your own patterns.

If you’d like some visuals, here are a few examples of professional studios and vocal booths using various sound absorbing materials. Look at all the fffffffoooooooaaaaaaaaaammmmmmmm.

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