We know the world is noisy but we don’t realise how much until we initiate building a studio. Be it your bedroom workstation, your basement jam room or your full-fledged recording studio, it’s almost impossible to make a good recording with all those background noises that you never noticed before bleeding through the microphone. It’s also really important in most cases that the sound inside the studio be retained. You don’t want to wake your neighbours when a band comes to jam in your jam room!
Now this is where soundproofing kicks in. I’m sure we’ve all heard about it, but do you really know what soundproofing is?
What does soundproofing do?
When you make sure that your room is perfectly soundproofed, you get two basic benefits:
- Outside noises will stay outside. These noises wouldn’t bleed into your microphone and into your mixes. Also, these noises wouldn’t disturb your recording sessions.
- Inside noises will stay The noises in your studio or jam room will not go out and wake up the neighbours.
Outside noises usually include people, traffic, footsteps, air conditioners that just bleed into your recordings sometimes without you realising it. In short, soundproofing makes sure that your isolation is in a perfect state wherein you have no contact with the outside world. Imagine the solace!
Inter-room noise is dealt with by soundproofing. But do you know what dealing with the in-room sound is called?
What does Acoustic Treatment do?
Soundproofing does NOT make your room tone better or make your room’s ambience less deflective and better for mixing. Making your room sound better on a recording and clear for mixing comes under Acoustic treatment. Basically, it involves treating your room in a manner that sound reflections are the way they’re needed for you to hear better/clear and ultimately make better mixes.
Many people confuse Acoustic treatment and Soundproofing interchangeably for each other. This is the most common mistake when it comes to these processes.
Just to be clear,
- Soundproofing is intended for minimising the level of sound that passes through the walls both ways by building it with heavy and dense material.
- Acoustic Treatment is intended for controlling the sound reflections INSIDE the room for making better sounding recordings.
Soundproofing your studio is basically done with the help of some standard tactics.
- Adding mass: This tactic includes adding mass to your walls to prevent sound from entering and exiting the room. If you’re building a room from scratch, a lot of mass can be easily added by customizing the materials used while building. But if you’re trying to add mass to an existing room, additional structures must be built using materials like mass loaded vinyls or sheetblock etc.
- Decoupling: If any two elements in your room are in contact with each other, sound vibrations can pass through objects and thus sound can travel more than you intend it to. When you isolate these contact points, by using some dense material like rubber, this process is known as Decoupling.
These are the basic and most affordable techniques that you could use to kill any unwanted resonance in the room before it gets amplified and interfere with your recording.
- Acoustic Treatment:
Acoustic treatment is slightly trickier than soundproofing. This is because when you’re soundproofing, you’re striving towards total blockage of sound between rooms. But in case of acoustic treatment, you need to do it in a manner so as to not overdo or underdo the process.
Acoustic treatment involves a few steps.
The first step is to evaluate your room
Before buying all the stuff that’s on the market, just have a look at your room to see what you really need. For this, just walk around the room and clap or make a loud ‘tch’ sound. These sounds will reverberate. You will notice either of these things:
- A harsh/metallic ringing sound
- A deep/smooth/pleasant reverb.
Since you want your mixing space to sound good,
If you’re closer to the metallic sound, you need more and more absorption to make your room sound as dry as possible.
If you’re closer to the pleasant sound, you need minimal absorption to make your room as close to perfect as possible.
The 3 pillars of Acoustic Treatment
- Bass Traps: The foremost element for treatment is this. Contrary to popular belief, bass traps do not just absorb bass frequencies. Porous bass traps can also absorb mid/high frequencies due to their broadband nature. What we recommend for smaller rooms where low frequency is very problematic is bass traps on the corners. Try these Aurica corner bass traps which are very economical and work like a charm for me.
- Acoustic Panels: This is where people go wrong when they straight away move on to acoustic panels. Acoustic panels cannot absorb the lowest of bass frequencies. This is why they need to be installed AFTER you’re done with the bass traps.
The best utility about these is the way they can cover most of the surface area in the room, without being too hard on the pocket. Here are some amazingly economical and efficient options that you can try:
- Diffusers: If bass traps are your necessity and acoustic panels a moderate need, diffusers are a luxury. Since most of the absorption has been covered by both of these, you may or may not put up additional diffusers according to your taste. This is a disputable topic, where some experts are in favour of putting diffusers in small studios whereas some aren’t.
Also, if you want you can buy a whole kit of a same brand for constant acoustics throughout. We recommend the Aurica Complete Room Acoustical Control Kit with Absorbers, Diffusers and Bass Traps.
These are some really nice, cost efficient acoustic treatment products that will help you achieve a nice room with minimal effort. Remember, soundproofing and acoustic treatment are two very important but very different things, so make sure you don’t confuse these. Also, if you overdo the acoustic treatment, it will kill the dynamics. If you underdo, it will be useless.
Find your sweet spot and you’re good to go!
Explore the entire range of Aurica soundproofing and acoustic treatment here.