It requires a surprisingly low amount of money to get your home studio at a more professional level. You mainly have to invest some time. It often looks more complicated than it actually is. With a relatively small amount of adjustments in your space you can make all the world of a difference. Both for the music producer mixing at home as a singer doing recordings.
What is acoustic treatment?
By treating your room you can improve booth the quality of your recordings as well as your mixes. By placing bass traps, absorbers and diffusers in a room you get a more balanced and controlled response.
Absorption and diffusion
There are two important concepts in acoustic treatment we have to know to improve our room.
The first method we will use to prevent unwanted frequencies to reflect back to us is absorption. Absorbers are panels made of a thick material that absorb the energy of sound waves. This is often where you make the most of a difference.
Diffusion does the opposite. In stead of trapping frequencies and absorbing them a diffuser scatters frequencies in many different directions.
Acoustic diffusers are made out of hard and rigid material, in different heights and shapes to scatter sound waves in seemingly random directions.
In a lot of cases you would use a combination of both to improve your acoustics.
How to get to work?
Although every space is unique, you can still make a difference without know everything about acoustics.
The best place to start is where you would find the biggest problem areas in most cases: the corners.
Most corners suffer from low end build up. Low frequencies move slower and don’t reflect as much as high frequencies.
Because of that low frequency energy build up in your corners, the low end of your mix needs to compete with that. You often compensate for this by excessively boosting your low end. By tackling these area’s you can greatly improve your mixes.
Bass traps are prisms filled with absorption material placed in the corners from top to bottom. The bigger the prism (the deeper), the more effective it will be as a bass trap.
There are more corners in your room than where two walls meet. Also be wary of the corners between your ceiling and your walls.
The next stap of absorption is to treat all first reflections. Primary reflections are the first reflections that bounce back to your monitoring position. By placing acoustic panels at these spots you will treat those reflections.
How do you actually know where those reflection points are? They usually are directly behind, next to, and above your monitoring position. An easy method to find them is by asking someone to hold a mirror next to the walls. If you can see the reflection of your monitors from your position in the mirror, than that is in fact a place where primary reflections will occur. Place your absorber there.
Diffusion is the other side of the coin. In stead of absorbing, diffusers will scatter reflections.
If you would stack your studio with absorbers, eventually your studio would feel lifeless. A space without any reflection feels unnatural. That’s why they goal is not to completely eliminate your acoustics, but to control it.
Diffusers are used to scatter late reflections. Since you have already tackled the primary reflections with your absorbers, you have to deal with late reflections another way.
Diffusers are made of rigid material in different shapes and sizes. The ratio and shape of each diffuser is calculated on the basis of your space.
A small home studio usually doesn’t need a diffuser, since a small space usually has already too many reflections. If you still want to place a diffuser, try to make sure you already covered all of the problems with absorbers.
The DIY way
Although it’s perfectly fine to buy acoustic panels for your studio, it is quite easy to make them, for a mere fraction of the price. If you do buy them, remember that mass is key. Acoustic foam, egg cartons or shallow panels, never or barely work.
Before you start spending all of your hard earned cash on Black Friday by buying the perfect plugin that will fix all of your issues, or buying that awesome set of monitors, try to consider if you shouldn’t treat your room first. Get a pack of rock wool, some wood and some fabrics and get your hands dirty. You might even surprise yourself.