When it comes to sound treatment in a studio, extreme opposites can seem to be the only options. We’ve all seen (and used?) egg crate foam on the walls, which, we’re told are bad (and they are, I’ll explain later). But then to get something professional, it seems you have to spend your next paycheck.
httpv://youtu.be/Avah4aDr66I There is a middle ground here, for sound treatment that is effective, aesthetically pleasing, and not too expensive. In my latest video, I share what I’ve used to make my studio space sound and look good.
The goal of sound treatment in the studio is two-fold: 1) reduce or eliminate unpleasant echoes, and 2) even out the frequency response of a room.
Reduce echoes with acoustical panels
To reduce echoes in your room, you need acoustical panels. You want to place these all around your room, but especially in places of what we call first-order reflections. To find these spots, sit in your listening position and have a friend move a small mirror along your walls. Anywhere you can see a reflection of your speakers is a place of first-order reflection. These are your first priority for acoustic panels.
To build these panels, I used Owens Corning 703 insulation. You can either put a frame on the back and wrap it in fabric, or build a frame around the edges. The first option maximizes the absorption of the panels, but the edges don’t look crisp. I chose the second option when I updated my studio’s paint and colors this winter. Check out the video above for how I constructed the panels.
Even out the frequency response
What do I mean by the frequency response of a room? Each dimension of your room – its length, width, and height – will cause particular frequencies to resonate more easily (louder). Acoustic panels will reduce the mid and high frequencies, but to prevent build-up of low sounds, you need something more substantial.
This is why that egg crate foam is not a good solution. This type of foam will muffle some of the high frequencies, but it will leave all the lows and low mids in place, resulting in a room that sounds dull or muddy.
To get in control of low frequencies, use bass traps. Bass traps require dense material and, more importantly, depth. A great way to gain depth is to build bass traps in the corners, using a design we call superchunks. To build my superchunks, I used rock wool, aka mineral wool. Cut into triangles, you can stack the material floor to ceiling in the corners. This design provides excellent dampening of all frequencies, especially the lows.
I found a way to cut the rock wool panels that yielded more bass trap height per panel with a more appropriate size for my space. Click here to download a PDF of the plans.
Getting the materials
The wood framing and fabric are much easier to find than these insulation materials. You can order the OC 703 and rock wool online, but before you do, search your area for a specialty insulation provider. You can save a lot on shipping and may also get better product prices.
The right sound treatment in your studio can make the difference between a room that is simply functional and a room that inspires!