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Studio Acoustic Special

How to properly dam my studio? Answers to the most common questions

Published 6:09 am on Tuesday 13th September 2022 by Beat Magazine

Is studio acoustics the same as soundproofing?

No. With an acoustic treatment, frequencies are specifically contained and distributed, but the room itself is not made soundproof. Acoustically sealing a room is more of a structural measure, for example by using proper mineral wool in the walls or even partition walls especially for this purpose.

Is acoustic treatment even necessary in my studio? And which one?

Certainly a basic question, but one to which only you can find the answer, and one in which several factors play a role. Are you happy with your mixdowns and do the tracks work on stage and on headphones? If yes, studio acoustics should not be an issue for you. If no, it depends both on whether your ears are already used to the sound of your monitor speakers and whether your room reverberates uncomfortably at certain frequencies. The former is a matter of habit, so practice is the only thing that helps, while the latter is a matter of changing something in the room. And what exactly, you will learn in this special.

Where and how are acoustic modules and elements installed?

The places where elements are needed, depend on the shape and condition of the room, as well as the placement of your monitor boxes. At the same time, these factors determine which modules will be used, i.e. absorbers or diffusers, reflectors or completely different solutions. You will find the answers for each conceivable scenario in the course of this special. You can find out exactly how elements are installed in the information on module types later in the other parts of the special below.

Do acoustic measures pay off?

Definitely! Good acoustics mean relaxed music making and enable you to better detect and deal with problem sources in the mix. However, a good monitoring system is also part of it.

Can you overdo it with acoustic measures?

Yes, because an overly damped studio sounds unpleasantly dry and thus distorts acoustic perception. The goal of studio acoustics is not the complete containment of all sound, but the containment and overemphasis and room modes to create a sound image that is as neutral as possible.

What is the best material for improving studio acoustics?

Depending on the intended purpose, different materials are available. Absorbers are usually made of mineral wool or foam, with the former being able to insulate lower frequency ranges better than the latter due to its density. If only highs and mids are to be attenuated, foam is a good choice. For bass traps, on the other hand, mineral wool is recommended.

For diffusers or reflectors, materials are used that do not absorb sound but reflect it back (mostly wood).

Are curtains, draperies and furniture suitable for damping?

Yes and no. It depends on the curtain and its purpose. Most furniture, furnishings and curtains do contribute to damping and dispersion, but due to their usually thin mass, only a little and only in the high frequency range. Mids and basses usually simply pass through. For comparison: a couch can possibly dampen the mids a little, or pure foam with a thickness of 70 cm can also dampen the bass. Consequently, a normal curtain has little chance of making a meaningful contribution. A possible solution, in addition to acoustic modules, are specially manufactured acoustic curtains. These attenuate frequencies above 300 Hz by up to 80%, depending on their thickness. Especially when a room is used for multiple purposes, the curtains are a practical thing. The curtains are priced at around 300 euros. HOFA also offers a choice of curtains that either insulate or can be used as reflectors.

What about egg cartons?

In a nutshell: simply forget about them. Egg cartons do not have the necessary material density to achieve a significant effect.

How do I insulate windows, glass surfaces and doors in the studio?

The position of the windows or doors determines whether they should be treated or not. If a window is located opposite the monitor boxes (on the back wall), a combination of absorber and diffuser is recommended. If, on the other hand, the window is located behind the boxes or on the side walls, treatment will probably not be necessary. Precise information about this can be obtained by measuring the room modes, which we show on the following pages.

Are small or square rooms also suitable as studios?

Yes, absolutely. Larger rooms also offer greater potential for good room sound, but in principle all rooms are treated the same, according to our checklist in the introduction.

What acoustic measures are necessary for vocal recording?

As with listening to music, the most common goal for vocal recording is to achieve a room sound that is as neutral as possible. Therefore, identical rules apply here.

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