Besides the equipment and instruments used to record a song, the most critical element of a recording studio design is the acoustic treatment. But how do acoustics work, and why does it matter? Some may think putting a little foam on the wall to avoid echo will do the trick. But there’s much more to a perfectly treated studio.
As a high-end recording studio designer and builder based in Naples, FL, and worldwide, we’ll explain why acoustic treatments are necessary and how they will enrich your recording and listening experience.
Most of the sound we hear is reflected sound. The room you record in can’t have sound waves bouncing wildly against the walls and furniture, causing flutter echoes and slaps on your recordings. You’ll hear ‘the room’ in your vocals and instruments, and listeners will think it sounds like you recorded in a garage—not in a hip way.
Rooms with steep ceilings, open walls, or angled walls can dramatically affect how your instruments and speakers sound. As sound pressure rises on one side of the room, it will decrease on the other. The goal is to create a balanced environment that preserves the timbre of your instruments and voice—the tone quality and color of sound.
Low sound frequencies travel further than high frequencies. That’s why as you approach a music venue or a stadium, from the outside, you can hear and feel the thumping bass notes and not much else. When wavelengths are larger than the source material, sound radiates in all directions. To absorb low frequencies, you’ll need massive amounts of fluff, about 4-5 inches of content on the wall for sounds above 300 Hz.
There are many materials used to absorb sound: fiberglass, mineral and natural fiber, and foam. Foam will be less expensive, but also less effective at absorbing. You can treat the floors too, either with thick carpeting or fiberglass, which can be walked on. If you want to maintain a stylish aesthetic in your studio, audio-transparent fabric can be stretched over acoustic treatments to disguise them.
You want to be careful not to absorb too much sound, however. The brain and ears expect to hear some reflected audio, and the ‘dead’ air of an overly treated room is uncomfortable. That’s where diffusion comes to play. Hard, pointed, or rounded shapes can be used to scatter sound waves around the room, so they don’t get stuck in one area. Bookcases, semi-cylinder forms, and wooden structures on the wall can help diffuse necessary sounds.
Are you looking for a professional to help build the recording studio of your dreams? Contact Frangioni Media here, and we’ll discuss your space and goals to make it a reality.