When it comes to music recording, production and, mixing, the acoustics of the room/studio play a very crucial part. The recording and mixing room should be properly treated for the purpose. So, today we will talk about acoustic treatment and how should you treat your space.
How Sound Bounces?
Whenever a sound is produced inside a closed room, it bounces off the surface of the walls and splits in many directions, including the source of the sound. When the reflection comes back towards the source of the sound, it multiplies some frequencies creating standing waves. Standing waves can cause an increase in the amplitude of some frequencies while recording and inaccurate monitoring while mixing. So, it's important to solve this issue with acoustic treatment.
Acoustic treatment vs. Soundproofing
Many people interchange the words "Acoustic Treatment" and "Soundproofing".
These are two different terms and should not be used interchangeably.
Acoustic treatment deals with the reflections inside a room caused by parallel walls. The goal here is to reach an equal level of reverb time at every part of the room. Techniques like absorption and diffusion are used while treating a room to remove as many standing waves as possible.
Source: Produce Like A Pro
Soundproofing, on the other hand, is a totally different term. Soundproofing deals with isolating a room from external sounds and preventing the sound inside the room to escape.
Preferably, a sound recording and mixing studio should be both soundproofed and acoustically treated. However, soundproofing is very costly and it is advisable to skip it in home studios and if you're on a low budget.
Basics of Acoustic Treatment
So now we know acoustic treatment deals with eliminating reflections in a room. Now, we will discuss the two basic methods of dealing with reflections: Absorption and Diffusion.
Sound absorption is defined as the loss of sound energy when sound waves come into contact with absorbent material. As a result, the sound is not reflected back into the room. Absorption panels are used for this purpose. These panels absorb most of the sound and prevent it from being reflected.
Too much absorption is also not good. It makes a room sound dead. Humans are evolved listening to reflections. It can become hard for us to stay sane in a dead room. This is where diffusion comes! Diffusion means splitting the reflections into multiple directions to decrease the power of a reflection and also prevent standing waves. This method prevents the room from sounding dead. Every room is different and that's why diffusers are designed depending on the needs of every room.
Ideally, it is recommended to use both absorption and diffusion according to your needs while treating your room.
While treating a room, it is recommended to firstly direct reflections. For this absorption panels are great. After that, try to eliminate any standing waves by using both absorption panels and diffusers. At last, it is advised to adjust the reverb time at every place in the room. We don't want the sound from our monitors to sound different at every corner of the room. For this, specially designed diffusers should be used.