This is a very difficult subject to address. This is because every room is different. There are also a lot of factors to take into consideration. Here is a list of a few contributing aspects;
The size of the room has a direct relationship to the acoustics of the room.
The construction of the room can affect the way certain frequencies are heard.
The use of the room determines how much treatment and of what sort is necessary.
The style of music influences what acoustic treatment has to be installed, whether it be mainly bass trapping or mid to high frequency absorption.
What, if any, furniture is already in the room and its absorbing properties.
How much space there is available on the walls and ceiling for acoustic treatment controls which products would need to be used.
As a generalization most rooms will need between 25% and 75% of coverage. This is only for the walls and ceiling. Most people forget when treating a room that the ceiling is just as important when it comes to treating a room as the walls are.
Here is a brief overview of suggested quantities of acoustic treatment:
Control Rooms for rock, pop, rap, hip-hop, R&B, country, techno, MIDI music, etc. usually benefit from 50% to 75% coverage and mostly absorption. Bass Trapping is also an important part of acoustic treatment for this type of room.
Control Rooms for jazz, art (classical), choral, acoustic, world and other forms of ensemble music usually benefit from 35% to 50% coverage.
Mixing rooms usually call for quite a dead area around the mixing desk itself from 50% to 85%. Around the rest of the room it needs a little absorption between 20% and 40% along with some diffusion.
“Live Rooms” will vary a lot. Some well-designed live rooms can get by with 20% coverage (or even less!). Most fall into the 25% to 50% range. The most successful Live Rooms usually have some degree of variability. This is done so that a studio is not limited to a certain number of styles of music. By making the room adjustable it gives the studio a high ability to accommodate different styles of music. This can be done by using our Sound Trap Panels.
Isolation Booths usually call for quite a bit of absorption – 75% or more. If the booth is to be used for very tight vocal booth then near 100% absorption may be necessary.
Home theatres and dedicated listening rooms do require quite a large area of absorbing foam on the walls. This is mixed with some diffusion on the ceiling also.
Almost never will 100% absorption be needed and neither is it suggested. The room, no matter what it is going to be used for will still need some ‘liveness’ in it. If 100% absorption is used the room will feel very close, tight and very very un-natural. The room could come to feel quite claustrophobic and extremely difficult to work in. By leaving a percentage of the area of the walls bare the exposed part can be reflective thus helping to stop your recordings or practise sessions from being overbearing. This will have the outcome of much better performances and recording results.
As we said earlier, every room is different and every room needs its own analysis to workout the correct percentage of acoustic treatment. If it is calculated incorrectly the room will never sound right and will not give your work the justice it is due. However, the correct amount of treatment will bring you a room that complements you doesn't work against you.
How Much Acoustic Treatment Should I Use?
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5 December 2006
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