Acoustic treatment products treat the room the absorbing materials are placed in. The materials treat the room by reducing reverberation, echo and standing waves etc. Absorbing materials such as acoustic foam and mineral wool do not stop sound from leaking out of the room. Acoustic tiles will cut down the ‘liveness’ of the room making it more suitable for performing music, recording music and even listening to music in.
Soundproofing is isolating the room from its outside world. It also reduces sound leakage between rooms. So, for example, if you have two recording rooms together you will need sound proofing to reduce studio A being affected by Studio B.
Acoustic foam and mineral wool will improve room isolation but only very slightly. To be able to sound proof properly involves a lot of work and a lot of cost. To gain perfect sound isolation you ideally need to build a room inside a room. This can be very expensive but there are some solutions that can improve sound isolation and reduce sound leakage. Firstly it is necessary to totally seal doors and windows, as this is where most sound transmission occurs. Of course if this is done the installation of a ventilation unit is necessary. Another solution is to turn down the levels!!
The purpose of acoustic foam is to reduce reverberation time and to generally improve the acoustic of the room. By installing products such as our acoustic tiles recordings are defined and tight instead of having way too much colour and an out of control room.
Acoustic treatment is also needed in a room where mixing is going to take place. Is the room has too much echo and too long a reverberation time then mixes will be out of time and poorly judged.
But too much acoustic treatment can be installed. This can result in unnatural recordings. The results will show a lack of colour and can create a very difficult room to work in. This is why we never treat a room with total acoustic foam. We work on percentages. We start with the minimum and keep adding little by little until we get the perfect sound or the sound the client is trying to acquire. By leaving some of the walls and ceiling bare there are still some reflective surfaces, which helps to keep the room a little bit live. Every room is different and every room takes a lot of planning and forethought. The construction of a room, its width in proportion to its length and height all has a bearing on how the room sounds and the amount of acoustic treatment that is necessary.
When it comes to treating room that is going to be used for recording music it is not just a case of sticking foam you bought from the local upholsterers and sticking it here and there. Acoustic foam has properties that differentiate it from any other type of foam. The cell structure and make up of acoustic foam is very different from upholstery foam. While it will have some positive effect on how the room sounds upholstery foam will never be able to treat a room in a way that specially produced acoustic foam can. And while duvets and curtains will only treat high frequencies acoustic foam will treat themed and low-end frequencies too.
When a person does the handclap test in a room they are only hearing the reverberation of high frequencies. If they have installed upholstery foam a person could come to the conclusion that their room is fine acoustically. However, if they were to test the room for it’s mid and low frequency responses a totally different result will be exposed. The answer? Professional acoustic foam and professional room analysis.
Is Soundproofing the same as Sound Deadening?
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5 December 2006
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