Written by The Foam Factory
Whether you’re a bedroom musician or an aspiring professional, it’s probable that at some point you’ve realized that your recording space needs an acoustic renovation to take your sound to the next level. If such is the case, then it’s likely you’ve already done some research and are anxious to wrap your designated recording space with acoustic foam. What follows is a set of suggestions to help make your recording studio dream a reality.
Establish Your Goals
You should be aware of the difference between soundproofing and acoustic treatment, which are often used interchangeably but have completely different definitions. Soundproofing, on one hand, aims to minimize sound that passes through walls. Acoustic foam panel treatment, however, aims to control the reflections of sound within the room through absorption, thereby increasing sound quality. Installing soundproofing material is incredibly beneficial for late-night rockers that simply want to remain on good terms with their neighbors, but it’s useless for improving the actual sound quality of the room itself. Deciding which acoustic foam pads will best control the sound clarity in the room depends on a combination of your desires as well as the qualities inherent to the room itself.
Planning Your Acoustic Treatment
Choosing the right recording space is supremely important to the process of installing acoustic foam. Your future studio should be large enough to accommodate as many live instruments you wish to record simultaneously. When you have a space that meets this requirement, empty it, and then measure the room’s length, width, and height.
Close the door and listen to the ambient sounds of the room. Walk around it and clap your hands, listening very closely to the sounds produced. Most often, small rooms with parallel walls will produce a harsh ringing sound, called a “flutter echo.” Make a note of the areas where sounds are particularly bad—those problem areas will need the most remedy via acoustic foam.
Knowing which style of music will be primarily recorded in your studio will greatly influence the total surface area to be covered with acoustic foam. Though most rooms will require anywhere between 25%-75% total coverage, it’s recommended that rooms for rock, pop, and techno receive between 50%-75% coverage, while rooms for jazz and classical receive between 25%-75% coverage.
Keeping in mind the range that suits your needs, use your previously recorded room dimensions to calculate the total surface area necessary to cover your room.
Buying and Installing Acoustic Foam
Now that you’ve figured out how much of the room you want to cover in acoustic foam, it’s time to decide which types of acoustic foam to use. It’s recommended you use an online seller of acoustic foam, as they usually provide great deals; some companies will even cut the foam to your specifications. It’s also recommended you purchase a proper spray adhesive, which will keep the foam in place without ruining the material.
Bass frequencies are more powerful than mid- and high frequencies, and tend to get trapped in the corners of rooms; the listener gets the false impression that there is more bass than there actually is. Placing wedge or pyramid foam bass absorbers in the corners of the room, especially at the triple-junctures of walls and floor or walls and ceiling, can significantly reduce opaque bass frequencies. When the room does not allow for bass absorbers to be placed in the corners, it’s recommended that you place them along the ceiling or along the floor.
Acoustic foam panels come in many varieties—wedge, pyramid, eggcrate, and grid, to name a few—though the type you use depends on preference. Where possible, place the panels at a corner where two surfaces meet (adjacent walls, walls and ceiling, etc.). In doing so, the parallel surfaces won’t easily create the flutter echo. When placing panels on flat surfaces, try and concentrate them around where the sound originates. As you install the panels, it is important to continually evaluate the sounds produced in the room—too many panels can create a “dead” room, while scarce or poor placement won’t remedy your previous acoustic woes.
The Foam Factory is an online retailer of quality foam products, including replacement cushions and acoustic foam panels.