How Much Sound Absorbing Panels is Enough For Optimum Acoustics For Small Room Treatment
Sound absorbing panels are commonly used in acoustic treatment of professional recording studios, auditoriums, concert halls and even small home studios or theaters. As with the use of sound absorbing panels for acoustic treatment in small room, the emphasis is always on how many such sound panels are required and how they are positioned in the room. However, the easy part is the treating of mid to high frequencies. The real challenge lies with the low frequency, which is the most difficult to deal with in small room treatment.
In all honesty, there is no one single solution to solve all acoustic problems. Whatever calculator or room analytic software you may find and use, will not adequately address and solve the acoustic issues in your room. There are just too many variables to consider. If money is not an object, engaging an experience acoustic expert to have a look at your room will be your best bet to improve things around. But to most people, this option doesn’t exist at all, so let’s explore what are the best DIY alternatives, or tweaks you can implement on your own and within your affordability.
Room Size And Shape
Room size and shape are the first consideration in planning your room acoustic treatment. Following the L.W. Sepmeyer’s ratios, you can determine if your existing room meet the minimum room size for good acoustics. These ratios are widely used and recommeded by professional studio designers. Check here for room ratio
Ideally, you should have a rectangular room in order to have 3 different room modes that is with the height, width and the length. As each dimension will produce peaks at different frequencies, thus giving you more peak variation than a room with similar width and length (square room). The worst room ratio is one that is a perfect cube, which means the height, width and length are of the same dimension, because multiple standing waves will occur at the same frequencies. It is therefore advisable that you avoid having a square or a cube to be your listening or recording room.
Experience studio designers and acousticians generally recommend a room volume of about 2,500 cubic ft. for any decent music production or appreciation. However, that is a ballpark figure that the experts used for designing of professional studios and control rooms. With the advancement of material engineering, a wide range of sound absorbing materials have been proven to be effective and accurate in acoustic treament, even for smaller rooms. So it’s good to have a room that is 2,500 cubic feet, but don’t let that be a limiting factor when you doesn’t have that luxury.
Placement Of Sound Absorbing Panels
As mentioned, in a small room the most difficult treatment would be the low frequencies. As these low frequency waves are long and widely spaced, you won’t have the dimensions to contain it adequately. So in treating your small room, you need to consider 2 parts, that is the low frequenecy and the standing waves, as well as the high end reflections and flutter echoes.
Typically, you would place your loud speakers or subwoofers away from the rear wall and close to the front. The reflections from the wall behind your gears should be treated with sound absorbers or acoustic panels. If possible, cover the entire front wall with sound absorbing panels, or at least the area directly behind your loud speakers. On the side walls, place the acoustic panels strategically at reflection points where you find flutter echoes are most prominent. Depending on your listening position at ear level, this may take a little trial and error until you are happy with the results. If you are placing your couch three quater away from the front wall, a good start will be the center of both side walls.
The low frequencies are treated with bass traps placed at possibly all corners in the room where the bass congregate. Since it’s a small room, you may want to avoid placing them at the corners between the walls and the floor to save space. Once you are generally satisfied with the sound absorbing panels placement, consider to add some diffusers to liven up the room and make it sound larger than it is.
It’s All In Your Ears
Unless you are building a new house, it’s hard to talk about ideal room size and shapes if you don’t have much of a choice with your existing dwelling. Acoustic treatment is all about improving the environment for optimum performance of your gears. Depending on what you are doing, it really matters if you are doing some serious recording or mixing. Otherwise, be it a home theater or home studio for music appreciation, most people can easily afford the minimum room treatment. Even if you can’t afford the ready made acoustic sound panels, you can easily build your own bass traps, sound diffusers and sound absorbing panels on the cheap. So the level of acoustic treatment you desire, largely depends on your experience and most importantly, the size of your wallet.
Almost all the acoustic fanatics will tell you to prepare your room before acquiring your gears. But for most of us, that is hardly an option. If you have just enough of the resources, what would you spend on first? Leave your comments below, would love to hear from you.