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Acoustics 101: The Basics of Improving Your Room Acoustic

Jun 9, 2021

Source: Stocksnap.io

A lot might be wondering which is more important in a video? A video has two main elements: the visual and the audio. These two come hand in hand to create a perfect audiovisual presentation. When making a video, it is crucial to give attention to both your audio and visual aspects. Believe it or not, good-quality audio is more important than your video. Several inexperienced videographers make mistakes at the beginning of their career because they focus mainly on capturing high-quality visuals and neglect sound quality. 

Many studies have already shown that even though the visual component of a video has some flaws but the audio is clear, the overall audiovisual presentation can still be successful and get positive feedback. Alternatively, if the audio quality turns out to be poor, viewers will most likely react negatively about it no matter how good the visual is. 

Since several are now into recording, there are many mistakes made when starting for a home recording. Usually, some underestimate the significance of room acoustics and proceed to expensive audio monitors because they think great sound will automatically come when they have that costly equipment. This post will guide you to your process of designing a practical and high-quality room acoustic set up to deal with the frustrations of trying to figure out what you are doing wrong.

The Concept of How Sound Travel

When a sound is made, these are a phenomenon that happens:

  • The sound starts from its source and later on projects on different surfaces.
  • A small portion of the sound is known as Direct sound, travels straight towards the microphone. Direct sound does not have any interaction with your room. Thus, its frequency, balance, and tone remain pure and unaltered. 
  • On the contrary, another portion of it, known as Reflected sound, bounces randomly in between the surfaces inside your room. Each new reflection can alter the original sound slightly. Later on, reflections coming from those good portions reach the microphone.

Difference Between Soundproofing and Acoustic Treatment

The terms soundproofing and acoustic treatment are often used interchangeably, but they are entirely different in reality.

Soundproofing is meant for minimizing the level

of sounds that travel in and out of yours. Its purpose is to block the sound with heavy, dense building material and seal up air gaps in windows or doors. The advantage of soundproofing is that you can record whenever you wish to. You do not think about disturbing other people or perhaps other people distracting your recording.

On the contrary, Acoustic Treatment is for only controlling the sound reflections within the room to make better recordings. Soundproofing might be part of the acoustic treatment plan, but it is not the acoustic treatment itself.

Bare Room Evaluation

Diagnosing and evaluating the quality of sound and the extent of the problems that come along with it is crucial. To determine how your acoustics are working, here’s what you need to do and what you must watch out for:

  • Clap your hands as you can while you are walking around your room. Do this from every spot and listen to the reverberations, which is the prolongation of sounds. 
  • Usually, when you are in a small cubical room, you will hear a harsh metallic ringing sound, which is not suitable for audio quality.
  • On the other hand, when you are in larger rooms with high ceilings and lots of complex diffusive surfaces, you will hear a pleasant sound. 
  • If the sound you hear is close to a metallic sound, you need to attain more absorption to achieve a room that sounds as “dry” as possible.
  • Alternatively, if the sound is near pleasant, you only need to have a little acoustic treatment. 

You can perform the clap test in different rooms and notice which will give the best sound. Performing this will allow you to hear the difference between good and bad acoustics. When you begin to install acoustic treatment inside your room, you need to use clap tests consistently throughout the process to observe the accuracy of the sounds or how the sound changes.

Elements of Acoustic Treatment


Source: Stocksnap.Io

To make your room sound great with acoustic treatment, you need its elements.

Bass Traps

This element plays an essential role in lowering the frequencies. It is the most critical element that you need to add to your acoustic treatment. Porous bass traps are good for absorbing mid-high frequencies as well. They are already enough to do the job. For those who have small studio rooms, bass frequencies might be a problem. Thus, acquiring bass traps is a good option. 

Acoustic Panels

Though acoustic panels might absorb the lowest bass frequencies, they are good at absorbing mid or high frequencies. They act as a supplemental tool after bass traps are taken care of. Since these acoustic panels are thinner, they offer greater surface area even with less material. Thus, provide more excellent wall coverage for a lower cost. It also inhibits waves between the opposite parallel walls, which the bass traps cannot do since they are only located in the corners of the room. 

Diffusers

When it comes to scattering the remaining frequencies, the diffuser is the main element responsible for it. For those that have smaller rooms, the effectiveness of diffusion is somehow reduced or neutralized. The use of this element is optional. Addressing the absorption part first is more important. You can use this element as a supplement when the other elements seem to fail. 

Solving Acoustic Problems

Addressing the solution to your problems can achieve better sounds. Here are the things that might be useful when fixing your room acoustics:

Redecorate Your Room

Redecorating your room will help you improve the quality of sound. You may consider putting a carpet in front of your television. It will not only make your room sophisticated, but it also diminishes reflections from the channel speaker and improves the clarity of the audio. 

Add Absorbers for Enhanced Room Acoustics

Absorption panels are fabric-coated frames with dense fiberglass that are meant for scrubbing the sound. Meaning they can eliminate reflections. However, using them sparingly to avoid having dull sound requires you to have a ton of amplification to make the audio sound right. 

Position Your Monitor Flush Properly

Placing your monitor flush into your wall can avoid reflections. Often, monitors come with instructions when you purchase them, wherein you can determine how far away from the wall they work best. Some even have compensation dip switches with them so that if you need to position them closer than recommended distance, you can do it. Place them in a symmetrical acoustic space. Each must be equally placed on a shelf or rubber feet to reduce vibration. If you put them on different surfaces, they will otherwise affect your imaging and response. 

Perform Self Calibration

Several systems can test your room and calibrate your gear or playback frequency response to compensate for any errors that they find in the room. They will attempt to avoid adding acoustic absorbers or diffusers. You can use software that can adjust your frequency playback in response to the anomalies you detect. When this happens, you may not be needing acoustic treatment at all. 

Test Frequency, Reverb times, and Waterfall

Sometimes, you might think that flat frequency response is the only thing you need to look after when setting up your room acoustic. That is the ideal step, but you also need to take a test for reverb times and waterfall. Reverb times are essential in measuring any interfering reflections. You can use this to identify, reduce, or perhaps even out the interfering reflections. Alternatively, waterfall graphs and lets you quickly identify specific reflective and frequency issues. 

Wrapping it Up

Source: Stocksnap.Io

Good sound and good room acoustics correlate with each other. Room acoustics are essential. They produce better sound quality and make you enjoy more when listening to music or watching movies with your family inside your home theater. In offices, it also plays a significant role in increasing productivity. Employees and clients can adequately convey the message, and you can hear their feedback as well. 

Designing a room with good acoustics is possible when you try to follow the given recommendations above. Overall, maintaining a good balance between your absorptive and reflective surfaces will provide you with a good chance of achieving a high-quality sounding room that will work with you. However, when you are still in doubt or unsure of what you need to do, seeking a professional will still benefit from not spending too much money. They can give you suggestions on how to set up your room acoustics and how to make use of your budget wisely while maintaining not only the quality of sound but the video with its audiovisual components as a whole. 

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