Building a home studio is every musician’s dream. And some have made this possible with the help of expensive studio monitors and even condenser microphones.
When in reality, a home studio is never complete without the proper room acoustics.
Some people spend months in frustration, not able to get the right sound that they need. And it’s all because they’ve forgotten about acoustic wall panels.
So, in hopes of helping you out, we’ve created the perfect guide to acoustic wall panels in Singapore! But before we start discussing the importance of finding the right acoustic panel in Singapore, let’s explore the basics of acoustic treatment.
What Is Acoustic Treatment?
Acoustic treatment is the process of improving a room’s acoustic properties for recording or mixing music.
The goal is to make your home studio’s environment sound more neutral and sonically pleasing for recording.
Understanding acoustic treatment is not as confusing as most people assume it is. You don’t need a degree in how to engineer and build a recording studio. All that you need to know is these few simple concepts!
The Way Sound Travels In A Room
Whenever a sound is made inside a room, it projects outward in all directions starting from the source.
A small portion of it called the direct sound travels in a straight line to the microphone. While its remainder, the reflected sound, bounces randomly between the surfaces of the room.
Later on, some of those reflections hit the microphone by chance.
Direct sound doesn’t interact with the room. The frequency balance it has remains pure and the tone is unaltered.
On the other hand, the reflected sound has the potential to change its original tone with each reflection it makes.
Depending on the size of the room and its reflective surface, that could either be large or small. And in the musician’s eyes, that change can be good and bad.
And for most rooms, it’s often bad. Why? See, for a room to have great acoustics, it needs a lot of space. It’s why most cathedrals have good sound because they were designed with acoustics in mind.
Thankfully, technology brought musicians the machine known as the echo chamber. It helps engineers simulate the reverb of a room other than the one where it was recorded.
And thanks to advanced technology, there is now software like digital reverb that simulates the sound of nearly any acoustic environment.
The only catch is that for musicians to use a fake reverb, their home studio needs to know how to remove the real reverb.
Removing Natural Reverbs
Professional recording rooms often use acoustic wall panels like foam panels on their walls to absorb sound reflections. And back then, foam panels were the only acoustic wall panels available in the market. But now, there are a plethora of choices available to Singaporeans!
Providers like Cutting Edge now offer acoustic panels made from wood that can be custom cut depending on the design you want.
Now, the purpose of an acoustic panel is to absorb sound reflections. It prevents them from ever hitting the mic, ensuring that only the direct sound is recorded.
In most professional studios, an acoustic panel is paired with diffusers.
There are cases wherein all the sound reflections are gone, the room sounds dead. So to avoid this from happening, some studios use diffusers to scatter a few reflections.
To ensure that the natural frequency balance is kept, diffusers scatter reflections so that nothing gets trapped.
Using the right combination of the two acoustic treatments, absorption and diffusion, you can transform a room!
With some of the fundamental concepts done, let’s talk about some of the common misconceptions around soundproofing and acoustics.
Soundproofing And Acoustic Treatment
Most newbie musicians use these two terms interchangeably. When in reality, they’re entirely different from one another.
Unlike acoustic treatments, soundproofing aims to minimize the level of sound going in and out of your room. It uses heavy and dense building materials to seal up any air gaps in your windows and doors.
This guarantees you that you won’t cause any disturbances to your neighbours.
Both of these two treatments are valuable but they can’t be interchanged. Each treatment has its role that only they can do.
Comon Types of Acoustic Treatment
There are three kinds of materials recommended to newbies to achieve better acoustic treatment; bass traps, acoustic panels, diffusers.
Besides being able to absorb bass frequencies, bass traps can absorb mid to high frequencies.
Those who want to build their home studio with a limited budget can go far with just bass traps alone.
Acoustic panels are indeed the go-to weapons when it comes to improving the acoustics of a room. But just like any other material, it has its weaknesses.
It’s nearly ineffective at absorbing the lowest bass frequencies. Hence, experts recommend using acoustic panels and bass traps to improve a home studio.
Unfortunately, most people prioritize acoustic wall panels first because of their wall coverage. They can cover larger areas for less the price of bass traps.
This then allows them to get rid of any standing waves that can be found between the opposite walls.
Some enthusiasts believe that the smaller the studio is, the less diffusion works.
But that’s alright because most diffusers are expensive. They can improve the acoustics of your studio, but it’s not as necessary as bass traps or an acoustic panel.
How Do I Know If I Need Acoustic Panels?
Now that we have a better understanding of what acoustic wall panels are and how they work, how do you know if you need them?
Walk around the room you want to use as your home studio and clap your hands as loud as you can. Do it in every spot possible and listen closely to the reverberations that will follow.
If you hear a harsh metallic ringing sound, you need to make the room sound as dry as possible.
But if you hear a pleasant reverb, you could improve your room’s sound further by adding some acoustic wall panels.
The metallic ringing sound we mentioned earlier typically happens within small cubical rooms. On the other hand, the pleasant reverb happens in large rooms that have high ceilings.
Where Do You Put The Acoustic Panel?
Another important factor that affects the effectiveness of the acoustic wall panels is their placement.
They must determine the right location for the acoustic panel to work well. And finding the ideal position largely depends on various factors including; the room type, the activity of the space, the existing furniture and the materials around the room.
If you’re unsure of where to put your acoustic wall panels, you might have to seek the help of a professional.
But here are some general rules you need to follow when installing an acoustic panel.
For Smaller Rooms
Sound waves will often bounce against the walls of a small room. This is because they are the hardest surfaces closest to the sound source.
So, to lessen the reverb, you need to put acoustic wall panels.
For Larger Rooms
Sometimes, the sound drops dead when space is larger. But sound waves would still hit a hard surface like the ceiling instead of the walls.
In such cases, a ceiling-suspended acoustic panel is needed. They can further improve the acoustics of a room by installing acoustic wall panels in different suspension heights.
Wood For Acoustic Walls Panels
Thanks to the new technology we now have, there are various acoustic solutions available to us. And over recent years, timber acoustic panel have become popular in Singapore.
This is because timber as a material performs well in the acoustic arena. Regardless of whether the objective is to enhance or reduce sound, timber’s network of small interlocking wood cells converts sound energy into heat.
Timber uses frictional resistance within the cells and vibrations within their sub-structure to convert it.
While concrete walls can still reflect sound, it does so in a harsher way. But with the natural acoustic properties of the timber, it controls the excessive reverberation produced within the wall.
And it’s one of the reasons why most public buildings used timber acoustic wall panels. This kind of acoustic panel commonly uses holes or slots to increase its sound absorption abilities.
By breaking up the sound energy, the echoes are reduced. One major landmark that makes use of timber acoustic wall panels is the Sydney Opera House. The Australian landmark’s interior walls are lined with timber acoustic panel.
Benefits of Using Timber Acoustic Panel
Besides the advantage of better acoustics, timber acoustic wall panels also provide other benefits!
If you have acoustic wall panels increased in your home studio, you will have better privacy and confidentiality. The music and other noises you’ll create in your home studio will not be heard outside of the room. All of the sounds will be safely kept within your studio.
Noisy environments can be difficult to work in. But with the help of the right timber acoustic wall panels, noise levels will be lessened.
If you need a place to concentrate on writing your music, your home studio can help you with just that! Your acoustic panel will lessen the noise around your working area, providing you with better chances to concentrate on your work.
Going deeper into how noise affects productivity, higher noise levels have also been linked to lower productivity.
Increasing the acoustics of your room will help you focus better on your work.
With lesser noise, communicating with other people in the studio will be much easier.
You’ll have better chances of hearing one another now that there’s less noise.
How Much Treatment Do I Need?
A normal home studio room would need at least 25% to 75% of coverage to improve its acoustics. But as we’ve mentioned earlier, if you’re unsure whether your room falls the standard sizing most people use, you can always seek the help of an expert.
Besides this, the style of the music or content you’ll create in your studio will determine the range of coverage that you need.
For example, most studios for rock, pop, hip-hop, R&B, country, techno, and MIDI music need 505 to 75% coverage. Additionally, they mostly need absorption treatments.
On the other hand, control rooms for jazz, classical, choral, acoustic and other forms of ensemble music need coverage ranging from 35% to 50%. Diffusion treatments are often used for studios like these.
Isolation booths would need 75% of absorption treatment while live rooms fall into the 25% to 50% range. Live rooms usually require a balanced mixture of absorption and diffusion treatments for them to perform well.
Keep in mind that the amount of acoustic treatment your room needs, there are a lot of factors that you need to keep in mind. Seeking the advisory and help of a professional is the best way to go if you’re unsure of what you need.
Are They Worth It?
Pursuing music has never been inexpensive. But musicians know that the investment they’re putting into their studios and other equipment results in better music.
If you’re someone who values your creation, then they’re worth it. The sounds that your home recording studio will determine the mixing and producing decisions you’ll make. And you can’t make the right calls if you can’t hear your tracks well.
That’s why most experts recommend investing in good acoustic wall panels. With a better soundscape, you’ll make better decisions. Recording and mixing will be less frustrating if your tracks are leading you in the right direction.
But for them to do that, they need the extra help that acoustic wall panels offer. It’ll help get a better understanding of what your tracks sound like, resulting in better decisions and better music!
Learn more about how an acoustic panel in Singapore can help you create better music by visiting Cutting Edge’s website. Cutting Edge also offers various services ranging from wood cutting service, metal engraving and laser engraving service in Singapore.