Whether you’re a professional musician or an amateur, being able to record in a home studio is convenient. But you need to make sure your studio has the right acoustic properties to make you sound good, so consider where you should set up gear like acoustic panels to get the best sound.
The 5 key places to put acoustic panels in a home studio include behind the studio monitors, where two surfaces meet, and throughout the room. The rear sidewalls and back wall also need acoustic panels to prevent flutter echo. Good quality acoustic panels can make a huge difference to any studio.
If you want to record yourself at home, you don’t have to compromise on sound quality. You just need the right acoustic panels and panel placement. Read on and keep the following places in mind when organizing your home studio.
Do you have a VIDEO STUDIO? You might like to find out if you need acoustic treatment for your video studio in this article here!
Behind the Studio Monitors
One of the most important places to put acoustic panels is behind your studio monitors. Sound can reflect off the wall and affect the speakers. Since acoustic panels can absorb sound, putting them behind your monitors can help reduce any weird feedback.
This placement is especially useful if your studio monitors have bass ports on the back. But even if they don’t, you don’t want the sound to bounce back at your speakers.
Whether you have a small or larger home studio, you should consider where your desk is. Then, you can place a panel on the wall just behind each of your studio monitors. It may not be as important if your desk is in the middle of the room, but it can still help.
Where Two Surfaces Meet
You should also place acoustic panels in dihedral corners, which are where two surfaces meet. This means the four corners of your home recording studio. The acoustic panel can keep sound from going in or out of the room through one of the corners.
It can also help absorb more of the lower frequencies, which can help if you record a lot of bass guitar or other low instruments. Make sure you leave some space between the panel and the corner, but you can curve the foam to fit on both walls.
Putting panels here can help a lot if you don’t also use bass traps. Then, you can save money when setting up your studio. However, they can help with the acoustic treatment of any home studio.
Next, place a pair of acoustic panels on the rear sidewalls. When you leave the walls at the back of your studio open, they can cause a flutter echo, which is sound energy that gets trapped between the walls and goes back and forth.
By installing acoustic panels on opposing, parallel walls, you can reduce the echo or eliminate it entirely. Adding acoustic panels to the rear side walls can help absorb more sound than just the corners.
You can use a couple of panels, and you can add more as you need. That way, you can make sure you get the sound quality that you want. In some cases, you may not need many acoustic panels in this area.
Front and Back Walls
Next, you should put acoustic panels on the front and back walls of your studio. Match them up so that they can absorb sound traveling between the front and back. Like with the sides, front and back walls are usually parallel and can lead to flutter echo.
If you record louder instruments, you may not need panels here. However, it doesn’t hurt to add them. Even if flutter echo isn’t a concern, you can use these panels to absorb sound from throughout your studio.
Try to place the panels at roughly the same height on both walls. That way, you can get the best results from them. You can use a tape measure and a leveling tool to ensure the panels are in the same place on both walls.
Throughout the Room
After you put acoustic panels on the opposing walls, you can spread the rest throughout the room. The placement doesn’t matter as much, but try to cover the walls as equally as you can. That way, you won’t have one wall with a ton of coverage but another blank wall.
As you add more panels, do a clap test. Walk around the room and clap your hands as loud as possible. Listen to the vibrations that come back, and listen to see if the sound is metallic and ringing.
If so, you can add more panels until the sound is more pleasant. Consider how you want your home studio to sound. You may need more panels if you want less of a ringing sound, but your first test may be fine.
For more information, check out this article about getting studio-quality sound at home.
How to Choose Acoustic Panels
Once you know the key places for acoustic panels, you need to get the right panels for your studio. You can find tons of options on the market, and you can make some yourself.
Depending on your studio’s needs and wants, you may prefer a certain type of panel. But before you select your acoustic panels, here are a few things to consider.
Store-Bought vs. DIY
Many people use store-bought foam acoustic panels. They’re easy to set up and use, and you can find some relatively cheap, so you don’t need a huge budget. But you can choose more expensive, higher-quality panels.
Store-bought panels come in different sizes and colors, so you can choose a pack that works for your studio. You can also buy as many packs as you need in case you have a larger home studio.
But if you can’t find what you want, you can make panels at home. You can use a few different materials to create the panels. However, they won’t be quite the same as store-bought foam. Here’s how you can make acoustic panels at home.
How to Make DIY Acoustic Panels
You will need wood, fiberglass insulation, and fabric. A hammer, nails, glue, a staple gun, scissors are important tools for this project. Lastly, mounting brackets will allow you to put the panels on your walls in your studio.
- Cut the wood to be the size of a typical acoustic panel. You can make them square or rectangular and have them be anywhere from one to four feet wide and long.
- Use a hammer and nails to put the pieces of wood together if they aren’t the size you want.
- Next, apply glue to the wood and place the fiberglass insulation on the glue. Cut the insulation to size and let the glue dry.
- Cut the fabric so that there’s enough space on each side to cover wood and insulation and have extra on the back.
- Cover the wood and insulation with the fabric, and use a staple gun to secure the fabric to the panel.
Once you’re ready to install the DIY acoustic panel, you can use mounting brackets. That way, the panel will stay up and can do the job like any store-bought option.
Another thing to consider when getting acoustic panels is your budget. You can spend as much or as little as you want on treating your home studio. But you should have a maximum spending amount in mind. Then, you won’t go too far over what you can afford.
Don’t be afraid to invest in your acoustic panels if you plan to use your studio a lot. But you can always swap out the panels later. Another way to save on the upfront cost is to choose the DIY method and make panels. Either way, don’t sacrifice quality to save a few dollars.
Next, you should consider panel size when shopping for acoustic panels. Common sizes include 1sq-ft, 2sq-ft, and 2ft by 4ft. You can also find panels that come in packs of 6, 12, and 24. If you don’t know where to start, look for panels that cover about 48 square feet in total. But if your room is significantly large or small, you may need to adjust the number of panels you use.
You can always add more or take some panels away to find the configuration that works best. Having extra panels can be nice if you ever need to replace one. But starting small means you don’t have to waste panels or spend a ton of money.
You should also consider how thick the acoustic panels are before you install them. Some panels are two inches, and others are four inches. Thicker panels can be useful if you record a lot of low frequencies or if you don’t have bass traps.
But if you tend to work with medium to high frequencies, you can use two-inch panels. They’re thick enough to absorb most frequencies, so you can get a good recording in your studio.
If you find the panels aren’t working well, you can switch to a thicker set. That way, you can absorb more frequencies, and you can get a better quality recording at home.
The next thing you should look at is the panel’s surface pattern. When making panels, you will have a smooth edge. But store-bought panels can have a few designs, such as a wedge pattern or pyramid layout.
Surface patterns don’t make a huge difference to the sound. But you may want to think carefully about the design you choose. If you plan to have other musicians over to record or if you want to record yourself on video in your studio, you want it to look good.
Consider your musical style and if a one-panel pattern would look better than another. Then, you can choose a set of acoustic panels that look and sound good.
The noise reduction coefficient (NRC) rating notes how well a particular material absorbs sound. This scale ranges from 0.0 to 1.0, and the higher the number, the better the material can absorb various frequencies.
Materials with a low rating can reflect more frequencies, so they aren’t the best for acoustic panels. But a material with a significantly higher NRC may make a difference.
While the rating matters, it’s not always the most important factor. But it can come in handy if you can’t decide on a set of panels.
If everything else is the same, you can choose the material with the higher NRC. Then, it will work a little better than the other panels with basically the same specs.
How to Mount Acoustic Panels
Now that you know what makes good acoustic panels, you’re ready to mount them. If you go with DIY panels, you can use the mount brackets to attach them to your walls.
But if you choose store-bought panels, you will have to follow a few different steps. Here’s how you can mount store-bought acoustic panels in your home studio.
Choose Where You’ll Put Them
You know the key places where you should put acoustic panels. Determine how many panels you have and start with the corners and the area behind the studio monitors. Use a pencil or some other item to mark those spots.
Place the panels on the wall, but don’t use anything to attach them. That way, you can make sure they’re level and right where you want them to be. If you have some friends to help, have them hold the panels to the wall and do the clap test.
You won’t get exactly the sound as if you mount the panels, but you can get an idea of how it sounds. Then, you can start finalizing your set up.
Next, take your acoustic panel and apply some double-sided tape to the back of it. Add the tape to the spot on the wall where that panel will go. That way, you can provide a base for your adhesive, and you can protect the foam and the wall.
Use as much double-sided tape as you think you need. Don’t be afraid to cover the entire foam panel. You can always start small and add more tape later.
Use an Adhesive
Once the wall and panel have tape, you can add an adhesive to your foam panel. You can use an acoustic foam spray, such as Auralex Acoustic Foam Spray Adhesive. That will help the foam stick to the wall, and it will be more secure than using tape.
- Foamed acoustic foam spray adhesive is quite simply the fastest and easiest way to mount auralex acoustic foam products
- Foamed can be applied Lightly so that your foam is removable, or it can be applied heavily for a more permanent bond
- Foamed is guaranteed not to oxidize auralex acoustic foam and may be purchased in any quantity needed
You can use one can for up to 96sq-ft of foam, depending on how much you use per panel. The Auralex adhesive sprays on the foam quickly, and you can use more or less of it. That way, you can make it so you can remove your panels or leave them up long-term.
Adding more adhesive can also help if you find your panels always fall. That way, you can reduce the chances of your panels falling again.
Do Acoustic Panels Work?
If you place your acoustic panels in the key places mentioned, they can work very well. Good quality acoustic panels will absorb various frequencies so that your recording can only pick up the most important sounds.
While cheap panels may work okay, they might not have the same materials as a higher quality panel. If you’re on a tight budget, start with one or two acoustic panels. You can even make some of your own from materials you already have. Still, any acoustic panel can have some change, and that can affect more than just when you’re recording.
You can also use panels to keep out background noise from around the home. And you can use your panels so that you can practice without disturbing your neighbors. If you want these features, look for panels that have more sound absorption to help with soundproofing.
However, acoustic panels do have some limits. Except for the thickest panels, they aren’t very good at absorbing lower pitches, so you may need some bass traps. That way, you can get a focused sound for all instruments you use.
Check out this article about whether acoustic panels are fire retardant.
When You Don’t Need Acoustic Panels
While acoustic panels can benefit a lot of home studios, they aren’t always necessary. If you record loud instruments, such as trumpets, you won’t need as many acoustic panels. That’s because the louder sounds can overpower any flutter echo and other issues that acoustic panels solve.
You may also not need acoustic panels if your home studio doubles as a bedroom. The bed and other furniture can help absorb the sound you make. Then, you can still record and get a good sound without having to add acoustic panels.
But in any studio, you should experiment with acoustic panels. You can start with one or two panels if your room has a bunch of stuff in it. And if you normally record loud instruments, acoustic panels can help when you need to play a bit softer. You never know when you may need acoustic panels, even in a room that sounds good without them.
If you want to enhance your home recordings or get rid of some excess noise, you need acoustic panels. But you need to put them in the right places. Keep these things in mind next time you need to add acoustic panels to your home studio.
- E-Home Recording Studio: Acoustic Foam Panels: The Ultimate Guide to Acoustic Panels for Home Recording
- SOS: Studio SOS Guide To Monitoring & Acoustic Treatment
- eMastered Blog: A Beginner’s Guide To Home Studio Acoustic Treatment
- Acoustic Fields: What Is Flutter Echo and How Does It Apply To Room Acoustics?
- Black Ghost Audio: The Ultimate Acoustic Treatment Guide for Home Studios
- Wikipedia: Noise reduction coefficient
- Amazon: Auralex Acoustics FoamTak Acoustic Foam Spray Adhesive
- Soundproof Peace: How Do Soundproofing Panels Actually Work? Or Do they?
- Pro Audio Files: When Acoustic Treatment Doesn’t Matter
Last update on 2021-05-11 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API