Carpets on Walls for Acoustics: Does It Actually Help?


Creating or improving your recording studio can take some work, especially when you want to make sure you get the acoustics just right. You want the material produced in your space to be flawless, engaging, and to sound amazing. You may have heard or seen before that the walls are covered with carpets in a recording studio, but before you head off to the home improvement store, does it help?

Carpets applied directly to walls for acoustics actually do not help or make much of a difference. Carpets can help acoustics, but it depends on the type of carpet and the strategic placement in your room. The levels of sound frequencies in the room also play a role in how effective the carpet is.  

In this article, we’ll talk about some alternatives to carpets that still fit in the budget and some other tips for improving the acoustics in your space. Then, we’ll also look at how carpets, when used correctly, can help absorb the sound in your space. Read on to learn more!

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Why Carpets on Walls Don’t Always Help Acoustics

Carpets were not specifically made to provide good acoustics for a room. When making a room optimal for the best acoustics to fit your needs, you’ll want to use a material that absorbs sound and that isn’t carpet.

Back in the 1970s, when shag carpeting was in style, even Elvis had a room with the walls covered in shag carpet from floor to ceiling to record his music. Half of the tracks on Elvis’ album, Moody Blues, and the album From Elvis Presley Boulevard in Memphis, Tennessee, were recorded in his groovy carpeted room.  

Unfortunately, this trend has not stood the test of time. We have found better techniques to create a higher-quality acoustic sound in your recording studio throughout the years. But you can still use carpets in your studio; it simply depends on the type.  

Thicker carpets, such as wool and shag rugs or something with a high pile can help to absorb the sound. These might come in handy if you live in an apartment and have neighbors living beneath or on either side of you. Although carpets can help on the floor, there is another trick to how they can be beneficial in a vertical sense.  

Carpets Shouldn’t Be Directly Up Against the Wall

If affixed directly on the wall, carpets will serve no purpose other than having a nice carpet to look at on the wall. 

Carpets are only suitable for absorbing sound on the floor and won’t do well if they’re directly up against the wall. If you are still determined to use carpets in an upright way, you can hang them near the wall, and they can help to absorb sound that way.  

Experts recommend hanging carpets about five inches away from the wall to help build your acoustic space. The space between the wall and the carpet will create an absorption area but only work well with certain frequency levels.

Carpets Near Walls Can Affect the Sound Frequency 

Remember, hanging a carpet directly up against a wall will not help change the acoustics in the room. However, hanging it several inches away can help, although only for specific levels of frequency.

High-frequency levels will do well in this environment, but low to mid ranges will appear muted and flat. So, if you have high voices or high-level frequency instruments, they will sound good, but a bass tone or a low voice might not show up as well as you’d like. 

Alas, if you have many deep-sounding frequencies in a room, you can still find alternatives to utilize for your best acoustic experience.

Carpet Alternatives

Although carpet seems like an easy and inexpensive way to create excellent acoustics in your space, it is not the best method. Therefore, finding a great deal on inexpensive carpet really isn’t saving you anything in the long run if it doesn’t actually accomplish the goal you need it to accomplish.

Carpets do the best with sound absorption when they are on the floor. Try grabbing some acoustic foam panels to help with soundproofing the wall and making an optimal acoustic space. These will help with sound absorption and make your room more acoustic-friendly. 

You can also create the same outcome with acoustic fabric panels, consisting of fabric stretched around a wooden frame. Hanging some of these around your space will help. 

For more information, check out the best flooring for home recording studios.

Tricks for Improving Acoustics

First, it will be easier if we understand what is meant by the term acoustics. If you’ve ever gone to a concert or the theater, you’ve probably noticed how great the sound was in the space. The performers’ voices seemed to travel to the very back of the room and can be heard clear as a bell. This is due to the space possessing excellent acoustics. 

Acoustics pertains to how you hear sound in a room. A movie theater will have excellent acoustics so that everyone seated in the room can listen to the film playing on the screen.  

Trying to improve the acoustics in a space can seem like a big ordeal. Grand concert halls, opera houses, and theaters are specifically designed and built to produce optimal acoustics. An indoor racquetball court, however, may have terrible acoustics because of how the sound echoes. It’s possible to not decipher what someone is saying at the other end of the room because the echo will overtake the sound they are trying to make. 

Another reason why a racquetball court makes a horrible sound studio is there’s nothing inside the court to absorb any sound.

If all you have to work with is a space in your home to create sound, it will be on a lesser scale. That’s unless you just happen to have a large event center in your basement.

Try some of these tricks to help improve acoustics in your space. 

  • Position furniture in a soundproof-effective way. Bookshelves that reach from floor to ceiling, with books on them, can help in a big way to absorb sound. Having furniture with thick fabric can also help to absorb as well.
  • Hang blankets or heavy curtains on the windows. A lot of outside noise can come from the windows, and hanging heavy fabric to cover them completely can help cut that outside noise down. This can also be done for doors as well, and make sure the openings around the door are covered, too.  
  • Find the best place to perform. If you are singing or playing an instrument, it might sound better when you play in the corner, to the left of the couch, or in the back of the room. Try out different locations in your space to see what works best for your sound.  

For more information, check out my article about whether carpet padding is good for soundproofing.

Conclusion

We have now learned that carpets, although an excellent sound absorber on the floor, are not the best options for use on the walls of your acoustic space. We have also learned of different options, tricks you can try out, and products you can buy that will help transform your ordinary room into your professional soundproof studio.  

Whether you’re recording a podcast, bringing a full band into the studio, or maybe just want a quiet place to play guitar by yourself, you’ll want to try what works best for you. 

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Vinnie

I'm Vinnie, and I'm here to support you to create your own studio at home, whether it’s for photography, recording audio, podcasts, or videos!

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