Comprehensive acoustic treatment in a home or professional studio is necessary if you’re doing sound-sensitive work. Acoustic treatment is often more effective than spending on fancy noise-control tech and can be cost-effective if you do it right. But how much does acoustic treatment really cost?
The starting cost of acoustic treatment is around $500, depending on the room’s area. Acoustic treatment kits for larger rooms can cost between $700-$2000, depending on the room’s size and the type of sound control system installed. DIY acoustic treatment options are much cheaper.
Every room is different, and it’s difficult to outline a uniform cost for acoustic treatment. The rest of this article will cover factors that affect acoustic treatment in detail, including how much you’ll pay for equipment and installation. I’ll also give you tips on how to save more with DIY acoustic treatment options.
Acoustic Treatment Costs Breakdown
Whether you’re treating a large studio or a small recording room, you’ll need to purchase similar acoustic treatment technology. Acoustic treatment costs can be divided into material costs and installation costs. Material costs cover bass traps, diffusers, and acoustic panels used to treat a room for recording.
Combined, the total cost for acoustic treatment in a room can range anywhere from $500 to $2000. This figure may be higher for professional studios where there’s no margin for error when mixing or recording.
Let’s look at each part of the acoustic treatment process and its estimated costs:
Bass traps are the most important component of any acoustic treatment package and play a crucial role in maintaining a neutral recording environment. Bass traps are designed to absorb sounds of various frequencies, although they work best for low-frequency sound waves that often disrupt recordings.
Bass traps are even more crucial in smaller rooms where the low-frequency sound waves reflect off the walls, ceiling, and floor, causing more interference with the direct signal. You may not notice this interference during recording or mixing, but it becomes evident when you listen to the recording in an open environment.
Bass traps are made from absorptive material that “catches” reflective sound waves and ensures a neutral environment for recording and mixing. Installing bass traps is necessary when you’re investing in acoustic treatment for a room or studio.
How much you spend on bass traps often depends on the studio type and room size, but bass traps are generally cheaper than other acoustic treatment materials. Bass traps are usually installed in the corner of each studio and can cost anywhere from $10 to $200, depending on your room’s design.
Fortunately, they are so effective that even if you don’t use diffusers or acoustic panels, you’ll be able to get quality recordings with effective bass traps.
Using too many bass traps or acoustic panels can reduce unnecessary sound effects in your recordings, but they can also cause the room to sound “dead.” This is where diffusers come in. Diffusers help reflect the remaining sound waves that aren’t absorbed, maintaining a balanced sound effect.
Using more sound absorption materials in your room can be great for improving the quality of direct sound, but it doesn’t sound natural in most cases. Unless you’re mixing a very s[pecefic tune, you should try to get some natural room sound in your recordings.
Diffusers are usually effective in large studios where a few acoustic panels and bass traps can significantly affect the room’s natural sound. They reflect some of the remaining sounds and give recordings some “indirect” or room sounds. If you have a smaller studio, you may not need diffusers since the compact room design will already result in more sound reflection.
Diffuses are the last thing you need for complete acoustic treatment, although some artists claim that they’re absolutely necessary. They are also more expensive than bass traps or acoustic panels, so it’s up to you whether you need them in your studio or not.
Diffusers are usually made from wood, and the material itself isn’t that expensive. However, since they require skilled woodworking to make, you’ll have to pay upwards of $100 for a good diffuser. If you have some carpentry experience, you can try making your own diffuser by watching this tutorial:
Acoustic panels are another essential part of any room’s acoustic treatment process and are a must for professional studios. Acoustic panels work in a similar way to bass traps and will absorb most of the excess sound waves in a room. However, they are more effective than bass traps in absorbing sound waves between parallel walls.
The only downside of using acoustic panels to soundproof a room is that they don’t absorb low-frequency bass sound waves. Hence, you should only use these when bass traps aren’t enough. Acoustic panels are also slightly more expensive than bass traps but are a crucial component of professional studios.
You can use acoustic panels both 2 and 4 inches (5-10 cm) thick, and both are effective in different studios. If you already have bass traps absorbing low-frequency sound waves, a 2-inch acoustic panel is enough. If you’re buying acoustic panels, try to get one with a higher NRC rating since it will have better sound absorption properties.
Ready-made acoustic panels often cost around $150-$200, but this may be more, depending on the room or studio’s size. You can also build your own acoustic panels by checking out this guide:
Factors That Affect Acoustic Treatment Costs
While it’s impossible to calculate the exact costs of acoustic treatment unless you have the studio surveyed by a professional, you can get an accurate estimate by looking at the factors that affect the acoustic treatment costs.
These factors include the room’s size, the type of acoustic treatment materials used, and whether you’re opting for a DIY installment or having a professional do it for you. DIY acoustic treatment is much cheaper, especially if you make your own materials. However, it requires experience and skill to do the proper acoustic treatment.
Let’s look at the factors that affect acoustic treatment costs in detail:
The Room’s Size
Whenever you’re investing in acoustic treatment, always remember that it will cost more in a larger room due to the dynamics of how sound travels. Larger rooms offer more space for sound diffusion, and you’ll need to have more bass traps and acoustic panels to maintain a balanced environment.
However, room size is only a single factor and goes along with room design and other factors. So, if you’re preparing a larger studio, there are many tricks to bring the overall acoustic treatment costs down.
The Room’s Design
The room’s design is another essential factor that affects acoustic treatment costs. Rooms with more edges and corners will reflect sound waves more often and need more absorption panels. This is why smaller rooms often need more bass traps, and larger studios need diffusers to maintain a neutral environment for recording.
If you’re setting up a home studio, try to record in the room’s center for a better direct sound effect.
The Type of Materials Used for Acoustic Treatment
Not all rooms require the same materials for acoustic treatment. Some rooms will require more bass traps and acoustic panels, while others may need diffusers as well. The materials you require for acoustic treatment will often depend on previous factors such as room size and design.
If you have a studio where only a few bass traps are required to balance out the room’s environment, you may not have to invest in acoustic panels or diffusers, and the total acoustic treatment costs will be minimal.
Lastly, you’ll have to factor labor costs n the total acoustic treatment cost. Labor costs for acoustic treatment can range from $50-$200 an hour, depending on the contractor’s experience.
If you have enough DIY skills to do the acoustic treatment by yourself, you’ll save installation costs. If you are a DIY pro, you can even consider making your own acoustic panels, bass traps, and diffusers. This way, the only major investment you’ll make is the time spent setting up the studio.
Affordable DIY Acoustic Treatment Methods
If you don’t have a budget for expensive acoustic treatment with bass traps, acoustic panels, and diffusers, you can use household items for DIY acoustic treatment. You can also make your own acoustic panels and bass traps if you have some carpentry skill and time on your hands.
While you won’t get the same effect as with professional materials, you’ll still be able to resolve some sound issues.
Here are some DIY acoustic treatment methods to try out on a low budget:
Build Your Own Acoustic Treatment Equipment
If you don’t have a large budget, you can still have acoustic treatment if you make your own bass traps or acoustic panels. These are usually made from wood and other absorbent materials, and there are many tutorials online showing you how to make your own acoustic panels.
This requires considerable skill, especially if you’re building a complex diffuser or several bass traps. If you have a small studio, you may be better off paying a few extra dollars for ready-made equipment. However, if you have time on your hands and love DIY projects, you can try making your own acoustic treatment materials.
Use Household Materials
Another great alternative to expensive acoustic treatment kits is to use household items to manage a room’s sound effects. Soft absorptive materials such as carpets, blankets, and pillows can be used in place of acoustic panels and bass traps. You can hang a blanket on the wall of your studio to reduce indirect sound effects and use a rug as an acoustic panel.
These household items will cost little to nothing since you may already have them at home. Many successful artists have started out in home studios that use regular household items for effective acoustic treatment.
When Acoustic Treatment Becomes Necessary for a Room
Not all rooms need acoustic treatment, and you can get high-quality recordings in non-studio rooms. A room or studio only needs acoustic treatment if the sound distortions can be heard in the recordings. If your room already has a lot of natural absorptive items, such as a wooden bed, a carpet or rug, and thick curtains, the sound distortion may be minimal when you’re mixing or recording.
However, if you have a slightly more empty studio with closer corners for indirect sound to bounce off from, you’ll have to invest in acoustic treatment. It all depends on the sound quality that you’re getting from a studio room and whether you can accept the level of sound distortion or not.
Alternative Solutions To Acoustic Treatment
If you don’t have the time or budget to invest in acoustic treatment for home or professional studio, you can try alternative methods to reduce sound distortions and get more neutral recordings. These include optimizing your recording method, investing in high-quality technology, and simply changing the room’s layout to minimize distortions.
You can try changing your recording method by placing your mic as close to the recording instrument as possible. This will increase the quality of direct sound and minimize the amount of indirect sound recorded.
Better equipment can also go a long way in reducing distortions in your studio, although most experts recommend acoustic treatment before investing in such equipment. Nevertheless, swapping your regular mic for dynamic mics or using distortion filters to absorb sound before it spreads in the room can significantly increase your recording’s sound quality.
While you don’t have to invest in acoustic treatment at home or in professional studios, doing so will significantly improve your recordings. Acoustic treatment is generally a one-time cost, and you can treat the whole room for less than $500. This is more effective than spending on expensive recording and mixing equipment or changing your room’s design.
If you have a lower budget, you can try making your own bass traps and acoustic panels, or you can use household items to absorb reflected sound instead.
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