When it comes to putting up the walls in your recording studio, there are two main objectives: keeping outside noise out and inside noise in. It is frustrating when you finally get the perfect mix only to replay it and find that it is filled with noises of your neighbors or a siren blaring from outside. Or even, reflective services in your studio have made the bass too heavy and the sound muddy.
The best wall material for your recording studio is mass loaded vinyl because of its soundproofing benefits. You can also use thick drywall to the same effect. Additionally, you’ll need to optimize acoustics by using acoustic panels or rugs glued to the studio’s reflective areas.
In this article, you will learn more about the importance of wall materials and soundproofing in your recording studio. We will also go over how you can optimize acoustics for perfect recording so you can get started with your home set-up as soon as possible.
Why Are Walls So Important in My Studio?
Working on music masterpieces requires a lot of work and energy. This is not limited to finding the perfect equipment or the right plug-ins; the walls in your studio need to be built or covered with suitable material. In this article, we have elaborated on the notion behind sound traveling in the context of music, the root of the problem, and how to fix it.
For starters, let’s delve into a very brief explanation of how sound travels in your studio. There are two ways:
- Direct sound: It is the sound you hear instantly through your headphones.
- Reflected sound: This is the sound that practically bounces off the surfaces (walls and floors) around you.
In effect, it is delayed when heard because it travels a more considerable distance. A series of these reflections result in the comb filter effect or the echo effect, which is causing your mixes to sound muddled and heavy. With that being said, a recording studio needs to be soundproofed to keep unwanted sounds out and place acoustic wall treatments to improve sound quality inside.
How Do I Soundproof My Recording Studio?
Soundproofing can be done in a few ways.
- Increasing mass: this is essentially the thickening of the layers in your wall by adding construction elements. A drywall is an excellent material to use because of its density.
- Damping: this helps in dissipating outside sound. We recommend Green Glue Noise-proofing Compound to eliminate frequencies.
- Decoupling: this can be done using isolator products such as resilient channels or a joist gasket tape. We recommend the St. Gobain Joist Gasket Tape.
However, not everyone has the means to construct their recording studio from the start. It is costly and may take a lot of time and effort that not everyone has. Soundproofing can be done without extensive construction materials as well, and we recommend these as a low-cost and easy method to make sure that sound stays out.
- Initially, try to pick a room for your studio with no windows so that there are no open spaces through which sound can enter.
- Invest in mass loaded vinyl. This material is specifically built to reduce noise – up to 30dB with only a single layer – and can be easily hung up on walls, laid down on floors, or even installed inside walls.
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These are premium quality vinyl sheets made in the USA. It weighs a pound per foot (453.59 g per 30.48 cm) and has a 1/8″ (0.32 cm) thickness, and is available in three different size packages of sixteen, forty, and a hundred square feet at a variety of price points. It is easy to install and contains no hazardous material or chemicals.
- An additional way of soundproofing your recording studio by building mass is to hang up carpets and mattresses on the walls. The idea behind this is to add more layers to create an absorbent environment so that external sounds do not enter.
- If all else fails or soundproofing becomes too complicated for you to handle, there are many noise reduction and editing applications like Izotope RX to repair audio problems.
For more information, check out our guide to rubber flooring for recording studios.
How Is This Different From Acoustic Treatments?
Acoustic treatments inside your studio work to improve the audio quality in your recordings. Typically in small space studios, noise tends to bounce off walls more, which creates an echo effect making your tracks sound too bass-heavy, overpowering instrumentals and vocals. Below are a few useful methods to treat this problem.
These are made of a lightweight and special foam that can absorb mid-high frequencies within your room. Acoustic panels are an ideal way of reducing reflections and will ultimately deaden a room. You can either build one of your own or buy it on Amazon.
If you are on a budget, are skilled with tools, and have a knack for DIY projects, you can effortlessly build your own. However, if this is your first time using acoustic treatments, we do recommend buying one to start off with, so you can understand what your recording studio environment should sound like.
- The Auralex Acoustics Sound Damping Studiofoam on Amazon is a budget-friendly option created with superior quality material to absorb sound waves and reduce the echo effect.
- The YGM Acoustic Foam Panels are shaped in two-inch-thick (5.28 centimeters) small blocks of pyramids. This product’s dimensions are built keeping in mind the requirements of a home recording studio, which is why it comes in nine pieces of 1×1 feet (30.48 x 30.48 centimeters), covering a total area of nine square feet so that it is easily adjustable according to the measurements of your studio walls.
However, acoustic panels will only absorb mid to high frequencies while not effectively reducing low frequencies. That is a job for bass traps.
Made of foam or fiberglass insulation, bass traps are responsible for absorbing low frequencies and also, to some extent, mid to high frequencies. This also reduces the problem of room modes, room nodes, and standing waves. These are placed in the corners of a studio or at the joint areas of a wall and ceiling.
- The Auralex Acoustics Absorption Bass Traps is a popular product found in home recording studios. They are available on Amazon in packs of two, four, and eight in measurements of 12 x 12 x 24 inches (30.48 x 3.48 x 60.96 centimeters).
- The Ultimate Acoustics Bass Trap Foam is another ideal product that can be fit into the square structure of your recording studio. It includes Bevel and Mounting Tabs with a solid foam base for maximum absorption. That will absorb any stuffy rumbling and work best with acoustic panels for an overall absorption of low, mid, and high-level frequencies.
Not everyone is willing to spend money on panels and traps, especially when it is your first time with a recording studio. We have a few recommendations for those who would instead make use of things lying around our home.
Carpets, mattresses, soundproofing foam, and egg cartons (yes, you read that right) are all materials that help with sound absorption. When put up along walls or placed on floors, they reduce their sound reflectiveness, consequently absorbing high frequencies.
Check out the best rugs for recording studios here!
Investing in your home studio is essential. Nowadays, different types of materials and DIYs are available for your recording studio wall.
Before trying out any technique, you must analyze the studio to understand which acoustic panel, bass trap, or carpet color will suit the room to make the most out of your producing sessions.
Check out what we think are the best colors for studio walls here!
- AIMM: How To Soundproof Your Rehearsal Space
- Soundfly: 3 Awesome DIY Soundproofing Hacks for Your Home Studio
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