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How to make an acoustic treatment on a budget?

27 Aug, 2019

How to make an acoustic treatment on a budget?

Do you get complaint from teammate about your delay sound? Do you need to reduce echo for podcast or vocal recording? If you don’t have tons of money to turn your room into studio booth, will just a blanket work?

 

Before we get into that, let’s find out why reverb happens. When you speak into a microphone, no matter how close you get to the mouth, there’s still some of the sound that goes pass and hit the wall. And because sound travels so fast that it will bounce around the room and will be picked up by microphone for a few times. But the only sound we want a mic pick up is straight out of our mouth. That where acoustic treatment comes in.

 

There’re two ways to get started. One is called absorption. Literally it absorbs some of the sound that hits the wall, works by decoupling the strength of reflected sound. That’s why blanket will work just fine. The other is diffusion. The sound hits the wall will be scattered and smaller amount of sound is too week to be picked up clearly by microphone.  You will setup your room mainly with diffusion material, in which case you don’t want a completely dead room, especially if you’re recording choir.    

 

Coming up next is how to DIY your own room. It’s a case by case study, but what we introduce is the basic theory. And because diffusion material will be costly, we will focus on absorption, which will be able to make a great difference. Setting up a makeshift vocal studio is not that difficult. Easy thing comes first: moving blanket, carpet or towels which only does the job of absorption (reference video below tell you if blanket has any effect). Hang or clamp thickest blanket from the ceiling, drape around the your workshop (below is the video from Podcastage shows how to properly clamp the blanket). The bouncing around sound will be blocked out by heavy fabric and that echo will get down. An upgrade but slightly more expensive way is to buy some acoustic foam to decorate your room, and thus it will make your studio look more professional. In case it may turn out to be useless and wasteful, the height of foam wedge should be at least 2 inches. And it’s always the thicker is the better. Because the first reflection point is usually side to side then front to back. To get rid of primary noise, this two places are where you must paste the foam. If neither above two methods can work for you, closet could be your last choice. Open closet doors and put in the microphone, that will also work pretty well, though it may suffer from some inconvenience if you’re not using a laptop.

 

At last, let’s talk a bit of about diffusion. Diffusion material should be at least 3 inches thick and be placed 6-10 feet away to be effective. People intend to intend to put over furniture as diffuser, but they actually work good as sound absorbing material. You may not be able to afford a proper diffusion panel, but it’s never a bad idea to put in some book shelves. Nothing in the room is one of the worst recording environment.  

 

Reference Video

Does it blanket really make any difference?

How to clamp the blanket?

 

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