Studio Foam : To understand how to soundproof a room, it is first necessary to understand a little about "sound." Sound is composed of waves that travel through a medium. Some mediums, or materials, are more resistant to sound than others. Air, for example, offers little resistance and is therefore a major contributor to unwanted noise in a room. To soundproof a room, however, more is needed than just blocking the flow of sound through air.
Another source of unwanted noise in a room can come from vibrations. A vibration occurs when a sound wave travels back and forth from one object to another. This can happen, for example, when a sound wave strikes one wall in a room, bounces off that wall, and transfers its energy to the opposite wall. That vibration can create an annoying noise problem.
The best way to prevent the noise problem altogether is to construct the room with building materials (studio foam ) that dampen noise.
Step-by-Step to Set Up Studio Foam
A studio must be a soundproof environment for the best possible reproduction of a recording. This can be accomplished in a variety of ways, but the most common method of soundproofing a room is the use of foam products. Studio foam comes in several different thicknesses and styles, and there are overriding aspects that will dictate which type of studio foam to use.
The decision of where the studio foam is needed most can be made using a "hands-on" test. This means to simply clap your hands while moving around the room and listening for long and short echoes. Areas of short echo time will need less foam, so concentrate foam placement in those areas where the hand claps reverberate for longer periods of time. The decision of thicknesses to use is affected by frequency ranges. Lower frequencies will require thicker foam due to the strength and length of the sound wave. Areas where a bass instrument is recorded should have a thicker foam installed on the wall. An alternative to wall-mounted foam is a movable acoustic foam panel that can be placed in different parts of the room.
Advanced Studio Foam Placement
The placement of the sound-dampening material is as important as the type used. There are different requirements for the recording and mixing areas. In the mixing booth, the engineer needs to have as true a reproduction of the sound coming out of the playback monitors as possible. Studio foam should definitely be placed on the walls and ceiling of this area, if not the entire room. A combination of thick foam around the mixing area and a diffusion-type of foam from the mixing desk to the back of the room will sufficiently provide a controlled sonic environment. The foam in the recording area should focus on the walls in general, with an extra effort to address hot spots where frequencies tend to reverberate more. Low-frequency signals will carry farther and collect in corners of square rooms, and there may be other spots that characteristically resonate longer at several frequencies.
Installing Studio Foam
Permanent installation of studio foam involves the use of an adhesive to mount the foam to the studio surfaces. There are several studio foam adhesives available that are made specifically for this purpose. Once the adhesive has been obtained, the surfaces where the foam is to be installed should be cleaned and all items should be removed from those surfaces. The adhesive can then be sprayed onto both the back of the foam sections and the surface it is to be mounted on. A minute or two of waiting time will allow the adhesive to become tacky for the best adhesion. The studio foam can then be installed on the surface. A more temporary installation technique may be preferred, and this can be done using pins, brads or other small nails to attach the foam to drywall and paneling. The foam can be removed in the future without damaging the surfaces, other than needing to fill the small nail holes with putty or by painting over them.
Home Recording Studio Foam Ideas
With the sophisticated recording equipment available today, even amateur musicians and recording hobbyists can obtain professional results in small home studios. Acoustic foam material is often used, even in home project studios, to create optimum sound recording and listening environments.
The Purpose of Acoustic Foam
Unlike soundproofing material, which is used to keep external noise out of the studio, such as road traffic, and to keep sound inside to prevent complaints from neighbors, acoustic foam devices are used to create the proper ambiance in a studio. Sound can bounce off glass windows, walls, ceilings, floors and hard objects. This can cause certain frequencies of sound to be accented and to cause a reverberation or echo. Strategically placed acoustic foam pieces can disperse sound and attenuate desired frequencies. When a song is being recorded or "mixed," and the engineer is listening on speakers placed in the room, the goal is to prevent the room from adding any of its own coloration to the sound. Foam products come in different shapes and sizes to be placed in key locations, such as in the corners of the studio.
Bass traps are contoured dense portable flutes of foam that stack up on each other in the corners of a room. They are easily used and are self-standing to combat low bass impact noise. Installing two stacks in each of four corners of your room will assist in trapping bass acoustics and condition the room for balanced sound.