Sound Recording Room

9 Sound Absorbing Materials for your Studio

by Wes on March 1, 2011 · 0 comments

When it comes to studio design, it is important to have your rooms “dead”. Now, I am not talking about killing and cremating your room, rather creating an environment with dead noise.   When a room is “dead”, you will have sound absorbing materials covered throughout the room so that there will be no sound reflections coming back at you from the roof or walls.  This is important so that whatever sounds are captured, are clean and focused.  If you want to add sound effects later in the day you can do so, by doing it in the mix. 

In this article I am going to talk to you about different types of materials that you can use to absorb sound.   All of the different types of substances that I am going to talk about serve different purposes in deadening noise.   You will probably want to use most if not all of the different types of sound absorbing materials for your recording rooms.   It is important that you understand the purpose of each material and how it is properly used. 

  1. Carpet – Yes one of the first steps that you can do when you are creating your sound absorbing room is the add carpet.  The pourous nature of carpet allows for sound to be captured as it hits the floor.  Now I will admit, that wood floors do look astectically pleasing but if  you really want to deaden your room, start by adding carpet.  Adding a nice foam padding and then thick pourous carpet will do the trick for you.
  2. Draperies - If it is required that you have a windows in your recording rooms, it would probably be a good idea wot add draperies.   Heavier draperies can provide exellent sound absorbing features for rooms with windows. Glass is horrible at reflecting noise, and the pourous nature of drapes will help in absorbing some, but not all of the noise.  
  3. Spray-applied cellulose – Densely packed Cellulose is a fiber based type of insultation that can be added to walls.  The typical purpose fo this insulation is to hold in warmth, in colder regions of the world, but it also serves another purpose.  It also fills up the open holes within a room, that can reverberate low tones that are trying to be captured. 
  4. Aerated plaster – Aerated plaster is a pourous type of sealant that woulld fall under the family of concrete.  Aerated Plaster is wonderful to use as a sealant for corners, framing, or a way to connect two different panels.  It can also be used in large quanties to build up a wall or section of a room.  Aerated Plaster is not completly sound proof, but its pourous nature helps with deadening any sound. I like to think of it as a complement to connect windows, walls and other features.
  5. Fibrous mineral wool and glass fiber – We all know this insultation as the shredded fiber glass.  It is very common to have this installed in any home or building in any region.   The nice thing about it is that it does help in slowing or stopping noise.  If you are going to used this type of insulation, I would recommend doubling it up or making it more dense within you walls.   I do not recommend it to be in the open, as it is harmful, if breathen in.  
  6. Open-cell foam – Open-cell foam is very common and standard in any studio.  Once you have added a good insultation in a wall like fiberglass wool or spray applied cellulose, you will want to add foam to your wall of your room.  This will be an external feature to the studio but really helps with the deadening of noise.   If you want to do it cheap, go purchase foam mattresses from your camping supply store or you can purchase professional grade foam that are designed specifically for recording studios.  The conal shape of the foam, also aides in capturing sound, make sure to get a foam that has a peak and valley region to it.
  7. Cast porous ceiling tile – These ceiling tiles are typically made from pourous absorbing materials like cork, faom, sponge or styrophome. These are also typically external features to a studio’s ceiling to help capture the noise that hits the ceiling.  I have seen these in all different shapes and sizes, but the most common is when it is rectangular foam panels that are wrapped in some type of fabric. You can typically make these panels by hand or byuy professional grade ceiling tiles, it is just important that you have something to deaden the noise from teh ceiling. 
  8.  Common panel membrane absorbers – Common panel membrane absorbers are what are typically used to capture low frequencies.  They are typically thin pieces of wood that are put inside a  hollow box that deaden sounds that pass through it.   It is common for these to be in room with drums and bass guitar and can easily be mistaken for wall or ceiling panels.  They do serve their purpose though.  You can construct these if you have all the materials or buy them professionally.
  9. Resonators – Resonators are tiny holes that are strategically placed throughout a room to capture (and slow) high and mid range frequencies. Typically, the will be built into rooms that are professionally designed.  If you look at the design of this room in the picture, you will see how the boards are spaced thinly, this creates a resonator effect.  I have also seen boxes made with thin tubes that are portable and placed around a room to be used for the same purpose.

As you can see there are lots of wonderful materials that you can use that will aide in capturing sound within your studio.   The most important things are the you have insultated walls will pourous materials, and use external capture devices throughout the studio.   Depending on how greand you plan to make you room, studio quality, will determine how much money that you will spend on these materials.   It is also important to take into consideration the placement of your materials.  

There is a whole science on where to place your sound absorbing materials, but I will save that for a future article.  My best advice for placement for beginners is to look at pictures of studios online, and you will get a general idea of how they are used.  

You will truly be surprised at how sound proof that you can make a room, by utilizing some or all of these materials.    Understanding how the materials work with sound will increase the qulaity of your overall sound recordings, and will take your recorded sounds to a much more professional level.   You will also have more control over how you can mix your sounds.

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