There are certain guidelines when it comes to treating your room for mixing and mastering. Whether you're in the bedroom, a small extra room in your apartment, or if you're just setting up your own music studio space. Regardless of your creative space, you can have some control when it comes to the technical challenge in your environment. This will improve the quality of your recordings and music production, and will be beneficial to your overall workflow.
What is acoustic treatment?
Acoustic treatment basically means adding enhancements to improve the acoustic setting of a room for recording or mixing music. The most important thing is making the sonics within this environment as neutral as possible. Acoustic treatment is achieved by adding absorption pads or diffusion panels in places where problems take place.
What do absorption and diffusion mean?
When it comes to treating your room for mixing/mastering and recordings, there are mainly two acoustic problems that occur.
First of all, you'd want to prevent unneeded frequencies from reflecting back into your recording or mixing environment. This is what we call absorption.
Acoustic absorbers are made from a foam material that stops sound energy from bouncing off of hard surfaces such as walls and ceilings.
These trapped reflections no longer interfere with direct sound from the source. In return, making a big improvement to the sound quality of your space and therefore your recordings.
Diffusion is another way to approach acoustic treatment. It works by scattering problematic reflections of sound in different directions. This will reduce the negative effect.
Acoustic diffusers are made of stiff materials arranged in patterns varying in height, size or surface direction.
Usually, a combination of both is necessary to get the maximum results out of your mixing environment.
Acoustically treating your room for mixing
There is no correct answer to fix acoustic problems for every room or space. Every environment is unique, with their own unique problems. However, there are some basic guidelines that can massively improve your acoustics.
In order to treat your room for recording vocals, instruments or mixing you'll need to use either or all of the following types of acoustic treatment:
1. Bass traps (For lower frequencies)
2. Acoustic panels (Broadband absorption)
3. Diffusers (Late reflections)
We will go through all of these one by one explaining how each method contributes to properly treating your environment.
What is a bass trap?
Bass traps are made to prevent problematic reflections of sound coming from lower frequencies. This treatment requires extra mass and absorptive properties to handle low frequencies.
Bass traps are usually shaped like a triangle and are often placed in the corners of the room where low frequencies build up.
In order to be effective, bass traps must be filled with absorptive material.
It is very important to control your environments bass, because low end energy can become problematic for recording and mixing environments, especially if you're mixing in a bedroom or small space.
This is because the lower a frequency is, the longer a sound's wavelength becomes.
What is an acoustic panel?
Acoustic panels absorb a broad frequency range of sound. The bass traps handle the lowest frequencies, while the acoustic panels take care of the other frequencies.
Areas that might be problematic are the first reflective areas.
These are key areas to mount acoustic absorption panels. These areas will be where the sound clashes first when travelling through your room.
This differs for each environment or room, but usually the first reflective points are located on the walls to the left and right side of your room's the listening position. So this basically means if you're sitting in front of your desk, the wall to your left and the wall to your right.
Acoustic panels are rectangular shaped, and usually filled with a soft absorbent material.
What is a diffuser?
Acoustic diffusers are another way of acoustically treating your environment. Diffusers scatter sound reflections instead of absorbing them.
Diffusers are necessary because without them, your environment can start to sound a bit sterile.
With diffusion, you have more control over the environments reflections without getting rid of them completely.
A diffuser works great for getting rid of late reflections at areas further away from the main listening position.
Why do you need acoustic treatment?
Every great studio has been acoustically treated. In order to record, mix and master professionally, you have to control reflections and stop frequencies from clashing with each other or cancelling each other out.