Recording studios don’t use soundproof panels. Technically, there is no such thing. Instead, they soundproof their studio beforehand, during the construction phase, by sealing off the environment from the outside to prevent sounds from entering or escaping.
After this phase, they treat the room with acoustic panels, bass traps, and diffusers to create a sonically pure environment where no noise pollution can interfere. The goal for this approach is to isolate direct sound and then add reflected sound after. Depending on the recording studio, they might also have larger rooms designed specifically for natural reflected sound environments.
For most personal studio environments, musicians only need acoustic treatments and bass traps. However, the artist’s preferences dictates the equipment used in these situations. a
How Sound Travels In a Room
To understand how soundproof tiles (acoustic panels) work in a recording studio, let’s take a look at sound’s journey from the beginning.
- When a source issues a sound, it projects the sound outward in all directions.
- The portion of sound known as direct sound, travels into the microphone.
- The reflected sound bounces randomly between the surfaces of the room.
- Some of the reflected sound reaches the microphone after the direct sound.
Direct sound does not interact with the room and its frequency balance is pure and unaltered. However, reflected sound gets altered as it oscillates back and forth. This alteration carries the potential to alter the original sound. The room’s size, along with the surfaces within, can drastically alter the original sound.
In most rooms, this reflective sound has a negative effect on the original sound. To understand why to consider a cathedral. It’s massive, which gives the sound ample room to reflect. However, when you consider a gymnasium’s sound, you can understand why size isn’t the only thing that matters. The structure of the cathedral also matters. It has specific acoustic properties that make it sound beautiful.
Despite most rooms having poor acoustics, there are ways to fake good acoustics in rooms with bad acoustical properties.
How to Fake A Great Room Tone
The first echo chamber was created in the 1960s and changed the recording environment forever. Echo chambers allow musicians to recreate the acoustics of rooms such as cathedrals. Over the years, this machine has grown more and more sophisticated. Today, musical artists enjoy the fruits of the past and incorporate what’s known as digital reverb in their toolbox.
The problem with this approach is that you can’t accomplish digital reverb correctly without isolating the sound from any errant reverberation within the room.
How to Remove Natural Reverb From a Room
At this point, we can start discussing the role of soundproof tiles (acoustic panels) in recording environments. The purpose behind these panels is to absorb sound. The more sound you can absorb, the less reflective sound gets let out into the recording environment.
Most people believe sound absorption can work on its own. However, absorption actually works best with a process known as diffusion. Diffusion improves your sound by scattering the reflections within the room. Untreated reflections cause problems by getting trapped in one spot, amplifying specific frequencies, and canceling out others. That’s how the natural frequency gets destroyed.
Diffusers scatter the reflections, preventing sound from getting trapped and preserving the sound’s natural tone. The right combination of absorption and diffusion transforms the acoustics of any room into something capable of sounding like a world-class recording studio.
Soundproofing Vs. Acoustic Treatment
While musicians often use these terms interchangeably, they are not the same thing. Soundproofing aims to minimize the level of sound traveling in and out of a room by the following approaches:
- Blocking sound with heavy, dense building material
- Sealing any air gaps in windows/doors
The primary benefit of soundproofing is that you can record whenever you want without worrying about disturbances. On the other hand, acoustic treatments aim to control the sound reflections within a room to make better sound recordings. These are the separate processes that cannot accomplish the aim of the other.
This article showcases the differences between sound treatment vs. soundproofing. And while the title suggests this article is about soundproofing tiles, there is really no such thing as soundproofing tiles. Rather, what’s commonly referred to as soundproofing tiles are actually acoustic treatment tiles.
3 Elements of Acoustic Treatment
Acoustically treated rooms require the following three items:
- Bass traps – offer absorption of low frequencies.
- Acoustic panels – absorb mid-high frequencies.
- Diffusers – scatter remaining frequencies
Bass traps are perhaps the most important component of sound treatment. Porous bass traps are actually broadband absorbers, meaning they can also absorb mid-high frequencies as well. Bass traps can sometimes be enough to get the job done when trying to treat your room for acoustics. This is especially true for small, in-home studios, where bass frequencies are particularly pesky.
Many people think of acoustic panels as the most important option for acoustic treatment. However, these panels are largely ineffectual when discussing bass frequencies. That’s why acoustic panels should be supplements to bass traps.
The difference between acoustic treatments and bass traps is that acoustic treatments are thinner, and offer more surface area and less material. Acoustic panels thus cover more of your wall for less money but are less effective. What acoustic panels accomplish is killing noise between opposite parallel walls, the one thing bass traps can’t do.
People’s opinions vary on diffusers. Some insist that for smaller rooms, they are ineffective. However, some people live by diffusers and use tons of them for projects of all sizes. However, regardless of where you land on this spectrum, you should consider treatment in the following stages:
Simple enough, right? First, you have to handle absorption, then you can focus on diffusion.
Conclusion- How Do Recording Studios Use Soundproof Tiles
The short answer to this question is that recording studios don’t use soundproofing tiles. They soundproof the room during its construction phase and then treat the room with acoustic panels. Acoustic panels absorb sound to ensure the direct sound’s purity and limit reflective sound from tainting the sound’s overall quality.
If you have a personal recording studio, after absorption with geometric acoustic panels like bass traps, and flat acoustic panels, you might not even need to implement diffusers. However, if you have a larger room, diffusers might do the trick.