How Much Acoustic Treatment Should I Use?
This is a very difficult subject to address. This is because every room is different. There are a lot of factors to take into consideration. As a generalization most rooms will need between 25% and 75% of coverage. This is only for the walls and ceiling. Most people forget when treating a room that the ceiling is just as important when it comes to treating a room as the walls are.
Here is a brief overview of suggested quantities of acoustic treatment:
• Control Rooms for rock, pop, rap, hip-hop, R&B, country, techno, MIDI music, etc. usually benefit from 50% to 75% coverage and mostly absorption. Bass Trapping is also an important part of acoustic treatment for this type of room.
• Control Rooms for jazz, art (classical), choral, acoustic, world and other forms of ensemble music usually benefit from 35% to 50% coverage.
• Mixing rooms usually call for quite a dead area around the mixing desk itself from 50% to 85%. Around the rest of the room it needs a little absorption between 20% and 40% along with some diffusion.
• “Live Rooms” will vary a lot. Some well-designed live rooms can get by with 20% coverage (or even less!). Most fall into the 25% to 50% range. The most successful Live Rooms usually have some degree of variability. This is done so that a studio is not limited to a certain number of styles of music. By making the room adjustable it gives the studio a high ability to accommodate different styles of music.
• Isolation Booths usually call for quite a bit of absorption – 75% or more. If the booth is to be used for very tight vocal booth then near 100% absorption may be necessary.
• Home theatres and dedicated listening rooms do require quite a large area of absorbing foam on the walls. This is mixed with some diffusion on the ceiling also.
• Offices, Restaurants, Classrooms etc. will benefit from 25% and 50% of coverage of the total surface area of the walls and ceiling.
We know that sometimes getting the perfect coverage is not always possible. However within reason introduction of any acoustic treatment will make an improvement to the space being considered. The closer we can get the to the ideal coverage then the better the results will be.
Almost never will 100% absorption be needed and neither is it suggested. The room, no matter what it is going to be used for will still need some ‘liveliness’ in it. If 100% absorption is used the room will feel very close, tight and very very un-natural. The room could come to feel quite claustrophobic and extremely difficult to work in. By leaving a percentage of the area of the walls bare the exposed part can be reflective thus helping to stop your recordings or practise sessions from being overbearing. This will have the outcome of much better performances and recording results.