Soundproofing by any means has nowadays become essential as a part of our daily living.
As we often tend to live in our comfort zones, reducing excess sound in our surroundings has become necessary.
Since you’re reading this article, means you already might be aware of some facts and concepts of soundproofing. Even if you’re not, don’t worry be with us on “Where to place acoustic foam” we have got your back!
To begin with, let’s first know what acoustic foam is.
Acoustic foam is usually considered by many people as a soundproof item. But it’s more of a sound-absorbing item. It is mostly used to make the voice quality better.
It is usually made of POLYURETHANE OR MELAMINE. Polyurethane is a type of plastic material that can be altered according to its shape, whereas Melamine is a type of lightweight, non-fibrous foam. These two things are actively used in the production of Acoustic foam.
Now since we discussed Acoustic foam, I’ll suggest you some points while choosing them and some of their types as well.
Which Parameters Should Consider While Selecting Acoustic Foam?
While choosing Acoustic foam you’ll have to keep these points in consideration:-
- Size – You should choose Acoustic panels according to the size of the establishment that you’re using them in.
- Material – You should only choose Acoustic foams made of Polyurethane or Melamine. Hence, beware of the ongoing malpractices around you.
- Thickness – Thicker the foam, more will be the Sound Absorbing. The foam should be minimum of 2 inches thick.
- Types – There are many types of Acoustic foams available in the market such as Wedge foams, Pyramid foams, Egg crate foams, Spade foams, Acoustic grid foams, etc. However, the most commonly used foams are Wedge foams and Pyramid foams.
Hope you understood what acoustic foam is and its consideration while selecting, now let’s come to our main topic.
Where To Place Acoustic Foam: In Recording Studio
Actually acoustic foam works on one of the principles of soundproofing and that is absorption. It absorbs most of the sound and reflects a little bit of sound. This totally depends upon its NRC rating.
This acoustic foam is mostly used for reducing echo and reverberation. Sound waves bounce back from the hard and flat surfaces causing an echo. This echo makes the audio quality of your room worse and so for improving it, acoustic foam is used.
Now when the sound waves collide with acoustic foam, it absorbs most of the sound and reduces echo drastically in your room.
In this way, it helps you to make your audio quality better and this is the reason it is mostly used in the Recording studio, Home theatre, and Auditorium, etc.
Now when we think about where to place acoustic foam, then one more question arises in our mind and that is Where to use acoustic foam?
So let’s see first,
Where To Use Acoustic Foam?
As we saw in the above paragraph Acoustic foams are used to absorb and reduce echoes and reverberations. Hence Based upon its sound-absorbing properties, Acoustic foams can be used in the following places:-
- Recording Studios
- Broadcast Studios
- Cinema halls
- Own house
- Home theatres
Now let’s move to our main topic and that is,
Where To Place Acoustic Foam?
To understand the answer to this question, you’ll have to first understand the working of Acoustic Foams.
Sound is nothing but mere vibrations. These vibrations travel in a wavy pattern and hence they are called Sound Waves.
Sound waves travel through different mediums such as AIR, WATER, AND SOLIDS. But they usually travel through the medium of GAS (AIR) from molecules to molecules that are present within it.
When these sound waves hit flat and hard surfaces, they bounce back causing Echoes and Reverberations.
Acoustic foam acts as an absorbent. When sound waves hit this foam, they are absorbed and the kinetic energy of sound is converted into small amounts of heat energy thus reducing echoes and reverberations.
Hence its work is measured using Noise Reduction Coefficient (NRC) rating. NRC is nothing but the indicator of How much noise can be Reduced or absorbed by a specific material.
NRC ranges from 0 to 1. If the NRC of the material is 0.6, it means that that material will absorb 60% of the sound and reflect the remaining 40% of the sound.
Now where to place (locate) this acoustic foam is very important so that you could get maximum results with minimum input.
As you read above, you can place this acoustic foam in the Recording studio, Home theatre, Auditorium, etc. Now here I am going to explain to you where to place acoustic foam or how to determine the right location for absorption panels in the Recording Studio. So let’s begin,
The recording studio is the place where recording, mixing, other sounds, and audio production are done and that’s why a better quality of sound is required here and for that, they used acoustic foam panel or acoustic panel on their wall and ceiling.
Now let’s understand how sound travels in a recording studio.
The source which produces sound projects it in different directions. Hence 2 types of sound are produced.
- Direct sound – It is the type of sound that travels in a straight line.
- Reflected sound – It is the type of sound that bounces back from the surface to the surface.
Direct sound doesn’t do anything specific in degrading the overall sound quality of a room.
The culprit here is reflected sound. This sound surely bounces back from the surface to the surface causing echoes and reverberations.
Now the impact that reflected sound cause can vary depending upon the size of the room and the number of surfaces from which the sound is reflected.
To tackle and absorb this sound we can make use of acoustic foam. Now let’s have a look at
Where to place Acoustic foam in recording studios?
For best results, you need to try and follow some basic principles if you want to optimize your mixing environment.
Ideally, you have to keep your mixing position in the center of the room. The distance between your speakers and your sitting position should create an equilateral triangle with equal distance to the walls on your left and right.
Also, try to keep some space behind your desk to the back wall.
When you are working on “Where to place acoustic foam” then you should focus on 5 major key areas so that you could get optimum results in minimum input and that key areas are as follows,
- The wall behind your speakers
- The corners behind your desk
- The early reflection points on either side of your desk
- The early reflection points on the front side of your speakers
- The ceiling immediately above your system
There are more reflection points in the room but these are the good places to start, so I always prefer these places first when I have to do panel configuration.
Now let’s see how to determine the placement of the foam panels in the above key areas,
1. The Wall Behind Your Speakers
Using a straightedge, create a straight line from your sitting position to the back wall through the left speaker and mark this spot.
Now place 2’*2′*4″ thick foam panels in 3 Row*2 Column pattern on the place where you have already marked, to absorb any sound firing from the back of the left side speaker.
Of note, Place the acoustic panel in such a way that the speaker should be in the center of the foam panel.
The 3 Row*2 Column foam pattern is as shown in the below image.
For determining the height of the panel, you have to just cover enough height above and below the speaker so that the maximum absorption of sound is achieved.
Now measure the distance from the right side corner of the foam panel to the end of the left side wall corner.
And mark this distance on the wall behind the right-side speaker, as shown in the below image. Now place acoustic foam panels on the place where you have marked, to absorb any sound from the back of the right-side speaker.
2. The Corners Behind Your Desk
Now apply foam panels on that corner, where the back wall of the left side speaker and the wall of your left side meets together.
First, apply foam panels on the corner of the back wall of the left side speaker and then take another foam panel and place it on the corner of the wall on your left side.
In this way, you have to complete the 3 rows * 2 columns foam pattern on the corner of the back wall and then you have to follow the same pattern on the corner of the wall on your left side, as shown in the below image.
Of note, When you will place the foam panels on the corner of the wall on your left side then these foam panels will overlap the foam panels which you already placed on the corner of the back wall.
Keep the height of the foam panel the same as you kept earlier in the wall behind your speakers. Now place the same foam pattern on the right corner of the right-side speaker in the same manner.
In this way, you have finished the placement of foam behind the corners of your desk.
3. The First Early Reflection Points On Either Side Of Your Desk
Early reflection points are those points on which sound waves reflect as soon as sound vibrations are created.
Early reflection points can be on opposite walls of speakers and side walls as well. Hence to find and cover these points is a must-do task. Now you can start by finding these reflection points using MIRROR TRICK.
You sit at your mixing position and have someone move a mirror along the wall until you see the reflection of the closest speaker. Then mark the spot and install the same foam pattern as we installed earlier.
Now simply take the measurement from the left corner of this foam panel to the back wall, as shown in the below image.
And mark that same distance on the right side wall, and then place the same foam pattern here as you placed earlier. Actually, these are the benefits of the symmetrical setup.
However, if you are alone this mirror technique is tough to do. From one of the research, we found that the early reflection point is approximately half the distance between the speaker and your sitting position along the closest side wall.
We double-checked this later with the mirror technique and can confirm that it was the same spot as we measured.
4. The First Early Reflection Points On Front Side Of Your Speakers
Using a straightedge you have to create a straight line from the left speaker to the front wall of your speaker and mark this spot. Then install the foam pattern there to absorb any sound from the front of the left side speaker.
Now repeat the same procedure for the right-side speaker and install the foam panel there to absorb any sound from the front of the right-side speaker.
5. The Ceiling Immediately Above Your System
Now lastly you have to install two foam patterns just above your desk.
Be sure that the outer edge of the ceiling foam pattern lines up with the outer edge of the foam pattern which is installed on the walls to your left and right side so that the symmetry is maintained.
In this way, you have to install the foam pattern on the ceiling.
Hope you understood well where to place acoustic foam but if you are still confused then always remember that the Ideal wall coverage should be 35% to 80%. For noticeable results, you will have to cover at least 35% of each wall and also your ceiling.
I hope that you have got the answer of your question by reading this article. The idea here should be MAXIMUM benefits by applying minimum number of foam panels.