Acoustic panels and tiles play an important role in improving the quality and consistency of audio in your studio or your entertainment room. Musicians who record in small studios, such as garage studios, frequently make use of acoustic wall panels and acoustic ceiling tiles in order to smooth out the sound of their audio. No matter how much you spend on speakers, amps and high quality instruments, if you do not pay attention to the space in which that audio equipment is being used then you will end up having problems when it comes to recording audio.
Home studios are difficult to work with because they are not only small (necessitating the use of acoustic diffusers), but they are constructed using materials that have less than ideal acoustic properties. In addition, because of the limited budget that many home-studio owners have, it is difficult to create pro-level sound. A spare bedroom studio will never sound like a professional studio – but with the right choice of acoustic mats and panels you can make huge improvements to the quality of your audio, even if it won’t quite match the professional level.
The most important thing offered by acoustic diffusers and panels is control. Acoustic tiles and panels can help to both diffuse and reflect the sound, preventing reflections that could otherwise disturb the clarity of the audio you are working with. It takes care and planning to design a small studio layout that works well in this regard, however. If you have a good ear and you are clever with angles you can guess where to place mats and lay out the mirror points by eye (or ear). You can position a ceiling cloud in a similar way to ensure that reflections are controlled both horizontally and vertically. However, this is not ideal. The best choice would be to use the tools provided by companies like Vicoustic to plan your room layout. Vicoustic offers several pre-defined layouts and also lets you work out your own.
Once you have installed your mats and panels, you will probably find that you can hear the results of the installation instantaneously. The main section of the room should have a controlled “live” sound. One good way to test the quality of the padding is to do some recordings and make sure that acoustic instruments and vocals can be clearly distinguished from each other. If you position the vocalist well away from the acoustic instruments there should be good isolation. You can carefully control the ambiance of the room to produce a roomy sound, or you can aim for a cleaner sound quite easily.
When you are laying tiles or panels, try to leave a little air gap behind them. This will serve to muffle the sound even better, which is important if the room is made of drywall or other materials with poor acoustic properties. The difference in audio quality should be clearly noticeable once the panels are glued in place.