If you have ever wondered how you could surround yourself in a perfect sound space, you’re not alone. It may be easy to buy a pair of studio monitors, put them on your desk, and call it a day. But is that really the best way to go about things? Short answer, no. If you want a supreme listening space, you’re going to have to take things a bit further, and that’s why we’re going to go over some of the details like room size, particularly small rooms, and how different types of speakers and placements will affect your listening experience.
To get the perfect sonic quality we’re going to have to shell out a bit of money and learn some acoustic basics. Whether you plan on applying this knowledge to a personal listening room or a small recording studio, you will certainly benefit from learning how to get rid of the distortions that may come natural to your room. Determining your setup to be best with absorption or diffusion will be incredibly important for this process, so let’s go a bit deeper.
Examine your room setup
First, you will have to note that the amount of speakers in your room. Having a full surround sound system versus having just two monitors can make a big difference, especially when it comes to speaker placement.
If you have just two speakers, you should at a minimum have bass traps in the corners of the room and acoustic panels on the side walls. If you’re going for a surround sound setup in your studio, then consider adding a few more acoustic panels, and if you’re going all out, then there are giant DIY bass-traps that can be built and installed into your walls.
If you know anything about room correction software, then you may believe you can use simple software to get your room where you need it, when really, it’s going to take more than that. Your small room layout as well as the acoustic treatment are really the superior way to achieve a perfect sound space. In fact, the perfect balance lies with the ability to balance diffusion with absorption.
How diffusor and absorption works
When you hear “diffusor” in the sense of studio treatment, the typical idea is to place them at the rear wall of the studio. There’s a lot of science that goes into how the diffusors make a room sound better, involving a lot of complex talk about polys, cones, and a bunch of other jibber jabber but as long as you ensure you have the right placement and spacing for your diffusors, you will be happy with the effect it will have on your room. Experts explain that as a result of the diffusor, the room may not only sound bigger, but more vibrant as well.
Ideally, you should create a reflection free zone for yourself in your general listening position. This zone is where you won’t hear any weird reflections from the music, cause by your walls. Some of the more immediate reflection spots to take of are the walls directly to your side, as well as the part of the ceiling right above you.
If price is a factor, then your cheapest option for absorption would be broadband absorption. You will need a minimum of 2 inch thick rockwool or fiberglass acoustic panels, but ideally the panels should be 4-6 inches thick. If your panel is 8 inches or thicker, then you will be better off, but will risk absorbing some of the lower frequencies, and a air gap can be used to account for that. Hi-fi theatres often use a combination of absorption and diffusion in the ceiling, so plan accordingly.
One option is to build the room from the ground up, and in that case it would be much easier to install diffusion into your walls and ceilings from the get go. If you already have a room built, it is possible to install a false ceiling to more easily install acoustic panels and diffusors into your studio.
When it comes to absorption vs diffusion, you are likely better off with a combination of both. Maybe stick with diffusion on your rear walls, and absorption for the side walls, and the combination of the two will be especially appropriate in your ceiling. Some studios are either 100% diffusion or 100% absorption so feel free to slide the scale! When it comes to price, just know it’s not cheap, but may be cheaper if you resort to some of the DIY options.