Archive for April, 2012

Many young people are into sound mixing these days. The younger crowd has always been avid followers of pop culture, which includes modern songs. Occasionally there are those who love classical, musical, and retro music. It’s because of this eclectic mix of tastes in music that musically-inclined people are able to come up with really good song mixes.

In order to create incredible mixes, a mixer needs to have a very good sound mixing software and equipment. It is now possible to create mixes on the computer with the help of several peripherals and accessories for audio editing like high-definition speakers, sub-woofer, DJ headphones, sound cards, and microphones. It is also very advantageous to at least have a private room where he can do live recordings, sound mixings, produce echoes for added sound effects and be able to play sample cuts as loud as he likes without disturbing others.

Naturally, this room needs to be properly padded and equipped with acoustic panels in order to replicate the efficiency of a sound studio.

However, teens cannot afford to pay for proper room acoustic treatment—especially if they already cajoled for their parents to buy them a computer and really good recording peripherals. If they do get to have a room exclusively for their sound mixing, they can use cheap sound foam or alternatives instead.

There are many kinds of acoustic panels used for improving and enhancing the acoustics of a sound room. They tend to be quite expensive too considering they are usually sold by square feet and even a small room will require quite a lot of panels in order to be fully padded. Since it would be impractical for amateur sound mixers and those who only do it as a hobby to spend a fortune on a sound room, it would be better to simply utilize common materials at home to function as cheap sound foam.

Examples of Alternative Sound Foam for Home Sound Studios

Old mattress foams are very economical alternatives to genuine acoustic panels. They work pretty well in absorbing sound and reducing echoes. In fact, all sorts of soft materials can absorb sound waves (although in varying degrees, of course). Plus, acoustic panels are basically foam as well, so why not literally use cheap sound foam panels that are readily available at home?

Old carpets can also work, especially on the floor and ceiling. This would help in keeping the sound muffled to a minimum—which would undoubtedly be an issue for most moms and dads and other housemates. Sound mixing can be quite noisy, especially when you create some of the sound effects and musical tones yourself.

Egg trays are also pretty standard in makeshift sound studios. They are great in diffusing sound waves and preventing echoes from becoming audible. They don’t do much as sound absorbers though and are best used along with mattress foams.

Of course, it is also possible to come across a company that sells relatively cheap sound foam panels. The result may not be as refined as a professional sound studio, but that would already be a good start for amateur sound mixers.

There are many kinds of sound studio foam used to improve the acoustics of a recording or music room. The most basic kinds of foam for acoustic enhancement, the ones that many people are familiar with, are sound proofing and sound absorbing foam. These two are often referenced together and used interchangeably, which is wrong because sound proofing foam is different from sound absorbing foam.

Sound proofing is for keeping sound contained within a room; or at least stopping sound waves from passing through the walls, ceiling or floors. The waves bounce off this foam, making the sound louder and more pronounced. On the other hand, rebounding sound waves also result in echoes and deep reverberations. These are not acceptable in a sound studio, particularly when a recording is going on.

That is why sound absorbing is also used to complement studio sound foam. This one allows sound waves to pass right through it and lets a certain volume of sound to be heard from outside the room. It works efficiently for sound reduction too. Most importantly, sound absorbing foam reduces the audibility of echoes and reverberations.

When used together, these two kinds of sound studio foam can improve the quality of the acoustics in the studio and will balance the need for sound isolation and reduction of unnecessary echoes.

Other Functions of Sound Studio Foam

Besides these two, there are also other kinds of sound studio foam that are used for other purposes in the sound studio.

For instance, there’s a special kind of foam that attenuates sound waves. This is the process of transporting sound waves from one room to the next. This is done by installing two separate layers of acoustic paneling on the ceiling with a gap in between. Sound waves coming from one room will pass through the ceiling and made to bounce on the second layer of acoustic paneling, and right through the ceiling of the adjacent room.

Sound attenuation may also be achieved by using sound absorbing foam on the inner ceiling and sound proofing on the upper ceiling.

Shapes and Specific Purposes

Sophisticated and high-end sound studios use sound studio foam that are made specifically for a particular part of the room and for a specific purpose. Two examples are bass wedges and soft-sound baffles.

There are also specially designed foams that fit into the corners of a sound studio. These are called corner trap foam. These are useful for ensuring that the volume of sound is even all over the room.

Imagine sound waves flowing through a closed, quadrilateral room. If the source of the sound is standing at the center (ex: the singer or musical instrument player), the sound waves will be hitting the various parts of the room at different angles. This means some sound waves will bounce back to the source earlier, some will come later—and those that will bounce back later usually come from the distant corners.

By installing corner traps, sound waves will be have a more uniform speed and rate of bounce—and this can be determined through the volume and formation of echoes in a room.

Noise pollution is inescapable today, but that doesn’t mean that there’s absolutely nothing people can do about it. If the source of the noise cannot be dissuaded or stopped, people who are bothered by it can make use of sound reduction foam and retain the peace and quiet they want so much.

Sound Reduction Foam for Home Use

There are times when people want to wrap their house in sound reduction foam especially when there are rambunctious kids and teens around the house. Even if they are not being intentionally noisy, it is difficult for most of them to keep silent for long periods of time. They like to play, play games on the Xbox, and watch movies and ball games on the flat screen—activities that normally generate loud noise.

In order to at least minimize the noise in the house, parents can install sound reduction foam on their entertainment rooms’ walls and floors (if they are located on the upper floors). This type of foam helps reduce the level of noise that penetrates the wood and concrete all over the house.

It would also be a good idea to install sound reduction foam in the home’s library or office. This material may not be able to completely block the sound and noise coming from other parts of the house, but at least it would muffle the sound to a bearable level.

By carefully planning the acoustics of the various rooms in the house, the elders of the household will be able to enjoy some quiet time even as the younger members continue with their loud hobbies and recreational activities.

Reducing Noise in Offices and Classrooms

Sound reduction is even more important in classrooms and offices. In school, students need to be able to hear their professors clearly so that they can jot down accurate notes and understand their lessons easily. Unfortunately, noise in school is never completely unavoidable, especially for classrooms that are located near the canteen or the open field. The noise from outside the rooms can be mighty distracting to the students and disturb their concentration on their professors’ lectures.

The same thing goes for corporate offices, especially if they are located in large buildings that house other companies as well. Workers need to have a quiet environment in order to concentrate on their work, especially those who belong on accounting departments. Unfortunately, all sorts of distracting noise can be heard in the workplace: janitors gunning giant vacuum cleaners, loud hums of printing machines, and the occasional sirens from fire trucks, ambulances and police cars.

Sound reduction foam can reduce sound waves from bouncing and reverberating through a room. Installing acoustic panels may be a bit of a stretch for most schools, but there are private educational institutions that do check the acoustics of their classrooms. Admittedly though, considering today’s economy, offices are more likely to install sound reduction foam than schools or private homes—unless they use alternative sound absorbing material. Now that would be a different topic of discussion for another day.

Not many people realize this, but there are so many places that require proper acoustic treatment. The first places that come to mind are cinemas, auditoriums, audio-visual rooms, classrooms, conference rooms, recording studios, and even some restaurants and fancy ballrooms. These places need to have very good acoustics so that the activities done within (such as watching movies, delivering or listening to lectures, recording songs, etc…) are carried out smoothly and perfectly.

In order to achieve perfect acoustics in a room, people shouldn’t only install acoustic panels on the walls. The ceilings and the floor should also be treated similarly in order to achieve the best audio quality possible. After all, sound waves may rebound from all solid surfaces it comes in contact with, not just the walls but also the floors and the ceilings.

Sound Absorbing Products on the Floor

The main problem that people may have with bare, concrete or wooden floors is reverberation. Sound waves will not be able to pass through the floor unless there is a gap between it and the foundation of the building; or, if the floor is an upper level, which would naturally leave the bottom bare and allow for noise upstairs to be audible from the floor below. By installing sound absorbing products on the floor of a room, the noise produced within will be muffled and reduced to insignificant decibels to people outside the structure.

This is why cinemas at the malls are reinforced with sound absorbing products from the walls to the floors and ceilings. The material will also reduce the noise produced by footsteps within the room; pretty much the same way a carpet would muffle the clack-clacking of heeled shoes across the marble or hardwood. Come to think of it, these materials already double as carpeting for cinemas and sophisticated auditoriums too.

Sound Absorbing Products on the Ceiling

The ceiling is more prone to producing echoes and reverberations than the floors. It is also very easy for external noise to make its way into a room by passing through the ceiling.

For example, a recording studio is commonly made up of two rooms. There’s the recording room itself where the artists and musicians take up their musical instruments and create the sound that will be recorded; and the external room where the audio controls, mixers, and sound manipulating equipment are set up. Besides installing sound absorbing products on the walls, it is also possible that special panels for sound attenuation will be installed on the ceiling.

In sound attenuation, the sound waves completely pass through the ceiling of one room and straight into the adjacent space. All sound waves are transmitted from one place to another, unlike with sound absorbing products wherein some sound waves are still rebounded back into the room. The resulting echoes are not really very audible, but if your recording equipment is extremely sensitive and can pick up very faint sounds, then this could be a problem. By combining sound absorbing products with sound attenuation material, echoes and reverberations will be negligible in the recording, if not completely eliminated.

Uses of Noise Absorbing Material at Home

Not all people are concerned about finding noise absorbing material that they can install at home. After all, there’s really no great need for a home to be checked for room acoustics unlike with an office or a public auditorium. On the other hand, it never hurts to know about the dynamics of room acoustics and the ways that you can achieve sound room-quality using a very simple, even crude, noise absorbing material that can be found at home.

You might be thinking, for what reasons can you possibly need sound absorbing materials at home? For starters, if you have a teenage kid at home who belongs to a band and practices in your garage, you will definitely be looking for ways to keep the noise level to a minimum, not just for your own peace but for your neighbors’ as well.

Another place in the house where you may want to install some noise absorbing material is the laundry room. Although the noise here won’t be as loud as the one produced by a group of enthusiastic teens with various musical instruments, you might want to keep the loud hums of the machines down if the laundry room is located beside a receiving room or a bedroom.

Of course, if you have a designated TV room with a monstrous audio component, you’ll definitely want to keep the noise in this room isolated. Besides, if you give a TV room an overhaul to isolate noise and improve the acoustics, you’ll also get to enjoy watching movies with wicked musical scores and soundtracks even more.

Examples of Noise Absorbing Material

It is possible to install some noise absorbing material at home without shelling out too much cash. There are many things found at home that can be used as alternative sound absorbers. The most popular, for instance, are egg trays and ordinary foam sheets. Notice that these two closely resemble the sophisticated and expensive acoustic panels that are manufactured by companies specializing in materials and equipment for room acoustics.

The uneven, cratered surfaces of the egg trays make it impossible for sound waves to bounce off from the walls in one direction, which would result to audible reverberations or echoes. Upon hitting the dimpled surface of egg trays, the sound waves will refract in various directions and in different angles. This slows down the rebounded sound waves, making them less audible and quick to disperse.

With the foam, the sound waves lose steam on the rebound because of the its softness and perforated surface, as opposed to a plain wall’s hard and smooth expanse (which is perfect for sound refraction and echo production). This is why foam is more often considered as noise absorbing material while egg trays are often classified under soundproofing.

If you have these things at home already you can install them on your walls using adhesives like heavy-duty, double-sided tape. Glue works pretty well, too; just be sure to use the non-toxic ones. By putting up some noise absorbing material in the noisy areas of your home, you can enjoy some peace and quiet without restricting other members of the household from doing noisy activities.

Many people who are musically-inclined are now taking interest in building a recording studio right in their homes. This is indeed an expensive project, but once the room is built it does serve the recreational and creative interests of a music enthusiast very well. In fact, if the musical recordings turn out to be better than expected, a person can easily capitalize on his hobby and make money out of it by producing records and selling them to both producers and consumers.

Before reaching that point though, there’s still the matter of outfitting a home recording studio with the right sound foam panels and recording equipment.

Invest in Sound Foam Panels

It’s a given that in order to have very good recordings, one must also invest on very good sound mixers and recorders. What many people fail to consider is that the room treatment is equally important as the sound equipment, if not even more so. Experts at room acoustics say that even if they use less sophisticated recording equipment, musicians can already produce very good recordings as long as the room is outfitted with very good sound foam panels.

The acoustic panels that should be included in a home recording studio are the following:

1. Sound proofing foam

This foam is used for acoustic isolation. It basically keeps the sound produced within the room inside the room and prevents any external noise from entering the room. If there is any need to block noise, sound proofing panels are recommended.

2. Sound absorbing foam

Although sound proofing and sound absorbing are used jointly in discussions about room acoustics, sound absorbing foam is very different from sound proofing foam. These sound foam panels cannot block noise. They are merely used to improve sound quality by reducing the possibility of echo formation.

3. Sound diffusion foam

Sound diffusion works alongside sound absorption. Sound waves are very much like the waves formed in a lake; when a wave stream reaches a barrier, like the edge of the lake (or in this case the walls of the recording room), it bounces back at a slower rate and at an angle relative to the position of the source. As sound waves, these are the echoes or mild reverberations. Sound waves that are not absorbed by the sound absorbing foam will instead be diffused by this foam until it becomes negligible.

These types of foam help eliminate the possible problems that may arise in a recording studio. These problems are reverberation, echoing and noise infiltration. Vibrations, echoes and noise from outside the recording studio that re captured in the track will definitely reduce its overall appeal and quality. The outcome might pass for those who have moderate standards, but if the ultimate goal is to create professional-sounding tracks, then this certainly wouldn’t pass muster. The solution would inevitably be to buy sound foam panels and install them in the home recording studio.

It’s a little odd to think of acoustic foam sound insulation of a recording studio as one of the determining factors for an aspiring singer’s success or failure in catching the attention of a record producer and scoring a deal with a recording studio. Still, this is as true as the voice of the singer being an integral part of the launching of his career.

Singers usually begin their careers by recording demo tracks and sending them to recording studios, producers and agents in the music industry. Needless to say, it is important that their demo tracks sound excellent, from the audio quality to the balance between the singer’s voice and the minus-one he’s singing along with. Most importantly, his voice must be properly showcased in the record, making apparent the strengths and potentials of the singer.

The best way for an aspiring singer to create an excellent and very flattering demo track is to record it at a professional recording studio. Recording studios have excellent acoustic foam sound insulation, which prevents unwanted echoes and enhances the sound created within the room. The result is a really good song recording which really gives off a studio-recorded vibe.

How Acoustic Foam Sound Insulation Works

The acoustic foam sound insulation panels in a recording studio are a combination of sound absorbing, sound diffusion, and soundproofing material. These work together in producing clear and crisp songs wherein each component is clearly discernible when necessary (such as the voice of the singer) and the other elements that sound best when combined are merged perfectly as well (like the musical instruments used to create the background music).

The panels inside a recording studio resemble egg trays. There are smooth, deep perforations on the padded walls. These indentations absorb and diffuse sound waves, preventing discernible sound from echoing all over the room. Since there’s sound insulation as well, the sound produced in the room only produces a muffled sound from the outside. Hence, the acoustic foam sound insulation ensures that the sound recorded is at its best quality and whatever level of noise produced within will not disturb the rooms beyond the recording studio.

On Recording an Amateur Demo

Although going to a recording studio for a demo recording is a very good first step to take, people cannot just head off there each time they feel like recording a song or two. They can still create recordings at home, especially if it’s simply for recreation.

That doesn’t mean though that they will simply have to content themselves with mediocre results. Anyone can transform a room into a fairly good recording room for amateur recordings.

People can buy acoustic foam sound insulation panels off online stores and home and office depots, although the cost could be expensive. The cheapest soundproofing foam costs about $2 per square foot while a 2×2 section of acoustic foam can cost up to $14. If you have the budget and a genuinely strong interest in recording songs and music, this could be a good investment for you.

There are so many probably causes for noise pollution: humans, animals, machines, and the natural rumbling and groaning of nature when it is at its worst. Unlike the conventional pollution wherein the effects can be lasting for centuries to come, noise pollution doesn’t create a lasting disturbance—unless of course if the source is constantly producing noise and there’s nothing people can do about it or if a person has suffered permanent ear damage because of it.

There are cases when noise pollution is unavoidable. Take airports and ship ports, for instance. These places will never be completely devoid of noise coming from aircraft landing and taking off and the ships’ horns, not to mention the sound produced by machines and equipment found in these places.

Highways and roads prone to traffic also cannot escape the sound of car horns and the occasional crash of metal hitting metal in cases of accidents. Rooms where engines and generators are housed are equally loud but, like all previous examples, completely unavoidable.

In places where noise pollution is indeed avoidable, it would be to everyone’s benefit if people would install foam sound proofing in order to keep the noise down to a minimum. This is especially true if the problem of noise pollution occurs in a neighborhood or an apartment where there are many people living in very close proximity with each other.

How Sound Proofing Foam Works

Foam sound proofing is a special type of material used to keep noise from entering or exiting the walls of a room. When it is used for a room that’s generating lots of noise, like a printing room for instance, the rest of the rooms outside it will not be disturbed by the constant whirring and high-pitched sounds emitted by the hardware.

Foam sound proofing is more commonly used in recording studios and cinemas. These two establishments are just as concerned about containing sound and noise as they are about maintaining high quality acoustics at all times. This can also be found in workplaces such as conference rooms and call centers, as well as establishments open to the public like theaters, restaurants, museums, auditoriums, and so forth.

There are also circumstances wherein a household may need foam sound proofing installed within their own walls. Home theaters and garages that double as a practice space for a band are two very good examples of that.

In truth, noise is pretty much a matter of perception. What other people consider to be noise may be simply be loud but tolerable sound, or music even, to other people’s ears. Case in point: some teenagers love to blast rock music from their cars but unfortunately, more than a handful regard the music as noise. Considering that people’s preferences in music and audio volumes differ, it would be safer to simply observe precautionary measures and install foam sound proofing where you can.

Room acoustics is always associated with two different kind of foam used for audio improvement: sound absorbing foam and sound proofing foam. These two do different things and are used for different purposes. Sound absorbing foam is exactly as it is called: it absorbs sound waves and prevents it from bouncing back, which would produce echoes. Sound proofing foam on the other hand prevents sound from passing through the walls of an outfitted room, thus keeping the sound created within pure and undisturbed by external noise.

When we speak of sound acoustic foam, we are actually talking about sound absorbing foam. These are easily recognizable by their uneven and often-serrated surfaces. Their texture isn’t smooth either. They are truly made of foam and therefore have the texture similar to felt paper, only that they have a distinctly sturdy feel.

They often resemble egg trays, which is also one reason why egg trays are often used as makeshift sound acoustic foam. The carton, although stiffer than foam, also works quite well in keeping the sound waves from bouncing back too much to produce echoes.

This foam is often used in recording studios, call centers, movie houses, theaters and the like.

Can You Install Sound Acoustic Foam at Home?

Most people may not know it, but there are so many places at home where sound acoustic foam would be very useful.

An entertainment or TV room at home is an excellent example. Sometimes when the television is turned on too loudly, the sound coming out reverberates throughout the room. This becomes obvious when you literally feel and hear vibrations on the walls and the floor when the bass gets too loud or drum beats are literally beating out of the speaker boxes. If the walls are all concrete and there no windows in the room, chances are the sound will be echoing all over the room. This sometimes makes it difficult to clearly hear what’s being said on the screen.

If you install sound acoustic foam, you will get to appreciate your surround sound even more, that’s for sure. Without the annoying echoes and thundering reverberations going on, you and your family will be able to enjoy a real home theatre experience thanks to the superbly crisp and clear sound that goes with your movie watching.

In some households, the children’s playroom is outfitted with panels of sound acoustic foam. Many do this in order to have a semblance of peace and quiet even when the little kids are at home and yelling their happy hearts out in their playroom. This is also useful if the playroom is adjacent to a public room, say, the dining area or the living room.

If you have a generator at home that’s housed in your basement, you should definitely install sound acoustic foam in order to muffle the loud sound when it is put to use. Sound proofing foam is actually the best answer for this; but if you only have sound absorbing foam at hand, you can still utilize it albeit with imperfect results.

A sound studio is especially designed for music artists to create clear and crisp music or audio clips of excellent quality. That excellence is the product of several factors, namely, the recording equipment, the talents of the recording artists and composers, skills of the musical band and the people who create sound effects, the knowledge of sound directors and, most importantly, the superiority of the studio in which the recordings were made.

A well-equipped sound studio is the best place to create audio recordings; but if this isn’t a practical option for you, and you already have the equipment necessary to create and record the tracks you want to produce, then perhaps you should just build a simple yet very good recording studio right at your own home.

One of the first things you’ll need for your home recording studio is studio sound foam. This is necessary for reducing echoes and reverberations within the room, as well as keeping loud noise contained as much as possible. It would be bad form to neglect the peace of your neighbours and disturb them if you’re recording really loud material. Sound pollution is a common cause of argument among neighbours as well; nobody would want to incite one.

There are two kinds of sound studio foam that you will need then: sound proofing foam and sound absorption foam. Both are necessary for a studio to produce excellent sound and music, and both have different purposes. The sound proofing is to prevent sound waves from getting past the walls of the room, while sound absorption prevents sound waves from bouncing back within the room.

Both types of sound studio foam are available as ready-to-mount. They are already cut in uniform sizes and dimensions. All you need to do is mount them using a special adhesive (manufacturers may include adhesives with the foam) and line them carefully side-by-side. For better results, you can hire a crew to recommend and install acoustic panels.

Usually though, people are asked whether they need sound proofing or sound absorption. In the case of a sound studio, it is best if both types of foam are used. Here’s an example of how this can work:

Install the sound proofing foam on every inch of wall in your sound studio. You will want to eliminate any possibility of noise getting inside while a recording is going on. This will also help reduce the noise coming out of the studio. Then, install sound absorbing foam on the corners of the room and on intervals on each wall to reduce the possibility of echoes forming once the sound cranks up.

A much better option is to build a sound studio composed of an inner room and an outer room. Use the sound proofing foam for the outer room and the sound absorbing foam for the inner room.

For people in the recording business, quality and clarity of sound matters; and for this, it is important that the studio where it was recorded is properly fitted with sound studio foam manufactured by experts on room acoustics.

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