Acoustic Wall Treatments Can Help Pull The Plug On Irritating Acoustic Problems
Acoustic wall treatments are designed to balance the acoustic properties of a room. So you spent some serious coin to get a great set of speakers, but for some reason they don't sound quite right. If part of your room sounds different than another, you may have a problem with misbehaving sound waves.
Very few rooms are naturally "acoustically perfect". The lengths of the walls in relation to the ceiling height can make or break your listening experience. Not only can sound travel through objects, but it can also bounce off of them as well. This can cause an echo.
In a home theater, the angles of the walls and ceiling, the type of flooring material you have, even your furniture all affect how sound travels through the room. Positioning a couch in a different spot or packing more books on a bookshelf will actually change the way the room sounds.
Acoustic wall treatments are generally designed to either diffuse or absorb sound. Treatments that diffuse sound help to reflect it into multiple directions with less energy. Instead of an echo coming from a specific spot, that sound is spread throughout a larger area and ends up being weaker. Diffusers also help eliminate "dead spots" in your room. A dead spot occurs when sounds reflecting off different surfaces meet up and cancel each other out. When standing in a dead spot, certain frequencies will actually sound softer or be missing entirely.
You can find acoustic wall treatments that absorb sound and convert it into heat, but don't worry, the amount of heat produced is extremely small.
You can mount acoustic treatments on the wall or ceiling. There are many commercial products available and you can even buy ready to install treatments. As a do-it-yourselfer, you'd probably want to build your own.
Most wall or ceiling mounted treatments are really just a wooden frame filled with sound absorbing or diffusing material. The whole thing is then wrapped in an attractive sound absorbing fabric of your choice. You can also hang wall treatments from your ceiling to help control floor to ceiling reflections.
These types of acoustic wall treatments helps control mid and high frequencies, but what about the lows?
Bass traps are special treatments designed to capture low frequencies. Low frequency waves are long making them strong and hard to control. You'd place a bass trap in the corner of a room where bass tends to build up. Bass traps have to be heavy so they're usually built out of concrete forms. You'd seal off one end, fill the form with sand or another heavy material, then seal off the other end. Stand them on end and either hide them within a cavity (like inside a custom wall unit where your subwoofer may be) or wrap them in a decorative fabric and put them in the corners of your room.
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