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Microphone Month

Acoustically treating your basement.

“I’m trying to create a rehearsal space and recording studio for my band in the basement of our house. Right now all the surfaces except the ceiling are concrete and it sounds terrible. A friend told me to go find remnant pieces of carpeting for all the surfaces. Will that really yield a good sound?”

Depends on your definition of good. Most basements are so far away from anything usable in terms of acoustics that almost anything you do is a big improvement. In technical terms the absorption coefficients of the surfaces that make up your basement are too low, and the resulting reverberation or RT-60 is too great. Certainly adding materials with higher absorption coefficients will go a long way towards improving things. Carpet certainly fits this bill, and if you can find these carpet pieces for little or no money it’s a great place to start, but ultimately, if you want to create a space that sounds good you’re probably going to need a more thorough approach.

One of the (many) problems not addressed by merely adding carpeting to the walls is lower and mid frequency absorption. Most materials do not absorb sound evenly at all frequencies. Put up too much material that only absorbs in one range and you’ll skew to tonality of the space such that you can’t get a good sound. It may work okay for jam sessions and rehearsals, but if you really intend to record you’re going to need more than carpet, which only addresses higher frequency reflections. Bass traps, diffusers, and other types of acoustic material are a vital part of making a good sounding space. And just as important is the shape of the space and the layout of what’s in it.

There’s a lot to this business of acoustics once you get into it. Depending on how far you want to go there are consultants who can help you get all the right materials and design them around the space you have to work with. Your Sweetwater Sales Engineer can help with much of this, or when necessary we have access to high level consultants who can do the whole design for you, specifying exactly all the materials you need.

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