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Basics Of Acoustic

Published: Tue August 24, 2004  News Feed

We at Dolphin Music we have tried to explain the basics of how sound behaves. Some examples of concepts we assume you have a basic understanding of include:

Basic Understanding

  • When sound strikes a surface, some of it is absorbed, some of it is reflected and some of it is transmitted through the surface. Dense surfaces, for the most part, will isolate sound well, but reflect sound back into the room. Porous surfaces, for the most part, will absorb sound well, but will not isolate.
  • The best way to stop sound transmission through a building structure is to isolate the sound source from the structure before the structure has a chance to vibrate.
  • Walls need to be isolated from ceilings and floors, usually by means of dense, pliable rubber.
  • The main ways to minimize sound transmission from one space to another are adding mass and decoupling.
  • Limp mass is most often better than rigid mass (actually, a combination of the two is really what you are after).
  • Every object, every construction material has a resonant frequency at which it is virtually an open window to sound - kind of like a tuning fork that “sings” at its particular resonant frequency.
  • Different materials have different resonant frequencies.
  • Trapped air (a.k.a., air spaces and air gaps) is a very good decoupler.
  • Airtight construction is a key concept. Sound, like air and water, will get through any small gap. (Sound can leak through openings as small as 1/32” – in some cases even smaller.)
  • Sound bounces back and forth between hard, parallel surfaces.

One of the single biggest concepts to understand and appreciate is that acoustic foam (an example being Auralex), one of our core Acoustic products, is not going to \"soundproof\" your room. It is an extremely effective absorber of ambient, reflected sound and helps make rooms \"sound better.\" Acoustic foam does contribute some sound isolating properties (mostly high frequencies), but is not sufficient by itself to keep sound in or out of a room. Thicker acoustic foam is better at absorbing low frequency sounds. Controlling reflected sound within a room is extremely important in producing good sounding recordings. When you hear voiceovers on television documentaries, you might be surprised to find out that they don\'t always spend a lot of money to get this right. (It is amazing what some good 2\" acoustic foam can do for a glorified, yet well-constructed closet!)

Isolation construction is not inexpensive. A small outlay will considerably improve your studio to make it the best it can be. For example, it is important to realize that empty egg cartons, cork squares and carpet scraps are not going to (a) keep sound from leaving or intruding upon your studio and (b) yield that pleasing, neutral, \"Vocie Over\" sound within your studio.

There are myriad benefits to constructing your control room to be symmetrical geometrically and building using the best materials you can afford. Money well spent now will benefit you for a long time into the future.

One of the keys to getting good, clean sound on tape or hard disk is removing the sound of the room from the equation, to one degree or another.

If you have come to realisation that you need to improve the acoustics of your room you are half way there. We are here to try and help you get the best the room has to offer.

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