Acoustic panels versus foam
Updated: Feb 26
First of all, let's be clear that acoustic isolation and acoustic treatment are different things. Rehearsal rooms quite ofter go for isolation and end up doing a bit of treatment in the process.
Their objective is to rehearse at 3am without having the neighbours call the police. Now isolation needs heavy materials such as mass loaded vinyl and complex solutions with heavy doors and seals to prevent the air from moving. Since many of them don't have the money to do this in full, they will cover the space with acoustic foam and hope for the best.
What ends up happening is that the reverberation goes down, the space becomes a bit more manageable and noisy, but the neighbours can still hear them at 3am or any other time...
Now for home studios this may not be your objective and here lies the confusion. Normally in home studios you want:
- To control flutter echo
- To treat room modes and have a balanced frequency response
- To control reverberation
And that can be done with foam in part, but if the foam is only treating certain parts of the frequency range, you may get a result that will push your mixes in the wrong direction, as you are compensating for frequencies on an uneven manner.
So my advice is to use acoustic panels instead:
- Tuned and designed to treat mid and mid-high frequencies equally
- Combined with bass traps, can tame the modes of the room
- Will resist better to time and temperature
Pair that up with good room compensation such as the IK multimedia ARC 3 or the Sonarworks and you will haver a killer studio for a relatively low investment.
This is the set I've used on my Home Studio: Primacoustic London 12