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Acoustic Properties of Materials that Determine the Quality of Sound in a Music Room

If a dedicated music space for listening, performing or recording yields only mediocre audio outputs, it’s likely that the room’s acoustics is less than ideal. Acoustics is not something that you can fully solve with the use of advanced software or high tech listening or recording equipment. Even if all equipment have been placed in spots regarded as perfect, poor room acoustics can still have an impact on the quality of musical sounds that a venue produces.

Understanding the Factors that Can Affect a Room’s Acoustics

While there are solutions for improving the acoustics of even the least perfect space, it would be best to first understand what makes or breaks an acoustic system. First off, acoustics per se, refers to the study of the characteristics or properties that determine the quality of the sounds transmitted within a room, studio or building. Here, the principle of keeping everything in moderation applies when looking to create an environment with the best acoustic system.

Reflective Materials

A room filled with reflective materials alone, such as bare hardwood or smooth concrete floors, as well as glass windows, can produce poor audio quality. The sounds created can be likened to those produced in a high school gym, where excessive echoes tend to make the appreciation of vocal and/or music instruments difficult. In such a scenario the room can be described as Overly Live, in which all tonal sounds become a cacophony of shrill and hard-edged noise instead of music.

Yet an Overly Live acoustic system can be improved with the addition of absorptive materials. However, extreme measures to correct an Overly Live acoustic system can create an Overly Dead space.

Absorptive Materials

Absorptive materials like asbestos ceilings, floor carpeting, curtains or draperies, upholstered furniture and throw pillows are often the common solutions to counter the effects of a venue’s Overly Live qualities. Yet having too much absorptive materials has the effect of dampening whatever sound is carried by the space. The venue can be described as an Overly Dead space, if for purposes of sound production.

Overstuffing a room with absorptive materials usually occurs by combining thick-pile carpeting with floor-to-ceiling draperies made from bulky fabrics, whilst adding lots of fluffy large throw pillows on heavily upholstered furniture. The sound produced by this type of room is akin to the sound one hears inside a closet used for storing heavy winter outer garments.

Importance of Incorporating a Plan for Acoustic Designs for a Music or Recording Room

So it’s now clear that the reflective and absorptive qualities of the materials inside a room can affect the sounds produced inside a music room or a recording studio. Having an acoustical design that aims to create a good balance between reflective and absorptive materials is an important step toward creating an ideal acoustic system in an environment.

Where the reflective surfaces are not in abundance, simply placing an area rug and hanging wall tapestries could suffice as counters for reducing sound resonance or echoes. Textile, particularly in the form of curtains, are rated as the most coefficient absorptive material. Expert curtain designers are knowledgeable if a venue intended as a music or recording room, requires full or spaced draperies that flow freely, or be added as rigid backdrops against a wall.

If you are currently contemplating on improving or building a music or recording studio for commercial purposes, hiring professional curtain makers is one way to save on costs. Mainly because as experts, they can eliminate the trial and error process when it comes to adding curtains, draperies or blinds to a sound-sensitive room.

In Wimbledon, London in the UK, a company called Englanderline ( specializes not only in curtain making but also in designing and crafting bespoke curtains. The services offered aim to make sure their customers will have the right fabric, the appropriate style and sufficient sunlight protection in every room. As curtain experts, they take into account the rigidity of the building materials present, as well as take measurement data of the textiles to use as curtains in a room.