Here are my hard-and-fast rules on how to get your home studio treated as quickly as possible:
Kill Room Modes Using Bass Traps
Room modes are pockets of sound that accumulate mainly in corners (as well as other areas) as sound travels throughout a room and are most often made up of low-frequency material, which exists in instruments such as bass, rumbles, kicks, toms, etc.
The reason you want to reduce room modes in particular is that the accumulation of those room modes decay at a slower rate than what is produced by your monitoring system.
This will result in partial phase cancellation and create a sort of “muddiness” that can make it exceedingly difficult to understand what exactly is happening with your low end.
Make Your Bass Problems Disappear
When I first put up my bass traps, every single problem that I had with bass had simply disappeared and I didn’t have to perform quite as many soundchecks in my car by burning my bounced files onto countless CDs.
So if you’re wondering how you should treat your room; just go get yourself a bunch of bass traps and treat the corners of your room first!
Do-It-Yourself Bass Traps
In regard to cost, you’re going to end up spending a fair bit if you’re looking to get acoustic bass traps, but there are DIY options that you can consider if you’re willing to put in the time to acquire all the necessary materials and know a little about carpentry.
As building bass traps is something that I don’t have much experience with, I’ll refer to you to a couple of awesome guides that I found, each of which you can read and download as .pdf files for your own convenience by clicking here and here.
Additionally, here’s another great article about bass traps by Ethan Winer that contains quite a bit of detailed information about the different types of materials that you can use to build great bass traps and how they should be applied for the best results possible.
Buying Bass Traps
Of course, if you’d rather not put in all that work or simply don’t have the time to build your own bass traps, then my best advice would be to simply save your money and look for bass trap kits on Amazon.
In regards to size and dimension, the bare minimum size that you’ll want for a bass trap (for an average-sized apartment) is 12x12x17, which is fairly standard.
Acoustic Treatment 101
After the room modes have all been taken care of, the next order of business will be toning down all those annoying flutter echoes that occur from reflections off your front, side, and back walls.
If you’re not sure just how bad it really is, try clapping your hands once really hard and listen to the “ring out” that is produced afterwards.
The best way to treat those is by purchasing acoustic panels (like this one) and lining them up around your room. However, as I’m sure you have noticed, those panels aren’t cheap. But don’t worry, if you are willing to learn, you can build your own.
For all of you DIY types, here’s a guide that will help you build great homemade acoustic panels!
A Final Note About Treatment
Many of you may be thinking that the primary purpose of acoustic treatment is to kill as many reflections as possible.
The actual goal is to reduce reflections so that they don’t interfere with the direct sound. Leaving you with only sound coming from your monitors and not the rest of your room.
For more detailed information on acoustic treatment, check out Paul White’s article on the subject: here.