I’ve been a huge proponent of acoustic treatments and use them in my reference room too much success, however it hasn’t always been the case. For years I understood the importance of acoustic treatments and room acoustics but like many audiophiles and enthusiasts I wasted my time, money and energy on new equipment, cables and/or speakers thinking that they would lead me to the promise land. Well they led me to a promise-the promise that I, like many before me, would become a broke-ass audiophile.
When I finally wised up and said enough was enough I still didn’t give room acoustics and treatments their proper due. Instead I thought I knew better and began scouring the Internet in search of quick fixes and tweaks that would cost me a fraction of what acoustic treatment companies were charging for solutions that WORKED.
Below is a list of the five most commonly used “acoustic treatments” that actually DON’T work.
Egg Cartons as Diffusers
This one has to come from the pro world for we’ve all seen pyramid like panels and/or wedges plastered across the walls of countless recording studios leading many to think that their unused egg cartons would work in a similar fashion. Truth is they don’t, instead they’re actually more absorptive than anything and even from an absorptive standpoint egg cartons are weak sauce.
Foam Wedges, Pyramids, Panels etc.
Foam is cheap and readily available just about everywhere, especially online which is why so many flock to it as the go-to solution for addressing room acoustics. The truth of the matter is foam does treat some aspects of a room’s acoustics, think super high frequencies, but does very little elsewhere and is pretty much useless if you’re trying for diffusion.
Albums and Books as Diffusers
A lot of people will tell you that if you want diffusion but don’t like the look of acoustic treatments you should get a couple of large bookcases and fill them with LPs and/or books to achieve the same effect. Truth be told, bookcases filled with books can be a somewhat useful acoustic tool in their own subtle way-they just tend to be far more absorptive than anything else. For what it costs to buy a few bookcases and fill them with books you’ll never read though will display proudly to your friends you can buy far more effective products from reputable acoustic treatment manufacturers.
Hanging Rugs and/or Heavy Drapes on Your Walls
I’ve been guilty of this one more than once and the conversation is always an interesting one when your guests inquire as to why there is a rug on your floor and your wall. Hanging a rug on your wall does little to no good in taming any problem nodes outside of uber high frequencies associated with slap or clap echo, which are easily dealt with using simple treatments that will attract far less attention to themselves than an area rug hanging overhead or on a wall.
Using Foam Core, Foam, Plastic, Pennies and/or Anything Else You Can Get Your Hands On Solution, Solution
This one might seem a bit strange but we’ve all seen it, some whack-a-doodle claiming that by cutting the corners of your room with foam core, or by suspending pennies from your ceiling (this is real) or even placing various shipping tubes behind your speakers you’ll achieve sonic bliss. Well this is all BS too, for while their inception may be grounded in some form of reality their application, especially the pennies, doesn’t achieve… you know what. They claim that because your walls are no longer parallel or that they consist and or are obstructed by uneven or non-parallel surfaces your sound is going to be better when in reality all you’ve accomplished is minimal (emphasis on minimal) scatter and maximum what the hell were you thinking effect.
So before you go off and attempt to out-smart the professionals who do this sort of thing for a living by suspending 500 yards of hamster cage from your living room ceiling-do yourself, your family and your wallet a favor and call one of the many acoustic treatment manufactures first.
I personally recommend both ASC, makers of the famed Tube Trap, and GIK Acoustics for both companies are highly reputable, ethical and will consult with you about your room and its acoustic needs free of charge.