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I was recently asked the following question on a Google Hangout. “I know you’ve talked about symmetry in regards to speaker positioning, alcoves, etc. What kind of acoustic wall covering materials do you recommend? I was thinking eighteen millimeter MDF for the whole wall but what do I infill the void with? I was thinking a good solid frame of a hundred by fifty. What do you think?”

Here’s a classic situation where people have a certain amount of space and because they have a certain amount of space to work with, that becomes the parameter of their acoustical treatment. “Well I have this space so therefore that’s all the space I have to work with, so that has to be the answer”. Well it’s not, and this is dangerous.

Just because you have this space doesn’t mean you’ll be able to solve the problems that you have. We need to kind of back up a little bit, and say, okay it’s great that you have the space, it’s great that you’ve put a number to it and this is what we have to work with and that’s wonderful however let’s back up a little bit and define our problems first.

Define thy problems first!

What acoustical issues do we have that this space that we have to work with, can be molded into technology and treatment that will solve our problems? It’s kind of the cart before the horse and here’s the problem with that. Once that train gets rolling down the track and you realize that “well I have X amount of space to work with so I’m going to use it all” you may not need it all, if you don’t define your problem first.

I don’t care if you have all the space in the world, I don’t really care if you have zero space. If you don’t know what the problem is, it doesn’t really matter how much space you have to solve it. Now obviously more space is better as a general rule, because everybody, in small rooms is going to have big problems, large problems.

So let’s step back a little. I appreciate the comments, the response, I like to see the enthusiasm and the ideas, you know, here’s a guy, who wants to get his room going, he wants to do something. Okay great, great to have the motivation but let’s take a deep breath, step back, look at the room, find out what the issues are, what are the room distortions, and then the space that we have to work with, believe me it will be filled and then some in most cases.

So a little bit cart before the horse saying we need these kind of acoustic wall covering materials, one inch this or we have this much space, those are good things to know but more importantly it’s better to know what problems we have and then find the space either in the wall as in the case of this example or freestanding units or building them in to the room themselves.

In Summary

I hope this answer helped. If you want to learn more about this subject please sign up for our free room acoustic treatment videos and ebook which provide step by step instructions on all major room acoustic issues. Get instant access by signing up now.


Dennis Foley

I am an acoustic engineer with over 30 years’ experience in the business. My technology has been used in Electric Lady Land Studios, Sony Music of New York, Cello Music and Films founded by Mark Levinson, and Saltmines Studios in Mesa, Arizona, along with hundreds of others.

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