What is the best acoustic treatment for windows? This is a question that seems to be asked quite regularly so today we are going to address it and many new improvements in this technology have been created since this blog was posted. Updated on October 25th, 2019
Windows are a problem because we all have them in our rooms. They are an issue for the sound quality inside the room. They are also a noise or barrier issue. They lack the density of the walls they are supported by and noise finds the weakest link in any wall design. Do not be tricked by terms such as acoustic windows. Companies use the word acoustic to attach to everything just to increase the price for the uniformed. I see this a lot in the recording studio window literature.
You can be in a room that has a lot of wood, you could be in a room that has a lot of carpeting, you could be in a room that has a lot of windows. Each has its own distinct sound, even though they’re the same size room and the sound sources are the same in each room, they will all three sound differently. What is the difference between the three rooms? Materials. Materials that the room is made out of. So, that said, windows and glass are the worst sound you could ever imagine to bounce any sound energy of (them). So reflections from window surfaces have to be treated.
What’s the best way to acoustically treat windows?
My solution is to get rid of them. They just have to go> They can’t be in any room that is dealing with sound in a serious matter. You don’t see them in control rooms, other than in the places where they divide the live and control, Today, a lot of studios eliminate the window and go with video monitoring. This avoids the glass completely. No need anymore for recording studio windows.
If we have recording studio windows or acoustic windows, you must decide on what treatment methods you are going to place on them. We do not want to deal with the reflections from these hard surface areas. We must be careful with “glass sound”.
Now what do we cover them with?
We have two things we have to consider. We have the sound energy in the room that must be treated and, if the window is on a surface, hopefully not a sidewall, but if it’s on a surface that needs a certain kind of treatment then we have to put that treatment on the window. Treatment falls into two types: absorption and diffusion.
Foam Window Treatment: https://acousticfields.com/product/foam-ladder/
Diffusion Treatment: https://acousticfields.com/product-category/sound-diffusion/qd-series/
We must first decide what treatment type we are going to use. This will depend on the size of the room and the usage. Usage or what you are doing in the room is critical. If the window is a rear wall, we probably are going to need some diffusion. If recording studio windows are located on the front or sidewalls, we must be very careful with the absorption or diffusion treatment since it will have an impact on what we hear in our mixes If we have to do a custom design for your recording studio windows we can do that. No need to look at acoustic windows. We can measure and build our own recording studio windows.
Absorption is really the technology people who look towards acoustic treatment for windows most turn to. They just simply want to cover the window so that there are no reflections off the glass and they get no glass sound in their room and that’s a good way to do that. That will work if now our acoustic window is just for treatment. Treatment will be the easier of the differences that recording studio windows must function at. We must also use the window to stop noise.
Drapes are good.
You have to have the right density and thickness of the drape. You really need to have the right thread count because you can’t have things going through the fabric and striking the glass. So you need to do that and get that taken care of and then once you have the reflections from the glass minimized, then you can work forward from there. The issue with drapes is not that they work to absorb it is how well do they absorb. In critical listening environments, we must have the rates and levels of absorption for our chosen room usage.
If you were ever invited to a party with music in a glass conservatory, would you attend?
No. Everybody knows from my videos, that glass sound is my worst sound. With our digital sources today, they overemphasize high frequencies, and when you take that overemphasis in the digital domain and you bounce it off a glass you compound the problem by a factor of a hundred. Sound takes on the tonal characteristics of the surfaces it strikes. Glass produces glass sound which is a harsh brittle sound. Wood produces a smooth middle range tonal balance. You have to be very careful with glass. I hear it immediately in a room and it’s just a situation that has to be treated with absorption or diffusion technology to match position and usage.
So I hope that helps you. If you have any questions at any time I am always on hand to help answer them. Leave them in the comments section or email me at firstname.lastname@example.org. If you would like a free analysis of your room, please complete the form on this page https://acousticfields.com/free-room-analysis/ and we will run a free analysis for you. If you would like to learn more about room acoustics please sign up for my free videos and ebook by joining the mailing list here. I send room tuning tips and things for you to test in your room every Wednesday. They are easy to follow and really help you enjoy more of your music.
Thanks and speak soon