How to Acoustically Treat a Room to Remove Echo and Reverb

Our new studio in Puerto Rico had so much echo that it was ruining the audio in all of our videos. I'm happy to say that we have finally figured things out, and we've learned a few things that might help you as well. 

Our new studio in Puerto Rico is a concrete box. The thick floor, walls, and ceiling do an amazing job of insulating us from external noise, but they also produce an echo chamber. Even with a lav mic just a couple of inches from my mouth, the echo was apparent. 

Furniture

Adding furniture to an empty room can do a lot to cut down on reverb. Most furniture is soft and can absorb sound waves, but also, odd shapes places around the room can help to stop sound waves from bouncing directly off of flat walls. If you can hang curtains, they can do a lot to cut down on echo, and in most cases, the thicker the better. Perhaps the most valuable piece of sound-damping gear would be a rug. The thicker and heavier the rug, the more sound it will absorb. 

Foam

Adding foam panels to a wall or ceiling can be one of the easiest and cheapest types of sound treatment, but it may not be the best bang for your buck. Cheap foam panels will be significantly less dense than expensive foam panels and may do very little to cut the echo in a room. Also, hanging hundreds of small foam panels around a studio could take hours, and they might damage your walls. After a lot of research, I decided to stay away from foam and go for something larger, heavier, and cheaper. 

Sound Blankets

Sound blankets are heavy blankets specifically made to dampen sound. We ended up buying eight sound blankets from Vocal Booth to Go. Because of their weight, they are able to absorb much more sound per square foot compared to foam, and they ended up being cheaper as well. Each blanket has grommets along the top that make hanging them extremely easy. 

Vocal Booth to Go sells all black or black and white sound blankets. I accidentally ordered the full black blankets. If I could do it over, I would buy the black and white version so that I would have the option of spinning them around and using them as a bounce card. Black isn't bad, but it makes our studio very dark. 

Our Microphones

In this video, we tested three different mics. We have been using the Senheisers MKE2 microphone for a few years now, and it's the best lav mic we have ever tested. With the sound blankets installed, I was shocked at how much better the lav sounded. I assumed that because it was so close to my mouth, the difference wouldn't be very significant. I was very wrong. 

The best sounding mic of our test was Rodes NTG-3 Shotgun. Without the sound blankets, the reverb was overwhelming, but once we added them, the sound of this mic was fantastic. We will probably start using this mic every chance we get. 

The Rode NTG-8 was the third mic we tested. This mic really isn't designed to be used inside, but with the sound blankets hung, it also sounded really impressive. 

I hope you're enjoying all of the new content we are producing from our new studio in Puerto Rico. Make sure to subscribe to our Youtube channel to see some exclusive content that we will not release on Fstoppers.

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6 Comments

Interesting, I wonder how the pro sound blankets ($50) would compare to a bunch of moving blankets from harbor freight ($6).

I bet pretty similar

michaeljin's picture

I think an important thing to note is that not all of these treatments will affect the same wavelengths. A rug will dampen mids and highs, but you'll still experience build-up on the low end of the frequency spectrum. Since it's pretty rare that you would want to build a completely dead room (doesn't sound very nice), an ideal solution will generally involve different types of acoustic treatments including diffusors, bass traps, and acoustic panels. If anyone is interested in treating their room or studio, I would recommend checking out GIK Acoustics as they have some great products to address a variety of needs.

Rod Kestel's picture

As a person with severe hearing loss, I WISH venues such resturants would think about accoustics.

Noisy, reverberating rooms are auditory torture for anyone who has trouble hearing. Not to mention that it damages hearing for anybody exposed for long enough. <end rant>

Ian Oliver's picture

It's not just room design but people. Perhaps mostly people.

We travel back and forth between the U.S. and Europe and the difference is very noticeable (as is American's desire to tool along in the passing lane and not move over). Restaurants, cafés, trains, parks, and just about everywhere in the U.S. is much louder than the same places in Europe (pubs during local football matches excepted). I'm not shy about asking people in the U.S. to use their inside voices when they're really obnoxious.

That said, some acoustical treatment would help to lessen the annoyance. And there are restaurants that we'll not go to because the room is too lively and when filled with obnoxiously loud Americans is simply too unpleasant.

Fernando Faixa Andrade's picture

Nice video Lee! Not as nice as pressing the left key several times at the very beginning of the video and see you shake like you saw a spider, but super informative. Thanks!