The Acoustics of Great Music Practice RoomsJanuary 9, 2020 | Music Practice Rooms
Music practice rooms are invaluable spaces for artists and musicians to practise their instruments and crafts away from critical judgement or interference from others. Inside these spaces, they can hone their instrumental and musical skills, perfecting existing material or working on something new and original. Isolation and relative solitude are just two benefits of music practice rooms – they are also useful for musicians wanting to better understand their sound.
But to achieve a consistent sound that can be applicable to other contexts, the room itself has to be of a certain design and composition so that sound sources can be perceived clearly, accurately and free from distortion or undesirable levels of sound reflection. To this end, there are a number of objective technical factors that determine the acoustics and overall sound quality of a practice room.
Otherwise known as soundproofing, simply put, this is how effective a room is at blocking out external noises and containing internal ones. A good practice room should be able to keep out any and all outside noise whilst providing the freedom for the musicians within to be as loud as they want, within reason. This can be achieved by sealing gaps in the walls, doorway, floor or ceiling, fitting a varying range of sound-dampening materials or adding mass to walls. Ready-made modular set-ups from IAC, among others, come with acoustically treated acoustic doors with magnetic seals as standard, which can be extremely useful for preventing noise leakage.
Echoes and Reverberations
Just as a mirror reflects light, so too will a room with hard, flat surfaces reflect sound. While a minor level of sound reflection is desirable, and a truly reflection-free sound may feel somewhat unnatural, excessive sound reflection can muddy the sound as well as possibly causing distortion. This problem is not unique to music practice rooms – when it comes to unclear sound control booths and other similar studio rooms can be just as bad. These problems can be rectified or mitigated by fitting special materials that can absorb different frequencies depending on their density and makeup, as well as diffusers, which scatter sound in all directions and reduce reverberations.
Even in some of the best-designed music rooms, it can sometimes be a struggle to manage internal and external noise sources like heating, ventilation and cooling. These functions in themselves are vital, especially in relatively small spaces like most practice rooms, but sometimes it just isn’t possible to work around them. To this end, it is possible to fit the practice space and/or surrounding rooms with air duct silencers, which mitigate or eliminate the noise of the air rushing through ducts. Additionally, in many places that contain linked practice rooms or control booths, independent and linked ventilation controls are a quality sign. Such functionality comes in handy in a number of ways – for example, when a musician or group of musicians cannot perceive the level of background noise control booths with special ventilation controls can adjust them accordingly.