The rules of sound conditioning are pretty simple, but make sure to follow them religiously, or you may spend way more money than you really need to.
Rule One: Sound Conditioning is not Soundproofing.
Rule Two: You must have at least 25% to 40% of a room's surface area covered with something that does not reflect sound, but rather absorbs the reverberation and reflectivity in the room.
Rule Three: Sound Conditioning is only used to make the sound in a room deader, or more live. Depending on the amount of deadening you need, determines the amount of absorption you will want in that particular room.
SOME SOUND CONDITIONING SCENARIOS:
So you've just moved into your new house with beautiful wood or marble floors and high ceilings with large windows. Problem is, you are not able to carry on a conversation in the house as every noise you make is magnified. This condition is caused by sound reverberation due to the abundance of hard surfaces in your home.
One solution to this problem is to cover at least 25% to 40% of your square footage of walls, ceiling, and floors with a material that absorbs sound or "softens" your hard surfaces. The first considerations are adding area rugs, draperies, or plush, fabric covered furniture. However, if you have already decided on a décor and placed all your home furnishing into your rooms then you may need to add open-cell acoustical foam to these areas. The open-cell foam can be in the form of pyramid panels or wedge panels or it can be bought in a more aesthetically pleasing form of fabric covered foam panels.
Our School is not able to conduct an assembly since the noise is unbearable when the students are in our school gymnasium. When the principal talks, it is also hard for the students to understand what he/she is saying due to all the echo and reverberation.
Since school gymnasiums are often used for both sports activities such as basketball, assemblies and pep rallies, their floors are often wood and their walls are oft times concrete block or brick. To add to the problems associated with these hard surfaces, the height of gymnasiums ceilings is often in excess of fifteen feet. There are three main products to look at to "soften" the room. The first is the pyramid panels, or foam wedges which can be installed in a solid band pattern completely around the walls in the gym. The second option is to hang absorbent baffles from the ceiling. The third option is to place fabric covered foam panels as a band across the walls.
You and your band mates have constructed and soundproofed a nice band practice room, but the band is getting pretty good and now needs this room to be conditioned for recording purposes and simple line in recording is out of the question, you want to record live. You have determined that the practice room is much to live and edgy for recording live music. (Especially hard Rock 'n' Roll). What can you do to make the room more contusive to recording?
Once again your best option is to use the pyramid or wedge panels to cover at least 25% to 40% of the inner surfaces of the recording room. Tune the room with just the right amount of sound conditioning material. Mounting the pyramids or wedges with Velcro can help if you wish to change or alter the acoustics in the practice room to suit a particular recording.
Next, carpet the room wall to wall, even letting the carpet roll up the wall halfway, and avoid hardwood flooring at all costs. It may look cool, but hardwood flooring is very reflective and does not add to the conditioning of the room in any way, shape, or form. Generally commercial grade carpet is fine for this application. Carpet is a cheap commodity and helps greatly to cut down the reverberation and reflection in a recording situation. Other non-professional sound conditioners are things like cloth banners, tapestries, murals, and oil paintings without the glass in their frames. All of these items help to deaden a room and making them portable or movable will help you tune the room to get just the right recording environment.
Thanks for reading and learning. Remember that knowledge is power! For more information on sound conditioning, call Scott Swisher, Soundproofing America's sound-conditioning expert.
As always, Dr. Bob and Scott Swisher.