An ideal treatment for a home studio includes acoustic panels in the corners of the room, behind your monitors, and around the walls. You can also place panels on the sealing and use large items like furniture to help absorb sound waves.
My name is Donovan, and I’m a home studio enthusiast and lifelong musician. I love to write, record, and produce music as often as possible and have built several home studios over the years. I know through first-hand experience where to place acoustic panels.
This post will show you where to place acoustic panels in a home studio. I’ll provide some tricks and tips to get the ideal sound treatment in a smaller home studio. I aim to help you dial in your space for more effective home recording.
Let’s get to it.
- Key Takeaways
- Where to Place Acoustic Panels in Home Studio
- DIY Acoustic Panels
- Final Thoughts
- Acoustic panels help absorb and deflect sound waves to help you hear accurate representations of recorded music through speakers or limit echos and other reflections when recording.
- Placing acoustic panels in a few key locations will help you get improved sound quality and recordings in your studio.
- The main areas to place acoustic panels in a home studio are in the corners of the room, behind your monitors, and around the room’s walls.
- Every studio room is slightly different, and each should require slightly different panel placement for an ideal setup.
Where to Place Acoustic Panels in Home Studio
Acoustic panels are an essential tool to utilize in your home studio. You’ve likely seen these scattered around any studio you’ve been in, and they help to absorb and deflect sound waves for improved audio characteristics in a room.
While there is definitely a science to placing these panels, you don’t need to be an audio engineer to understand the basics of where to place them. You can do a detailed analysis of your room utilizing sound wave detectors and other tools, but you don’t have to.
If you focus your acoustic panel placement on a few key areas, it will go a long way toward improving the effectiveness of your studio. Without them, you can get sound imperfections or playback abnormalities caused by sound wave reflections.
The primary places you want acoustic treatment of some sort, whether this is acoustic panels or anything else, are in the corners of the room, behind the monitors, and around the walls.
But because each studio space is a little different, the exact placement of your panels is likely specific to the characteristics and layout of your room. Still, covering these basic areas will give you a solid starting point, and you can make adjustments from there.
Let’s look at why each of these areas is important to place acoustic panels to give you a quick and basic understanding of acoustics and how it affects your recording.
The corners of your studio room should be treated with acoustic panels or some other type of absorbent material. Corners are notorious for acting as bass traps, which means that low-end frequencies can get stuck here, resulting in weird sounds in your room.
By placing panels in the corners, you provide a way for these bass frequencies to be absorbed rather than bounce around and cause unwanted reflections in the room. Those frequencies can be really hard to deal with in a room with exposed corners.
In addition to the four main corners of a room, this same line of thinking applies to anywhere two flat surfaces meet. This means that where the walls meet the ceiling and floor away from the corners can also cause bass issues.
Scattering panels around to break up these meeting surfaces is an ideal way to go about acoustic treatment. You don’t need to eliminate every spot where two surfaces meet, but you do want to reduce how many exist in your space.
Another critical location for acoustic panel placement is behind your speakers or monitors. If you have a smaller studio room with your speakers near the corner, you can knock out two issues with one panel with corner placement.
But you’ll want to install another panel directly behind each speaker in larger spaces. If you have multiple monitor setups, this means you want a panel behind every speaker.
Monitors are typically placed relatively close to a wall. And sound actually comes out of both directions of a speaker. This can result in near-immediate reflections off an untreated wall that will alter how you hear any sound from the monitors.
Hearing authentic sound from your monitors is essential to recording, especially during the mixing and mastering process. Placing acoustic panels behind each monitor will reduce reflections and feedback to give you sound as it is actually recorded.
On the Walls
You also want to place acoustic panels on various spots on every wall within your studio. A simple way to think about this is that any larger flat spot on your wall is a prime place for sound reflections, and you want to reduce as much of this as possible.
You should place panels all around the walls so that they are parallel and facing one another. For example, if you put one panel on the back wall, you should place a matching one on the front wall so they are basically mirror images of one another.
This placement helps to reduce standing waves better, which is the reason the panels are installed in the first place. The same goes for the sidewalls, and if you walk into an established studio, you can see this positioning in action.
You can leave some space between wall panels, and they don’t need to be touching side-by-side. But the more panels you put on the walls, the more sound wave absorption you’ll achieve, which is ideal for a control room.
I’ll touch on where to place panels on the ceiling in a section below, but keep in mind that you can also scatter your panel placement however you like in your room after you get the critical placements covered.
You also don’t need to technically use acoustic panels for everything. If you have a couch or other furniture in the room, these can work well as bass traps in the rear corners. Or you can place acoustic foam, which might be more affordable than panels.
If you take my advice above about reducing the surface area of flat surfaces in your room, you’ll have a better-sounding studio, even if you don’t use pro-style acoustic panels for everything. Panels are super-effective, but there are other ways to go about treatment.
How to Hang Acoustic Panels on Wall
One important thing to remember when hanging your acoustic panels is that you don’t want them directly hanging against the wall, if possible. By leaving a few inches between the back of the panel and the wall, you’ll get more effective absorption to reduce reflections.
But how do you hang something without it touching the wall? There are a few ways to go about it, and it might depend on how you have your studio space set up.
I’ve had good luck with screening eye hooks into the walls of my studio room and then hanging the panels from those anchor points. You can get various-sized eye hooks with a screw-in end to stick out of the wall as far as you want.
You’ll also need another anchor point on your panels, so you can attach the eye hook to the panel with wire or string or whatever you choose. But this is an easy and affordable way to hang your panels.
You can also do the same method and hang them from the ceiling rather than the eye hooks sticking out of the wall.
Where to Place Acoustic Panels on Ceiling
The same general advice applies to placing acoustic panels on the ceiling of your studio space. You want a few up on top to help limit the reflective surface of the ceiling, which can cause issues with playback and monitoring.
Since you won’t match an acoustic panel on the floor, you can place the panels wherever you deem best on the ceiling. And it’s best to hang this floating-style as well so they sit down for the surface of the ceiling a bit.
One or two ceiling panels should do the trick for most smaller home studios. But for larger spaces, you need a lot more.
How Many Acoustic Panels Do I Need for My Home Studio?
The number of acoustic panels you need for your home studio will depend on how large your space is or how many rooms you need to treat.
For a basic treatment in an average-sized home studio space, you’ll typically need 8 to 12 panels. You need four for the corners, two for your monitors, two on each wall, and possibly some on the ceiling.
It also depends on how large your panels are. The average size for these is typically either 2 feet by 4 feet for larger panels or 1 foot by 1 foot for smaller ones. You can measure the square footage of your studio to give you a rough estimate of how many you’ll need.
Where to Put Acoustic Foam in Room
You can use acoustic foam if you don’t want to use acoustic panels, either because they are expensive or you don’t have access to them. This foam is readily available online or at any music or home recording store in your area.
You can place this foam in all the locations you’d place an acoustic panel. The principles of acoustic treatment are the same, regardless of what type of product you are using, as long as that product is absorptive.
If you place acoustic foam in the four corners of your studio, behind your monitors, and along the walls, you’ll get similar effects to using panels. You also might be able to pick this foam up used, which is another way to save money on a studio build.
DIY Acoustic Panels
I’ve always gone the DIY route for building acoustic panels rather than purchasing them. They can get pretty expensive and are cheaper to make yourself if you have a few standard tools and are relatively handy.
You just need to build a wooden frame, fill it with some type of absorbent material, and then wrap it all in fabric. Then you’ll want to install mounting points to easily hang the panels wherever you want in the studio.
I use high-quality ¾-inch plywood for the frames. You’ll need to cut these to the proper size and shape using a circular saw or table saw. And Rockwool mineral board is a good and easily available material that can be used for the filling.
I’ll likely write up a detailed how-to on making your own acoustic panels at some point, but check out the video below for a similar design to mine.
Here are a few quick answers to some of the most commonly asked questions related to where to place acoustic panels in a home studio.
Does acoustic panel placement matter?
Acoustic panel placement does matter for an ideal home studio setup. Where you place these panels will dictate how effectively they absorb unwanted sound waves and prevent reflections that can affect your recordings or mixes.
Should acoustic panels be in front or behind?
Ideally, you want acoustic panels to be both in front and behind and really all over your studio room. Panels placed behind your speakers will help prevent reflections that alter the sound, and those placed in front will help absorb reflections and limit bounce back.
How far off the wall should acoustic panels be?
To utilize the effectiveness of acoustic panels in a home studio, you want them to be several inches away from the wall. This will provide you with the best absorption and better limit reflections. Two to four inches will work well, but distance from the wall is good.
Should I leave space between acoustic panels?
You should leave some space between acoustic panels to provide different reflective surfaces around your studio room. This will result in better deflection, reducing any standing waves or reflections that might affect your recording or listening.
Can you have too many sound panels?
Covering an entire room with sound panels will absorb most of the sound waves resulting in a dead or flat-sounding room. This can be ideal for a studio control room where you don’t want reflections, but it might not be ideal for live recording when real reverb is desired.
What is the difference between acoustic panels and soundproofing?
Installing acoustic panels in a home studio or any other room will reduce the sound wave reflections in that room. Soundproofing a room limits how much outside noise will enter the room or how much noise can leave the room.
You want to make sure you have acoustic panels placed at critical locations in your home studio. They should be placed in the room’s corners, behind your studio monitors, and along every other flat surface, like walls and ceilings.
Acoustic treatment goes a long way toward improving the quality of your recordings. Your recording projects will shine by understanding the basics of treatment and how you can place panels, foam, or furniture to reduce reflections.
Where do you typically place acoustic panels in your studio? Have you ever built your own? Let me know in the comments below.