Have you ever wondered why a movie sounds better in a theater or an orchestra sounds a lot better in a concert hall than in a standard house room? Ever felt like your home theater is missing something while you watch your favorite movie? Well, this is not merely your imagination; this is exactly where your room acoustics come into play. It is similar to having a fancy sports car but running it on a bumpy road – that clearly ruins it all! But fear not because we are here to help you unlock the ultimate sound experience without giving up on your soundbars yet. Take a closer look at your room acoustics, just a little movement of your furniture, adding some absorptive material, playing around with the wall decor, and voila! You got it, man! Your ears- and neighbors, of course – will owe you!
So, without any further ado, let’s delve deeper into understanding the connection between room acoustics and soundbars to have an enhanced sound experience.
Room Acoustics and its impact on soundbar’s performance?
Room acoustics is actually how your room’s physical space interacts with the sound waves produced. The waves are reflected, absorbed, and diffused by the material used in your room and ultimately affect the end experience. People often fail to understand the impact of the physical space on sounds produced and end up replacing the soundbars instead of playing with the room acoustics. Trust us, a little alteration in your room’s setup can be a game changer.
What makes up your Room’s acoustics?
The room acoustics include the room’s shape, furniture placement, choice, the material used in construction, ceiling height, reflective panels, absorptive material, and much more. These factors directly influence the sound quality produced by the given device and let you have a quality or worse sound experience. If your room’s acoustics don’t mesh with the sound produced, you’ll be left feeling like you’re “it” in the world of audio. It is like pairing your sound system with a much-needed makeover. You may purchase the most expensive soundbar from a supermarket for yourself and yet have a poor sound experience. Well-set room acoustics eliminate any room of getting noise distortions and enable you to hear even the details and sound nuances clearly.
Common factors causing poor room acoustics
Poor room acoustics disturb the pattern of the sound waves causing noise distortion, echoing, resonance, and unnecessary sound absorption, leading to poor sound performance. So listed below are some of the key nuances that can ruin your big day. So, be extra vigilant about these factors since it’s like a maze. One wrong turn, and you are lost!
Sound waves tend to bounce back and create echoes when hit by a hard surface. The harder the surfaces of a room are, the more difficult it gets to pay attention to the sound details. Therefore, if your room has bare floors, empty walls, metal furniture, uncovered windows, or any similar hard surface, the sound waves wouldn’t get sufficient absorbent material to behave normally. They will consequently reflect off, creating unpleasant sounds. In fairness to that, since it is difficult to alter the overall room acoustics, wisely selected absorptive furniture and decor can minimize sound reflection to a considerable extent.
Well, to be honest, who’d leave the floors bare? I will put at least two contrasting carpets if I find even a few meters of bare space.
Apart from the technicalities involved in the physical space of a room, it is equally essential to ensure a peaceful ambiance while listening to a sound source. Even a carefully chosen acoustic may fall flat if multiple sound sources interfere with the sounds you intend to hear. It may include Air conditioning noise, traffic, people chatting, unnecessary background noise, etc. If paired with poor room acoustics, this all can give you an unforgettably annoying sound experience leaving you throwing it all off angrily. Remember to banish any such pesky distortions once and for all before playing your long-awaited movie. Especially when you got some time for yourself after a long, hectic day!
Selection of material:
As rigid materials cause undesired bouncing of sound waves, soft materials, on the contrary, help in sound absorption and diffusion and provide an enhanced sound experience.
So it is high time to spice things up! Thing cozy sofas, funky curtains, plush carpets, and don’t forget the foam panels to help improve the acoustics as well as aesthetics. These soft materials will reduce sound reflections and prevent echoes. Well, no need to undergo heavy loans if you can’t afford it all. A few prudent adjustments can do well, too.
Clapping and shouting in a space with high ceilings sounds fun, right? It amplifies the sound generated and causes an echo that sometimes feels great. However, this can be equally annoying when one needs to pay attention. The reason behind this is the traveling mechanism of sound waves. Usually, the sound sources are far below the high ceilings, which causes it longer for the waves to reach and reflect back, producing delayed sounds and echoing. Extra high ceilings negatively impact the room acoustics and lead to a poor sound experience.
How to fix your room’s acoustics?
Confused after learning how everything in your room is making inferences with the sounds produced? Don’t worry; we got it all sorted for you. Let’s make it simpler for you to identify the issues and list down some practical solutions.
Diagnose the issue:
Before jumping to conclusions about your room acoustics and adding any element, it is wise to identify the key areas that cause the most echoes and bouncing. Afterward, you can add soft material to amplify the diffusion and mitigate the reverberation. A professional acoustic expert can help you with it, or if you have a good know-how of sound mechanisms, go ahead and do it yourself, too.
Placement of soundbars and other stuff:
The positioning of your soundbars has a lot to do with the sound quality and other stuff inside the room. A little tweaking in the placement of objects can really go a long way. Do not place the sound devices near the bare walls or glass windows since that may cause reverberation. Shift it towards some soft material, away from hard surfaces, and watch the magic happen!
Diffusion is the key:
Diffusion helps with an even sound distribution across the room. If you observe that the sound isn’t reaching some part of the room, you may add diffusion panels directed towards those certain areas. Consequently, these panels redistribute the sound waves across the physical space without reflecting or absorbing them. However, sometimes we opt for objects that absorb rather than diffuse to rid the room of unnecessary sounds, depending upon the need.
Well, background noise is an unavoidable nuisance no matter what, but you can definitely reduce it by incorporating soundproof wall paneling or insulation. Soundproof materials will prevent unnecessary outdoor noise from entering your room and ruin the soundbar’s performance to a great extent. However, let’s not forget that some noise is uncontrollable and unavoidable – your siblings’ gossip, above all!
Measures to be taken before designing a room:
If you are lucky enough to get a chance to design your room from scratch, don’t waste this opportunity and make the most of it. Be extra careful about the dimensions. For instance, the cube has proven to be the worst dimension for a room since it amplifies the resonance leading to an annoying sound experience. Given below are some recommended room dimension ratios to help with sound distortions:
Room acoustics vs. sound bar’s performance
Just laying the entire focus on the acoustics would be as unwise as blaming the road for your car’s performance. The car’s quality is equally instrumental in the final experience. While keeping your room’s acoustics up to the mark is essential, your soundbar’s performance is equally crucial. The sound we hear is always a combination of reflected and direct sounds. The reflected sounds are the ones that bounce off the physical space you’re in and depend upon the room acoustics, whereas the direct sound comes out of the speakers or devices used for producing sound. Therefore, along with the room acoustics, it is crucial to buy quality soundbars that are the primary source of the sound. Some quality soundbars include Sony HT-A5000, Sonos Beam Gen 2, Sennheiser Ambeo Soundbar Plus, Devialet Dione, and much more. Well, choosing one per your room’s space and budget is another whole story.
Okay, imagine sitting in your living room and trying to enjoy your favorite music, but the sound quality just doesn’t feel right. Well, here’s the deal! You can’t just entirely blame the room acoustics for it all. That’d just be like blaming your pet for eating your homework, which is unfair!
The room acoustics and soundbars work as a team to produce the ultimate sound experience just like Tom and Jerry. Let’s give the credit where it’s due. One is incomplete without the other.
It is mainly you who holds the key and power to unlock the impeccable sound experience that can leave your friends in awe for days. You gotta make the right choices, the right combo. Trust us; it will be a treat to the ears if paired smartly!
I’m Shaun Conroy, an audiophile & founder of HiFi Audios. Holding a Bachelor’s in Sound Engineering, I bring deep expertise in audio devices and offer insights & recommendations to fellow enthusiasts.