…If you mean room treatment – and vice versa.
I’m happy more people are realizing the influence acoustics has on their listening (and viewing) experience. I know the room is the final component in all entertainment systems (and also the first component, if you’re a musician or recording engineer), and that message is reaching farther every day. So that’s good, right?
As with all things, a little info can be dangerous. I get calls from customers who want to “soundproof” their entertainment room “to make it sound better”. While soundproofing, or noise control, is an important part of the listening (or, more accurately, the “not-hearing”) experience, most people use the term interchangeably with “room treatment”. Let me clarify.
Types of Improvements
There are two types of improvements you can make to your sound environment:
- Improve intentional sound
- Diminish unintentional sound
Of course, you can do both, but it’s important to know the difference.
Intentional sound is anything YOU intend to hear, such as your music, your movie, or someone you want to hear speaking. It can be anything you define as wanted.
Unintentional sound is whatever you DON’T want to hear, and that can include your neighbor’s music, your neighbor’s movie, or simply your neighbors. Obviously sound from motorcycles, garbage trucks, airplanes, or construction are also unintentional (and unwanted), at least to you.
The Correct Terms
The correct term for improving intended sound in a space is room treatment, and that consists of two acoustical tools — absorption and diffusion. Both are important and both — when balanced — will make the sound you want to hear much better.
The term for diminishing or eliminating unintended sound from a space is soundproofing, or noise control. Completely soundproofing a room can be expensive, so I prefer noise control — it means you can lessen the sounds that irritate you without costing a fortune. There are many tools for noise control and they can vary in effectiveness, so it’s good to know just what noises you want to control.
Thanks for paying more attention to acoustics, at least until your unintentional space sounds the way you intend. I only ask that you ask for what you need — room treatment, noise control, or both. You can greatly improve both, but like all things, it’s better and cheaper if you know your intentions.