The Final Results
With the room finished, we decided to measure the difference. Keep in mind that different rooms will have different resonating frequencies. The more panels and diffusers you have in your setup, the more effective the results will be. For our setup, things were already getting quite crowded with 5 panels, and for the purpose of this article, drilling into our ceiling to install absorption clouds was not an option.
With treatment (BLUE) vs. without treatment (ORANGE)
Remember: dB measurements are logarithmic, meaning every 3dB of change is a doubling or halving of audible volume.
The results clearly show a stark difference between a treated room and a room that isn't. In subjective listening tests, we were able to hear a difference. Sound was more focused and more clear, and bass response was much tighter. We were able to hear sounds at a much more detailed level. In typical audio product reviews, you're often presented with poetic words and flowery descriptions that hardly mean anything, but from the graphs above, you can clearly see the frequency ranges that are impacted.
If you're interested in taking your desktop audio experience to new heights, these are the kinds of steps that you might consider. There's no need to do all four, but doing at least two of the steps will make a huge difference. As a matter of fact, upgrading just your speakers will make the biggest impact in your enjoyment. If you want to go all out, the total amount of money spent can rise quickly.
For those who want a quick DIY solution to acoustic treatment, blankets are an option. Some studios hang blankets and even place mattresses against a wall to absorb sound. If you're into home-theater setups, all the topics we covered in this article will apply too, and can impact your movie experience dramatically.
Audio is a highly subjective topic with a lot of murky areas. But with the right balance of equipment and planning, you can be sure your improvements are objectively appreciated. For us, this is going to be the setup we'll be using to test speakers and headphones. More on that soon!