Home Music Studio: How does Flooring Affect Sound Quality?


When I first got into music production, I did not consider that the flooring of my home music studio affects the outcome of recording. This factor only applies to the result of recording any live instruments via microphones such as vocals, acoustic guitars, and electric guitars and bass through amplifiers.

Various types of flooring will affect the quality of your music, recording, and production. Each flooring type may have a good effect or adverse effect on the overall quality of the production outcome. In this article, we will look at the various advantages and disadvantages of these different types of flooring:

Sometimes homes or your bedroom, in particular, has carpet flooring as default. This article will show you how each type of flooring can affect the overall quality of the music and audio you produce.

CARPET

In most homes and apartments, carpet is the default flooring. If you are on a budget and do not want to spend a whole lot on having to change your room flooring, you can spend the money on acoustic treatment. Carpet floors require more acoustic treatment for the improvement of sound quality in recording.

You must also consider which floor you are in the house or apartment. If you are on top of someone’s apartment or room, a carpet is better for soundproofing as it can absorb the vibration and not let it out of the room.

Most professional music producers prefer hardwood floors in the studio. However, in a bedroom music studio, carpet floors can be sufficient enough considering all the hassle with having to change the flooring and spend money.

Ways to Improve: To improve sound quality in a studio with carpet flooring, you must purchase some of the necessary acoustic treatment foam panels for walls, and for the ceiling. Another technique is you can elevate the amplifiers and speakers to get less reverb.

ADVANTAGES

  • Costs cheaper if it is your default room floor
  • Carpets can act as a low pass filter that is good for capturing bass audio without treatment
  • It is more comfortable to sit or lie down on the carpet floor when you are brainstorming for song ideas

DISADVANTAGES

  • Gets shabby under heavier wear and tear
  • Needs more acoustic treatment
  • If you have a chair with wheels, it won’t roll as smooth as it will on hardwood floors

HOW TO INSTALL/ REMOVE

If you have decided to remove your carpet or want to change your carpet floors here is a list of equipment you may need:

  • Knife
  • Gloves
  • Dust Mask
  • Duct Tape
  • Pliers
  • Hammer
  • Rags
  • Nails
  • Pry Bar

Procedure:

Most of the time, tack strips usually hold down carpets. Be careful when you try to remove these sharp tacks, as you might pierce your fingers and knees. The easiest way to remove the carpet is to start eliminating corners. Then, remove them shortly with the materials on the list.

When you remove a significant amount, cut it with a knife and roll it and use duct tape to hold the roll. This way, you can clean as you go for smoother disposal.

Removing the padding under the carpet will be more comfortable. Just pull out the panels one by one.

Make sure you use the pliers to remove all the sharp objects such as staples and nails. It helps if you have a magnet so you can quickly gather all the loose objects.

For installing a new carpet, you don’t have to remove the padding. Make sure you clean the surface so you can start fresh.

Measure the length and width of the room, so you buy enough carpet panels. You may want to buy some extra carpet panels for errors. It is better to have more than having less carpet to work with, especially if you are new to the process.

Installing the carpet is pretty straightforward. All you need to do is lay the rug down on the floor padding and heat the carpet, so the adhesive melts for it to stick. Make sure you cut the carpet neatly so you would not see any seams. After doing this, trim the new mat on the edges and your good to go.

HARDWOOD FLOORING

One of the most common flooring that professional music producers and studio owners prefer is hardwood floors. Hardwood floors give off a more natural sound in recording rooms. As a result, the recording session has a better outcome.

Music studios with hardwood flooring do not require a whole lot of acoustic treatment like a carpet floor room does. However, do not neglect any acoustic treatment just because you have hardwood floors. A place will still need minimal acoustic treatment to maximize how this type of flooring affects the overall sound aspect of a music studio.

The sound reflections from hardwood floors give out an easy-to-listen quality that is more pleasant to the ears. The recording and performance will turn out better.

ADVANTAGES

  • More natural sound
  • Pleasing aesthetic
  • Easy to clean
  • Easy to roll around in with equipment with wheels, such as chairs and effect racks

DISADVANTAGES

  • Less comfortable to sit or lie down than carpet
  • Harder to install
  • More expensive than carpet

HOW TO INSTALL

To install hardwood floors, make sure you remove the carpet shown in the first section. After you have eliminated the carpet flooring, here are the materials you need to install hardwood floors:

  • Tape measure
  • Pry bar
  • Ear protection
  • Drill bits
  • Staple gun
  • Hammer
  • Drill
  • Chop saw
  • Safety goggles
  • Nails
  • Chalk line
  • Pneumatic flooring package
  • Hardwood
  • Vapor barrier
  • Wood putty

Process:

  1. Measure the room or portion of the apartment (Width and Length).
  2. Choose the hardwood species and board widths that add up to the room portion. (consider buying more than what you need in case of errors and miscalculations)
  3. A good thing to do is check the whole surface for squeaks and reinforce them before installing your hardwood.
  4. Start installation
  5. Place the boards. (place at random for unique design) The lengths of the wood pieces should add up to the entire portion you wish to install the flooring.
  6. Staple the boards using the pneumatic nail gun.
  7. Fill in the gaps, and make sure the wood flushes with each other.
  8. Use wood putty to fill in small gaps.
  9. Double-check every part of the floor.
  10. Once everything is done, you can now arrange all the gear for your studio.

CORK FLOORING

Cork flooring has some of its advantages, disadvantages considering its unique quality. This type of flooring is suitable for soundproofing if you live on a floor above somebody, and you do not want to disturb anyone when you are recording.

The sound reflection is significantly lower than hardwood floors. This quality makes the sound of your recording a lot warmer. This factor makes the sound of ambient guitars better straight from the amplifier.

It can help in getting a warmer vibe to your vocal tracks as well. It is excellent for recording indie tracks with the mild, and ambient vocals these floors can produce. Cork flooring can be your main floor, or you can layer it with hardwood or carpet for soundproofing.

ADVANTAGES

  • Less noise = less disturbance of neighbors and housemates
  • Warm sounds for vocals and guitars
  • Less reflection for unique sound outputs
  • Easy installation

DISADVANTAGES

  • More expensive than carpets, but at the same price range of hardwood floors
  • Not waterproof, so you need to make sure you use water sealant to protect the floors
  • Less durable and you might have to change and maintain frequently

HOW TO INSTALL

Installing corkwood floors is a more straightforward process than installing hardwood floors. You will need about the same materials plus the addition of the cork panels.

Process:

  • First, trim the edge pieces of the corkwood to fit under the wall and door moldings.
  • Measure the surface and trim the planks accordingly.
  • Lay down the first set of planks across the desired surface and make sure everything is flushed.
  • The cork planks should fit perfectly from wall to wall and fit under each door and cabinet molds so that it won’t move.

Note: do not attempt to install on your own if you do not have any experience with power tools. It is always better to hire a professional for the job.

LAMINATE FLOORING

Laminate flooring has a lot of advantages in terms of music recording and installation as well. Laminate flooring, also known as floating floors, because they are easy to install. You do not need nails or any adhesives for installation.

Laminate flooring is a combination of the reflective properties you get with hardwood floors and the warmth you get with cork flooring. It is one of the most common floorings producers use in a music studio that you can easily install at your home.

There are a lot more advantages than disadvantages to this type of flooring.

ADVANTAGES

  • Easy to install without the need for professional help
  • Reflective warm sounds in a home studio
  • Cheaper than most types of flooring
  • More durable than corkwood flooring
  • Wide range of styles and colors to choose from
  • Water-resistant

DISADVANTAGES

  • Maybe bad for acoustics in a room due to the hard reflective surface
  • Inability to sand and finish when heavily worn, scratched and grooved
  • Must be replaced when weathered

HOW TO INSTALL

Installing laminate flooring is quite more comfortable than most of the options. Most people can do it themselves without any professional help. If you are removing the carpet to install laminate flooring, consider combining the two types for getting the best of both worlds for your home music studio.

Material needed:

  • Tape measure
  • Table saw
  • Chop saw
  • Compass
  • Pull bar
  • Rubber mallet
  • Tapping bar
  • Jigsaw
  • Spacers
  • Laminate flooring of your choice
  • 100% silicone sealant

Process:

  • Measure the surface you wish to install laminate floors
  • Remove tongue and straighten each plank you will use for corners along the wall using a table saw
  • With a compass, trace and contour each plank for uneven walls
  • Assemble the first row with the tongues facing away from the first wall so you can adjoin the next row
  • Do the same process for the next rows
  • To install the following rows, connect the tongue with the groves until the joints lock
  • Use a rubber mallet to secure that the two pieces of wood are connected
  • After installing all the rows, apply sealant on the gaps

VINYL FLOORING

Vinyl flooring, also known as tile flooring, is another common material used in professional music studios. This type of flooring is excellent if you move around in the studio often. This type of flooring is suitable for larger studios because it is easy to roll around in your producer chair.

If your bedroom music studio is small, I would not consider this type of flooring because you would not be able to maximize its functionality.

The insulation qualities of vinyl flooring are excellent for a natural sound like hardwood. the floor’s insulation characteristics help resist the heat that is good for extending the life of your studio equipment

ADVANTAGES

  • Affordable price
  • Easy to install
  • Various styles and colors to choose from
  • Durable
  • Easy to clean

DISADVANTAGES

  • Susceptible to sharp objects
  • Color can fade through time
  • Cannot be repaired
  • Difficult to remove
  • Not eco-friendly material

HOW TO INSTALL

Vinyl flooring, just like laminate flooring, is easy to install. Installing vinyl flooring can change the whole aesthetic of your home studio at a low price.

Materials needed:

  • Putty knife
  • Steel hand roller
  • Utility knife
  • Tape measure
  • Handsaw
  • Masking tape
  • Adhesive
  • Sealant

Process:

  • Measure the room and purchase the vinyl tiles you need to fill out the desired surface
  • Remove anything in the way, clean the subflooring
  • Take out the old flooring. if it is carpet, click here to see how
  • Prepare plywood for under layering
  • Saw out the pieces of plywood to fit wall groves
  • Use a staple gun to install underlayer
  • Smooth down underlayer so the vinyl will stick well
  • Install the vinyl top layer by using the adhesive
  • Work your way until you finish layering the entire surface
  • Wait several hours to dry and your good to go

RELATED TIPS:

  • INSTALLATION

It is best to hire professionals to help you install the flooring. It would be less of a hassle, especially if you do not have any experience in D.I.Y.

On the other hand, if you do have experience and you like doing this kind of stuff. Go for it. It will save you a lot more money than hiring a contractor, and it is healthy for you to have physical activity.

Make sure to be careful when using power tools, especially around kids if you have any.

  • TRY A COMBINATION OF DIFFERENT FLOORING

Try combining two different types of flooring to get a little bit of each type. For example—a combination of hardwood and carpet floors, use hardwood for areas you will be rolling around in your chair most often. The carpet space is where you can sit around and brainstorm song ideas and do some actual songwriting.

  • ACOUSTIC TREATMENT

The right acoustic treatment depends on your needs. You either want to soundproof the room or improve the overall outcome of capturing excellent vocals or guitars. There are various products such as foam panels, vocal shields, and foam and glass for isolation rooms you can purchase. Taking care of the flooring of your home music studio is already a kind of acoustic treatment, so all you need to do next is to treat the walls and ceiling.

Some rooms do not need a lot of treatment, such as rooms with hardwood flooring. Bedrooms with carpet flooring, on the other hand, need a lot more treatment for better quality recording.

  • SIZE OF THE ROOM

Consider the size of your room if you decide to switch out your flooring, it may set you back hundreds up to thousands of dollars depending on the surface. If you have the money and budget for flooring set aside, then go all out with the use of layering and combining floors depending on the surface.

You can use a larger size room as an advantage because you can choose the right spots that need less acoustic treatment. You can choose the best places for recording vocals. Then pick a side of your room that you can put your non-music studio equipment considering it is a bedroom music studio.

  • EQUIPMENT FOR IMPROVING SOUND

There are several types of equipment to help improve sound quality without having to change the flooring of your studio space. You can check out compressors and high-end audio interfaces and microphones.

High-end microphones usually eliminate the need for excessive acoustic treatment. There are also settings on your  D.A.W. to filter extra noise like noise gates. However, if you adjust the noise gate to high, you might not get the full dynamics and quieter sounds that make your recordings more emotional.

These little emotions from the dynamics of vocals and instruments add spice to a track to make it sound better and more professionally built.

Products:

  1. NEUMANN U-87

(Price: $3,000)

This vintage style mic is an excellent mic that producers like Calvin Harris and Steve Aoki even tweet about buying this microphone.

It is a large-diaphragm microphone that is suitable for capturing almost any vocal and acoustic instrument tracks.

This mic is a classic studio microphone that has three directional characteristics, Omni, cardioid, and figure 8. The features give the mic more functions in a recording session.

  • SENNHEISER MD 441-U

(Price: $900)

This dynamic microphone is an excellent versatile mic for recording and for singing live. Using a dynamic microphone is essential for recording louder audio like guitars, bass, drums, and piercing vocals.

This mic has excellent feedback rejection to make you sound cleaner live. The excellent pick-up of this mic can capture even your dynamic whispers and tones.

The five-position roll-up switch gives you numerous sound options. The five different modes add a lot of fun to this mic.

Having a mic like this lessens your worry about your room’s acoustic treatment. If you do not have enough time and knowledge to treat your room acoustics, get this microphone because it is worth every penny.

  • FOCUSRITE ISA ONE CLASSIC PREAMP

(Price: $539)

When you buy an audio interface, it already has a built-in preamp. If you are buying a preamp, you can enhance the sound of any low-end microphone to make it sound significantly better for vocals or guitar recording.

A preamp will make any microphone sound better with the right tweaking.

  • FURMAN P-2400 AR POWER CONDITIONER

(Price: $2,200)

Power Conditioner lessens the noise of your recording. The Furman P-2400 can regulate voltages of 20 amps combined. This power conditioner is an optional item for your rig, but it will help you get better in music production.

Using a power conditioner can protect and extend the life of your gear. It regulates the power usage of all the equipment that you plug into electricity. The electronics won’t get a short circuit if plugged in through a power conditioner.

  • TASCAM TA-1VP RACKMOUNT VOCAL COMPRESSOR

A compressor is essential for polishing your vocal tracks. If you want to be or you are already producing music as a profession, adding a compressor to your studio is a great choice. Most D.A.W.s already have built-in compression, but nothing can beat the actual hardware compressor when it comes to the outcome of your tracks.

Key Features:

  • Built-in Antares Auto-Tune for recording and live performances
  • Antares Microphone Modelling
  • Analog Tube Modeling Effect
  • Variable-knee Compression
  • Downward-expanding gate processor
  • X.L.R. microphone input with Phantom Power
  • ¼” footswitch input for live toggle on/off
  • Double Vocal effect

For the full list of the best high-end equipment for a home music studio, click here.

CONCLUSION

Different types of flooring have their unique characteristic that is either an advantage or disadvantage depending on the kind of music you want to produce. Your budget and time restrictions will also factor in which type of flooring is best. Use the information you read to your advantage and improve the overall quality of your tracks by applying what you have learned.

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