Let's say you've tried some or all of these steps; you've noticed some improvement, but not enough. Here are some more advanced treatments for the room itself.
Glass tends to reflect high-frequency sound, while allowing lower frequencies to pass right through, never to return. A room with a lot of exposed glass will often sound harsh and bright, as it accentuates the treble notes. Covering these windows can help to absorb higher-frequency sound energy and thus restore the balance of bass and treble. Heavy fabric such as velour, sewn into gathers, works best to absorb sound. Sheer, semitransparent fabrics are much less effective, but can have subtle acoustical effects, if that's all that's required, and can be used to “fine-tune" the room.
Large areas of exposed bare walls and ceiling can produce a similar effect as glass, but are more effective at preserving bass energy. In a room that sounds too muddy—i.e., it makes music sound indistinct—sound-absorbing wall coverings such as tapestries, or hanging rugs, might be worth a try. Also available are fabric-wrapped, sound-absorbing panels that will work well in homes, though their “professional" look lacks the personal touch of one's own home furnishings.
In a space with high ceilings, hanging banners, flags, or other materials from the ceiling can cut down on reverberation.
Be aware that most household sound-absorbing materials do not work very well below about 200 Hz (about middle C). If your acoustical problem occurs below this frequency, look to other techniques or materials to solve it, including professional acoustical materials designed specifically to address low-frequency sound.
Adding sofas, pillows, upholstered chairs, carpets, and other sound-absorbing décor can reduce excess reverberation and loudness, and removing such objects will increase them. Even placing cloths over coffee and side tables will cut down the reflection of sound just a little bit. Plush, overstuffed furniture produces the greatest sound-absorbing effect. Upholstered furniture of leather, wood, or metal has less effect.
Be careful not to add too many sound-absorbing objects to the room—it's possible to go too far, making the room sound too dead, dry, or soft. Sometimes you don't want to absorb sound—you merely want to scatter or diffuse it more evenly about the room. The sound will then be more natural and less “hollow" without necessarily losing reverberation and loudness. In scattering sound, your goal is to use objects both large and small with complex shapes to break up large expanses of flat surfaces. Again, some experimentation is in order. Examples of sound-scattering objects are bookshelves (not too full), tables, chandeliers, room-dividing screens, and sculpture. Designing a space with ceiling beams can also scatter sound.
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