What is Diffusion and How Do I Use It?
If you’ve made it this far, you are probably familiar with the principle of Absorption in regards to room acoustics. It is fair to say that diffusors are the opposite of absorbers – rather than absorbing sound waves, diffusors reflect and redirect those waves elsewhere and keep the sound energy in the space. You might then be thinking: OK, but what is Diffusion useful for and where should it be placed? Let’s dig into those questions a little deeper…
What Does Diffusion Actually Do?
Acoustic sound diffusion keeps sound waves from grouping, so there are no hot spots or nulls in a room. In fact, sound diffusion greatly widens the “sweet spot” and lends a strong, 3D sense of openness to a room, making it easier to hear “into” a mix. Diffusion obliterates standing waves and flutter echoes without simply removing acoustic energy from the space or greatly changing the frequency content of the sound. Some famous recording artists like to perform in strongly diffusive environments because of the openness they hear. Acoustic sound diffusion can make a small space seem large and a large space seem even larger. In conjunction with sound absorption, sound diffusion can effectively turn virtually any space into one that is appropriate and useful for the purpose of recording or monitoring sound with a high degree of accuracy.
When Should Diffusion Be Used?
If the goal of your acoustic treatment install is to significantly “deaden” a room for vocals, voice over, or single instrument isolation; diffusion may not be the best choice for your space. However, Diffusion can be useful in many different other scenarios depending on what sort of sound you prefer. Here are a few examples where diffusion could be majorly beneficial:
To help them sound “larger” and more “open” and can be used to “widen” the “sweet spot.”
To help evenly redirect the energy of these instruments without causing direct reflections.
To improve the clarity and retain the energy of the drums, while making the space sound more “open”. Especially useful in a room with a standard or lower ceiling height.
To broaden or “open up” a stereo/multi-channel image and keep the room “lively.”
Where Should Diffusion Be Placed?
Diffusion is useful in many different kinds of spaces, particularly in smaller rooms. If you have a listening room, a live/rehearsal space, project studio, home theater, or any other space where live or recorded music is being played diffusion can be used to make a small room sound larger or more “open”. The most common placement for diffusors is the rear or the ceiling of a room. Although less common (and occasionally hotly debated), diffusion is also sometimes used on the front wall of a mix/mastering room.
While Diffusion is an important piece of acoustical treatment, make sure to complete your room plan by also including our Absorption, Bass Trapping, and ISO Series® products in order to maximize the effectiveness of your total treatment system. Additionally, our Construction/Isolation products can be used for sound isolation of a space.
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