The curtains come in a variety of colors, lengths, and sizes, meaning they won’t look out of place in a home studio. This is great if you don’t have a dedicated space for recording (for example, if you’re using your living room).
The curtains claim to reduce 60% of noise meaning they are a great option if you live in a built-up, busy urban area and don’t want your vocal takes to be ruined by car engines, people shouting, or any other annoying noises.
They won’t cost you the earth, they are rail mountable and come in a variety of sizes (meaning if you’ve just got a small window to cover, you won’t need to buy a full-length set of curtains and you won’t have to get them trimmed).
They have a 100% blackout rating and claim to make your room pitch black even during the day, which is great for some producers (especially if you’re mixing late into the night and don’t want to be woken up at first light!).
Granted, it’s unlikely you’d want to remove these if you’re using these to acoustically improve your room, but it’s a great option because it means the curtains are adaptable depending on where you hang them.
When it comes to recording at home, it is often a case of finding compromises. If you’re a renter, your landlord most likely won’t appreciate seeing acoustic panels attached to the wall at your next inspection.
Similarly, you might have a spare room that doubles as a bedroom that you don’t want to undertake full acoustic treatment in.
Using sound-reducing curtains can make a big difference to your recordings without having an aesthetic impact on your room. As a bonus, many will offer an improvement of the thermal qualities of the room and block out light.
Most come at a reasonable price, in varying colors, meaning you can find a pair that compliments your room whilst also helping your recording, mixing, and mastering.
Do Noise-Reducing Curtains Really Work?
That depends on what application you are using them for. As we’ve mentioned, you may see curtains advertised as ‘soundproof’ but in reality, soundproofing is a big job.
Noise-reducing curtains can be a useful addition to your studio both as a way to reflections from surfaces such as windows and doors, and as a way to reduce the noise spilling in from outside.
If you live in a built-up area or city you will likely end up with some external noise being picked up on your recordings. When it comes to mixing, you’re going to end up dealing with that noise.
EQ’ing and compressing can end up enhancing this noise spill and whilst a set of curtains isn’t going to eliminate that altogether, it will certainly help with reducing some of the unwanted sounds.
Do Blackout Curtains Block Sound?
That entirely depends on the thickness and type of material used.
The reason you want to place sound dampening curtains by a window or door is because of the reflective nature of the glass.
When sound hits the glass, it bounces off extremely easily (rather than being absorbed) and this can result in a less than perfect listening environment.
Blackout curtains, being thick, will go a certain way to blocking sound but they won’t eliminate it altogether.
The aim is to reduce unwanted reflections as much as possible, and the thicker material used in blackout curtains will result in more absorption.
When it comes to acoustically treating a room, it’s about finding a balance. Too many absorbent surfaces can result in a dead-sounding room, but too many reflective surfaces can also negatively impact the listening environment.
In practice, most home studio setups aren’t able to incorporate a fully treated room; however, there are smaller steps you can take (such as blocking reflective surfaces) that will help with your listening environment.
Are Soundproof Curtains Better Than Acoustic Panels?
This is like asking which is better, a Les Paul or a Strat? Both serve similar purposes but are entirely different.
So, it really depends on the application. Both soundproof curtains and acoustic panels can be used to absorb sound and create a better recording or listening environment.
However, the big difference is that noise-reducing curtains are going to be fixed to an area, such as a window or door, whilst acoustic panels can be strategically placed on walls and ceilings in areas of high reflection or build-up of frequencies.
There are other options, such as portable acoustic baffles that can be placed around amps or singers to improve the acoustic quality of the recording environment, but realistically these wouldn’t offer many benefits in front of a window or door.
If you’re deciding between acoustic curtains and acoustic panels, try and think about your aims.
If you want to reduce outside noise and reflections from glass, then sound-reducing curtains could be the way forward (plus they can be easily removed which is great if you’re in rented accommodation and don’t want to make any permanent changes to the interior walls).
Do Soundproof Curtains Stop Noise Coming Through Walls?
Soundproof curtains are really only useful when you’re wanting to treat or dampen reflections, so they won’t be a huge improvement if you have issues with sound coming through your walls.
The reason is that sound can penetrate a layer of glass much more easily than it can a thick, concrete wall.
For that reason, the curtains will do a fairly good job of reducing the level of sound coming through to the room, as they can dampen higher frequencies that are penetrating the window or door.
Any sound penetrating a wall, however, is likely to be quite quiet and low in tone (lower frequencies carry more energy and therefore can penetrate thicker materials, which is why you’ll often hear the kick drum of a track when walking past a nightclub).
In that situation, the sound has already been dampened quite substantially. Adding curtains will make a minute, probably unnoticeable amount of difference. However, if the sound is powerful enough to penetrate a wall, then it’s going to be powerful enough to penetrate a curtain!
Will Soundproof Curtains Make A Difference To My Recordings?
Short answer: Yes. But it depends on what you are recording and where.
We’re only talking microphone recordings (obviously, anything recorded via a direct line in won’t be affected by your room’s acoustic properties!), but having some dampening measures in your room can really transform a recording.
The reason for this is that they will help to eliminate room noise and reflections, which is why you’ll often see vocal booths lined with absorbent material.
Unless you are specifically wanting to capture the acoustics of your recording environment, using soundproofing curtains to either block reflections from a window or door (or even using them to block off your own recording area) can really help achieve a clean recording.
This is particularly crucial when recording with a condenser mic that will be sensitive to room noise and likely capture audio in a cardioid polar pattern.
What About If I Have Wooden Or Reflective Floors?
Home studios are often about making the most of what you have. If you have wooden or reflective floors (such as tile) then you are likely to have a high level of reflections occurring in that room.
Soundproof curtains will help as far as dampening the reflections that reach them, but putting some measures in place on the floor will also help.
Buying a large rug can reduce the reflective properties of the floor (not only that but if you are a singer standing up at a mic, standing on a rug can reduce the noise of shoes).
Similarly, filling a room with furniture will also help, since the furniture will also have absorbent properties.
Think about an empty room before the furniture is put in; whilst the room might not be huge, the level of reflections will definitely be noticeable.
Why Is It Important To Dampen Reflections?
The main reason for this in a recording scenario is to reduce the amount of unwanted noise picked up by a microphone.
If you are mixing, it will help stop unwanted frequencies from being bounced across the room and back to you in your listening position.
As an example, if you are recording a singer, you want to capture their voice (not the sound of their voice reverberating off your walls).
This not only sounds better when listening to the dry recording, but also ensures that anything you do in post-production isn’t affected.
Compressing a vocal is a go-to technique, but if there are nasty reflections or spikes in unwanted frequencies, then the compression will only enhance that and cause you issues further down the line.
Why Do People Record In Large, Undampened Rooms?
There are exceptions to the rules! You’ve probably seen huge live rooms in recording studios, or even big hall spaces where bands set up to record.
While this is quite the opposite of what we’ve discussed in this article, room sound can sometimes enhance a recording.
In fact, some producers will even record an instrument and then play it through a PA system into a room with a nice-sounding reverb, and record the reverberations directly.
This can add ambiance and depth to a recording, with large, lush reverbs complimenting the music.
This is very different from home recording setups where you are aiming for as tight of a recording as possible, where short reflections generally won’t sound anywhere near as impressive.