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Nowadays, almost every creator is either live streaming on social media or podcasting from home. Everyone aspires to be a content creator, but while many learn the aspects of videography, few pay close attention to their audio.
You need acoustic panels for high-quality audio while streaming. They reduce the effects of background noise and echoes in a room. Acoustic panels can be placed strategically in a room while recording or streaming videos online to provide better audio quality.
This article will explore the usefulness of acoustic panels, especially for recording live streams. I’ll also try to shed light on the ways audio quality is improved using acoustic panels and the importance of audio quality in content creation.
Do You Need Acoustic Panels for Streaming?
You need acoustic panels to obtain clear audio while streaming, as streaming live eliminates the option of removing background noise in post-production. Video gets the most attention in streaming, but audio is becoming increasingly important.
Many beginners in the content creation field make the mistake of ignoring background noise. They tend to stream from any room available, with little to no thought about the audio quality.
The truth is, our homes and workspaces are constantly noisy, and audio quality is one of those things that go unnoticed by most viewers unless it goes wrong.
To get clear audio, you will need to use a sensitive microphone that will likely catch all the noise your brain chooses to ignore. That includes any reverberation (and echoing) in rooms with less furniture, such as kitchens and bathrooms.
When recording any professional audio, using clear audio from the start makes the final result easier to achieve. It’s always better to start with an audio recording that has little to no background noise and reverberation because post-production processes may be difficult otherwise.
But in live streaming, there is no post-production. That makes the use of acoustic panels extremely important, as there are not many other ways of reducing background noise.
Why Audio Quality Matters in Live Streams
The problem with bad audio is that it makes it significantly more difficult for the listener (or viewer) to fully comprehend what they are watching. In today’s competitive environment, live streaming requires consistently engaging audiences, which won’t stick around if they can’t hear well.
Background noise and reverberation can reduce speech intelligibility. That is, people listening have a hard time understanding because of the bad sound. In fact, it may be that audio is more important than visuals—even in video content—because it is the primary method audiences connect with content.
How To Position Acoustic Panels for Streaming
Acoustic panels should be placed vertically at the first reflection points, which are the first surfaces that a sound wave would reflect off. For streaming, that usually means everywhere directly around you—the walls, floor, and ceiling around your position when recording.
Sound waves travel in one direction, reflecting backward (like in an echo) when they hit a hard, nonporous surface. A typical example of reverberation is that slight echo you hear when you sing in the shower. You can visualize reverberation if you imagine mirrors on every surface around you—those surfaces would be the first reflection points.
It’s best to place acoustic panels vertically if you are trying to improve speech quality for your live streaming. Horizontal panels are better for direct sound absorption, which has other applications.
How Acoustic Panels Improve Audio Quality
The materials used in making acoustic panels can improve audio quality by effectively absorbing sound waves. When placed correctly, acoustic panels drastically affect audio. They also reduce resonance, further clarifying audio recording when streaming podcasts, vlogs, or other content.
Resonance or reverberation happens when sound waves reach a hard surface and reflect back in the opposite directions, as seen in echoes.
Acoustic panels are usually made of soft materials, typically acoustic foam. The panels absorb some of the energy from sound waves so that when they finally reach the reflective surface behind them, only a negligible amount of energy is reflected.
Most people have experienced reverberation and noticed the difference between a ‘live’ room with resonance and a ‘dead’ room with lower resonance.
Think about the first day you moved into an empty house—the walls probably echoed as you spoke. The same walls reflect much less sound once the furniture is added.
Dampening Background Noise
The world is full of noise—sound waves bouncing around, reflecting off surfaces, and interfering with each other. Streaming viewers (or listeners) will probably enjoy the content they are consuming if they get clear audio. That means clarifying and isolating sound waves to get more intelligible speech.
Acoustic panels usually have many ridges and wedges. The idea behind this design is that sound waves get diffused and scattered between them. By the time the sound waves pass through a panel, they have lost much of their sonic energy and been reduced to levels that are undetectable by the human ear.
When you’re recording a live stream, the background noise makes it difficult for the listener to focus on your voice because of interference from other sound waves.
Adding acoustic panels effectively mitigates the sound waves coming from other sources, allowing your microphone to receive only those sound waves from your voice.
This means that the listener will focus on your voice without intrusion from background noise. Naturally, a more focused listener will stay engaged for longer.
Acoustic panels are a necessary addition to any type of professional recording. In live streams, the option of clarifying audio in post-production is not available, making the use of acoustic panels all the more important.
By reducing background noise and mitigating reverberation, acoustic panels enable recordings of high-quality audio that are more engaging to audiences.
Placing panels at specific reflection points helps substantially improve speech intelligibility, which is important in capturing the attention spans of today’s audiences. In short, acoustic panels are a necessary part of live streaming, and there is no alternative to getting a high-quality recording.