We are independent & ad-supported. We may earn a commission for purchases made through our links.
Advertiser Disclosure
Our website is an independent, advertising-supported platform. We provide our content free of charge to our readers, and to keep it that way, we rely on revenue generated through advertisements and affiliate partnerships. This means that when you click on certain links on our site and make a purchase, we may earn a commission. Learn more.
How We Make Money
We sustain our operations through affiliate commissions and advertising. If you click on an affiliate link and make a purchase, we may receive a commission from the merchant at no additional cost to you. We also display advertisements on our website, which help generate revenue to support our work and keep our content free for readers. Our editorial team operates independently of our advertising and affiliate partnerships to ensure that our content remains unbiased and focused on providing you with the best information and recommendations based on thorough research and honest evaluations. To remain transparent, we’ve provided a list of our current affiliate partners here.

Our Promise to you

Founded in 2002, our company has been a trusted resource for readers seeking informative and engaging content. Our dedication to quality remains unwavering—and will never change. We follow a strict editorial policy, ensuring that our content is authored by highly qualified professionals and edited by subject matter experts. This guarantees that everything we publish is objective, accurate, and trustworthy.

Over the years, we've refined our approach to cover a wide range of topics, providing readers with reliable and practical advice to enhance their knowledge and skills. That's why millions of readers turn to us each year. Join us in celebrating the joy of learning, guided by standards you can trust.

What are Different Types of Acoustic Treatments?

By Andrew Rusnak
Updated: May 17, 2024

Although there are variations of each, there are two basic types of acoustic treatments: reflectors and diffusers. Each of these acoustic treatments serves a specific purpose for various applications in residential, commercial, and industrial locations. To understand the distinction between reflectors and diffusers, it is important to first understand acoustics and how sound functions in different settings.

Sound is nothing more than vibrations at different frequencies that are picked up and translated by our ears or by recording devices. While the study of sound waves and acoustics can be complex, the easiest way to understand acoustic behavior is by thinking of it as how sound interacts with its environment. The study of acoustics simply describes how a sound reacts as a result of the size, shape, and materials of the space between the sound's source and its destination.

Reflector acoustic treatments help to disperse early reflections, the reverberation that reaches your ears milliseconds after a sound is played. Reflectors are usually made of curved plywood or foam and are specially designed to absorb and redirect mid- to high-frequency sounds. Reflectors are usually installed on the back wall of a space, capturing the high-frequency sounds and redirecting them before the sound waves have a chance to be sent back to your ears.

Diffusers act as an agent to scatter the audio, helping to achieve a more neutral sound space. A diffuser is usually, but not always, made of foam. Most diffusers are designed with a congregated surface to allow for absorption and surface dispersion, much like a radiator diffuses and disperses heat. Diffusers disperse sound waves so a high concentration of a particular frequency fails to exist, leaving the listener with a more evenly balanced acoustic space.

The materials in a room or space have a great effect on how sound is heard. If you took two rooms that were identical in shape and size but differed in building material, you would notice vast changes in the way sound behaved in each. A room made of metal walls would be very reflective, meaning the sound would reverberate off of the walls before reaching your ears. A room made of thick foam would sound dull, because the sound would not have anything off of which to reflect.

In choosing acoustic treatments, it's important to understand your needs. Those needs will vary according to what you are building and whether it is a performance area such as a theater or television studio. Different situations call for different treatments, and understanding that will be of great help in deciding what treatment to use. A basic understanding of sound waves will also help you to make the most out of your space as well as your acoustic treatments.

About Mechanics is dedicated to providing accurate and trustworthy information. We carefully select reputable sources and employ a rigorous fact-checking process to maintain the highest standards. To learn more about our commitment to accuracy, read our editorial process.
Discussion Comments
About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.

About Mechanics, in your inbox

Our latest articles, guides, and more, delivered daily.