Rooms with hard floors and walls can sound very live, especially if the room has no furniture or curtain. Any sound in the room will bounce off the hard surfaces. This can be very aggravating.
A sound that bounces off one hard surface (usually a wall) is an echo; it will be a weaker version of a speaking voice or any other noise.
Sound that continually bounces around a room is reverberation, which is really many little echoes. Under some circumstances, where a person is singing or where there is a single musical instrument, this can be pleasant. But reverberation is distracting for a conversation, or when watching a film.
People with home cinemas or even large TVs may want to change the acoustics of their room to maximise the sound when watching films.
Timber floors have many advantages. They look classy and last for decades. But they can be echoey or ambient in a hard surfaced room.
We can reduce the echoes and reverberation by:
- Add carpets or rugs.
- Upholstered furniture absorbs sound quite well. Leather furniture is less effective.
- Remove any large mirrors- these reflect sound.
- Remove metal or glass furniture
- Add thick curtains over windows
- Bookcases full of book will help to some extent
- Large plants in corners may help, even if they are fake!
- Acoustic foam tiles on walls are effective, especially on the opposite side of the room to the sound speakers. They are not very decorative, so perhaps cover then with a curtain.
- Large screen prints or tapertries on bare walls will help soften echoes.
Bamboo has similar, perhaps slightly less intense, acoustics than timber. Some padding and furnishings will help.
Rooms may also suffer low resonant frequencies, low ‘booming’ sounds. This is tricky to change, but soft furnishings will help. Filling corners of the room with soft material also helps.