Echoey rooms can be a real pain to spend time in, especially for people with strong acoustic sensibilities. This can be a real struggle if the space with the echo is someplace as central to your life as your office. Below, we have listed 7 steps you can follow if you want to soundproof your office.
Step 1: Add A Rug
Echoes are caused by a sound hitting a hard surface like glass or concrete and bouncing off. You can think of these surfaces like a mirror, but for sound. The more exposed hard surfaces are in your office, the more likely sounds are to echo around the room.
While the problem tends to be compounded over larger spaces, small rooms can also certainly suffer from an abundance of hard, flat surfaces.
Fortunately, most of the best ways to de-echo a room involve simply covering those up with materials that don’t reflect as much sound.
Area rugs are perfect for this and can add a bit of stylistic flair to an office that would otherwise be pretty boring. You will, however, need to make sure that the rug you choose will fit into the room before you decide on it, as it would be an absolute tragedy to be stuck with a rug that doesn’t fit in your office.
Step 2: Thick Curtains
If you have windows, curtains can help a lot when it comes to keeping echoes down, but they need to be heavy. Light, airy curtains will do very little to stop sound from bouncing off of your windows. Instead, you’ll want to look for something with some weight to it, preferably a material like canvas.
Unlike a rug, a set of curtains will probably fit no matter how small your office is. Although, if your window is above your computer monitor, you may need to make sure you don’t get curtains that are so long that they’ll bump into it when closed.
If you need immediate relief and the weather outside is nice, you may be able to lessen the echo by opening up the window as well.
If the window takes up a lot of space on the wall, this should decrease the amount of reflective surface a little bit by letting some of that sound outside.
Of course, this may not be feasible in all offices. If you don’t have a window, live in a place where it usually rains, or live in a loud city, you will have to look for a different solution.
Step 3: Cover Your Walls
The walls don’t have ears. In fact, they have the opposite of ears, since rather than accepting an input of sound for sensory purposes, they reflect sound and cause an annoying echo.
It doesn’t really matter what you cover them with, but not having an exposed wall should help decrease the echo significantly.
While you could just hang some burlap over the walls and be done with it, it may be more fun to get some kind of a tapestry or painting to hang up. The walls probably don’t need to be completely covered after all.
When choosing something to hang on your wall, prioritize soft materials like fabric or canvas. Metal plates like those sold by Displate, paper posters, and oil paintings all reflect sound in a similar way to the walls that they’d be covering.
Because of this, they will do nothing to stop the echo that you are trying to fight. This also applies to framed paintings or photos, which will likely have panes of glass over the art.
A good rule of thumb is that if it’s shiny, it definitely also reflects sound.
Step 4: Blankets
Blankets are soft and useful to have around for those cold days when the office refuses to warm up. They also catch a lot of sounds.
You can either hang them up on your walls or simply keep them folded up on an exposed part of your desk to prevent sound from bouncing off of them. Whatever you do, this is a nice, multi-purpose object that you can keep in your office.
Step 5: Furniture
In a small office, it can be a tough sell to add any kind of furniture other than what needs to be there. However, even just a small bookshelf can help fight off an echo by providing another obstacle that the sound needs to bounce around in order to reflect off the walls.
Bookshelves, small chairs, guitar stands, and other economically sized furniture pieces can all serve this role well, but since bookshelves come in so many sizes, they might be the best option for most offices.
Step 6: Put Things On Your Bookshelf
Once you have a bookshelf in your office, you can increase its echo-stopping capabilities by putting things on it. Books would ideally be among these objects, but not everyone has the energy to cultivate a tasteful selection of readable that will impress visitors.
Really, any kind of decorations will be fine on the bookshelf. The point is just to fill the room up a little bit, so you can take this opportunity to add a little more personality to the space.
Knick-knacks, action figures, lamps, or even giant novelty pens could go great here, just as long as they’re setting-appropriate.
Plushies are especially useful here, as they provide the double value of catching noise and being an obstacle.
If you can’t fit a bookshelf in your office, you can also put some decorations on your desk.
Step 7: Acoustic Panels
The reason that acoustic panels are the final step on this list is that most offices won’t need them and they are very expensive. If you’re just looking to stop an echo in a small room, acoustic panels are usually overkill.
Unless you need to stop echoes that are only audible to a high-end microphone, they won’t really be providing much more echo prevention than what you would get by hanging burlap on the walls of your office.
That being said, if your echo is especially stubborn and nothing else has worked so far, some acoustic panels might be necessary.