How do you enhance a bad listening room's accoustics without breaking the bank? thoughts?

I am looking at a cork wall covering product to help enhance my listening room acoustics. The room is in a condo and shares duty as an "L" shaped living / dinning room. As I have neighbor's on either side I was thinking of doing the one wall where the speakers are placed and the opposite wall where I have my sitting position (The Coach!).  I was thinking the entire sitting room wall (10x8) and the speaker area (10x8) on the opposite wall. This may also have the additional bonus of helping to reduce the noise coming from my stereo into those condo's next to me?
I was wondering what people's experience has been and successful materials used as wall coverings or panels.
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GIK Acoustics can transform your living (listening) space for a reasonable cost. The consultation is invaluable and free. Take a look at some of the acoustically treated rooms with GIK,✓&q=GIK+Acoustics

Good luck!
Before you buy any room treatments, read Jim Smith’s “Get Better Sound”. He has several sections relevant to your question...starting with determining the best position for your listening chair and loudspeakers.

Jim Smith’s profession is setting up and consulting on residential and commercial high end audio rooms and recording studios. He’s received several best-sound-of-show awards.

I have not worked with cork flooring and wallcovering since 1990, but back then "some" of it smelled.

The odor was sometimes caused by the adhesive and/or backing used but usually it was the cork itself.

Anyway, suggest researching your particular choices to see if this may be a problem.


I have used GIK and Acoustimate in the past.  I have heard of supply issues with GIK recently.  I used Vicoustic Acoustic Cinema Round panels that not only look great on walls but they really helped my absorption issues greatly.  Check out their website.  I was also considering the Vic totems which act as absorption and diffusion panels.  
Our last house had a wall covered with cork and I'm sure that helped save the room 
GIK is running 60 to 90 days. 
I have built my own room treatments. Done in one weekend and they look good. 
@ pooch2, what you are making a reference to is ' Sound Proofing ' and not Acoustic Treatment ... "  reduce the noise coming from my stereo ".
Low End will ' seep ' into your neighbors space unless extreme steps were taken during the original construction.
The best option you have - if you do not want to offend your neighbors is to keep the volume low ... even so Bass will be noticeable to an extent. 
Materials have some combination of the four basic acoustical properties: Absorption, Diffusion, Reflection, and Transmission. Materials vary in their performance of those properties with respect to frequency. Cork is absorptive only at relatively high frequencies but is very damped with respect to transmission. A flat cork wall does little if anything to help reflection and diffusion.

Adding a floating layer of sheetrock hung by Z-clips to the adjoining walls, and edge sealed with acoustic caulking will reduce noise transmission between units, and if possible, is strongly recommended.

Within the room, acoustical panels help control unwanted reflections via absorption, as will a heavy carpet. Diffusers, as the name implies, help scatter sound without absorbing it. Bass traps help reduce low-frequency standing waves. 

Two to four sidewall acoustical panels, 2' X 4' and a pair of bass traps would probably significantly improve your overall sound . My own preference is Acoustimac for choice, cost and customer service. 
To help with room acoustics it’s typical to get absorption at the primary reflection points and, for bass, in the corners and to some degree diffusion but in smaller rooms absorption tends to be a bigger issue. The trick is getting the right amount of absorption without killing the space. These products tend to incorporate rockwool and fiberglass of varying densities with denser products absorbing lower frequencies. Foam panels are often used but just aren’t as effective as rockwool and fiberglass as thin foam only tends to absorb the higher frequencies.

Now if you are looking to reduce sound escaping into your neighbors condo that’s a different treatment. There you want mass, multi layers of gypsum board (drywall) or better yet chase walls built with an air space, then wood studs with batt insulation then multi layers of gypsum board. Better yet again, concrete block. Eliminating sound from entering another space is much more difficult than acoustically treating the listening space itself. Bass and the long wavelengths associated with those signals are the enemy for sound control.
Heavy draw curtains floor to ceiling. You can open and close for the amount of dampening you want. I've always used heavy rugs placed in front of the seated position. You want to absorb the sound more than diffuse it...

Decoupling is a good way to reduce bass issues, for you and the neighbor. Mains and subs..

For the ceiling a super cheap way is fishnet on the ceiling, then cellophane, then another fishnet to hold the cellophane in place. You can dress it up pretty easy. Put it up or take it down for cleaning in 15 minutes with just a little help.. I had about 30 peacock feathers in mine. STOPED the HF boil I was getting, pure room first point reflection issues..

I use small ribbons and planars.. you have to develop a plan with that type of driver. :-) 

GIK good stuff.. 

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Get 6 Stillpoint Aperture panels for The best sound  ASAP.Hope the bank will be ok.
With acoustics it is best to identify a problem before solving it, either by listening or measurement. How do you know if you have a reverberation or reflection problem or bass problem that will improve by adding this or that? Cork will not help. Even mid-high frequency absorption will not stop bass transmission from bother neighbors. Sound proofing and acoustics are a bit different. The good news is mid to hi frequency absorption and diffusion can very had for small amount of money, especially with DIY.  I would learn by way of before wasting time and money and creating garbage. That book will provide general usable knowledge as well as practical suggestions. I have been there myself. 
Just placed an order from GIK.  45 days out for my hybrid diffusion/absorption/trap panels.  My wife approved them as they are quite attractive.  
It's really hard to insulate, but relatively easy to correct. 

To insulate you need different construction methods.  Double drywall, resilient channel, etc.

To improve, bass traps and panels.

The good news is that if you make your room sound good you'll be able to play at lower volumes.

Check out GIK acoustics and ATS for effective, high value solutions and professional advice.
  Glad to say that most of the responses here are good ones. So often with audio, we simply have to deal with what we are dealt for listening. In your case, you have two issues. I agree very much with getting things right from a listening perspective first by way of adjusting listening position as well as speakers, etc. i found something very simple for me in this way though. Pillows are effective for some of the reflections in my room. I wait until the wife leaves. heh heh, then I use dining room chairs with bed pillows placed them. It doesn't take much in the way of placement to hear a really good difference! No, it doesn't solve all problems, but it really helps with first reflections. Isolating speakers and subs for the benefit of the neighbor may be beneficial as well. Sound travels through flooring as well as walls. At least bass does. Good news is that when you arrive at a better sound in the end, likely you will not be listening as loud. That is the case in my experience. Cork on the walls maybe good on the front wall, but I am thinking that the side walls may be too much of a good thing. 
 It sounds so generic, but yes, you are going to have to experiment with different placement, room treatment, and more before it is all over with. 
 One responder said to Know The Problem before you attempt to remedy it. Now THAT is good advice.
If handy, you could purchase Owen Corning Panels and cover them with your favorite fabric. This approach will save you lot of money.
Before you leap into solutions a quick review of Get Better Sound by Jim Smith is worth a try.  Plus, its very inexpensive to set up a 30min conference with Jim; he's very nice, patient and helpful.

He will ask for a diagram and pictures of your room.  He's equipment agnostic; he'll focus on placement and potential room treatments.

Best money I ever spent!
Looks like TVAD already made the same recommendation; sorry missed that.
A really good equalizer. I've been using one for years.
Pick up a dozen or two 5' artificial Ficus trees from a big box discount home dec store like At Home (@Home).  Scatter the artificial trees around the room focusing on behind and to the sides of the speakers and behind the listening position.  The artificial Ficus trees act as sound diffusers and absorbers.  

I bought mine at At Home for $40 each.  Completely converted my listening room, got rid of all kinds of room problems.  And they are appealing as room decorating accessories.  
All excellent and very much appreciated advise. I have much homework and reading to do! I love the pillow and chair idea, when the wife leaves the room, now that's thinking outside the box!
Thanks Bob.
+1 Vicoustics premium cinema round panels

For $123.00 you can get a box of 48 12 X 12 X 4" tiles. That is enough to do four 3 X 3' patches. It is cheap enough to allow you to experiment before you spend money on better looking treatment. There is nothing more effective and many people just keep the foam tile which looks very  technical. In a darkened theater environment it makes no difference anyway.
I have been into photography longer than audio. I have several large canvas prints that work as treatments and also look great I might add. 
I'm a little surprised that no one has recommended DSP as a potential solution for the OP.  There are several very good integrated amps with DSP built-in.  That might help especially with bass management.  In fact, even the low-end SVS subs now come with DSP.  He may not need to mess with physical room treatments to get what he needs.  Just a thought.
Hello pooch2.  Hang rugs on the wall. Check out second hand stores. Space them 1/2 to one inch off the wall by using a strip of wood at the top. If you put pillows or large stuffed animals in the upper corners of the room, you'll be surprised at how effective they are. Of course, your domestic partner gets to approve the shape/color of all treatments.
1. Spend $38.00 for Jim Smith's 1/2 hour phone session
2. Visit Goodwill or ? and look for area rugs suitable for wall use
3. Meet the neighbors and learn their home hours
4. Buy headphones

  I like the buy headphones tip. It eliminates the room problem, and presents a totally new experience for music. I don't use them often, but am very happy have them at hand.
You can use shelving with books or records on them against the wall. 
As I read through the very inventive solutions that people have tried, successfully, I can't help but think this is good general topic for people with real world situations, rooms not designed with audio in mind, partner's who don't really appreciate good jazz music at volume levels which may preclude talking, and share the info with partner's who are decorator's at heart. Love it!

I do split my music listening about 50% Headphone use, 50% speakers.  I try to use the speakers during daytime hours when most folks are at work or early evening hours. 
treepmeyer, I use DSP extensively but, in order to use it to it's fullest potential you still have to manage room acoustics appropriately or you will waste a lot of power getting nowhere. DSP will correct frequency response and group delays but it will not contain early reflections which blur the image. DSP will not stop standing waves or control modal behavior. All of this needs to be managed directly in the design of the room and the speakers along with absorption at the appropriate points. 

If you want to not break the bank then go DIY. The advice to get Smith's book is good. Putting up cork everywhere is not!

All rooms need treatment because of overly long decay and to treat this the absorbers need to be thick. There are many articles online that will explain what's needed and why. Look up Ethan Winer's videos for a simple to understand intro.

Drapes and carpet being thin will only act as narrow-band absorbers and too much will ruin the sound not help it. The same clown is back again recommending artificial ficus trees 🙄

Room acoustics is the best and cheapest way to get really good sound. In fact it is the only way. The most sensible thing to do is download REW which is a free program that will allow you to measure your room's response and so identify the problem areas and also provide info on the length of time it takes for the sound to decay across the full spectrum. A microphone is needed that costs about $100 or less. You might also consider migrating over to a forum that deals more with acoustics like 'gearslutz'  It is taken seriously and you don't get the ridiculous suggestion to clutter you room with dust collecting ficus trees, for ficus sake.





I haven't read all the repsonses but some were right. The connection of your speakers to the floor is the number one culprrit. Sound travels faster through solid objects than air. You can try Iso Acoustics for that issue or build you own isolation platforms for the speakers

Yes interior acoustics will have benefit to tamming a reverberant environment which neighbours can hear, but it won't stop most of what they hear. Interior acoustics is mostly for your listening benefit.

REW is a tool, it does NOT tell you how to deal with acoustic issues, only experience & knowledge does. I've been designing rooms for over 2 decades and it has become a key offering in my audio business. Apart from buying some used acoustic treaments, there's no inexpensive way of getting a room to sound great.

effective materials cost money today even if you DIY. Learn about acoustics and what really works from a physics stand point, there are too many pretenders out there. Vicoustic seem to have the best price performance and WAF

Gary / audio by di tomasso .ca

It seems to me that your main concern is not upsetting your neighbours. Very honourable and most considerate of you . . BRAVO ! Cork will definitely not do the trick, The only real solutions - sorry but true - top class headphones OR sell up and move. Question - I wonder if your neighbours are as considerate as you most definitely are. VIVA LA MUSICA

If it is sound isolation you are after, you want to have a high STC rating (sound transmission class) for wall and floor construction.   
Currently the IBC required code minimum STC for a condo is 50.
An STC of 75 is preferable .
The primary ways of achieving a higher STC rating are mass, isolation &  attenuation.
I also live in a condo and am considering working on two walls, the wall I share with my nieghbor and the entrance wall to the corridor. Maybe with the construction of a sound isolating partition. But this takes space......

The best room treatment for me was done by accident!

My parents had a very dense hand-woven wool rug that they didn’t use anymore. Cost them around $5-6k and is beautiful so I didn’t want to get rid of it. It was nearly the size of my listening room so I put down a large felt pad on the wood floor and then placed the rug over that. It replaced a basic polyester rug that covered maybe half the floor. Immediately the sound softened and its was just the listener and the speakers.

Otherwise chairs and a couch in the room, but this rug seems to have stopped reflections very effectively.

Want a good room?  Most Tx  look gross and do little.  They are expensive. Also, tx stuck on the wall don't do much.  They have to be suspended from the wall.  Oh, no body told you that, huh. 

First, use your brain.  How many reflections do youi want left.  Do you want to listen to your system or your room.  That's what I thought.  Take your room out of the picture.  Get Eco-core 2x4 panels (the best) and make 4x8 from them. Mount them on 4x8 x1" foam insulation panels from Home Depot.  Cover with your preference. Suspend them from the ceiling 4-6" from every wall.  If you don't have line array speakers, do the ceiling also.  Carpet the floor.  Even dirt sounds better than wood or tile.  Get some sono-tubes for tube traps.  Stick them in the corners and tune for the frequency that is bad for your room. 

And if you loose your dog, ask yourself why he always goes in that room to sleep. 


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Ahhhh, the room.  The room is always the 3rd enclosure or something like that.  If you have a small room, you need bookshelf speakers.  Big honkin speakers in a small space isn't gonna work.  To put it another way, years ago, I had a buddy with an air cooled VW bug.  We were all into car stereos back then and he found this monstrous 30" woofer and he crammed that thing in the back seat with a massive Hifonics amp.  It sounded like crap in the car, but when we pulled inside the car stereo shop work-space bay, that thing absolutely rattled the door frames.  This reminds me of another story/example.  Back when Sound Stream was big, they introduced a massive 18" woofer in a cast frame and massive magnet; the shop owner built a special ported enclosure.  Inside the showroom, it was loud, but when we walked out of the room into the shop, that's when you really felt that thing hit.  Okay, enough rambling, if you got a crappy room, then nearfield listening is your only hope.  In nearfield listening, this is done with bookshelf speakers and you're say anywhere from 4-ish or so feet away.  A front ported speaker, is the trick.  If you can find one that is a dipole with an ambience driver (tweeter) in the rear firing position like many Von Schweikert speakers do, this help with the airy and ambiant presentation, which I enjoy a lot.  Good luck in your quest.