Listening to music can be an amazing feeling.
To up the experience, some may even buy special gear like noise-canceling earphones and professional speakers. Others may even create home studios dedicated to listening to music.
If you’re in the process of building this little nook, you might be wondering: How should I install my speaker?
Luckily for you, we have a few suggestions on how to do this and why soffit mounting is the BEST WAY to go about it.
What Is Soffit Mounting?
The best friend of any music lover, producer, and artist. A way to enhance your existing or new gear.
Soffit, by definition, means “something fixed underneath.” Ring a bell?
You’re probably thinking of your household structure, as these refer to beams that support your rooftop. Similarly, having your studio monitors soffit mounted means placing an item that’s tightly secured against a wall.
This type of mounting is a primary practice when installing monitors in music rooms.
- The process helps your speaker exert less effort when dealing with low frequencies.
- It also focuses energy radiation to the front hemisphere of the monitor, making sound move towards the listening position and not away from it.
To get started, choose a free wall to mount your gear on! Enjoy not only free moving space around your room but ALSO an elevated music listening experience.
Different Ways To Install Soffit Mounting
Popular music engineers like John Sayers and instrument retailers all say the same thing when installing a room speaker: soffit mounting is helpful and brings out the best quality of whatever audio you are to play.
The follow-up advice will be to make sure you don’t use the wrong materials to create your soffit wall, as this will be counterproductive to what you want to achieve.
This is one part of making sure you get the best of your music gear and space.
Solid Concrete Wall
The best surface for mounting your gear is a wall made of concrete. It is the STURDIEST OPTION, and you will not need to apply any acoustic treatment.
The wall will be dense enough to prevent sound from leaving the room.
If you want a more permanent and professional set-up, this is the material for you. However, it’s quite challenging to put one up in an existing space.
You are free to get creative and decorate the surface with wood, paint, or soft cloth. Personalize it to match your vibe!
Pile Up Some Bricks
Constructing a soffit wall out of bricks is another recommended material. It’s as sturdy as concrete material and will not require any acoustics.
Brick walls are dense enough to contain audio within the area.
It is easier to build than a cement wall AND perfect for a more permanent set-up for your gear. The surface may be decorated using wood, paint, or soft cloth.
Knock Up on Some Wood
A wooden wall is advantageous for those looking for a less permanent structure.
- The wood material is less dense and would require heavy bracing for reinforcement.
- To increase density and fill the hollow wood wall, you may want to consider adding mineral wool.
Marshall Long‘s Architectural Acoustics textbook suggests including structural supports via pipe columns or a bearing between the two walls.
It is also recommended to have the monitor placed on a separate and sturdy structure, not directly onto the wall. The surface is best finished with wood as well.
Setting Up with Gypsum Board
Using this material is the MOST POCKET-FRIENDLY alternative to using concrete or bricks to construct your soffit wall.
The material is lightweight and easy to build into an existing space, like a wall made of wood.
However, since it is the lightest material in mass, you will need to use acoustic treatment and fill in any gaps in the wall structure to successfully de-couple vibrations from the wall.
Here are some fillers you can use to increase the structure’s density:
- More gypsum board panels
After filling it with enough layers, you are free to finish the surface with either wood or paint to match the aesthetic you want.
How Does Soffit Mounting Affect Studio Monitors
The main goal of soffit installing monitors is to eliminate unwanted reflections from the speakers’ edges.
This is why studio monitor placement is very important!
Here’s how it works:
- The absence of edges acts as secondary diffraction sources.
- Having your speaker flushed against a wall also results in a bass boost, instead of a flat frequency response like most commercial ones are made to perform.
In independent acoustics consultant Philip Newell‘s book entitled Recording Studio Design, it is also mentioned that this method of installing a speaker may benefit the overall system transparency and stereo imaging.
- According to Newell, less electrical drive power will be needed, resulting in less demand from the amplifiers.
- As a result, power compression and distortion are reduced, and transient response is improved.
- In turn, you get to enjoy your music gear to the fullest by enhancing what you hear- be it voice audio, guitar-playing, or an instrumental track.
You want your audio to be as clean as possible, ESPECIALLY if you’re setting up a professional studio.
This method will undoubtedly make your studio monitor audio very CRISP and CLEAN.
Things to Consider When Flush Mounting Monitors
Is your speaker a traditional ‘square box type’ monitor?
The first stage of creating a soffit wall will depend on the kind of monitor you’re setting up.
A square box type speaker will benefit greatly from being soffit mount on a wall. The speaker will not have to work as hard when dealing with low frequencies.
Edge diffraction and cancellation reflection from the wall it is placed on is eliminated.
Is the wall you are flush mounting on solid enough?
The preferred wall is solid and made of either concrete or bricks.
The known fact is that the larger the mass, the lesser the energy transmission through the wall- in turn, you won’t need acoustic treatment.
Why? With a really solid soffit wall, the chances of sound passing through the walls are very slim. The material will be thick enough to de-couple vibrations coming from the wall it is placed on.
Use rubber or thick foam pads around the hole you are to place your monitor on.
To enjoy the full benefits of having soffit-mounted monitors, you want to minimize wall vibrations as much as possible.
- For one part, you may use a rubber or thick foam pad to outline the surface where the monitors will be placed.
- Acoustics consultant in Singapore SoundZipper recommends using neoprene, a stretchy synthetic rubber.
- Do not forget to factor this in when making the measurements for the hole size. You don’t want to cut a hole in your wall only to find out that the one part that needs to be in it does not fit.
Are you looking to build a permanent wall for your monitor?
Is it something temporary or difficult to build into an existing area?
Building a soffit wall into an existing structure is not always as simple, especially if the material you want to use is made of concrete or brick.
You will have to consider if the space you are creating is permanent or not.
This will help you decide what material to build the soffit wall with. While cement is best, light material like plasterboard can still work.
Check out our guide on home studio set-ups!
Acoustics consultant Marshall Long shared in his book Architectural Acoustics that a triple panel construction may even be used (as opposed to the simple structural support placed between two panels) and will be better for high frequencies.
If you love music or create it for a living, soffit mounted monitors will be beneficial. The main goal for the whole set-up is to direct the audio waves towards the listening position.
Not only will it elevate your listening experience, but it will also free up walking space.
Choosing what material to build the structural support for your speaker boils down to whether you want or can have it permanently there if that is not possible.
No need to fret as there are alternative mediums that may be used!
We believe that installing your gear onto a sturdy wall is the best way to go around it and will be better in the long run. Here are other ways to do acoustic treatment for your studio!
While you’re at it check out our studio monitor buying guides according to your budget:
Talk to more music enthusiasts, and you’ll find that our advice will most likely match theirs.
Time to bring out that music app, plug it in, and enjoy listening!