Rooms with high ceilings oftentimes have terrible acoustics. The echo from talking, walking, playing music or doing any regular activity can be horrendous. It’s like living in a church! And only God can tolerate this echo 24/7 without going bonkers.
I’ve had a similar problem with the dining room in my parents house, which was way too big for their liking. It resembled those aristocratic dining rooms with a never-ending table. You’d have to shout so that the other person could hear you on the other end, while creating tons of echo.
Whether it’s a room in your home, workplace, or even a gymnasium, you’ll find some great, practical ideas for reducing the echo in this article. So let’s begin, shall we?
1. Install acoustic tiles
Installing acoustic tiles on the ceiling and other walls in the room is the simplest way to cut down on the echo. In fact, I have some pictures that prove this to be a neat idea:
This photo was taken in a friend’s recording room, where he produces podcasts and Youtube videos. This is a very affordable and simple solution. And there are so many colors and designs (wedgy, egg crate, flat and more..) of these tiles that you’ll definitely find ones that fit well on your ceiling and walls.
I wouldn’t concern myself too much with their thickness, unless you also plan on using them for soundproofing purposes (to block sound). In that case, thicker and heavier acoustic panels will do a better job, especially the soundproofing panels by Sound Engineers.
In order to install these tiles, you can use screws, nails, a regular spray adhesive or hanging strips. The hanging strips are my favorite method because they won’t damage the wall at all. They can be used for hanging paintings as well. In order to use them, place one or two strips behind each panel and stick the panel on the wall or any other dry surface.
Should you cover ALL the walls in order to reduce the echo?
Well, it wouldn’t hurt from the acoustic angle, but it would probably look strange if it’s a regular room and not a recording studio of any sort.
But covering a high ceiling with acoustic tiles even in a regular room is perfectly normal and can look nice and comfy if you pick a design and colors that match the overall style of the room.
I suggest taking a look at the wide range of acoustic panels available on Amazon before making the decision.
2. Hang acoustic baffles (best for high ceilings)
Acoustic baffles are hanged vertically from a high ceiling. Because of that, both sides of the baffle absorb sound and echo, not just the front side.
This is quite significant, which is why they’re commonly used in auditoriums, studios, gyms and other large spaces.
The acoustic baffles made by ATS are the most popular ones. They’re made of an aluminium frame, mineral wool board and a cover fabric that is 100% natural fiber jute. As you can see, there are also 4 different colors available.
While they’re great for absorbing mid-to-low sound wave frequencies and reducing echo, the question remains whether your high ceiling is actually high enough for these baffles. You don’t want to hit your head against them after all!
Their dimensions are 24″ width, 48″ length and 2″ thickness. If the ceiling is high enough, I would have no qualms about hanging these bad boys up there.
2. Fill the room with furniture
Dampening the noise inside the room has all to do with covering hard surfaces by using soft fabrics and furniture. An empty room will make the sound bounce off from wall to wall without any protection in between.
To solve this problem, here are some ideas of furniture you can use: bookshelves that are filled with books, a closet filled with clothes, a sofa, plush toys and collectibles, a vase with a large plant etc.
Installing a few hooks and hanging jackets or hoodies in the room can also help. I obviously don’t know what items you have at your disposal. But the point is to be creative and practical at the same time. Here’s a comfy room with a high ceiling. It could obviously use more noise dampening materials but it’s a good start in terms of furniture:
3. Hang noise-reducing drapes on windows
After I covered my bedroom window with thick and heavy drapes my sleep improved by tenfold. No longer was the traffic noise from the street waking me up at 5:30 either.
But noise reduction isn’t the only benefit of hanging these drapes. Glass windows can also reverberate a lot of sound and create more echo in the room.
These soft and heavy curtains absorb the sound waves instead of bouncing them off to another surface. So I suggest you hang them on the windows both for sound and thermal insulation as well as echo reduction.
4. Cover the floor with soft material
Besides the high ceiling, a hard floor is the next major culprit of echo. Any floor that isn’t covered with soft materials will bounce sound like crazy.
Fortunately, this is the easiest area to take care of because there are so many inexpensive and simple solutions such as rugs, carpeting and soft floor tiles. Simply cover the floor with the material of your choice.
I’ve listed some great options in this article so feel free to check them out as wel.
5. Cover the walls with 3D wallpaper
You could cover the walls with acoustic tiles to dampen noise and reduce echo. But it doesn’t look good in every room. Wallpaper is a more classic and better-looking options for most home and office settings.
While any thicker wallpaper will do a decent job, it’s best to use one that’s not completely flat. 3D wallpaper designs work much better for absorbing sound due to the little nooks and crevices. And some of them look pretty awesome, like 3D white brick wall stickers.
Installing this type of wallpaper is very simple because it’s self-adhesive so no tools are required. Just stick it to the wall or any other surface and you’re done.
6. Hang large paintings on the walls
Unfortunately I don’t have any large Picasso paintings hanging on my walls.
But if I did, I’d be sure to hang them up. Not so much out of vanity, but because large paintings can also dampen the acoustics in the room.
And it doesn’t have to be Picasso either! Van Gogh will work just fine as well. 🙂
There are also some cool modern oil paintings such as the one shown in the photo on the right. It would probably look nice hanged above a desk or a sofa.
Final Word: How to reduce echo from a high ceiling
Reducing echo from a high ceiling is very similar to echo reduction in any other place. The only difference is that the echo is more pronounced due to the high ceiling. So you need to soften up the environment more than you’d otherwise have to.
But I think this article has shown you just how many easy methods are available for making this happen. Adding more furniture to the room, covering the window(s) with noise-reducing curtains, installing acoustic tiles or 3D wallpaper, hanging tiles or baffles on the high ceiling itself… there are so many simple options to choose from. They’re fairly affordable and easy to install.
So those are the best options for reducing echo in a room with a high ceiling. Some of them such as noise-reducing curtains and acoustic tiles will also muffle the sounds from coming in and out of the room. Hope this helps!