• Jigsaw Acoustics

Bathroom Acoustics

Updated: Nov 5, 2020


One of the most popular acoustics related questions that pops up on Twitter seems to be:


Why does my bathroom have such amazing acoustics?


It seems like every couple of hours someone is singing their heart out in their bathroom, shower or hallway (slightly different space but similar attributes)


@FrankieBorrelli

“The acoustics in this bathroom are off the charts”

https://twitter.com/FrankieBorrelli/status/1309629300547760131


@NeYoCompound

NeYo commented that “A few of my hits if not all originated on the toilet.... NOT ASHAMED OF THAT!” https://twitter.com/NeYoCompound/status/1308243183067975681


Even @TheKillers had to film it for Jimmy Kimmel https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ZT4h9M49s40


It’s even inspired songs such the power instrumental from band AKU! https://akuglasgow.bandcamp.com/track/in-the-bath-having-a-magnum-2 I’m not sure how you would be able to sing whilst eating a magnum though!


To answer this question fully we need to consider a few particular features of a bathroom.


The Room

Size

Generally small (unless you’re @Neyo of course!) and fairly standard rectangular or square shaped. Usually this is dictated by the sort of bathroom fittings for sprucing up in the mornings (or evenings, now #WFH is more prevalent)

Materials

Walls, floors and ceiling are often built of ceramic of porcelain tiles and hard painted surfaces. There is rarely any carpet in bathrooms unless you like that retro look!

Layout

To allow the greatest freedom of movement whilst swinging your arms around singing to Whitney, it’s important that there’s not a bath or shower in the way! So, fittings are usually installed against walls.


To answer this question fully we need to consider a few particular features of a bathroom.


Sound in the space (#soundscape)

Acoustically, the room characteristics leads to a highly reflective space with little obstruction for sound waves to bounce from wall to wall and floor to ceiling. The small size means that there is little in the way of sound damping taking place either.


The dense materials used for construction have low sound absorption properties in the medium to higher frequencies which is where humans are more sensitive to sound.

The multiple reflections in the room lead to a reinforcement of the sound and increase in loudness especially in the vocal frequencies. This gives the impression of added reverberance (reverb) Reverberation would be difficult to measure in the space due to its size, however I may do an experiment in the future to test this (watch this space)

The standing waves (see link) in the space provide warmth to the singing voice due to the low frequency resonance in the space. Warmth is a psychoacoustic phenomenon.

The Downsides (or not)

One of the main issues with a heavily reverberant space is that there is a loss of clarity in one’s voice. Now this could be deemed as a good reason why everyone thinks they are #Pavarotti (or #Homer) in the bath! Reverb is a common tool used in the music industry to hide a vocalist's restricted dynamic range or imperfect pitch.

Don’t let that ruin your enjoyment though, just don’t expect Simon Cowell (or @AshleyBanjo) to come knocking!

Fixes

This article from #HansonHsu at https://deltahdesign.com/ explains some ways to reduce the reverberance in your bathroom, if you so wish...

https://www.interiorsandsources.com/article-details/articleid/22464/title/acoustics-rejuvenating-bathroom


#Bathroomsinging, also known as #singinginthebathroom, #singinginthebath, or #singingintheshower

 

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