The following is from an exchange that took place in the rec.audio.pro newsgroup in May, 2003:
Bill Ruys asked: Why it is recommended to have bare (un-carpeted) floors in the studio? One web site I visited mentioned that a bare floor was a prerequisite for the room design with diffusors and absorbers on the ceiling, but didn't say why. I'm trying to understand the principal, rather than following blindly.
Paul Stamler: Carpet typically absorbs high frequencies and some midrange, but does nothing for bass and lower midrange. Using carpet as an acoustic treatment, in most rooms, results in a room that is dull and boomy. Most of the time you need a thicker absorber such as 4-inch or, better, 6-inch fiberglass, or acoustic tile, and you can't walk around on either of those. Hence the general recommendation that you avoid carpet on the floor and use broadband absorbers elsewhere.
Lee Liebner: the human ear is accustomed to determining spatial references from reflections off of side walls and floor, and a low ceiling would only confuse the brain with more early reflections it doesn't need. Everywhere you go, the floor is always the same distance away from you, so it's a reference that your brain can always relate to.
John Noll: Reasons for having wood floors: they look good, equipment can be rolled easily, spills can be cleaned up easily, provide a bright sound if needed, sound can be deadened with area rugs.
Ethan Winer: In a studio room, versus a control room, a reflective floor is a great way to get a nice sense of ambience when recording acoustic instruments. Notice I said reflective, not wood, since linoleum and other materials are less expensive than wood yet sound the same. When you record an acoustic guitar or clarinet or whatever, slight reflections off the floor give the illusion of "being right there in the room" on the recording. It's more difficult to use a ceiling for ambience - especially in a typical home studio with low ceilings - because the mikes are too close to the ceiling when miking from above. And that proximity creates comb filtering which can yield a hollow sound. So with a hard floor surface you can get ambience, and with full absorption on the ceiling you can put the mike above the instrument, very close to the ceiling, without getting comb filtering.
Dave Wallingford: I've always preferred wood floors for a few reasons: 1) It's easier to move stuff around, 2) You can always get area rugs if you need them, And the main reason: 3) Pianos sound like crap on carpet.