Guitar | Bass | Keyboard | Microphones | Mixers | Audio Interfaces | Monitors | Sequencers | Soft Synths | Live Sound | Drums | Club | Accessories | Blowouts
Room Acoustics for the Home Studio
How to create a great sounding studio environment in a typical room in your home
can really delve deep into
this subject and a lot of people do. Acoustics is a science. Recording is an art.
I try to keep a focus on what will help make better art. After all, I have a home
studio. I make music because it is part of my blood, not to make a platinum
record. If my room is not acoustically textbook perfect, I don't care.
But I do care, to the point of passion, on how things sound in here. And how
I feel in the space where I spend more time than anywhere else on this planet.
So, the critical thing, for me, is to have a good sounding room that enhances what I am doing--recording instruments, vocals, sampling and listening critically while mixing and editing. Lets not forget, listening for pleasure too. Your audio pleasure factor is a good guide. A bad room really grates on my nerves in a short period of time. My ears get tired and I get a headache. Its like eyestrain for the ears. Anyone that has ever painted the walls in an empty room knows what an extremely annoying room sounds like. As you start moving furniture back into the room it starts sounding better. For a music studio, you want to do this in a more exacting way, to make the room actually sound pleasant and friendly to the ear.
|Auralex MoPAD Isolation Pad|
|MoPADs are affordable, easy to implement, and really effective at decoupling your monitors from your room and all its contents. You've gotta get some! Until you do, you'll never know what your recordings really sound like.|
For those new to the studio game lets put it out there that egg cartons don't work. Its one of those urban legends that people repeat over and over. Ever try to get about 300 egg cartons to stay on the walls and ceiling? I have, and it took days. It is not an easy job. Its totally disappointing when you find out they don't make any discernible difference at all. The icing on the cake was when they started falling down off the ceiling at a rate of 3-4 a day at unpredictable times. Newbies! Don't buy into the myth.
Professionals will tell you that controlling the lows is the top priority for treating your studio acoustically. One thing about foam, it does little to control the buildup of unwanted bass frequencies. Considering that bass traps are often control "broadband" frequencies as well as bass, one could just use several bass traps and only use a minimum of foam to correct whatever high frequency problems are left. Many pro studios use no foam at all.
Controlling the bass is important, because if the room is exaggerating certain bass frequencies, it's almost impossible to tell how much bass is actually in the mix. You move your head a foot to the left and the bass sounds heavy, move the other way it sounds weak. Too much bass energy also can mask the mid and high frequencies with mud.
The tried and true solutions are to get broadband panels which are often called bass traps made by reputable manufacturers. I'm lucky to have Ethan Winer from Realtraps.com on my forums who has educated our community on bass traps. These typically come in 2x4 foot panels and like foam, you add as many as you need. Bass tends to get reinforced in the corners of the room, so that is where treatment may be most advantageous. The corners behind your back are the first corners to treat, then the two behind the monitors. One guy on the forums made his own bass traps and built them right into the walls! Ingenious. Many make their own traps. You'll have to come by studio-central.com to see the pics.
Ok, I can hear some of you "But Tweak I want my bass, all of it! Why should I try to make it sound weaker?" Here's why. We want to hear the bass, not the room, and once to room fills up with bass frequencies, its hard to hear what you have. As one adds broad band acoustical treatment you'll hear the bass and kick drum get more defined and distinct. As you record instruments, there will be less unwanted bass in the recording. Remember the tip from another page: Bass Kills.
My first advice is to fix the room. But if you can't, you might try using a quality dynamic mic rather than a condenser. Most dynamic mics are less sensitive to reflected sound. Condenser mics, however, can be extremely sensitive and can pick up every little sound in the room, including the birds, crickets and distant trains outside your house if you crank the gain enough. The Sennheiser MD421 and ElectroVoice RE20 are great mics, so is the Shure Sm57, given that you have a quality preamp to drive the signal. You can also setup a vocal booth, or use devices like the SE Electronics Reflexion Filter and the Mic Thing Microphone Isolator by SM audio.
|SM Pro Audio The Mic Thing Microphone Isolator|
|The Mic Thing is a portable multi-purpose acoustic treatment panel suitable for minimizing room artifacts and improving separation during microphone recording sessions. Great for a range of applications including helping to control room ambience, minimizing spill from instrument amplifiers, or even creating temporary control rooms the Mic Thing is certainly one handy thing!|
Ok! I have given you some hard earned tips on setting up your recording space. Now go ahead and get going. Fix those nasties! Remember that foam alone is not the solution, it really only deals with the higher frequencies. Then enjoy your room and all it can do for you. Ah the sweet silence of a quiet studio. Makes me wax poetic. Lets quote Gandhi...
In the attitude of silence the soul finds the path in a clearer light, and what is elusive and deceptive resolves itself into crystal clearness. Our life is a long and arduous quest after Truth.
<insert OM sample>
Aight! Hope you enjoyed that bit of peace. Now we are going to war, but not one that kills people, thankfully, but a war that can kill your studio as soon as you turn on the power. Yes, studio fiends, next up is the "War on Hum".
Give Feedback on this article here:
Go to the Next Class
Go to the Previous Class