Red Dog Music | Oct 9, 2018 | 0
Do I need to acoustically treat my room?
You’ve got your Neve Centrepiece as your studio hub, patched in to the finest analogue gear from Chandler, API, Elysia, Great River and Cartec with Van Damme cables, and your Crane Song Avocet feeding your Adam S3X-H studio monitors. You sit down to mix, hit play and… Oh dear. You’ve overlooked the fact that your studio sounds like listening to music in the tile-covered surroundings of Prince Albert’s toilet. Time for some acoustic treatment…
Do I need acoustic treatment?
Chances are, yes, your studio would probably benefit from some acoustic treatment. If you have heavy curtains, and a soft fabric sofa in your room, maybe a good few shelves with irregularly arranged books, CDs and assorted trinkets, your room is already going to sound better than if it were empty. Your furniture and bits and pieces start to provide some high and mid-frequency absorption, some bass trapping, and some diffusion, but you can be a bit more scientific about things…
Acoustic treatment for recording
If you’re recording with a microphone, you’re not just picking up the source directly, you’re also picking up the reflections of the sound of that source bouncing around the room and back into the microphone, a bit later and with a slightly different frequency balance than the direct sound.
It is these reflections that that can often give home recordings that ‘boxy’ sound that you often hear, but you can take steps to remedy it. With a few jauntily angled acoustic panels behind the singer/sound source, you can break up a lot of those reflections as they bounce around behind the source, ready to bounce back from the wall.
An acoustic screen like an sE Reflexion Filter behind the mic can help break up those sounds at source as well, further reducing the impact of reflections.
Don’t be tempted to over-treat though, particularly with thin panels. These will only absorb high frequencies, but leave the lower ones alone, making the room very ‘dull’ sounding. In some cases, such as recording acoustic guitars, you can actually get better results recording on a more reflective floor – bare wood or laminate rather than carpet – as the reflections can add a nice natural brightness. So, as always, trust your ears.
With a combination of microphone placement (always experiment with a few places to see where works best) and some choice acoustic treatment, it is possible to record high-quality takes in an acoustically challenging environment.
Acoustic treatment for mixing
When it comes to mixing, you want to give those nice, new monitors of yours the best environment in which to work. You want to hear them, not the room. If you don’t already have a treated room, it can be worthwhile factoring in some acoustic treatment when planning your budget for monitors. Think of your budget being for ‘monitoring’, rather than just ‘monitors’.
As a start, consider some wedge panels at the ‘mirror points’. That is, those places on the wall (and ceiling) where, if you put a mirror there, you could see your monitors in it from the listening position.
Additionally, chances are you’ll want to add some bass traps. With a few of these in the corners, you’ll start to notice an improved bass response in your room, as there are fewer of those long-wavelength sounds bouncing around the place and interfering with each other.
How many? Generally, as a rule of thumb, you can’t have too many in a small room, although obviously it will depend on your monitors. If you really went for a lot of low-end extension and your studio is a 2m cube, you’ll lead more than if you have some 4″ woofers in a stunning, open-plan, warehouse conversion studio…
If you want an easy way to see if you need some bass treatment in your studio, give this sine wave bass staircase a play this runs from C0 to C4 (about 16 Hz to 261 Hz). Listen carefully, do any notes stick out as louder than the rest, or retire quietly into the background? This lack of evenness is due to room modes and interference in those bass notes. You can help cure some of them with some more bass trapping, but it also pays to remember where those notes are when it comes to making those important mixing decisions.
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If you have any further questions about acoustic treatment and how it can help your recording and mixing, get in touch and one of our recording specialists will be able to help you out!
Red Dog Music is the UK’s friendliest musical instrument and pro-audio dealer. Between our 5000 square foot Edinburgh shop filled with an incredible range of products, and our London showroom in Clapham specialising in high-end instruments, dj and pro-audio, Red Dog Music has you covered from north to south and from performance to playback.