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recording studio acoustic treatment

Recording Studio Acoustic Treatment – the Ultimate Guide

Among the biggest sticking points newbies have when first getting started with house recording is …

They grossly underestimate the value of room acoustics …

And assume that just because they have a nice condenser microphone and pricey studio monitors … terrific sound comes instantly.

However the reality is … the acoustics of your room have more-to-do with sound quality …

Than perhaps anything else your studio … anything.

Rather than face months of aggravation trying to figure out what you’re doing incorrect … you may as well get this stuff managed right now.

Which is why in this post, I will walk you step by action through the entire procedure of creating an effective acoustic treatment setup for your home studio.

Ready? Let’s start. Up …

Acoustics 101

Prior to getting started with acoustic treatment, it’s an excellent concept to have a standard understanding of acoustics in general.

The bright side is … you don’t need a degree in acoustical engineering to run a recording studio.

All you require is a couple of SIMPLE CONCEPTS. Beginning with …

  1. How Sound Travels in a Room

    Whenever a noise is made in a space, here’s what takes place to it:

Starting at the source, it projects outward in all directions.

A small portion of it (known as direct sound) travels in a straight line to the microphone.

The rest (referred to as shown sound) bounces arbitrarily in between the surfaces of the room.

Moments later, some of those reflections reach the microphone by opportunity.

Now …

Since direct noise does not communicate with the room, its frequency balance remains pure, and its tone unchanged.

With reflected noise, each new reflection has the possible to CHANGE the original sound ever-so-slightly.

Depending on the size of the room, and the reflective surfaces within it …

This change could be either LARGE or SMALL … GOOD or BAD.

recording studio acoustic treatment
recording studio acoustic treatment

In most spaces it’s bad. And here’s why:

  1. Why Most Rooms Have Poor Acoustics

    Cathedral JakartaHave you ever gotten to visit a grand cathedral like the one in this image?

If so … did you notice how every noise in there is absolutely incredible?

That’s because, spaces like these are not just developed to LOOK lovely …

They’re developed to SOUND beautiful also.

The problem is … rooms with excellent acoustics require a LOT of area and a LOT of money to develop.

And given that most of us have neither … here’s how we fake it:

  1. How to Fake a Great Room Tone

    sonnox oxford reverbWay back in the 1960’s …

Someone developed the remarkable device known as the Echo Chamber.

This machine enabled engineers to simulate the reverb of a space OTHER than the one where it was recorded.

For many years, the technology grew more advanced, and today …

Software programs referred to as digital reverb can simulate the sound of practically any acoustic environment imaginable.

The only catch is … before you can include FAKE reverb, you need to initially remove the REAL reverb.

Here’s how it’s done:

  1. How to Remove the Natural Reverb of a Room

    Auralex all in one package

Ever seen those foam panels on the walls of tape-recording studios?

While they might look incredibly cool …

Their REAL purpose is to absorb sound reflections.

Usually, those reflections get tape-recorded …

But with acoustic absorption, all that stays is the direct sound from the instrument to the microphone … which is exactly what we want.

That’s how it works “in theory” …

But in practice, many people discover that absorption in fact works finest in combination with another kind of acoustic treatment called diffusion.

Here’s how it works:

  1. How Diffusion Improves Your Sound

    Auralex Sustain Bamboo Waveprism Diffuser

When you remove ALL sound reflections with absorption …

Many people discover that the room sounds uncomfortably “dead”.

The solution here … is to enable a couple of reflections to stay, and to spread them with diffusors.

Usually, without treatment reflections produce problems since they get trapped in one spot, amplifying some frequencies, while counteracting others.

This is how the natural frequency balance gets damaged.

Diffusors work by scattering reflections so absolutely nothing gets caught, and the natural tone is preserved.

With the right mix of both absorption and diffusion, you can transform the acoustics of practically any space … into something capable of a world-class recording.

Now that you understand the fundamentals of acoustics … the NEXT step is using these principles towards your space by adding some acoustic treatment.

Prior to we do that, let’s clear up a common misunderstanding that newbies frequently have …

Soundproofing vs. Acoustic Treatment

acoustic barrier

Really often, artists will use these 2 terms interchangeably, mistaking ONE for the OTHER …

When truly, every one is entirely different.

Soundproofing is meant to decrease the level of noise that takes a trip in and out of your room by:

by blocking them with heavy, dense building product.

sealing up any air gaps in windows/doors.

The benefit here is … you can tape-record whenever you want, without stressing over you and your next-door neighbors disturbing each other.

Acoustic treatment on the other hand, intends ONLY to manage sound reflections WITHIN the room, to make better sounding recordings.

BOTH of these are important, however NEITHER does the job of the other.

And while soundproofing can definitely be included as part of your acoustic treatment plan, it’s not technically acoustic treatment in itself.

If you desire to learn more about soundproofing, check out this post rather:

How to Soundproof a Room for Music Recording

Otherwise, let’s continue …

recording studio acoustic treatment
recording studio acoustic treatment

Evaluating Your Bare Room

Frequently, when beginners first hear of the expected benefits of acoustic treatment …

They immediately go out and buy things, without first diagnosing and assessing the extent of their issue.

So … to find out how bad the acoustics in your room actually are, here’s what you do:

Walk the space, clap your hands as loud as you can from every spot, and listen closely to the reverberations that follow.

In the most awful case situation– you’ll hear an extreme metal ringing noise, which normally occurs in small cubical rooms.

In the BEST case scenario– you’ll hear a pleasant reverb, which generally occurs in bigger rooms with high ceilings and great deals of intricate diffusive surface areas.

But probably, the sound you hear will be someplace in-between. Now …

The closer it is to # 1, the more absorption you will require to make the space noise as dry as possible.

The closer it is to # 2, the less acoustic treatment you will need in general, although practically any space will still benefit from a little.

If you need some recommendation points to hear the distinction in between great and bad acoustics, perform the clap test in a wide variety of different spaces, and take notice of which types tend to sound finest.

Then later on, when you begin installing acoustic treatment in your room, use the clap test constantly throughout the procedure to observe how the sound changes.

With each brand-new addition, that nasty ringing should be ending up being less prominent, until it disappears entirely.

Moving on …

The 3 Elements of Acoustic Treatment

Getting your space to sound excellent with acoustic treatment needs of a mix of 3 items:

Bass Traps— to soak up the low frequencies

Acoustic Panels– to soak up the mid/high frequencies

Diffusers– to scatter the staying frequencies

Now let’s find out more about every one …

  1. Bass Traps

    auralex lenrdThe first and most important element of acoustic treatment to add to your space is bass traps.

If you can only afford 1 thing now, get these.

And here’s why:

Though frequently thought of as specialized tools for soaking up bass frequencies …

Porous bass traps are actually high speed broadband absorbers, implying they’re proficient at soaking up mid/high frequencies also.

Which is why in some cases … bass traps alone can be enough to get the job done.

In small home studio rooms particularly, where bass frequencies can be especially bothersome, bass traps are a MUST-HAVE.

To find out which ones I recommend, and get detailed directions on how to set them up, have a look at this post:

The Ultimate Guide to Bass Traps for Home Recording

  1. Acoustic Panels

    auralex acoustic panelsWhile many individuals think of acoustic panels as the primary “go-to” weapons to combat issues with studio acoustics …

The reality is, they’re nearly entirely ineffective at soaking up the most affordable bass frequencies …

And need to for that reason be used as an extra tool … AFTER the bass traps are taken care of.

Here’s what they can do that bass traps can’t:

Because they’re thinner, and provide more surface area with less product, acoustic panels can provide higher wall coverage, for less money.

What that does is eliminate any standing waves that may exist in between opposite parallel walls. Which is the something that bass traps can’t really do, considering that they’re mainly located in the corners of the space.

To find out which ones I advise, and how to set them up, check out this post:

The Ultimate Guide to Acoustic Foam Panels for Home Recording

  1. Diffusers

    DiffusorMost folks today believe that for smaller sized rooms …

Like those of most home studios …

The effectiveness of diffusion is significantly minimized, if not neutralized.

For task studios, that’s excellent news, due to the fact that it gets rid of the requirement for pricey diffusers.

Many people do not utilize them at all. Others disagree totally, and use heaps of them.

So it’s totally up to you. Simply remember to get the absorption part managed initially … then if you want to include some diffusers later, here are 3 terrific choices I suggest:

Auralex Studiofoam T’Fusor– (Amazon).

Auralex Sustain Bamboo Waveprism– (Amazon/B & H).

Auralex Sustain Bamboo Peak Pyramid– (Amazon/B & H).

Up next …

3 Great All-in-One Packages.

, if you have not figured it out by now … purchasing all this stuff individually can be a HUGE inconvenience.

.

Which is why business like Auralex and Primacoustic offer complete “space plans” to simplify the procedure and get rid of ALL the guesswork.

For home studios, here are 3 excellent plans I recommend:.

  1. Primacoustic London 12.

    Primacoustic London 12 Room KitKnown as one of the leading brand names in acoustic treatment …

Primacoustic uses a lots of excellent solutions for house studios …

Including their existing line of room packages referred to as the London Series.

I advise the mid-sized London 12, which as you can see in the picture, is an ideal solution for standard sized spaces.

recording studio acoustic treatment
recording studio acoustic treatment

Here’s what’s consisted of:.

Two 24 ″ x 48 ″ x 2 ″ Broadband Panels.

Eight 12 ″ x 48 ″ x 2 ″ Columns.

Twelve 12 ″ x 12 ″ x 1 ″ Scatter Blocks.

different mounting hardware.

Examine it out:.

Click to compare prices– (Amazon/B & H/GuitarC/MusiciansF).

Examine out the smaller sized London 10– (Amazon/B & H/GuitarC/MusiciansF) created for 100 square foot rooms.

Up next …

  1. Auralex Roominators Pro Plus Kit.

    Auralex Roominators Pro Plus Kit.

The only brand more popular and trusted than Primacoustic …

Is of course … Auralex.

And the standard complete plan alternative they recommend for job studios is …

The Auralex Roominators Pro Plus Kit.

Consisted of in this package is:.

36 Studiofoam 2 ″ Wedge Panels.

12 LENRD Bass Trap.

8 T’Fusor 3D Sound Diffusors.

EZ Stick Pro Adhesive Tabs for installing.

Inspect it out:.

Click to compare rates– (Amazon/B & H/GuitarC/MusiciansF/ Thomann).

Likewise check out the smaller, more economical Auralex Alpha-DST– (Amazon/B & H/GuitarC/MusiciansF/ Thomann) including:.

32 1′ x1 ′ 2 fin panels.

32 1′ x1 ′ 4 fin panels.

4 LENRD Bass Traps.

EZ Stick Pro Adhesive Tabs for mounting.

Up last, the very best package of them all …

  1. Auralex SFS-184 SonoFlat System.

    Auralex SFS-184 Sonoflat SystemFor those of you who don’t care much for the “standard” appearance of acoustic foam …

Auralex also provides some hot and streamlined options in the Auralex Sonoflat Series.

At the top of this series, is the Auralex SFS-184 System, which offers the MOST goodies of any plan we’ve seen so far.

Consisted of in this bundle are:.

Thirty-Two 2 ′ x 2 ′ x 2 ″ SonoFlat Panels.

Eight SonoCollars.

8 12 ″ x 6 ″ x 28 ″ SonoColumns.

6 Q’Fusors.

Tubetak Pro for mounting.

Inspect it out:.

Click to compare costs– (Amazon).

Check out the less expensive Auralex SFS-112 SonoFlat System which consists of:.

Twenty-Four 2 ′ x 2 ′ x 2 ″ Sonoflat Panels.

Four SonoCollars.

4 12 ″ x 6 ″ x 28 ″ SonoColumns.

Tubetak Pro for Mounting.

Inspect it out:.

Click to compare rates– (Amazon/B & H).

Up next …

The 3 KEY Points in Any Room.

tridedral dihedral cornersOnce your acoustic treatment has shown up in the mail, you’re almost ready to begin putting it up.

First though, there are 3 essential locations of the space which we need to define.

They are:.

Trihedral corners– displayed in the diagram as the red dots.

Dihedral corners– displayed in the diagram as the blue lines.

The Walls– shown as the flat white surface area.

Common knowledge states that in any room:.

the trihedral corners get initially priority for protection.

the dihedral corners get next top priority.

the walls get last top priority.

And here’s why:.

For best outcomes, it makes sense to position acoustic treatment in the areas which have the greatest impact?

Well at the trihedral corners … all 3 sets of parallel walls assemble, and any absorption found here captures space modes from all 3 measurements, essentially working 3x as effectively.

The dihedral corners get next top priority, because they work on 2 dimensions. And finally there’s the walls, which only work on one.

Now …

How to Set Everything Up.

The common setup procedure includes 4 basic actions which I’ll reveal you now.

Action 1:.

corner bass trap.

Considering that bass traps use the largest series of broadband absorption …

It makes sense to put them in the locations where they can have the greatest effect.

Which is why the initial step in establishing your acoustic treatment is to mount a bass trap at each of the tridhedral corners.

To learn more on what else you can do here, take a look at to the following post:.

The Ultimate Guide to Bass Traps for Home Recording.

Step 2:.

acoustic panel cornerNow that the most essential corners are covered …

The next action is to complete the remaining corners with acoustic panels.

To cover the dihedral corners, just flex them around the edge as displayed in the picture …

recording studio acoustic treatment
recording studio acoustic treatment

And be sure to leave an air space for optimum low-end absorption.

While I advise utilizing some of your acoustic panels for this purpose, don’t utilize them all …

Because you still require the majority of them for the next job …

Step 3:.

acoustic panel locationsWhenever two opposing walls are parallel to each other …

Sound waves have a tendency to reflect back and forth in the very same area …

Causing some frequencies to be magnified, and others to be cancelled-out.

To prevent this issue, mount your acoustic panels flat on the walls, and make sure to spread them equally throughout the entire room.

To get optimal efficiency from a restricted variety of panels, avoid positioning panels on BOTH points of opposing walls … and rather, stagger their positions as shown in the above picture.

And lastly …

Step 4:.

diffuser locationsThe typically accepted theory when it concerns diffusion is … it’s much more efficient in larger spaces compared to smaller sized spaces.

Add to that, the reality that commercially-made diffusers are expensive, and it’s no surprise that the majority of house studios avoid it totally. And that’s absolutely fine.

However, if you do use them … even much better. In which case, the standard areas to put them are:.

the ceiling/the upper portion of the walls in spaces with high ceilings.

Whatever head-level or listed below need to be absorption to eliminate those initial reflections.

Up next …

Control Room vs Live Room Strategies.

In professional studios, where control rooms are utilized for blending and live spaces are used for taping … different acoustic treatment methods exist for each purpose.

The methods we just covered are what you would usually use for a live room, to get a good noise from practically anywhere in the room.

Nevertheless, in the control room, where the main goal is to take full advantage of the precision of your studio keeps an eye on from the seated mixing position …

Specific acoustic treatment methods exist, which I expose in this post:.

Studio Monitor Placement: Positioning Tips for Optimal Sound.

If your studio (like many home studios), is one that uses one space as both the control room AND live space …

Your acoustic treatment setup will require to blend aspects from both techniques into a single “hybrid” plan.

Up next …

What to Do if the Money’s Already Spent.

When setting a spending plan for your studio, you should ideally set-aside a BIG chunk of the money (perhaps as high as 50%), for acoustic treatment alone.

The problem is … the majority of us don’t figure this out up until after the cash has actually already been invested.

And while you can always conserve up more for the future, there’s still the problem of what to do right now.

Normally, people try various DIY approaches of acoustic treatment including:.

Carpets.

Cup holders.

Egg Crate Foam.

The problem is … they DON’T work, and can in fact get worse the circumstance by soaking up the high-frequencies, while overlooking the low-frequencies (where the genuine issues exist).

So here are 5 efficient DIY options that I recommend attempting instead:.

  1. Close-miking.

    close miking.

In spaces with bad acoustics …

The close-miking is one technique you can utilize to get decent noise from a less-than-ideal circumstance.

Here’s how it works:.

By positioning the mic as close to the instrument as you can (without ruining the tone) …

You increase the part of direct sound from the instrument, while reducing the part of shown sound from the space … thus decreasing the impact of the acoustics on the recording.

To take this idea one action further, you can likewise try …

  1. Utilizing dynamic mics.

    Shure SM7B.

Since vibrant mics are usually “less-sensitive” than condenser mics …

They also tend to get less ambience, which is excellent in rooms with bad acoustics.

Which is why, in neglected rooms, you ought to utilize vibrant mics whenever possible … particularly on vocals, where the difference is often massive.

You won’t get the shimmering highs of a condenser mic, but it will still sound much better overall.

Up next …

  1. Family Absorbers.

    toss pillows.

While acoustic foam manufacturers would prefer you believe that theirs is the only product that works …

It merely isn’t real.

Because truly, any type of soft porous product such as pillows, blankets, sofas, and even clothes, can use similar absorption.

And since you already have a lot of that stuff lying around your house, it won’t cost a dime to merely save a few of it in your studio.

While it may not look as professional as “genuine” acoustic treatment, it does assist a lot … as long as you keep in mind to stack everything as thick as possible, so all frequencies soak up evenly.

Up next …

  1. The “Mattress Vocal Booth”.

    Mattresses for Acoustic Treatment.

    Even much better than pillows and blankets …

Often times, the very best natural noise absorber in your home is a mattress.

Which is why the most popular DIY method of recording vocals is to prop an old mattress against your wall so its directly behind the vocalists back as he performs.

Keep in mind however, that making this method work needs reliable broadband absorption. And to do that:.

You MUST utilize a heavy solid-core bed mattress, and NOT a light inner-spring bed mattress.

The most sensitive side of the mic needs to face TOWARD the mattress, to protect it from inbound reflections.

  1. Reflection Filters.

    sE Electronics Reflexion FilterIf commercial acoustic foam is currently beyond your spending plan …

But you think mattress and blankets are a little bit too ghetto …

A terrific “in-between” solution many project studios use is a reflection filter.

Instead of the soaking up reflections scattered about the room, reflection filters work by absorbing them before they even get in the room …

Using a semi-circle absorption panel which mounts to your mic stand and wraps nicely around the mic.

And while they may not work rather in addition to proper acoustic treatment …

they still work decently.

there’s virtually no set up.

they’re about 1/10th the cost of a stand room package.

Despite the fact that they may not work as well as “correct acoustic treatment” …

By using your reflection filter in mix with the previous 4 strategies we covered, your recordings will sound 1000x better than they otherwise would in an entirely bare space.

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