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Acoustics -- You're Doing It Wrong

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Breed
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Acoustics -- You're Doing It Wrong Feb. 5th, 2013 @ 04:15 PM Reply

Acoustic design in a musical space is easily the most universally fucked up thing of all things. Every studio I visit, and every producer I talk to pretty much has no idea what the fuck they are doing with acoustics, and most of those who think they know are actually wrong too.

So here is Breed to try to at LEAST get you do some things right on your musical journey to the kingdom of debt. You probably won't read it because there is no TLDR for such a topic, but you SHOULD. Also you could and should ask questions here if you have them! I'll try to curse a lot so maybe I can keep your attention.

First, lets talk about the biggest problem in home studios: You don't have ANY acoustic material up do you?
But you probably have a set of monitors or nice headphones, and an audio interface. Well the interface and headphones serve a good purpose, but even the most expensive ass monitors and microphones will sound like complete SHIT in a non treated room, so before you think about getting better speakers, microphones, software, cables, stands, instruments, whatever.....think about your space, because its FUCKING IMPORTANT.
Second problem: Well what the fuck do I buy/make and where do I put it? Not to mention, where should I put all my production shit? This is where people generally lose attention so bare with me, if you've gotten this far you can read the rest you lazy ass.

First mistake in getting a room treated is the placement of your desk/speakers. In an ideal situation they should be in the exact center of the room, but nobody does that cuz they probably want other things in that room (maybe a bed? a chair? instruments? whatever), so the best you can do is to put it in the center of at least one wall. Don't put that shit in a corner, and Don't put it up against a window.

Second mistake I see is having your monitors facing straight forward. Yeah it fucking looks cool whatever, but you are fucking with your stereo imaging. Putting them at different heights or in enclosed shelves is even fucking more stupid but I see it ALL THE TIME. Cut those shelves off your desk if you have to (does music even matter to you?) The speakers should be in a perfect goddamn equilateral triangle with your ears being the third point and the tweeters looking directly at your eyes, staring into your fucking soul.

Third mistake I see with this topic is buying a bunch of useless stupid shit. DONT YOU EVEN THINK FOR A SECOND THAT YOU NEED TO COVER EVERY VISIBLE FUCKING PIECE OF WALL WITH LITTLE THIN ABSORBERS. This is THE BIGGEST fuck up that damn near everyone makes (even I made this mistake to a degree). For one, you just turned the room into a dead piece of shit, but two you didnt even tame the frequencies that matter. In smaller rooms, the number one most important type of acoustic material you can put up is and always will be a BASS TRAP. The lower the frequency and smaller the room, the more this becomes a problem. I bet you don't even realize that you can't hear shit below 150hz.....rather you cant hear it accurately at all....its just a blob of shit that has volume and sounds cool. Bass traps will absorb all the huge amount of coupling that occurs in the bass, and GUESS WHAT? Bass traps dont JUST absorb bass, they usually absorb frequencies all the way up the spectrum too.

So Breed, what do I need to do?

First, get your desk and speakers aligned as best you can in your room. Yes it may mean making your bed press up against some drawers awkwardly or something, but this shit matters. Second, get those speakers off the desk. It only cost like 40-80bucks to get a pair of iso pads such as the Auralex Mopads or Primacoustic equivalents, and to be honest, a thick little sheet of fiberglass wrapped in cloth will do the trick just as well.

Second, don't buy some gigantic kit that comes with 100 fucking little absorbers that only soak up mid and high frequencies. Yes those are useful in moderation for taming first reflections (which youll have to study for your fucking self), but you're probably better off getting one or two bass traps and putting them in the corners that speakers are facing (at the height of the speaker! Not just on the ground or the ceiling or whatever).

Third, if you have any money or constructive effort left, THEN, and ONLY THEN should you look at things like those little absorbers. And when you do get that, don't just make some cool design with them like a tard. Put small amounts of them at every major reflection point.

When you're done with that. Correct your damn room with software. REQ is free for christ sakes. Find out how your room sucks, and build an EQ to toss on a master buss and fix that shit until you are ready to export, then take it off.

There is my two cents. Learn from it.

Now....any questions, comments, or concerns?

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Response to Acoustics -- You're Doing It Wrong Feb. 5th, 2013 @ 04:23 PM Reply

you're impling we have the money to do all that.
i guess for people who do it as a hobby a midi keyboard, a pair of speakers and a monitor (ofc a computer) will suffice.

but good job on writing this papyrus, hopefully someone else will find it useful


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Response to Acoustics -- You're Doing It Wrong Feb. 5th, 2013 @ 04:31 PM Reply

In terms of room treatment, this is all I can afford...

Acoustics -- You're Doing It Wrong

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Response to Acoustics -- You're Doing It Wrong Feb. 5th, 2013 @ 04:34 PM Reply

I'm sorry Breed... I'm already in debt, and I'm poor, and I have nowhere to put monitors.

Also...

I use Bose headphones/speakers.
Trololololol.

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Response to Acoustics -- You're Doing It Wrong Feb. 5th, 2013 @ 04:36 PM Reply

thanks, Breed


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Response to Acoustics -- You're Doing It Wrong Feb. 5th, 2013 @ 04:40 PM Reply

At 2/5/13 04:23 PM, Lachi wrote: you're impling we have the money to do all that.
i guess for people who do it as a hobby a midi keyboard, a pair of speakers and a monitor (ofc a computer) will suffice.

If you have no desire/funds to treat your room, then so be it. This is not for that audience. If you take your mixing seriously (beyond hobby, or serious hobby) you will eventually need to deal with this crucial part of the process.

The problem that he is addressing here is that once people DO have the money and the desire, they blow it on all sorts of useless shit that they don't need, or doesn't work, or is a waste of that money. I made sure to do research before buying and placing any treatment for myself. A little bit of research goes a long way! Of course, you'll always be limited by the space you can get access to, but this is a start.

Breed
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Response to Acoustics -- You're Doing It Wrong Feb. 5th, 2013 @ 04:41 PM Reply

At 2/5/13 04:23 PM, Lachi wrote: you're impling we have the money to do all that.

I'm not assuming anything except that maybe you care about your music and its quality. Its pretty damn cheap to build this stuff (a whole lot cheaper at the small end of the spectrum then monitors and an audio interface and keyboard and stuff).

When Rig built his studio which there is a nice thread for, all he had to buy was wood, cloth, and fiberglass (well pretty much).

Also, the first step is fixing the position of speakers which doesnt cost anything. So you should at LEAST be able to do that. The other two steps should just sit at the top of a what to buy next list. And if you ever get money to buy them, dont waste it on other shit.

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Response to Acoustics -- You're Doing It Wrong Feb. 5th, 2013 @ 04:46 PM Reply

Thank you for making this post! It's written excellently.

I've already done some work to make this work for me, but I haven't placed any sound absorbing pads or whatever, because I actually like the natural space of my music room, being more or less gigantic.

That's probably stupid, but whatever. I have some questions about your post.

Don't put [you computer] up against a window.
____But why? The wall I want to put it against has a large window right in the middle, I love to be able to see outside whle I work.

Second, get those speakers off the desk.
___My desk is actually very large and standing-height, so they're positioned perfectly, is there any other reason to not have them sit on the desk, or is that just because most desks are low?

Put small amounts of them at every major reflection point.
___How does one find out what the "major reflection points" are?

REQ is free for christ sakes.
___Link please? No Google search that I tried brought it up.

Find out how your room sucks, and build an EQ to toss on a master buss and fix that shit until you are ready to export, then take it off.
___If I mixed it to be neutral as compared to my room, then shouldn't I leave it on, actually? Taking it off seems like it might mess things around at the last second, especially since I rarely EQ anything in my tracks, aside from subtractive EQs here and there.

At 2/5/13 04:23 PM, Lachi wrote: you're impling we have the money to do all that.
i guess for people who do it as a hobby a midi keyboard, a pair of speakers and a monitor (ofc a computer) will suffice.

Doing all of this would cost less than a basic DAW like Fl Studio. But then again, most people on NG probably stole that, too.


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Breed
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Response to Acoustics -- You're Doing It Wrong Feb. 5th, 2013 @ 05:16 PM Reply

At 2/5/13 04:46 PM, MilkyChocolate wrote:
That's probably stupid, but whatever. I have some questions about your post.

Good questions.

First, as a recording space a large room with no treatment MIGHT work for some scenarios, but as a control room it definitely can be problematic and more costly, although still less of a problem then a very small room.

Don't put [you computer] up against a window.
____But why? The wall I want to put it against has a large window right in the middle, I love to be able to see outside whle I work.

Windows are particular reflective of sound, and they also are much harder to treat. If its your only choice, then oh well cuz theres a lot of places in a non treated room that need help besides right behind your desk. Although for a mixing desk, the wall behind you is probably the most important.

Second, get those speakers off the desk.
___My desk is actually very large and standing-height, so they're positioned perfectly, is there any other reason to not have them sit on the desk, or is that just because most desks are low?

When I say get them off your desk, I mean getting them isolated from the desk. Just dont place them directly on the desk, put some little pads under them so the desk doesnt resonate. You can keep them located on the desk, just not directly, make sense?

Put small amounts of them at every major reflection point.
___How does one find out what the "major reflection points" are?

Well, you can start by having a friend put a hand size mirror on the wall at ear level, and have him move the mirror all the way across each wall while you sit in the sweet sport (that triangle I talked about). Anywhere that you can see the speaker in the center of the mirror is a first reflection point. Same goes for the ceiling, dont forget about that.

REQ is free for christ sakes.
___Link please? No Google search that I tried brought it up.

SORRY. REW*...not REQ. You can just google it.

___If I mixed it to be neutral as compared to my room, then shouldn't I leave it on, actually? Taking it off seems like it might mess things around at the last second, especially since I rarely EQ anything in my tracks, aside from subtractive EQs here and there.

The EQ is just so you can hear the mix more accurately in YOUR space. Once you take it off the sound is no longer intentionally sculpted to only work with your setup.

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Response to Acoustics -- You're Doing It Wrong Feb. 5th, 2013 @ 05:38 PM Reply

At 2/5/13 05:16 PM, Breed wrote: Good questions.

Thanks for the reply, very helpful.


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Response to Acoustics -- You're Doing It Wrong Feb. 5th, 2013 @ 05:51 PM Reply

Sweet! Acoustic treatment is the next thing to do on my list after I get some more dosh.

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Response to Acoustics -- You're Doing It Wrong Feb. 5th, 2013 @ 06:31 PM Reply

At 2/5/13 05:16 PM, Breed wrote: SORRY. REW*...not REQ. You can just google it.

This is my result (Smoothed to 1/2 octave.)
Would you say that the next step is to create a parametric EQ roughly opposite this and use it on the master while mixing?

Acoustics -- You're Doing It Wrong


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MilkyChocolate
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Response to Acoustics -- You're Doing It Wrong Feb. 5th, 2013 @ 08:03 PM Reply

At 2/5/13 06:31 PM, MilkyChocolate wrote:
At 2/5/13 05:16 PM, Breed wrote: SORRY. REW*...not REQ. You can just google it.
This is my result (Smoothed to 1/2 octave.)
Would you say that the next step is to create a parametric EQ roughly opposite this and use it on the master while mixing?

Turns out that it's not really my room, as much as my monitors that are horribly off.
While I could buy new monitors, I think I'd rather EQ my existing ones (they're pretty, and hand-made).
My speakers aren't too far off; they're salvageable with EQ. I could knock out the natural sound of the room at the same time.
I made a simple EQ in my DAW, and it sounds wonderful. I want it to always be like that, though, not only when I'm working on music. So I think that I'm going to buy a hardware EQ to put between my master output and speakers.
I've been looking at:
This looks ideal for my purposes, and the feedback detection mite b useful
(Alto Brand) More expensive, is it worth it?
(Peavy Brand) More expensive, is it worth it?
(Nady Brand) More expensive, is it worth it?

This should solve a lot of my mixing problems, not to mention that given some quiet time before performances, I could make an EQ setup for the given room/hall.


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Response to Acoustics -- You're Doing It Wrong Feb. 5th, 2013 @ 08:50 PM Reply

You're the man Breed.


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Response to Acoustics -- You're Doing It Wrong Feb. 5th, 2013 @ 09:57 PM Reply

I record in my basement. XD I use old bath towels for treatment sometimes. Luckily there is so much stuff down there that the echo or slapback gets absorbed.

Some good tips in here regardless, even though the article is kind of brash.


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Response to Acoustics -- You're Doing It Wrong Feb. 5th, 2013 @ 10:04 PM Reply

At 2/5/13 09:57 PM, Megamannt92 wrote: I record in my basement. XD I use old bath towels for treatment sometimes. Luckily there is so much stuff down there that the echo or slapback gets absorbed.

Some good tips in here regardless, even though the article is kind of brash.

I don't have a basement. My friend and I use the bathroom for recording his cello plays and singing with makeshift insulators (usually we use heat insulation sheets).

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Response to Acoustics -- You're Doing It Wrong Feb. 5th, 2013 @ 10:07 PM Reply

Please address more the topic of why this is so important.

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Response to Acoustics -- You're Doing It Wrong Feb. 5th, 2013 @ 10:42 PM Reply

Super-cheap and easy DIY bass trap design.
Not very pretty, but practically no tools or skill required and they're better than nothing.

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Response to Acoustics -- You're Doing It Wrong Feb. 6th, 2013 @ 12:21 AM Reply

At 2/5/13 08:03 PM, MilkyChocolate wrote: So I think that I'm going to buy a hardware EQ to put between my master output and speakers.

I'm definitely no expert, but various sources I've seen over the years seem to indicate that room treatments are a better solution than EQ.

There's a bit of an explanation near the end of this article, although I've seen it explained better than this somewhere.

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Response to Acoustics -- You're Doing It Wrong Feb. 6th, 2013 @ 12:32 AM Reply

At 2/6/13 12:21 AM, acmeDyne wrote:
At 2/5/13 08:03 PM, MilkyChocolate wrote: So I think that I'm going to buy a hardware EQ to put between my master output and speakers.
I'm definitely no expert, but various sources I've seen over the years seem to indicate that room treatments are a better solution than EQ.

There's a bit of an explanation near the end of this article, although I've seen it explained better than this somewhere.

Thank you for the input, but as I clearly said, my problems are happening before the sound reaches the room, so the logical choice is to fix them where they happen.


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Response to Acoustics -- You're Doing It Wrong Feb. 6th, 2013 @ 12:49 AM Reply

At 2/6/13 12:32 AM, MilkyChocolate wrote: Thank you for the input, but as I clearly said, my problems are happening before the sound reaches the room.

I didn't read closely enough and double-posted.
Damn it.

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Response to Acoustics -- You're Doing It Wrong Feb. 6th, 2013 @ 12:57 AM Reply

At 2/6/13 12:49 AM, acmeDyne wrote: I didn't read closely enough and double-posted.
Damn it.

It's okay, happens to the best of us.


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Response to Acoustics -- You're Doing It Wrong Feb. 6th, 2013 @ 01:57 AM Reply

At 2/6/13 12:32 AM, MilkyChocolate wrote: stuff

Your room doesnt look all that bad, but you can see the mode around 120hz and its partials going up the spectrum. That's something you could dial in with a specific type of bass trap. Thats a critical mixing place too! Right around the lower end punch area (especially on kicks). Sure enough, after listening to a piece of music on your NG page, I heard a complete lack of kick punch. Thats your room causing that to happen, because you probably can hear a punchyness to the kick just due to the room resonating.

Thank you for providing a perfect example of why this is important. You can compensate for that by either dialing in a small EQ at the offending frequencies, but its not really all that bad, so you could in this case just realize that and make your kicks a little more punchy intentionally.

At 2/5/13 09:57 PM, Megamannt92 wrote: I record in my basement. XD I use old bath towels for treatment sometimes. Luckily there is so much stuff down there that the echo or slapback gets absorbed.

Unless its a large space, all those types of things will do is absorb high frequencies and maybe some mids. Your main room modes mostly sit in the lower frequency spectrum and are actually likely the biggest problem. You probably don't notice it because you are either used to it, or havent heard your mixes in a professional setting....or both. But regardless, should you decide to get into acoustic material, just make sure not to buy the little guys first, analyze your room and choose your products accordingly. A lot of places like auralex, dual acoustics, primacoustics have free consultations to chose the right set up for your room based on such analyzations as what MilkyChocolate showed up.

Some good tips in here regardless, even though the article is kind of brash.

I was intentionally vulgar in hopes that it would keep peoples attention....which is turning out to work wonders. Usually my posts get mostly ignored because they are formal and overly technical.

At 2/5/13 10:07 PM, jpbear wrote: Please address more the topic of why this is so important.

Because audio playback is what you use to actually hear what you're doing almost 100% of the time. You might not be using a particular plugin or program or instrument everytime. You may not be recording with the same mics or the same people or even creating the same genre of music all the time, but you ARE using your speakers....more than any else in a studio, which makes it one of the most important things for getting stuff right. If you can't hear it accurately then you could and probably are creating non commercial quality productions. If the goal is create a great piece of music, then you have to address this among many issues (not just buy nicer speakers thinking its gonna help). This is just one particular thing that gets ignored and it shouldnt be.

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Response to Acoustics -- You're Doing It Wrong Feb. 6th, 2013 @ 09:21 AM Reply

Well my basement is a larger space and it is full of stuff. Its by far not a perfect environment, but I can usually gauge my ear to what my monitors are telling me from past experience from mixing down there.


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Response to Acoustics -- You're Doing It Wrong Feb. 6th, 2013 @ 09:30 AM Reply

Writes an article for people who are looking to upgrade their smaller space.

Gets mostly responses from people who either dont have any money, dont care about quality, or have a larger space.

Nice guys....nice.

Like I said, bigger rooms dont present as much low end problems. This is for people who are confined to either their bedroom, or a small extra room, or an apartment (which is most of us).

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Response to Acoustics -- You're Doing It Wrong Feb. 6th, 2013 @ 09:34 AM Reply

Gets mostly responses from people who either dont have any money, dont care about quality, or have a larger space.

Nice guys....nice.

Be glad you got any answers at all, considering the brash tone of your post. :p

It is very informative, though. ;)

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Response to Acoustics -- You're Doing It Wrong Feb. 6th, 2013 @ 09:44 AM Reply

i like it brash!

i started mixing in headphones a lot because i realised that my work space was in a corner and my speakers were under a shelf. although i think it's within my power to change that now... when i can be bothered! :P

probably need to get decent monitors first, though. not these multimedia/gaming/party speakers :v


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Response to Acoustics -- You're Doing It Wrong Feb. 6th, 2013 @ 10:06 AM Reply

At 2/6/13 09:34 AM, wandschrank wrote: Be glad you got any answers at all, considering the brash tone of your post. :p

Tough love guise. Tough love.


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Response to Acoustics -- You're Doing It Wrong Feb. 6th, 2013 @ 10:57 AM Reply

Here are some pictures of my space. As you can see; its full of crap. It isn't great, I don't know what I could do to improve it.

http://imageshack.us/a/img839/6395/img2013020600065.jpg
http://imageshack.us/a/img703/7384/img2013020600066.jpg
http://imageshack.us/a/img838/5393/img2013020600067.jpg
http://imageshack.us/a/img856/5171/img2013020600068.jpg

Acoustics -- You're Doing It Wrong


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Response to Acoustics -- You're Doing It Wrong Feb. 6th, 2013 @ 10:59 AM Reply

At 2/6/13 10:57 AM, Megamannt92 wrote: Here are some pictures of my space. As you can see; its full of crap. It isn't great, I don't know what I could do to improve it.

It's perfect, you have Avocados and a ghetto blaster!