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Idiots Guide To Acoustic Treatment In The Home Studio

Brandon Drury —  July 5, 2011 — Leave a comment

Many people new to home recording realize the importance of acoustic treatment, but don’t know where to start. This is a quick and dirty explanation of what you’ll basically need and why. Keep in mind that it is generic advice, but it’s hard to go wrong with this setup. The idea here is NOT to be thorough. The more you know about acoustics, the more you get confused, and the more you revert back to these rules of thumb.

Control Low End Reflections

Put bass traps in any and all wall boundaries. Wall boundaries are the places two or more walls meet. Corners are the most logical place to start because in this place 3 walls all come together at the same point. Next, the corner created by the walls touching the ceiling should be treated with bass traps.

Why? Low end reflections to build up in areas where walls meet.

Control Direct Reflections

Put broadband absorption to catch direct reflections from your monitors to a wall/ceiling/etc to your head. This is where the old mirror trick comes into place. Anywhere in which you can place a mirror in the room,sit in the mix position, and see the front of a monitor is a place that should be absorbed. Foam will actually work for this, although I’d still go with 703 or Rockwool to catch more low end/low mids.

Control General Ambiance

Most rooms are going to tighten up signficantly after applying broadband absorption. If the room still has an obvious reverb-like quality to it, add a SLIGHT amount of broadboard absorption to each wall. Do NOT overdo this, particularly if you mix and track in the same room.

Diffusion

Use diffusion on all 4 walls and ceiling, if possible. Real diffusion. It needs to be QRD, PRD, or nothing.

Misc Things To Know

  • Studio foam is worthless for anything but the absorption of the upper midrange and top end.
  • Couches ARE NOT bass traps
  • Bookshelves ARE NOT diffusors
  • Bass traps don’t suck the bass out of the room. The suck the REFLECTIONS out of the room, which often INCREASES bass response as low end reflections cancel out quite a bit of low end.
    [*]To hear real results you need to treat 25% of the room. This is a generic rule of thumb, but basically you need to think big and apply lots of X to get any results in acoustic.
  • A wrapped piece of 703 or Rockwool is not a bass trap unless it is used in very specific ways. It’s a broadband absorber.

I’m well aware that all of these ideas will result in more questions. Feel free to post them below and I’ll create new articles. I cover this stuff in depth in Killer Home Recording….maybe in TOO great of depth.

Brandon

Saved Comments

Seems like an air-tight article.

Mackanov – 08-01-2011, 07:26 PM Edit Reply
Being an idiot myself, I appreciate the help. Thanks for the article!

brandondrury – 08-02-2011, 12:21 PM Edit Reply
Yeah, this isn’t my usual style. I generally like to dig in super deep and go as advanced as I can stand it. This was a quicky, but lays down the framework.

Huub – 08-02-2011, 01:04 PM Edit Reply
It’s all very clear to me.I have one question.How many percent of the walls/ceiling should be covered with diffusers ?And WHY ?I don’t see any purpose…

Bradley D – 08-02-2011, 01:35 PM Edit Reply
Sometimes a shorter less in-depth article is more effective. You’ve given the reader all the main points, broken it down and it’s up to the reader to do their research using your guidelines. I know I always learn better and retain information more accurately when I’ve done that part for myself. It’s nice to have a starting point as you’ve provided though. Thanks.

0xRAIN – 08-02-2011, 01:36 PM Edit Reply
“A wrapped piece of 703 or Rockwool is not a bass trap unless it is used in very specific ways. It’s a broadband absorber.”

What is the specific way it has to be used? I’m going the DIY route very soon and buying quite a bit of Rockwool and some 703 to make bass traps and broadband absorbers, along with some Diffusion as seen in Tape Op. I was going to have 24x24x4″ wood panels with open backs across the corners in my room filled with Rockwool. Is this the correct way to make a bass trap?

DanTheMan – 08-02-2011, 02:21 PM Edit Reply
I actually think this is all that needs to be said. Good article!Dan

eternalbard – 08-02-2011, 02:43 PM Edit Reply
Ok but… How to do basstraps? I have a 3 x 3 recording room with 4 accoustic panels for absortion that let the room fine to record withour delay and reverb BUT for shure the is more mid low and low reflections… I have a drum and a dual rectifier there, hehe.. drums aren’t recorded as I dreamed on lol. Maybe could be better with basstraps but how to do them?

Room:

———
|………|
|………|
|………|
——–

Room with panels:

———
| / — \ |
| ……. |
| .___. |
——–

tred11 – 08-02-2011, 03:45 PM Edit Reply
good starter article for someone like myself just getting in to room treatments. any thoughts on some of the wood QRD diffusers on ebay like this one?primative root sound diffuser | eBay

sparqee – 08-02-2011, 04:06 PM Edit Reply
I made my two big corner traps by cutting up 2″ rigid fiberglass into right triangles (30′ on the long side) and then stacking them vertically so that they filled the corners floor to ceiling. Strapped them in with some aircraft cable (I live in earthquake country) and then hung some fabric in front of it all. Some people are concerned with fiberglass particles getting into the air but my brother-in-law does insulation for a living and after looking at what I did said it was fine as long as I’m not pushing things into the corner to disturb the fiberglass. I have a lot of other BB absorbers on the walls and Auralex Qfusors (also made my ceiling cloud out of Qfusors) and I’m quite happy with the sound of my room. The one unfortunate flaw of my room is that I get an 80Hz null point quite close to my mix position so I always have to roll my chair a bit to check it (or better yet get off my ass and walk back from my desk). No room is perfect but as long as you understand how things sound in your room you can learn to work with it.

thefruitfarmer – 08-02-2011, 04:09 PM Edit Reply
My take on acoustic treatment is to keep adding Rockwool slabs until the bass sounds even and the room is not excited by specific notes and the frequencies between the notes.

I agree that learning about all the physics can be a distraction for a home recordist. What I have found through experience is that it is quite easy to hear the problem notes and the whole thing *can* be done by ear to make a vast improvement.

In a sense the answer to all questions about this topic is “more rockwool”..

sparqee – 08-02-2011, 04:12 PM Edit Reply
Originally Posted by eternalbard
Ok but… How to do basstraps? I have a 3 x 3 recording room with 4 accoustic panels for absortion that let the room fine to record withour delay and reverb BUT for shure the is more mid low and low reflections… I have a drum and a dual rectifier there, hehe.. drums aren’t recorded as I dreamed on lol. Maybe could be better with basstraps but how to do them?

Room:

———
|………|
|………|
|………|
——–

Room with panels:

———
| / — \ |
| ……. |
| .___. |
——–

Your room is 3 foot by 3 foot????? I would look into some good headphones to mix on. I’ve never tried to do music in a space that small but just the fact that it’s exactly square puts you in a tough spot. I’m pretty sure that the wave length of a low E note is quite a bit longer than 3 feet. Or maybe you mean 3 meters?

Nanowire – 08-02-2011, 04:20 PM Edit Reply
Thanx for reminding us how shoddy our home studios really are I really need to do something about it.

eternalbard – 08-02-2011, 04:35 PM Edit Reply
Sorry, I forgot the metrics, hehe… it’s 3 x 3 meters…. it’s the recording room, connected with another room that I use as technics to mix (and work with pocket/ipad/web development lol).
I use a Senheiser HD 580 and BX8a for mix. Inside this 3 x 3 meters live a Pearl Export and a Mesa Boogie dual rectifier (and some mics, as there is a deshumidifrcator device).

drm711 – 08-02-2011, 04:36 PM Edit Reply
one thing I get confused about when talking room treatment , having a live room for recording and a seperate room for mixing shouldn’t they be treated differentley ? my live room is about 20 X 27 with the an angled ceiling running 8ft up to about 13 . i feel its best to treat with bass traps in corners minimal on walls & use the natural reverb to enhance drums and acoustic intruments . mixing room should be fairly dead & non reflective ? any thoughts about this ?

eternalbard – 08-02-2011, 04:43 PM Edit Reply
Originally Posted by drm711
one thing I get confused about when talking room treatment , having a live room for recording and a seperate room for mixing shouldn’t they be treated differentley ? my live room is about 20 X 27 with the an angled ceiling running 8ft up to about 13 . i feel its best to treat with bass traps in corners minimal on walls & use the natural reverb to enhance drums and acoustic intruments . mixing room should be fairly dead & non reflective ? any thoughts about this ?
If it’s big, you may have the drum space more dry than live, and the rest of the room more live, so you can get a direct recording more dry and a room recording with natural ambience. Well, if you’re recording just a drum, but a big one. In the case of live, it depends on kind of instruments and band. Much live room with have unwanted reflections and more chances to microphonies and noises. Better yet some flexible panels that you can expose absorving material or reflexive material as needed….

frostmaster – 08-02-2011, 05:32 PM Edit Reply
Maybe…. The Quick And Easy Idiots Guide To Acoustic Treatment In The Home Studio(CHEAP AND HOMEMADE)… that would be much more useful to me ))and a point of view on acoustic treatment in rehearsal spaces )) thank you

tred11 – 08-03-2011, 01:57 AM Edit Reply
has anyone seen the qrd diffusers on ebay? this one looks interesting primative root sound diffuser | eBay

tred11 – 08-03-2011, 01:59 AM Edit Reply
has anyone seen the qrd diffusers on ebay? this one looks interesting primative root sound diffuser | eBay

Smiley – 08-03-2011, 04:25 AM Edit Reply
Thanks for the basics! I’m moving into a new house soon and I’m going to need to treat the basement.

Brandon Drury

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Brandon Drury quit counting at 1,200 recorded songs in his busy home recording studio. He is the creator of RecordingReview.com and is the author of the Killer Home Recording series.
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