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Cheapest and easiest way to acoustically treat your room for mixing.
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AASteveo
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#1
21st July 2008
Old 21st July 2008
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Cheapest and easiest way to acoustically treat your room for mixing.

First off, FoamByMail.com has the cheapest acoustical foam I've seen.

But I heard about an easy trick to finding the problem areas of your room.

Just sit at your desk in the position you normally would when mixing.
Then have a friend hold a mirror up against the wall next to your speakers.
Wherever you can see the reflection of the speaker in the mirror on the wall is where you need to put acoustic foam.
Do this with every wall in your room including your ceiling.

You don't want a reflection of the sound to hit your ear at a slightly different time than the direct sound will. This early reflection causes phase issues. You may only need to put up a few blocks of foam to drastically improve the room!
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21st July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AASteveo View Post
First off, FoamByMail.com has the cheapest acoustical foam I've seen.
CAREFUL. Cheap foam is not the same as the more expensive stuff; in many cases it'll actually make things worse. Be very careful to buy from reputable companies with test data to support their claims...otherwise you could be buying, literally, anything. For example, this company can't get the difference between "sound proofing" and "acoustic treatment" straight. How much do you think they really know about acoustics? Their "test data" doesn't make sense either.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AASteveo View Post
But I heard about an easy trick to finding the problem areas of your room.

Just sit at your desk in the position you normally would when mixing.
Then have a friend hold a mirror up against the wall next to your speakers.
Wherever you can see the reflection of the speaker in the mirror on the wall is where you need to put acoustic foam.
Do this with every wall in your room including your ceiling.
That's true...there's a little more to it than that, but that's close.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AASteveo View Post
You don't want a reflection of the sound to hit your ear at a slightly different time than the direct sound will. This early reflection causes phase issues and is the most problematic area of your whole room. You may only need to put up a few blocks of foam to drastically improve the room!
Okay, now here's where we part ways. While it's true that early reflections are an issue, the first reflection points are far from being "the most problematic area of the whole room". Low end, in nearly every case, is going to be a far more pervasive, persistant issue than high end reflections are.

Frank
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21st July 2008
Old 21st July 2008
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Right. Granted there's much more too it than that, but since this is the "Low End Theory" section I'm mostly saying that $30 of foam in a few problem areas will be much better than none at all if you don't have a big budget for acoustic treatment. Maybe I should have labelled it as "the first step to making your room sound better without breaking the bank" or something like that.

Secondly let me admit that I don't really know much about the different levels of quality in acoustic foam. I was just looking for something fast and cheap.
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21st July 2008
Old 21st July 2008
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I am also interested in doing the same thing. So I was wondering too how one would measure the frequency response at the listeners position? To help gauge what effect the acoustic treatment is actually having. Is this sort of process necessary?
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21st July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AASteveo View Post
Right. Granted there's much more too it than that, but since this is the "Low End Theory" section I'm mostly saying that $30 of foam in a few problem areas will be much better than none at all if you don't have a big budget for acoustic treatment.

Secondly let me admit that I don't really know much about the different levels of quality in acoustic foam. I was just looking for something fast and cheap.
Well, that's what I'm saying though. $30 worth of foam is likely to do next to nothing for you...in fact it may actually make the problem worse. If you're going to go with 2" or 4" foam, and it definitely has its uses, then at least go with a reputable company. The one you originally posted is NOT one I'd order foam for acoustic purposes from. Try Auralex as a starting place.

Again, for the sake of the folks who are researching treating their spaces, generally speaking starting at the first reflection points, i.e. the high end of the room, is going the wrong way about. The rule of thumb is LOW END FIRST.

Frank
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21st July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Joko View Post
I am also interested in doing the same thing. So I was wondering too how one would measure the frequency response at the listeners position? To help gauge what effect the acoustic treatment is actually having. Is this sort of process necessary?
Download a program called "Room EQ Wizard". Follow the directions and you shouldn't have any trouble getting a room reading.

Is it necessary? Yes and no. Small spaces are very predictable from an acoustics standpoint, and whether you measure it or not, the fixes are going to be the same. Measurements will definitely come in handy when it comes to pinpointing your listening position and fine-tuning the room after you've addressed the basics.

Frank
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21st July 2008
Old 21st July 2008
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Egg cartons.

Cheaper than foam and will do the job.

Also try hanging some heavy curtains. That way you can open/close them depending on the sound you need.
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21st July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Drlove View Post
Egg cartons.

Cheaper than foam and will do the job.
NO. Egg cartons are all but useless for anything but holding eggs.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Drlove View Post
Also try hanging some heavy curtains. That way you can open/close them depending on the sound you need.
That will work pretty well for the high mids and highs, but it won't do a thing for the low end.

Frank
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21st July 2008
Old 21st July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Weasel9992
...low end...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Weasel9992
...low end...
Quote:
Originally Posted by Weasel9992
...low end...
I think I'm beginning to spot a pattern here.

Cheers Frank
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21st July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by zooloo View Post
I think I'm beginning to spot a pattern here.

Cheers Frank
Good spot mate.

Frank
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22nd July 2008
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You can make Bass traps with a plastic garbage can and Insulation...Make a nice cover for it.

Bass buildup is a huge problem in smaller rooms.
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22nd July 2008
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Egg cartons are great if you like having something completely ineffective and an increased fire hazard on your wall.

Foam by Mail is a fraud, as discussed many times on this site. Why even bother.

I've found the best balance of cheap and effective (other than building them yourself) is ATS Acoustic panels. Very reasonably priced, well built (not that it requires amazing craftsmanship), and effective.

GIK Acoustics and RealTraps are also top notch companies, with guys (like on this thread) from those companies popping up here on GS to drop actual information all the time.
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22nd July 2008
Old 22nd July 2008
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Hmmm in the long run and for super accurate recordings........

get a professional to consult you?
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22nd July 2008
Old 22nd July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AASteveo View Post
First off, FoamByMail.com has the cheapest acoustical foam I've seen.

But I heard about an easy trick to finding the problem areas of your room.

Just sit at your desk in the position you normally would when mixing.
Then have a friend hold a mirror up against the wall next to your speakers.
Wherever you can see the reflection of the speaker in the mirror on the wall is where you need to put acoustic foam.
Do this with every wall in your room including your ceiling.

You don't want a reflection of the sound to hit your ear at a slightly different time than the direct sound will. This early reflection causes phase issues. You may only need to put up a few blocks of foam to drastically improve the room!

To the OP. I think it was an innocent attempt but it seems like you are spreading bad information.

Thanks to those that corrected this.
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22nd July 2008
Old 22nd July 2008
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I researched this for months and finally decided the "cheapest" route was GIK acoustics panels. I've had my room treated with their panels for about 6 months and it has made a huge difference. I actually called and told the guys there my budget and sent pics and dimensions of my room and they were great to work with me. I did spend some $$$, but it was much less of a headache and looks/sounds great!
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#16
23rd July 2008
Old 23rd July 2008
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The cheapest way to treat Your room, is: wrap a half rigid rockwool (or so called rigid fiberglass) in air penetrable textile. Hang those DIY panels in corners, on wall behind YOU and on ceiling, exatcly above Your mixing position. The biggest distance from wall, the better absorption in low frequencies. As You may understand - great or nearly perfect absorption in higher range. Egg cartons are absolute b-shit, and curtains will work well, only, if they're weeeeeery thick and You hang them at least half meter from wall. There are plenty of info about making DIY bass traps on the slutz and net. Just google a bit! thumbsup
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23rd July 2008
Old 23rd July 2008
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Foam by mail

I have never seen (or more importantly heard!) their foam, but they do have reasonable prices on Volara. I have had great results using this in a multi-layered sandwich with particle board and T&G plywood. I made a few sizes and use them to decouple amps and drums from my studio floor (yes someday, I'll own a place and float one, but in the meantime . . .). I also have my monitor stands on them (2nd floor hardwood, lots of coupling and resonance problems).

Someone gave me the wood, so it was a cheap project. There are far more effective ways, but this does help. Doesn't help with the wall problems, but resonance may produce audible issues in addition to the reflections off the wall.

I did find cheaper place though, so you may do better avoid foam-by mail all together if they aren't reputable.

Volara Foam

Best,
Brandon
#18
23rd July 2008
Old 23rd July 2008
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BTW, yes this is something like a MoPAD.
In my case, my monitors are fairly low with reference to my seating position. The angle on the MoPAD pointed them at my stomach, which meant buying twice as many to get them flat.
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23rd July 2008
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your mopads didn't come with the little part to put on top and keep them even?

anyways, don't even **** with foambymail...i bought a bit of their foam a while back, and it's total crap. auralex and the like are stiff and dense - the FBM stuff came condensed into a box a fraction the size of the actual wedges, and is flimsier than all hell.

the most dirt cheap way to treat a room, like someone mentioned, is to get a plastic trash can, or any other type of solid cylinder, and stuff as much insulation into it as you can. you can also stuff insulation into a burlap bag and hang it in the corners if you're down for something that's cheap, effective, and ugly.

aside from that, your best bet is to snag some OC 703 panels, cover in burlap, and hang on the wall...seems like most places sell 6 sheets at a time, and i've figured it'd cost less than $150 for 6 sheets of it plus the necessary fabric.
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23rd July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Weasel9992 View Post
CAREFUL. Cheap foam is not the same as the more expensive stuff; in many cases it'll actually make things worse.

Frank
Just to dovetail on this point, I assume Frank means the net effect on a room for having put up cheap foam is "worse" than not having done anything at all. (Sorry, semiotics has played into my dissertation work)

No foam will actually make reflections "worse" in the sense of adding energy to the sound. All foam will absorb sound energy to some extent (and change it to a tiny bit of heat and mechanical energy; energy is always conserved).

The problem with cheap foam is that it may not absorb energy consistently across the audio spectrum, ad it may not actually absorb much of anything in a lot of frequency ranges. As a result, you may still get significant reflection (with all of the resulting artifacts) in some frequency ranges, with less in others. In some cases these ranges of difference could be quite small, only a few Hz. The result is a room TOTALLY unsuitable for accurate mixing.

As Frank says, you end up with a room that is worse than when you started.

Better to get something that has been tested (reliably!) and has a predictable absorption curve.

Ironklad Audio - I didn't actually buy any when I saw the pictures. They looked like they interlocked to go flat. Is there just another piece of foam? Is it sturdy that way? For $50 I'll throw another layer of decoupling (and buy myself a few inches of elevation) if they are really sturdy and flat that way.
Obviously the sandwich has a lot more uses (and I actually have mine under my stands), so I could use both.
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23rd July 2008
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yea, each pad consists of a total of 4 pieces of foam...there's the 2 pieces that angle downward for each monitor, and then there's an inter-locking piece that you can lay on top of those to keep them level.
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23rd July 2008
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I just forgot to mention early reflections from side walls. And, yes - a trick with the mirror will spot out problem areas.
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23rd July 2008
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Here is what I'd do (and did)....

-Go to Specialty Products & Insulation Co. and find a local place with JM 814 in stock (equivalent to OC703). You'll spend $72 for 9 4'x2'x2" sheets of rigid fiberglass.
-Go to a fabric store, find their $.99/yard bin, and pick a fabric you like
-Wrap the panels in the fabric and place them throughout your room.

If you want more coverage you can do all 9 panels at 2" or you can double some up to increase their effectiveness on the low end of your room. No matter which way you go you'll spend less than $150 and be A TON better off than buying that crappy foam.
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23rd July 2008
Old 23rd July 2008
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If you are just mixing, you don't desperately need great isolation and that simplifies life dramatically at low frequencies. The most common mistake I've heard is over-treating. Human voices and other sounds such as handclaps should sound clear, well focused and non-resonant in the room as should recordings you know to sound great. An over-treated room sounds muffled and/or lacking in low and low-mid frequencies. In other words, strange and unlike any normal listening room.
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#25
23rd July 2008
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Well Bob, you certainly would know!

It's nice to hear from such a name in the low-end.

Also, furniture arrangement can help. Sofas make really nice bass traps for the lower corner of the back wall...

Plus, most clients like stuff real bass-heavy and you wind up giving them the SOUND they want while still keeping the mix technically correct (even freq spectrum)
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23rd July 2008
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>>Also try hanging some heavy curtains. That way you can open/close them depending on the sound you need.<<

>>That will work pretty well for the high mids and highs, but it won't do a thing for the low end.<<

Not true. Loose heavy curtains absorb and dampen LF radiation.
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23rd July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by videoracer View Post
>>Also try hanging some heavy curtains. That way you can open/close them depending on the sound you need.<<

>>That will work pretty well for the high mids and highs, but it won't do a thing for the low end.<<

Not true. Loose heavy curtains absorb and dampen LF radiation.
That's true, but it depends on how heavy and loose. If you're talking about 22 oz. velour theater curtains at 50% fullness, then I'd agree with you. Standard household window treatments won't do much for low end at all.

Frank
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23rd July 2008
Old 23rd July 2008
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Herman Munster View Post
I researched this for months and finally decided the "cheapest" route was GIK acoustics panels. I've had my room treated with their panels for about 6 months and it has made a huge difference. I actually called and told the guys there my budget and sent pics and dimensions of my room and they were great to work with me. I did spend some $$$, but it was much less of a headache and looks/sounds great!
Thanks man for the kind words. When you get a moment send us some pictures. Our guys love to see there hard work in action.

Glenn
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#29
23rd July 2008
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If you want cheap you can make your own bass traps, but if you don't have the time, and want them to look good, the Tri trap by GIK is the way to go. Just buy two for now at put them in the corners behind your monitors. Make a big difference in my room. When you have more money buy two more for the back corners. Auralex is pretty good for handling the mid's and high freq's.
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24th July 2008
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I read on the ATS Acoustics site that their traps are not true bass traps.

However, if going with the 4" variety (no wood backing) would they function below 125 hz?

I read on the GIK Acoustics site that the trick to their bass traps is that there is a gap in between the rockwool slabs.

Would this be a great deal more effective than 4" rockwool with no gap, but also no wood backing?

How about putting the 4" with no backing in a corner, so the naturally formed gap in the back of the panel will give relief to sub frequencies w/o reflection?
(obviously corners are an important place for bass traps)

Thanks in advance.

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