Making the very best of a very small room - definitive formula
KingBugsy
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2nd April 2011
Old 2nd April 2011
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Making the very best of a very small room - definitive formula

Dealing with very small rooms:

Reflection: In a very small room, reflection is never good, because the only reflections you'll have are very close reflections, which of course cause all kinds of problems and just sound bad anyway. A small space never sounds good.

Diffusion: As many have pointed out on this forum, to diffuse adequately in a very small room, the diffusors would have to be very deep, thus not an option when space is already so limited.

Absorption: This, so far, to me, seems to be the ONLY option for getting a small room to "work". But of course many will point out that adding "too much" absorption results in an overly "dead" room and thus an undesirable / unnatural response.

So now let's take a theoretical "very small" room... and let's say the goal is to record instruments inside the room such as drums, acoustic guitar, etc. Room is say 10' X 16' with a 7' ceiling, perfect rectangle, concrete floor (picture a small, single-car garage with low, flat ceiling). I guess this would be more appropriately called a "booth" as opposed to a "room" (being so small), but... regardless, it's a space where recording is to be done.

Most will advise to avoid such a small room entirely. I'd agree! But then again, in some cases, one must work with what one has, as it may be that or nothing. And, for many, something is better than nothing.

So the goal here is to figure out the "best" treatment for a small room like the one outlined above.

Here are some general questions that come to mind:

-Approximately what percentage of the walls / ceiling should be covered in absorption? 100% would take care of ALL close reflections, but would make for an overly dead room. But anything less than 100% coverage leaves some degree of untreated wall / ceiling surface, and the concern would then be catching close reflections occasionally from this if your mics just happened to wind up in the "wrong" spot. So what's the thought here? Just go 100% absorption... or perhaps go, for instance, 70% absorption... but then what do we do with the other 30% to avoid the possibility of any close reflections into mics? I'd think that ANY exposed flat surfaces in such a small room would be a very bad thing... remember, at any time there might be an instrument and a mic barely 16" away from a given wall surface, especially when dealing with something big like a drumkit.

-How thick should the absorption material be? If we're using OC 703 for instance, would 4" absorbers be enough, or 6", or...? Another way to pose this question, how much would be too little, and how much would be too much? I'm aware that all situations are different, but in a 10X16X7 rectangular room, I'd tend to think that a "universal" answer could be calculated. Or do we really need to get test equipment in the room to figure it out? Again, the goal is to record assorted things as well as drums in the room, so we do need to take care of frequencies down to say 50Hz... or do the best possible within reason.

-Floor... I was just reading another thread about floor surfaces... seems that many feel the floor should be reflective... and perhaps this is ok if the ceiling is absorbing... but in such a small room as the one we're discussing here, I have to question if having a reflective floor is a good thing. Then again I do realize that carpet, while it does absorb some highs, still allows reflection of low-end mud etc. Or, perhaps if all four walls and ceiling are nearly 100% absorbing, then having a 100% reflective floor (like a completely bare concrete floor for instance) is just fine. (?) Comments?

I am aware that small rooms get discussed here all the time. But I don't think I've yet read of a proven, magic formula for a very small room. Usually the consensus is to just abandon the small room. But considering that so many people are forced to work in small rooms, I think it would be helpful to attempt to arrive at what is at least the "best possible scenario" for a small room.

Another way to look at it... someone forces you at gunpoint into a 10'X16'X7' room and demands that you make the best recording you possibly can... and you're allowed to treat the room however you want... what would you do?

Last edited by KingBugsy; 2nd April 2011 at 10:39 PM..
#2
2nd April 2011
Old 2nd April 2011
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Quote:
what would you do?
I would hire a Pro.

DD
#3
2nd April 2011
Old 2nd April 2011
  #3
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I don't recall anyone ever saying it can't be done. In fact there are many proposed models for small rooms. Anechoic, RFZ, ISD termination, all can be done in a small room but it takes planning, reading, and asking questions that guys like Jens, SAC, Dan, Ethan, Jhbrandt, etc etc. can help guide you towards the answer.

I can't see any reason why you wouldn't be able to use diffusion in a 16 ft long room.

As far as reflections, the idea if Im not mistaken is to either eliminate them totally or delay their arrival, and have them arrive in a diffuse field.
SAC
#4
2nd April 2011
Old 2nd April 2011
  #4
SAC
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Lots of questions that are hobbled by erroneous assumptions and predicated upon foregone conclusions. Unfortunately, your query is crippled by your presumptions.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KingBugsy View Post
Dealing with very small rooms:

Reflection: In a very small room, reflection is never good, because the only reflections you'll have are very close reflections, which of course cause all kinds of problems and just sound bad anyway. A small space never sounds good.
Incorrect. All reflections are NOT bad! Its long past time for this oft repeated nonsense to die. Certain reflections are destructive; just as are certain thoughts that defeat one before they even begin. And as you state you have a 16 foot deep room, assuming the speakers are placed at , say, 4 foot from the front wall, and assuming the listening position is at say, 8 foot in the middle of the room, just for timing purposes, that leaves a straight up the middle (as opposed to the longer lateral direction) round trip travel time of 12 + 8 = 20feet = 17.7ms – plenty of time to construct an ISD.

And now we are supposed to suggest ways to treat a room that has already been categorically declared a failure in that “A small space never sounds good.” With all due respect, if that is true, it is in large measure due to many of the ideas expressed here.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KingBugsy View Post
Diffusion: As many have pointed out on this forum, to diffuse adequately in a very small room, the diffusors would have to be very deep, thus not an option when space is already so limited.
Incorrect. In order “to diffuse adequately in a very small room, the diffusors would have to be very deep” is simply wrong. In order for a diffuser to diffuse low frequency wavelengths they need to be deep. The depth of a diffuser has nothing to do with the size of a room!

And again, using the very rough estimate of 8 foot from the back wall, that is more than adequate for all but the most extreme diffusers to be used, allowing adequate spacing from the units to position the listener outside the nearfield of the units.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KingBugsy View Post
Absorption: This, so far, to me, seems to be the ONLY option for getting a small room to "work". But of course many will point out that adding "too much" absorption results in an overly "dead" room and thus an undesirable / unnatural response.
Incorrect. In so far as the first two option are already incorrect, the assumption that the last is the only option is incorrect from the outset. But one does get an idea of why such myths continue to promulgate! …Moving on.



Quote:
Originally Posted by KingBugsy View Post
So now let's take a theoretical "very small" room... and let's say the goal is to record instruments inside the room such as drums, acoustic guitar, etc. Room is say 10' X 16' with a 7' ceiling, perfect rectangle, concrete floor (picture a small, single-car garage with low, flat ceiling). I guess this would be more appropriately called a "booth" as opposed to a "room" (being so small), but... regardless, it's a space where recording is to be done.

Most will advise to avoid such a small room entirely. I'd agree! But then again, in some cases, one must work with what one has, as it may be that or nothing. And, for many, something is better than nothing.
I sure would agree if I carried around the limiting assumptions you have expressed. But as I don’t, that leaves me think in terms of how it can be done with a few more creative possibilities.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KingBugsy View Post
So the goal here is to figure out the "best" treatment for a small room like the one outlined above.
And again, here come still more limiting presumptions based solely on the label that the space is a “small room”, or to express it in the vernacular with all of its assumed glory, presumptions and emotional baggage: “a “booth””.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KingBugsy View Post
Here are some general questions that come to mind:

-Approximately what percentage of the walls / ceiling should be covered in absorption? 100% would take care of ALL close reflections, but would make for an overly dead room. But anything less than 100% coverage leaves some degree of untreated wall / ceiling surface, and the concern would then be catching close reflections occasionally from this if your mics just happened to wind up in the "wrong" spot. So what's the thought here? Just go 100% absorption... or perhaps go, for instance, 70% absorption... but then what do we do with the other 30% to avoid the possibility of any close reflections into mics? I'd think that ANY exposed flat surfaces in such a small room would be a very bad thing... remember, at any time there might be an instrument and a mic barely 16" away from a given wall surface, especially when dealing with something big like a drumkit.
What percentage??? “So what's the thought here? “ I find it difficult to express it better than that! And as the room use has been by default labeled through the proposed use scenarios as a live room, what does the percentage of absorptive surfaces have to do with the timing of reflective paths? If one is going to site such ‘stuff’, they might at least provide some kind of conversion factor such as 1ms = X % absorptive coverage! So many erroneous and unfounded assumptions, so little time!

Quote:
Originally Posted by KingBugsy View Post
“I'd think that ANY exposed flat surfaces in such a small room would be a very bad thing... remember, at any time there might be an instrument and a mic barely 16" away from a given wall surface”
… Frankly, I’d be more concerned about the proximity to anyone positing such assumptions! Especially as in the live room you have conscious choice as to where to position various instruments!

Quote:
Originally Posted by KingBugsy View Post
How thick should the absorption material be? If we're using OC 703 for instance, would 4" absorbers be enough, or 6", or...? Another way to pose this question, how much would be too little, and how much would be too much? I'm aware that all situations are different, but in a 10X16X7 rectangular room, I'd tend to think that a "universal" answer could be calculated. Or do we really need to get test equipment in the room to figure it out? Again, the goal is to record assorted things as well as drums in the room, so we do need to take care of frequencies down to say 50Hz... or do the best possible within reason.

Again, where does this nonsense arise that the optimal thickness for a broadband absorber has some relation to room size rather than to wavelength? And compound that with the notion that you make no distinction between specular reflections and modal behavior as you worry about how to control ‘reflections’ down to 50 Hz.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KingBugsy View Post
-Floor... I was just reading another thread about floor surfaces... seems that many feel the floor should be reflective... and perhaps this is ok if the ceiling is absorbing... but in such a small room as the one we're discussing here, I have to question if having a reflective floor is a good thing. Then again I do realize that carpet, while it does absorb some highs, still allows reflection of low-end mud etc. Or, perhaps if all four walls and ceiling are nearly 100% absorbing, then having a 100% reflective floor (like a completely bare concrete floor for instance) is just fine. (?) Comments?
Yeah, but I suspect a few would object as I cannot adequately express them in 100% socially acceptable language.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KingBugsy View Post
I am aware that small rooms get discussed here all the time. But I don't think I've yet read of a proven, magic formula for a very small room. Usually the consensus is to just abandon the small room. But considering that so many people are forced to work in small rooms, I think it would be helpful to attempt to arrive at what is at least the "best possible scenario" for a small room.

So now the choices are to either abandon the room completely or to propose some one size fits all “proven, magic formula for a very small room”. The irony is that I don’t read many of us proposing this solution, but I hear far too many coming here with that assumption – all too willing to impose this upon us in the form of a bunch of rhetorical questions/assumptions.

The fact is that there are quite a few options available. IF one does not already assume that it is impossible.

Quote:
Originally Posted by KingBugsy View Post
Another way to look at it... someone forces you at gunpoint into a 10'X16'X7' room and demands that you make the best recording you possibly can... and you're allowed to treat the room however you want (other than knocking the walls down )... what would you do?
Personally, what I would do would be a mystery compared to the assumptions expressed in this case as I find the preponderance of the assumptions and foregone conclusions utterly incorrect. In fact, about the only thing not mentioned in this scenario is that the OP intended to record the entire 54 piece Parliament/Funkadelic ensemble or the Philadelphia Symphony.

In this case I could not agree with dd more. PLEASE, do yourself a BIG favor, hire a pro, as your assumptions are crippling. And please stop positing assumptions and conclusions and start listening a LOT more.

But I guess the reply will be that we haven’t proposed a “proven, magic formula for a very small room”.

And please don't become too upset. You didn't ask a question as much as you proposed 'an expansive limitation'.

Last edited by SAC; 2nd April 2011 at 11:53 PM..
#5
2nd April 2011
Old 2nd April 2011
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Well, I started writing but SAC took care of it.

#6
3rd April 2011
Old 3rd April 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by KingBugsy View Post
I am aware that small rooms get discussed here all the time. But I don't think I've yet read of a proven, magic formula for a very small room. Usually the consensus is to just abandon the small room. But considering that so many people are forced to work in small rooms, I think it would be helpful to attempt to arrive at what is at least the "best possible scenario" for a small room.
King,

DD put it succinctly, SAC put it, well, the way that SAC put it.

I will try to find the middle of the 2 - and (not to misunderstand) they are both correct.

There is no magic formula for any room....... not for critical listening spaces - especially not for tracking spaces.

There are goals - and a heck of a lot of guidelines........

Even with critical listening spaces there is no one set of "rules" that direct the design. If there was all critical listening spaces would be the same.

Your assumptions are flawed, and this makes responding to them virtually impossible.

Small rooms certainly have their challenges dealing with low frequencies (and please note I said challenges - did not refer to dealing with them as impossible) but this is much less of an issue in a tracking room than it is in a critical listening space.......

There are no real challenges dealing with frequencies above that - there are no problems with handling early reflections. And late reflections are not really an issue. In fact late reflections can impart a sense of spaciousness to the recording (if that is desired).

You can absolutely use diffusion effectively in a room the size you mention in your post. And mic placement can be dealt with (effectively) in any number of manners....... regardless of where you want that mic to go.

A friend of mine has a small tracking room (smaller than the one you mentioned) and he gets a great drum sound in that room - the room also houses his board and recording gear.....

I do not see anyone (who I consider expert in the field) suggesting to people that they abandon their rooms because the rooms are small........ in fact I see those people doing everything they can to help guide people who are forced into rooms that size to help them achieve good sounding rooms.

This is not the same as telling people that in small spaces they would be better off going for maximum volume by building a single multipurpose room rather than trying to subdivide the space into separate control and tracking rooms - nor is it the same as telling someone that is trying to turn a bedroom (that will remain a bedroom) into a critical listening space that they are going to have issues when they are forced to stick their set-up tight into a room corner.

What you believe you know has no basis in science or engineering, it is (apparently) a series of conclusions you have (erroneously) reached.

I find myself in the same position as Dan and SAC, in that I cannot formulate answers to what has been deemed a "no-win" scenario.

I wish you good luck (though) in your search for the truth.......


Rod Gervais
Director of Education
GIK Acoustics
Gik Acoustics USA
Gik Acoustics Europe
Tel.(US)1.888.986.2789
Tel.(UK)+44(0)20.7558.8976
#7
3rd April 2011
Old 3rd April 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanDan View Post
I would hire a Pro.

DD
Why would YOU do that? You ARE a pro...

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Eklund View Post
Well, I started writing but SAC took care of it.

He did indeed! Ouch!


Sören
KingBugsy
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#8
3rd April 2011
Old 3rd April 2011
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Thread Starter
Thanks for the replies... and the severe scolding. I apologize for my ignorance.

Indeed I have no true experience with professional acoustic strategies. But I do know, as a musician and recordist, that small spaces sound really bad to me. I have not yet ever, in my life, been in a small room that worked well, even ones that appeared to be treated.

Since my first post was so incredibly flawed, I humbly request to be allowed to re-state the question... but without the false assumptions of course.

First.... ok, every situation IS different, and there is no single magic solution for all small rooms. Got it.

Second, the very best way to tackle this is to hire a professional. Got it.

For the sake of forum discussion, I'll post some more specs below and I'd appreciate any feedback you guys wish to offer:

Room: 10'X16', 7' ceiling, perfect rectangle
Walls and ceiling: sheetrock (several layers)
Floor: concrete slab
Intent: to record drums, no mixing

The room will contain a drumkit and also a small desk for computer and monitor speakers. The room will NOT be used for professional mixing, but only for recording and occasional editing. So we need not worry about issues related to ideal mixing acoustics.... just need to make drums sound good.

The goal is to get the room dialed in to allow for professional-level drum recording specifically. I do not expect to achieve any type of usable "room sound", even if this is possible I do not prefer the sound of a small space anyway, the main goal is to ELIMINATE the adverse effects of a typical untreated small room.

I think partly why I was thinking that maximum absorption would be best is because I really do not want to "hear" the room.

But at the same time, I do wish for the drums to have some level of natural ambiance (meaning not be adversely effected by close reflections nor be completely void of any degree of natural reflections).

What I've learned over the years from experience, reflections in a small room, at least if not dealt with properly, can make a drumkit sound terrible... causes excessive drumhead ring (thus makes the kit almost impossible to tune well), plus makes for excessive bleed into the assorted mics, plus often exaggerates muddy low-mid frequencies etc.

The way I wish to arrange the room (sort of needs to be this way for certain reasons).... the drumkit will be in the center of the room, facing the "front" short wall. This means that the drumkit will only be about 16" away from each "side" wall. (Even if I rotated the kit 90 degrees, it will still be very close to the side walls, would not make much difference).

Behind the kit, against the "rear" short wall will be the small desk with computer monitor and monitor speakers. There will be nothing against the "front" short wall, so on this wall could exist a large diffuser or trap or whatever would be recommended... and such diffuser or trap could even be a good 12" deep if need be.

In sum... I DO NOT expect this small room to ever sound like a large room, BUT I'd like it to behave like a large room.

Thank you.
#9
3rd April 2011
Old 3rd April 2011
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For what YOU want - Put carpet on the floor. Hang heavy drapes on the walls. get off Gearslutz. make music. Be happy.

OR - spent countless hours listening to people who are AFRAID of making music in a small room. Your acoustics will not change. Be brave, the sound will follow.

Look at the photo of Abbey Road control room from 60's - completely wrong treatment for such a small room by GS standards. George Martin never checked with gearslutz, I feel sorry for him.

Last edited by mixmixmix; 3rd April 2011 at 01:46 AM.. Reason: accidentally said something smart
SAC
#10
3rd April 2011
Old 3rd April 2011
  #10
SAC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by mixmixmix View Post
For what YOU want - Put carpet on the floor. Hang heavy drapes on the walls. ... spent countless hours listening to people who are AFRAID of making music in a small room. ...

George Martin never checked with gearslutz, I feel sorry for him.
Oh geesh...

Another Luddite who thinks, strike that, hallucinates that smaller rooms with specific behaviors surgically treated cannot be used.

And George Martin eschewed acoustics... LOL!

For further irony, stop and look at just who is lined up to ask the question of how a room that they feel is so substandard can be used...
THEY are the "people who are AFRAID of making music in a small room". Hence their being here and worrying expressing the emotionally based notions that its soooo hard if not impossible....

Don't worry, like with valid acoustical knowledge, those who are too busy to read about valid treatment concepts won't read this either.

Last edited by SAC; 3rd April 2011 at 01:59 AM..
SAC
#11
3rd April 2011
Old 3rd April 2011
  #11
SAC
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To the OP...your question and statement of purpose is fine but far too amorphous.

There is indeed a process. But it requires more in terms of defining expectations in terms of what is possible.

Its not enough to state the equivalent of -"I know small room to ever sound like a large room, BUT I'd like it to behave like a large room". Define the specific characteristics.

Nor do you start with treatments! You begin with an understanding of the acoustical behaviors in a space as well as how they correlate to real world experience.

By analyzing the real world rooms behavior, you can then compare that with the desired and defined acoustical response and note the differences. From these differences, one can then choose appropriate treatments in order to manipulate the rooms response such that the desired target acoustical response may hopefully be obtained.

But simply stating a wish given an amorphous imagined room is not sufficient to obtain specific answers regarding how this may optimally be achieved.

And while you are at it, you might want to Google the Russ Berger article on designing a practice drum room in a room smaller than the one you propose. The one where he achieves what we are being told is impossible, but which we have recommended many times in the past.

In short, it can be accomplished.
But a "definitive set of steps" will not be forthcoming based simply upon a 4 item description of the space and a desire that a small room behave like a large room (which, if you are not aware, implies a later arriving diffuse soundfield outside of the ISD).

Instead there is a process, and decisions predicated upon a precise knowledge and understanding of the specific behavior in the space.
But I have no interest in debating ill formed concepts posited as fact.

The facts are that if this room is dedicated towards a drum room, you have the luxury of having actually what is quite a 'large' room, in that a portion of the room can be allocated as a loosely coupled space, wherein the near field can be rendered non-reflective and dry while the coupled space provides a later arriving decaying diffuse soundfield which will provide the sense of a large space. And this is not simply some abstract notion - but a proven concept that has been repeatedly implemented over the past 20+ years! Not bad for accomplishing the impossible as posited by a number of 'authorities'(sic) here who know even less than those they have denigrated.

Last edited by SAC; 3rd April 2011 at 02:55 AM..
#12
3rd April 2011
Old 3rd April 2011
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KingBugsy - call GIK, buy as many bass traps from them as you can afford - and they will be happy to advise you on the best way to deploy them. (Actually, it would probably be best to inquire first as to which of thir products will best serve your purposes - probably a mixture of 242's/244's and Monster traps - before you buy :o))

By the time you have the bass trapping you need, you probably won't need to deal with diffusion much (because much of your reflective surface will have a bass trap in front of it) - if anything, perhaps a few strategically placed carpet samples will do the trick.

You may be tempted to go the DIY route, which is fine, but you should know that you really won't save that much, because GIK is fairly inexpensive, and they really are quite generous with their time and advice.

Last edited by steveschizoid; 3rd April 2011 at 03:16 AM..
SAC
#13
3rd April 2011
Old 3rd April 2011
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SAC
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Quote:
Originally Posted by steveschizoid View Post
OP - call GIK, buy as many bass traps from them as you can afford - and they will be happy to advise you on the best way to deploy them.

By the time you have the bass trapping you need, you probably won't need to deal with diffusion much (because much of your reflective surface will have a bass trap in front of it) - by then perhaps a few strategically placed carpet samples will do the trick.
The OP has already stated that he wants the small room to behave as a large room.

This has acoustical implications n terms of behavior. I know that this does not have meaning, and perhaps the OP does not realize this as well, but a larger room exhibits a latter arriving diffuse soundfield. That is the same premise behind such acoustical response models as LEDE/RFZ and ambechoic.

And where do folks continue to get this notion about carpet and carpet samples? Did they all arrive on the egg carton truck?

Bass trapping is fine, as was implied in the reference to containing the behavior in the main body of the room. And a dead room is a very SMALL sounding room - exactly the opposite of what the OP stated he desired in his 'small' room.

But slightly more ingenious means are required to establish a later arriving decaying diffuse sound field. This is typically done with collimating phase gratings - a form of which was marketed as Space Couplers. only in this case, as there is not available waste space in the ceiling nor closets (or at least we have not been informed of any), the long room can be partitioned and loosely coupled acoustically, with the coupled space surfaces made to scatter and diffuse the entering energy such that the generated soundfield will re-emerge later into the primary body of the room as a later arriving diffuse soundfield - thus rendering the drums both very 'tight' and dry in the nearfield, with a significant spacious sounding diffuse 'tail' that will not cause mic phasing issues and resulting comb filtering.


You know, good questions are always welcome.
What are less constructive are responses and conclusions positing solutions based upon random guesses presented as practical solutions but which have no basis in fact. THAT is where so many continuing erroneous notions such as that of carpet and so many other myths continue to be perpetuated.
#14
3rd April 2011
Old 3rd April 2011
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Whatever.

If you have a small room, and you don't want it to sound small, you need to put some traps up.

I really didn't mean to advocate the use of carpet, I was more more trying to emphasize that if you don't deal with the midrange and down your recording will have that boxy sound of a small room.

That's the first step, the sine qua non if you will.

The OP seemed overly worried about diffusion, but a few bass traps will have a significant impact on the various higher frequency artifacts as well, so it seems logical to address those issues afterwards.

If something fancy is called for - perhaps surrounding the area where the drums will be with 241's, while hanging Monster traps in the corners and leaving the area at the far end as live as possible and/or capturing and reemitting the high frequency energy as you seem to be suggesting, so be it.

I just don't get your hostile, insulting tone.

You wouldn't believe the oddball acoustical situation I've wrestled with
(see GIK and Realtraps greatest hits? (graphs) )
- and, with a good deal of time, effort, trial and error, I've made this travesty into a place where I can achieve professional sounding results.

I think in the above referenced post I mentioned 11 GIK traps plus a couple of home made ones (that were necessarily custom made to fit the space where they were needed) - I probably was only counting the control room, and I may have added a couple since, because right now, I've got 24 plus the 2 home made ones.

The OP needs some help, and he's going to need some traps. The main point I wanted him to take away is that GIK is a great company made up of very helpful people that sell a reasonably priced line of products that work.

You can be as prickly as you wish...I was just trying to help.

Last edited by steveschizoid; 3rd April 2011 at 06:20 AM..
SAC
#15
3rd April 2011
Old 3rd April 2011
  #15
SAC
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Later arriving diffusion is the specific quality that lends a sense of spaciousness to a space - above and beyond all of the various additional factors pertaining to the behavior of sound in the bounded space. Thus modal behavior and early arriving reflections must also be addressed IN ADDITION TO the establishment of a later arriving diffuse field.

While important, bass modes and early arriving specular reflections are not directly pertinent to the fundamental behavioral quality desires.

Additionally, the ETC response is the tool that will directly address this issue.

Thus if one wants a small space "to behave like a large room", diffusion is the specific quality necessary.

And beyond that, one must then address the qualities of he diffuse field that render it optimal in the particular space.

Last edited by SAC; 3rd April 2011 at 04:37 PM..
#16
3rd April 2011
Old 3rd April 2011
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Steve,

While modal issues are a very important factor in a critical listening space - they are much less so in a tracking room.

Unless a microphone happened to be in a location where there was a perfect null, peaks can be cut and dips can be boosted at the desk.....

The odds of there being a perfect null is slim at best - and even if one did exist - a move of a couple of inches would make a tremendous difference.

In fact - in a room with modal anomalies, placing a mic in a corner can capture some real "punch" for the mix.

Much more important is coming up with a room that has some life in it.

I have a trapezoidal shaped string room design that I used for a studio in Manila that sits in a footprint just 15'-6" x 9'-6" - yet a baby grand piano sounds great in the room, and symphony string sections have traveled from China just to record there.

The room is very bright - very controlled - and there are no huge bass traps anywhere in the room.....

One can achieve what one wishes to achieve..........

Rod Gervais
Director of Education
GIK Acoustics
Gik Acoustics USA
Gik Acoustics Europe
Tel.(US)1.888.986.2789
Tel.(UK)+44(0)20.7558.8976
#17
3rd April 2011
Old 3rd April 2011
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rod Gervais View Post
The room is very bright - very controlled - and there are no huge bass traps anywhere in the room.....

One can achieve what one wishes to achieve..........
Did you see the diagram I linked to? I have a tracking room that Glenn helped me turn into a usable space. There is nothing redeemable about its natural sound, and, in my ignorance, I originally thought that taming the slap back and various comb filtering was where I needed to start, so I turned it into a dead sounding boxy space. That's when I called GIK for help!

My control room was the real beast (see same diagram) however, and that's where the serious bass trapping had to occur - I'll never forget when the guy who was trying to help (I wish I could remember his name) told me my room was "unpredictable." -

Quote:
One can achieve what one wishes to achieve..........
This is why I keep saying: "call GIK!"
#18
3rd April 2011
Old 3rd April 2011
  #18
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Jens Eklund's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Rod Gervais View Post
While modal issues are a very important factor in a critical listening space - they are much less so in a tracking room.

Unless a microphone happened to be in a location where there was a perfect null, peaks can be cut and dips can be boosted at the desk.....

...

In fact - in a room with modal anomalies, placing a mic in a corner can capture some real "punch" for the mix.
Allow me to slightly ”disagree” here. A modal peak is often associated with a decay time that might be too long and thus negatively colouring the recorded source and if so, an EQ won’t help and compression might further enhance the unwanted coloration. A recording room should ideally have minimal modal distortion but I agree with you that it might be less critical than a control room where one position is more critical than others and care is taken to optimize the response at this position.
#19
3rd April 2011
Old 3rd April 2011
  #19
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Rod Gervais's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jens Eklund View Post
Allow me to slightly ”disagree” here. A modal peak is often associated with a decay time that might be too long and thus negatively colouring the recorded source and if so, an EQ won’t help and compression might further enhance the unwanted coloration. A recording room should ideally have minimal modal distortion but I agree with you that it might be less critical than a control room where one position is more critical than others and care is taken to optimize the response at this position.
Jens,

Sir, I will always allow you to disagree - slightly or otherwise...

The point that I was trying to make (badly apparently) was that within the tracking room your have the ability to locate the microphone in a manner that would minimize modal effects. Thus low frequency treatments in a tracking room are not as critical as they are in a control room.

On this (meaning the level of importance) we are in agreement.

I was not suggesting that no treatments were necessary - just that the answer for a tracking room is not to simply buy as many bass traps as you can.

Rod Gervais
Director of Education
GIK Acoustics
Gik Acoustics USA
Gik Acoustics Europe
Tel.(US)1.888.986.2789
Tel.(UK)+44(0)20.7558.8976
#20
3rd April 2011
Old 3rd April 2011
  #20
Lives for gear
 
Rod Gervais's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by steveschizoid View Post
Did you see the diagram I linked to? I have a tracking room that Glenn helped me turn into a usable space. There is nothing redeemable about its natural sound, and, in my ignorance, I originally thought that taming the slap back and various comb filtering was where I needed to start, so I turned it into a dead sounding boxy space. That's when I called GIK for help!

My control room was the real beast (see same diagram) however, and that's where the serious bass trapping had to occur - I'll never forget when the guy who was trying to help (I wish I could remember his name) told me my room was "unpredictable." -


This is why I keep saying: "call GIK!"
Steve,

I did read the thread - the whole thread and nothing but the thread........

But the entire thread (discounting the almost 2 pages of posts relating to Ethan's video) was about your control room......

Tracking rooms offer a challenge of their own......

You (as you well know) had to do a lot of work to create a (relatively small) "sweet spot" in your control room when it came to modal activity....... the higher frequencies were much easier to handle.

Step away from the sweet spot and things are no longer so sweet (with the exception of some excellent control rooms that have fairly even responses throughout the room).

There is also a problem with testing in a tracking room.

It is my position that although this may be physically possible - it is (for all practical purposes) impossible.

Different microphones will pick up different room effects (a ribbon mic will pick up reflections in a room that a cardioid would not - just one example) , also they could be in any of an infinite number of locations.

The same is true of sound sources - different instruments, amps - and the locations for those sources within the space.

All of these make the physical testing of a tracking room just not worth the effort. Even if you went through the effort to acoustically map the entire room - once you gathered the data for all of the possibilities that existed - what exactly would you do with it?

The (effective) use of diffusion in tracking rooms goes a long way towards creating an environment that is conducive to making good recordings of the instruments in the space.

It (certainly) is not all about absorption.

BTW, I hope when you look at my signature you realize that I am in agreement that calling GIK would be a great idea....


Rod Gervais
Director of Education
GIK Acoustics
Gik Acoustics USA
Gik Acoustics Europe
Tel.(US)1.888.986.2789
Tel.(UK)+44(0)20.7558.8976

Last edited by Rod Gervais; 3rd April 2011 at 06:15 PM..
#21
3rd April 2011
Old 3rd April 2011
  #21
Gear addict
 

KingBugsy, I hope you are not deterred. SAC is just being ... well, SAC. However, he does have a lot of useful information to offer if you can ask the right questions. I think in fact that your question has been answered if you can pick out the nuggets and if you have been following GS for a while and read up on other threads. e.g. if you used Google to find the Russ Berger info you will have discovered a discussion of space couplers. It was a smaller space than yours but a different scenario in that the garage was a 3 car space and the recording space was able to be "coupled" into the larger volume. However, the principle espoused and referred to by SAC is relevant - acoustically dampen the space in the immediate vicinity of the kit and then have diffused energy reflected back from parts of the room that are further away.

So, in other words, a combination of acoustic absorbers and diffusers. (who would have thought). The advantage of DIY is that you can start and add and keep adding until you achieve something that you are happy with.
KingBugsy
Thread Starter
#22
4th April 2011
Old 4th April 2011
  #22
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Thread Starter
Thanks guys.

Bottom line, it is clear to me that the only way to really do this correctly is to hire a professional.

But I'd like to discuss a few things anyway so I can start to get a general idea of what might need to happen.

I did read up on the loosely coupled space technique, at least the few articles I found online (which were not overly detailed). Very interesting. I was not previously familiar with this. But it would seem that I do not have the "real estate" to be able to do this anyway. The room is 10'X16' with 7' ceiling, I cannot expand the room in any direction, and it would seem that i do not have the space inside the room to add an effective "loosely coupled space". That is assuming I'm understanding the "loosely coupled space" technique correctly.

But from doing more reading here, it would seem that I could indeed incorporate diffusion into this room to help keep it from being too dead.

And yes, let's remember that this is a drum TRACKING room, NOT a mixing room. But that said, the drums and mics will likely remain in the same position "forever". That position will be roughly the dead center of the room and say a 3' or 4' radius around it. So... the most important thing is to make sure that the sonic characteristics of the room are most favorable and balanced inside this area. Then again, this is pretty much the whole room anyway, I keep forgetting how small it is.

What I could potentially do... the one "front" wall will be about 7' away from the drums. This wall will be "open", meaning I can add anything to (or in front of) this wall... as much as 2' deep. I could cover this wall with 2' deep diffusors (like skylines for instance), or could even build a 2'X10' "closet" there that could act as some sort of "loosely coupled space" if that made any sense (though I'd think this would be too small for a loosely coupled space, but I don't know). Just thoughts.

But the three other walls and ceiling will be VERY close to the drums (or have objects in the way). Because the walls are so close, I'd imagine that the best way to deal with these surfaces would be to cover them with absorbers. Barely any physical space for anything else anyway. Otherwise, if we wanted to place any diffusors here, we'd be talking about a super shallow diffusor that would be barely 16" away from a very loud sound source and microphones, this would SEEM to not be a good thing.

In sum, I'm proposing that a possible GENERAL plan could be to cover the ceiling and three "close walls" with absorbers (since they are so close to the source and mics)... and then use the one "far" front wall as the one "big diffusor". This is somewhat along the lines of what some have suggested.

One good thing here is that the "front wall" is directly opposite the "front" of the drum kit, so that whatever sound gets diffused / reflected back towards the kit would be balanced in terms of the intended stereo field.

General comments to my general thoughts? If this makes any sense, then any general ideas as to what type of diffusors should be used in such a room, and how deep etc? Just curious at this stage.

Ok, enough of my uneducated speculations. Apologies in advance.

Let's now talk about hiring a professional for a moment. How would this work? Would an acoustician come to my room for a few hours, take a few measurements, and then write up a "recipe" for me to follow (in terms of what absorbers, diffusors to get or build, and where to place them etc)? And then that's it?

Or does the acoustician typically make multiple visits and experiment over and over until they get it "right"? If so, how many visits might this take?

Finally I have to consider if hiring a pro is within my budget, and it makes sense to me that the more hours / visits are involved, the more it will cost. So I wonder how this procedure plays out typically... for a single, small, private, non-commercial room.

Since I'm good at carpentry and fabrication I can build just about anything (in terms of traps, diffusors, closets, whatever), I'd just need direction / plans. I do not need to hire anyone to do actual construction / physical alteration. Would only need a pro to determine exactly WHAT is needed and write up a design plan to be followed. Or... do pro acousticians require that you use their products and/or use their construction people? I'm not ruling out anything, just trying to get an idea of how it works typically.
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