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Favorite Mastering room design
Old 27th July 2014
  #1
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Favorite Mastering room design

Hey All,

What (including why etc) are peoples favorite design types of professionally created mastering studios. And why did they go for that format?

There seems to be a range of approaches used in the high end suites, how much difference is there between them (or is a 5-10% difference thing)
e.g.
Rooms that have large windows in the front, free standing speakers and QRDs at the back (e.g. Tim Coyne, Chris Athens), or Metropolis front wall (can't find a pic of the rear)

Front wall absorbers - e.g. Abbey Rd

Front wall QRDs - e.g. Masterdisk

FTB- e.g. Amsterdam Mastering (Northward Acoustics)

Live end (rear) Dead end (front) e.g. Gateway mastering?

RFZ e.g. ?

Free standing monitors vs Soffit mounted monitors

Any other types of note that I can edit in?

Last edited by Channel time; 27th July 2014 at 10:21 PM.. Reason: Adding options of room types
Old 27th July 2014
  #2
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My own.....
Old 27th July 2014
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DSD_Mastering View Post
My own.....
That's handy (particularly for you)
Any chance you want to qualify your statement?
Is it any particular format, and why did you go for that type over another format?
Old 27th July 2014
  #4
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Northward's FTB design - best rooms I've ever heard. I can't imagine working in a non-FTB room now.
Old 27th July 2014
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Brad Blackwood View Post
Northward's FTB design - best rooms I've ever heard. I can't imagine working in a non-FTB room now.
Last month I had the chance to visit Bonati's new room, designed by Thomas, and it was hands down the best sounding room I've ever been in.
Old 27th July 2014
  #6
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i still like front absorption & back diffusion best. front diffusion makes the stage a bit bigger, but IMO at the cost of directness.
maybe RFZ could be added? i guess some mastering rooms having the front windows angled are basically RFZ? but i've never heard such a room.

i really really wanted to like FTB. they all look great & solid built, but they are so extremely dry, it felt unnatural to me. they have an effect which i called "acoustical vacuum" (i'm sorry, i don't have a better description), which you may experience in a low reflection / non-environment room & which is even more pronounced in a anechoic room (of course, FTB rooms are not anechoic, since they still have some diffusors installed & the floor is untreated). the FTB room that i've heard had 110ms reverberation time. on the other hand all other mastering rooms i've heard had a comparble accuracy (=translated great) & where roughly in the 200-300ms reverberation time range, which is more my preference. i hope my statement isn't seen as an offence especially as i've heard great sounding results from guys like e.g. brad working in a FTB room. i just wanted to share my view & its not surprising that room acoustics is - like speakers - highly subjective.
Old 27th July 2014
  #7
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I would say what Northward is doing is so far ahead of everyone else it deserves its own category. I’ve been to four of Thomas’ rooms in Europe and thought it was all very impressive. The sound was immediately familiar (some had B&W’s, and others ATC’s) and no sense of “dryness” imo. Just as an aside, the fact that the ultimate performance is actually guaranteed (who else does that?) is kind of cool.

My two new rooms should be done later this year, although it’s been a lot of work...
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Favorite Mastering room design-dsc00754.jpg  
Old 27th July 2014
  #8
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Bonatis room is cute.

I love the concept of the lathe being always in the background, literally!
Old 27th July 2014
  #9
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I've been impressed with George Auspurgur's designs that I've heard. Ed Littman's room turned out fantastic sounding for example.

Best regards,
Steve Berson
Old 27th July 2014
  #10
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I don't know who the designer was - But I think Doug Sax's surround room in Ojai is another truly fantastic sounding space.

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Steve Berson
Old 27th July 2014
  #11
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Cellotron View Post
I don't know who the designer was - But I think Doug Sax's surround room in Ojai is another truly fantastic sounding space.
Rick Ruggieri did the acoustics for Doug’s room.


DC
Old 27th July 2014
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by karumba View Post
i still like front absorption & back diffusion best. front diffusion makes the stage a bit bigger, but IMO at the cost of directness.
maybe RFZ could be added? i guess some mastering rooms having the front windows angled are basically RFZ? but i've never heard such a room.

i really really wanted to like FTB. they all look great & solid built, but they are so extremely dry, it felt unnatural to me. they have an effect which i called "acoustical vacuum" (i'm sorry, i don't have a better description), which you may experience in a low reflection / non-environment room & which is even more pronounced in a anechoic room (of course, FTB rooms are not anechoic, since they still have some diffusors installed & the floor is untreated). the FTB room that i've heard had 110ms reverberation time. on the other hand all other mastering rooms i've heard had a comparble accuracy (=translated great) & where roughly in the 200-300ms reverberation time range, which is more my preference. i hope my statement isn't seen as an offence especially as i've heard great sounding results from guys like e.g. brad working in a FTB room. i just wanted to share my view & its not surprising that room acoustics is - like speakers - highly subjective.
i had the same impression.
i was listening to many rooms in the last 2 years because i get a new control room in 2015 and FTB was one of the concepts i was very interested to hear, but it didn't work for me.
it's not "hip", but i will go with a "enhanced" LEDE with very controlled lowend and around 200ms RT, designed by christoph conrad of BerlinAcoustics.
Old 28th July 2014
  #13
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I'm obviously biased but the Augspurger rooms here are the best sounding I've been in. I also like not having the entrance door directly behind me. Few things are worse than being ensconced, in The Zone, then suddenly realising that someone is standing behind you.
Old 28th July 2014
  #14
Quote:
Originally Posted by karumba View Post
i really really wanted to like FTB...felt unnatural to me. they have an effect which i called "acoustical vacuum"...
This describes pretty well my impression too when I visited an otherwise beautiful, large FTB room.

I favor something closer to the feel of a living room (real life target reference) with a flat response of cause. So an evenly spread / alternating absorption - reflection rather than strict LEDE. I would still like to hear an RFZ room.

For the same reason I prefer adequate-yet-not-too-big monitors. I spent some hours listening to Duntech and Dunlavy and just couldn't relate.
Something like ATC 100 (or 150 in a larger room) seems perfect to me.

Soffit? I don't know...although it works for Doug Sax...
Old 28th July 2014
  #15
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if theres any interaction with the room aka reverbtime, its impossible to achieve a 'flat response'.
its always the personal compromise between room sound and speaker sound.

for me its all about massive trapping in bass and 'grundton'. mids and highs can be tuned more by taste and are often influenced also by desk, gear etc.
I dont have the feeling of over absorbtion or too 'dry' rooms regarding speaker sound, but I can see this problem for interaction with yourself or other people.
Northward has some clever ideas regarding this problem.

what people sometimes called 'overdamped rooms' are mostly bad treated rooms with too less absorbtion in the main frequency regions.

if theres enough bass absorbtion, there are no real problems with overdamping in mids and highs in my experiences.
what I personally dont like is a strong haas kicker.
Old 28th July 2014
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by JP__ View Post
if theres any interaction with the room aka reverbtime, its impossible to achieve a 'flat response'.
its always the personal compromise between room sound and speaker sound.
I don't think so. A room like blackbird C has some reverb time (300 ms, although it is 30 dB down from direct signal) and looking at the ETC, I don't think it is interacting very much and distracting enough the direct signal to not get a "flat response".
Old 28th July 2014
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by finetuner View Post
This describes pretty well my impression too when I visited an otherwise beautiful, large FTB room.

I favor something closer to the feel of a living room (real life target reference) with a flat response of cause. So an evenly spread / alternating absorption - reflection rather than strict LEDE. I would still like to hear an RFZ room.

For the same reason I prefer adequate-yet-not-too-big monitors. I spent some hours listening to Duntech and Dunlavy and just couldn't relate.
Something like ATC 100 (or 150 in a larger room) seems perfect to me.

Soffit? I don't know...although it works for Doug Sax...
In almost all of the cases where an engineer felt one of our rooms was too dead, it was in fact too quiet. Not too dead. When facing this question we do a couple little experiences on site that show the difference. One funny thing to do in a Studio like Amsterdam Mastering is to listen to the noise floor when the door handle is not in "locked" position, then push the handle up and feel the noise floor go down another few dB. I assume that's the vacuum effect that is often mentioned.

With almost all FTB being floated bunkers to low natural frequency and having an average NR <20, if you don't speak in them or have any source of noise then for some it can be an issue and feel odd - which I perfectly understand.

We all have our own physiological response to lack of sound with different thresholds.

NR recommends a level of 25dB for a bedroom at night. To put things in perspective a FTB is typically 70% quieter than that. In our office in Brussels, NR is around 34/35dB. Which is pretty typical. If I move to our control room that is just next door and rated NR 19/20, I will now experience only the equivalent of 3% of my office's noisefloor (-97%). Since we do not hear in a linear way, we do not experience it that way at all - but variations in pressure are that big.

We stick to low NR since it means without a doubt better perception of detail (less masking) and lower monitoring levels. It's very much part of the whole design.

Speaker-to-room response is indeed around 100ms to 150ms full bandwidth, depending mostly on room size. At sweet spot, Engineer-to-room provides almost as much a 'live' response as being in a "hard front wall" RFZ (which unless you have flush mounted speakers or mount "quasi flush mount" cannot happen) and a lot livelier than any old school LEDE.

I can easily produce data for the 2 responses.

If one feels uncomfortable in such a room for whatever reason, we always recommend looking at other models though. Don't invest in a pair of shoes that don't fit you. We also make sure prospective clients get to hear at least 3 to 4 rooms of various sizes, typically from pretty small to large. So there are no surprises.
Old 28th July 2014
  #18
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Can anyone point me to a source where I can get more info on the FTB design?
Old 28th July 2014
  #19
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friedemann, have a search here at gs. there is a thread thomas provided some interesting insights and some links.
Old 28th July 2014
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Friedemann View Post
Can anyone point me to a source where I can get more info on the FTB design?
Front-To-Back Acoustic Technique in The Acoustics Forum Forum
Old 28th July 2014
  #21
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Thanks a lot!
Old 28th July 2014
  #22
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may check out the last pages of the 'amsterdam mastering' thread in the acoustic subforum too.
Old 28th July 2014
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Northward View Post
In almost all of the cases where an engineer felt one of our rooms was too dead, it was in fact too quiet. Not too dead. When facing this question we do a couple little experiences on site that show the difference. One funny thing to do in a Studio like Amsterdam Mastering is to listen to the noise floor when the door handle is not in "locked" position, then push the handle up and feel the noise floor go down another few dB. I assume that's the vacuum effect that is often mentioned.

With almost all FTB being floated bunkers to low natural frequency and having an average NR <20, if you don't speak in them or have any source of noise then for some it can be an issue and feel odd - which I perfectly understand.
i've also experienced the "acoustical vacuum effect" in rooms which have simply been overdamped, but where no additional effort has been put into noise floor reduction. so i've always connected the effect only to the room's reverberation time. but i guess with higher damping, the noise floor is somehow automatically decreased. so "quiet" & "dead" may be seen technically different, but from a psychoacoustical point of view there may also be a correlation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Northward View Post
Speaker-to-room response is indeed around 100ms to 150ms full bandwidth, depending mostly on room size. At sweet spot, Engineer-to-room provides almost as much a 'live' response as being in a "hard front wall" RFZ (which unless you have flush mounted speakers or mount "quasi flush mount" cannot happen) and a lot livelier than any old school LEDE.
maybe measurements may show it differently, but my real life experience was the opposite. a LEDE room (or a "derivation") with lets say 0.2s reverberation time feels much more live to me than the FTB room i've heard.
Old 28th July 2014
  #24
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Quote:
Originally Posted by karumba View Post
i've also experienced the "acoustical vacuum effect" in rooms which have simply been overdamped, but where no additional effort has been put into noise floor reduction. so i've always connected the effect only to the room's reverberation time. but i guess with higher damping, the noise floor is somehow automatically decreased. so "quiet" & "dead" may be seen technically different, but from a psychoacoustical point of view there may also be a correlation.


maybe measurements may show it differently, but my real life experience was the opposite. a LEDE room (or a "derivation") with lets say 0.2s reverberation time feels much more live to me than the FTB room i've heard.


room's are like underware, some people like boxer briefs, other ones love thongs, some traditional briefs - i like lede briefs ;-)
Old 28th July 2014
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Adam Dempsey View Post
I'm obviously biased but the Augspurger rooms here are the best sounding I've been in. I also like not having the entrance door directly behind me. Few things are worse than being ensconced, in The Zone, then suddenly realising that someone is standing behind you.
George has built two rooms for me in the past, but I really think what Northward is doing is superior - it’s obviously a personal decision.


DC
Old 28th July 2014
  #26
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George understands a whole lot that most other than Northward don't.

Reading Thomas's posts has been an incredible breath of fresh air for me because he is building on what RCA had learned between the 1930s and the 1960s while avoiding the disastrous side trips that began during the mid 1970s that were often worse than a completely untreated but decent sounding room.
Old 29th July 2014
  #27
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I guess I am biased but I really like what Don Mitchell of DSM and Associates http://www.dsmassociates.com/ did for me when I built my mastering studio 20 years ago. Everyone who comes into the space always says it is one of the most neutral room they have been in. It does not color the sound but instead makes it seem like there are no walls and you are just sitting in front of the performers. Again I am biased but it is a wonderful room to work in and I have done some 13 hour sessions and still felt relaxed when I was done. It is even nicer with a clerestory window that brings natural light into the room.

FWIW
Old 29th July 2014
  #28
Quote:
Originally Posted by Northward View Post
In almost all of the cases where an engineer felt one of our rooms was too dead, it was in fact too quiet. Not too dead. When facing this question we do a couple little experiences on site that show the difference. One funny thing to do in a Studio like Amsterdam Mastering is to listen to the noise floor when the door handle is not in "locked" position, then push the handle up and feel the noise floor go down another few dB. I assume that's the vacuum effect that is often mentioned..
Thanks for your extensive reply Thomas.
I was indeed referring to Amsterdam mastering. Yet in the driver seat with the door open listening to music I had the same impression still.
However I'm sure this will be something you get used to and then most likely turns into a wonderful 'audio microscope' so to speak.


Any RFZ rooms in Europe (pref. Netherlands, Germany, UK) anyone knows of?
Old 29th July 2014
  #29
coming from a general construction worker, keep up the good work!
Old 29th July 2014
  #30
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I'd like to add a question to the thread. What would you consider an ideal size for a mastering room? If the bunker and inner treatment takes ~1.2m away (total thicknes per side, 60cm each wall) you need something like 6x8x4 (in better ratio of course) to get to comfortable 5x7x3 interior size?
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