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The “small room” acoustic
Old 1 week ago
  #1
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jnorman's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
The “small room” acoustic

So, I have read innumerable comments about how much everyone hates the “small room” acoustic, and how literally everything recorded in a smallish room is doomed and irretrievably flawed such that it cannot be saved by any “pasted on” reverb or other post processing tricks. I have personally battled small spaces far too many times, trying futilely to make them sound like a 12th century stone church in post.

However, all kinds of outstanding recordings have been made in dry or small studio situations and good engineers seem to be able to deal with all kinds of less-than-optimal spaces and still create beautiful recordings.

I just had an interesting experience with a flute/piano duo in a local pianist’s “salon” - a 20x30x10’ room he had built to house his piano and perform for small groups of friends. The room has a short rta, maybe 1 second or so, but a pretty good sound, so a nice feel, just short with a rapid tail to silence. I quite liked it, and did a few “slap” takes to see if I could get a useabe IR out of it.

Now, it is all of a sudden my favorite IR - this small space with almost no tail - but it sounds real to me. It sounds like a small chamber just like you might want to hear a flute and piano playing in. It doesn’t sound fake. It has made me rethink the whole idea of always trying to make things sound like they are in a “medium Hall” or schellingwoud or whatever which never ever sounds real.

I forgot where I was going with this...
Old 1 week ago
  #2
Gear Addict
Is it that you prefer the intimacy of the
"they are here" sound vs the "you are
there, in a big space" sound. I can relate to enjoying "intimacy" with the music/musicians.
Old 1 week ago
  #3
Gear Maniac
 

As I was reading your post, I was reminded of former aeronautical engineer turned recording engineer, Pierre Spray who started Maple Shade records. All of his recordings are done in a large room in his house. Many sound quite amazing, some don’t. But it nicely shows that a concert hall is not an absolute must to make a great recording. His recordings have a sense of “being there” without a huge reverb tail. You may have found a gem of a place to record.
Old 1 week ago
  #4
Lives for gear
 

Questions and known factors pertaining to "The Room" for tracking acoustic music is a most pertinent subject to discuss on a forum such as this. Given what I have gathered from following these threads for more than ten years, most project studios track in much smaller rooms than the subject 6,000 cubic ft. room: they generally suffer multiple problems associated with "standing waves" and several other difficulties. Another variable is shape and texture of walls and particularly Ceilings. Acoustically treating small tracking rooms has become a very expensive specialized cottage industry to over come some of the difficulties I have alluded to: however when possible, starting out with appropriate space designed specifically for this purpose is a much better answer. For the acoustic Americana music I do when I designed my house 25 years ago I designed an all purpose great room, 24 X 40 with a 20 ft. high A shaped ceiling in wood with wood flooring. (apx. 15,000 cubic ft.). I wanted an ideal space to play Bluegrass music, not necessarily to record anything. Within a year of moving in I decided to join the "project studio revolution" and to no ones surprise the recordings were better than the studio tracks I had worked on. The natural resonance of early reflections in this room when captured with tube card pattern mics can be stunning.
Unfortunately, most project studios wind up with some version of a "rubber room" to obviate the given small room problems and have to rely on electronics to provide the warmth associated with a really great tracking room.
Hugh
Old 1 week ago
  #5
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Bruce Watson's Avatar
 

There is no doubt that small rooms have problems -- room modes, rapid first reflections, uneven frequency responses, non-linear reverb tails, etc.

The general answer to this is close micing. That is, pushing the sound of the acoustic farther away from the direct sound of the subject. Then you replace what you've pushed down into the noise floor by close micing -- that is, you EQ it a bit, add some reverb, etc. to make it sound the way you want. And this introduces the topic of sounding "good" vs. "right" and I'm not going there (although I'm thinking you might be).

The difficulty comes when people try to use recording techniques that they would use in a 12th century stone church, in a small modern dry studio. Doing this also records the acoustic, which in most small rooms isn't very interesting or pleasant.

However, if you apply the micing technique that's appropriate for the room that you're recording in, you can generally get a sound that you'll like. One that will sound real. But not like a 12th century stone church (unless you are actually recording in a 12th century stone church).

All of this you know already. So I'm curious... where are you going with this?
Old 1 week ago
  #6
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jnorman's Avatar
 

Thread Starter
Bruce- inre: “So I'm curious... where are you going with this?“
I guess I’m just saying that small rooms can be good if they sound real. It is when you record in a small room, and then try to make it sound like something it’s not, that you run into trouble...
Old 1 week ago
  #7
Gear Addict
Quote:
Originally Posted by hughshouse View Post
Questions and known factors pertaining to "The Room" for tracking acoustic music is a most pertinent subject to discuss on a forum such as this. Given what I have gathered from following these threads for more than ten years, most project studios track in much smaller rooms than the subject 6,000 cubic ft. room: they generally suffer multiple problems associated with "standing waves" and several other difficulties. Another variable is shape and texture of walls and particularly Ceilings. Acoustically treating small tracking rooms has become a very expensive specialized cottage industry to over come some of the difficulties I have alluded to: however when possible, starting out with appropriate space designed specifically for this purpose is a much better answer. For the acoustic Americana music I do when I designed my house 25 years ago I designed an all purpose great room, 24 X 40 with a 20 ft. high A shaped ceiling in wood with wood flooring. (apx. 15,000 cubic ft.). I wanted an ideal space to play Bluegrass music, not necessarily to record anything. Within a year of moving in I decided to join the "project studio revolution" and to no ones surprise the recordings were better than the studio tracks I had worked on. The natural resonance of early reflections in this room when captured with tube card pattern mics can be stunning.
Unfortunately, most project studios wind up with some version of a "rubber room" to obviate the given small room problems and have to rely on electronics to provide the warmth associated with a really great tracking room.
Hugh
From my experience most spaces with
a high peaked ceiling tend to have a nice acoustic. Also you will notice that
sound is much better when the musicians
are arranged at one end of the room perpendicular to the ceiling peak line rather than along a wall parallel to the celing peak line.
Also I would suspect you could get also get great sound with any high
quality cardiods, tube or non-tube.
Old 1 week ago
  #8
Gear Addict
Another thing that makes your space
sound good is that the dimensions
are largest enough that room modes
and their harmonics are close enough
together to spread fairly evenly across
the frequency spectrum.
Old 5 days ago
  #9
RPC
Gear Maniac
 

I think a key here is that the room sounds good live, so if you want a "salon" sound for, say, sonatas or small chamber work this fits the bill. Most of the "project studio" folks I know would think they'd died and went to heaven if they had a 20' x' 30' x 10' room!
Old 5 days ago
  #10
Lives for gear
 

Small room can be a very nice acoustic, you don't *need* a tail, just a nice sense of space.
Old 5 days ago
  #11
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Crazy4Jazz's Avatar
 

Its not just the "sound" of the room. If there are multiple instruments they are going to be close because of the small room and that, more than anything else, creates the most problems. At least that has been my experience. Of course low ceilings can really suck and do cause sound problems but that can corrected. Drums bleeding into every f'ing thing is another story. Guess it depends what you record.
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