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Studio build from ground up (parallel walls question)
Old 11th December 2007
Gear Head

Studio build from ground up (parallel walls question)

Hi all GSers,

I'm hoping some of you will have an opinion on this.

I do some lecturing for a College which is just about to go through a big programme which involves building the new College from scratch.

Currently, they have a fantastic studio facility, with all live rooms and vocal booth that have non-parallel walls. The company that built the current studio was very specific saying that this would break standing waves, and reduce resonance issues. And in my opinion the current rooms definitely do a great job, particularly the large vocal booth (great sound).

Anyway, the acoustic consultant for the new build said that "putting parallel walls in makes very little difference, anyway bass traps and absorption will do the trick". I think he is just saying that because it costs more to put the parallel walls in. Also, if you are building from scratch, best to get it right before you put the absorption and acoustic treatment in. Right?

The College has said the new build should be AT LEAST better than the current studio, and I am concerned that it won't be. So

1 - Does anyone have information I can use which proves or dis-proves the need for parallel walls?
2 - Or has acoustic treatment come on so much in the last few years, that treating an oblong-shaped room with traps etc. will do just as well

Thanks for your input all.

Old 11th December 2007
Gear Nut

There are many acoustic modeling programs out there that can prove how your room will react to impulses. Parallel walls are probably the worst thing you can do for a sound studio. Flutter echo and strong consistent room modes are just two of the problems you will have to overcome.

Geometry and dimensions are the strongest tools you have for designing a good room. Acoustic treatments are often used as band-aids to try to cover up problems in the room design. They have their place and can make a huge difference, but it is better to get the room as right as possible from the ground up and apply treatments to tweak later.

There is only so much you can do with acoustic treatments - a bad sounding room will usually still be a bad sounding room. Whatever money you save by cheating on the design, you will probably end up spending more on acoustic treatments trying to fix the problems later (and be less happy with the results).

My $.02
Old 11th December 2007
Lives for gear
Larry Elliott's Avatar
Parallel walls in any studio are a definite no no. As to the suggestion that you can solve the problems with other types of treatment - there is some truth in that, but it really depends what style of music you will be recording. If it is “acoustical” you will need some life in the room to make the instruments sound natural. This being the case, excessive absorption will cause the space to be too dead.

Standing waves will need to be controlled, even with non parallel walls - the major issue with parallel walls in a moderate sized space are flutter echoes.

Good luck with the project.

Larry Elliott
Old 11th December 2007
Lives for gear
nosebleedaudio's Avatar

Read what John Storyk had to say about parallel walls, it DOES not eliminate mode problems. Flutter is easy to fix, I would start with good ratios and go from there...
Old 2nd January 2008
Gear Head

College requesting companies to invite to Tender

Thanks for all your responses guys! I always appreciate the GS community's input.

The College (Oxford, UK) is about to invite companies to Tender for the "temporary" (2 year) studio, followed by the College full rebuild project. If you or your company are interested in being invited to Tender, please PM me, so that I can forward your details (and ideally a reference or example of recent work) on to the Project Team.

Many thanks,
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