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Old 18th May 2019
Lives for gear

I am not sure how one could say "the mechanisms of our ears and brain are quite well understood" when such fundamental and significant knowledge is still missing.
Split hairs if you must, but I thought I had made it clear that we are talking about studio environments, and how people perceive sound in them, and what it takes to create that environment. Scientists might not ever know for sure how the basilar membrane can vibrate in different ways at the same time and still convey meaningful information in each of the critical bands to the hair cells, nor how those bands can shift as the music changes.... but understanding that, or not understanding it, is totally irrelevant to design control rooms, which is what we are talking about here. Understanding in intricate detail why the masking effect is different in the forward and backward directions, or why it varies with SPL, is just as irrelevant. Understanding that will not help anyone design a better control room

The FULL text that you partially quoted said: " the mechanisms of our ears and brain are quite well understood, so there's not really much need to "re-invent the wheel". The principles of what a studio needs in order to be usable are fairly well laid out already, in documents such as ITU BS.1116-3 and EBU Tech.3276, among others". I thought it was pretty clear that I was referring to the mechanisms related to studio design being quite well understood, not the minutiae of how many stereocilia need to move in order to create a nerve impulse...

Take a closer look at those two documents I mentioned. Especially BS.1116-3, chapters 7 and 8. You can skip the other chapters, as they are not related to studio control rooms, but those two chapters are, and they lay out very clearly what is needed in order to create the listening environment that is needed for a "critical listening room". The specifications are quite clear and well presented... and not so easy to achieve! The smaller the room is, the harder it is to achieve, but it is still possible to get really close in a 36m3 room. One of my clients recently completed his 39m3 control room, another recently completed his 34m3 control room. Both of those get really, really close to the specs, and beat them in practically all aspects. A while back, another client completed his 24m3 room, and was very happy. So yes, it is possible to do what you want. On the other hand, right now I'm working with a client on a nearly 200m3 facility that he had designed a few years ago, and it never worked properly, so now he wants me to "rip it apart and re-do it right". The new CR will be about 60m3. I mention that to show that it is also possible to get it wrong, if careful attention is not paid to the principles of acoustics and psycho-acoustics, when designing a room.

I have yet to find where that formula I quoted in an earlier post under this thread comes from.
If you are referring to this one: "1.1w/h =< l/h =< 4.5w/h - 4", it comes from a paper published in the EBU Technical Review, in 1997, titled "Subjective assessment of audio quality – the means and methods within the EBU", by Hoeg, Christensen and Walker. It is one of three equations that were used by the BBC for evaluating spaces for possible use as control rooms. It's also given in both of the documents I mentioned: BS.1116-3 and Tech.3276. The original source appears to be an earlier paper by Walker, but I can't find it right now. All of the recommendations in those papers are based on earlier research, in various places. Those are listed in the bibliographies, and many of them are well worth reading.

I am trying to figure out if such a small room (36 m3) can be treated into a professional control room.
As I mentioned before: yes it can. However, the dimensions you gave in the first post for the original space, are for a room of 26m3. It says: "3.96 X 2.44 X 2.74 in meters". Even that is possible, but really hard to do. I have done two rooms around that size so far, and as luck would have it, I'm working on a third one right now. It is still possible to get usable results in there, but it won't be as good as a larger room, and it's really hard to design and tune such a room. Your second larger option is much better, but even then I would use every trick in the book to maximize the room volume, including Ryan's suggestion of inside-out construction, and also using higher density materials for the isolation. For such a small rooms, forget ratios and just go for volume. Ratios are nice, but are not the key factor when designing rooms. The ratio is just one of many factors that need to be considered in the design, and sometimes you have to sacrifice one factor to achieve a more important one.

- Stuart -