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Calling all acousticians! (Room schematics)
Old 5th November 2005
  #1
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AlexLakis's Avatar
 

Calling all acousticians! (Room schematics)

So this (hard rock) band is flying out from L.A. to record with me in a few months, and I have to set up a makeshift studio for them (This will be their home for quite some weeks). Time to revisit the ol' basement. The room is onna those "square donut" kinda dealies...I know a few things about room tuning and whatnot, I've read books and some online resources, and tinkered with rooms before, but I don't consider myself an acoustician, and this one's a doozy. Below, I have attatched schematics of the room, as well as five pictures taken from within the room to give a better idea of what I'm talking about.

The blue squares and arrows indicate the angle from which each respective picture was taken.

I can move anything in the room except for the bar and the @*(#%)@!ing walled-in pole...I will only move the pool table if it will make a 1,000,000,000% difference in the sound. I'd like to keep the lower left corner the way it is too. The left corner is in disarray in the pictures because some of the carpeting had to be taken up due to water damage from the outside.

That being said, back in the day, I had the drumset in the upper left corner, facing right. I tight mic'd the kit, and had two room mics, one in the upper right bathroom (not shown), and one towards the bottom left corner of the pool table, peeking thru the triangular hole in the staircase. I liked the sound (it sounded damn good!), but there were always tons of standing waves to combat...

I have at my disposal:

- 12 2" thick 2' x 4' foam pieces (96 sq. ft.)
- 64 2" thick 1' x 1' foam pieces (64 sq. ft)
- 8 linear feet worth of foam corner bass traps
- Some blankets



I plan on turning the small closet in the upper left into a vocal, etc. booth. I do not plan on tracking more than one instrument at a time with this setup. My main concerns are drum sound (standing waves while recording), placement of the DAW (monitors), and as-accurate-as-can-realistically-be frequency response (mostly have problems with the bass, I've learned to mix around the flutter in the room...the foam should help the high end at least).

View #1


View #2


View #3


View #4


View #5


God, I'm screwed. Anybody wanna lend their expertise to this debocle?
Old 5th November 2005
  #2
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paul mckenna's Avatar
 

this is easy

Alex, there is are about 7 million studios in Los Angeles. and you want to fly a full band and all their equipment to Maryland to record in a studio that doesn't exist? instead of you flying to LA?. am i missing something here? get your butt on a plane and use the $$ you would have spent on more really slutty gear...sheesh heh heh heh heh heh
Old 5th November 2005
  #3
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AlexLakis's Avatar
 

I suggested that, but this is the way they want it. The band is poor, and their equipment sucks and is being left behind. Plus, they're all ready coming out for my wedding. You're invited too! I'd like to have the room for subsequent "Pro-Bono" projects as well.

I'm not expecting any miracles here, I can all ready get a good sound out of it, I just want to entertain some bored slutz, and hopefully get some good suggestions out of it in the process. (Although your suggestion was clearly the best, Paul. Just got a new 1176, by the way! heh )
Old 5th November 2005
  #4
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matt thomas's Avatar
Have you read ethan winers forum? It'll hav all the info you'll reasonably need.

that said, in a summary you should

Make lots of bass traps, putting them particularly in corners (including corners between walls and ceilings)

To combat standing waves, you could either use excessive amounts of well placed rock wool or (and I'd do it this way for a rock band) make another slightly angled wall down one side of any pair of parallel walls, because its the parallel walls that make standing waves (mostly). this way you'll still have "rock" ambiance (you said you liked the sound) without the standing waves

narco
Old 5th November 2005
  #5
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stevep's Avatar
Can you setup in the backyard??????

if not Just have fun
Old 5th November 2005
  #6
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djui5's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by paul mckenna
Alex, there is are about 7 million studios in Los Angeles. and you want to fly a full band and all their equipment to Maryland to record in a studio that doesn't exist? instead of you flying to LA?. am i missing something here? get your butt on a plane and use the $$ you would have spent on more really slutty gear...sheesh heh heh heh heh heh


I'm with this guy. For all the money your going to spend getting them out there, you could rent a studio in LA and fly yourself out. It would be cheaper.
Old 5th November 2005
  #7
Got a better idea. Band flies to Maryland. You fly to LA.

AND JUST DO E-SESSIONS while YOU get the GOOD WEATHER
Old 5th November 2005
  #8
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I love the weather in L.A.; there are more different species of trees in Maryland than any other state in U.S., and with my allergies, it's hell. Smog cures all. That being said, I think all the pollen would be bad for the mics if I setup outside.

Trust me, guys, it'll be muuuuch cheaper this way. This band is not onna those bands that can go into the studio and bang out an album in a matter of days, not even weeks. They enjoy the studio process, and would like to have the luxury of having a "home studio" to be in and out of for around a month. Renting a studio for a month is not gonna be cheaper than 4 plane tickets across the country, considering that they're all ready heading out this way regardless.

I've read Ethan's forum and his online articles (years ago, and freshened up recently), but I'm having trouble computing a room mode that is essentially six rooms in one, all flowing into each other. I have a couple bass traps, some foam, and some blankets, and I all ready have an idea of where to place them, I'm just wondering if anybody else has an opinion on this matter.

I look forward to any more helpful advice (as well as any snide comments) you guys might have. Come on, don't let my mad MS Paint skillz be in vain.
Old 5th November 2005
  #9
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Farfensound's Avatar
 

rearrage the room like this.

Check out the attached mod of your room.

I would add a temporary wall between the DAW and recording area to keep the machine noise out of the mics and better contain the room acoustically.

1. loose one couch.
2. move DAW
3. move TV
4. move weights.
5. Loose the mirror
6. Add curtains or room dividers at the maroon lines.
7. treat with your foam the last two parallel walls.
8. treat the vocal booth with foam.
9. add bass traps to the corners.


These are totally armature suggestions. Waiting on the pros to blast them out of the water.
Attached Thumbnails
Calling all acousticians! (Room schematics)-basment-retrofit.gif  
Old 5th November 2005
  #10
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A big concern of mine is my room mics for the drums. I want to be able I have enough space between the mics and the drums, and enough space between the two mics themselves. Also, I'm concerned about the ceiling. The weights and mirror can definately go...I'd like to keep the couches, but, we'll see. If the DAW could be seperated from the drumset, that'd be nice, however, I've all ready resigned myself to the fact that I won't be able to monitor while recording. It gets pretty loud down there, and I don't know if a few curtains would be enough to help me set up mics while monitoring. I like the ideas, tho, especially about the angled surfaces. Thank you for taking your time to help!
Old 6th November 2005
  #11
Gear Addict
 

Your situation is not so terrible, as you've got essentially a large open space. Larger is better for bass modes and such things.

The position of the DAW in your diagram is good for a couple of reasons: the surfaces around the listening position are roughly symmetrical, and there's no wall behind the speakers, so you're not getting combfiltering off that wall and you're also not trapping the bass in your listening space. The side walls are pretty close to the listening position, so you'll want to put some absorption at the side wall reflection points. The wall behind the listening position (I'm assuming the engineer will be facing the drums) will need some treatment as well, either some pretty serious absorption (fiberglass panels) or diffusion (bookcases?) or a combination.

That's my two cents. Ethan's site has a lot of good stuff, especially about absorbers.
Old 6th November 2005
  #12
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Glenn Kuras's Avatar
I think this is possible, but it really is going to take some work on your part. Would tend to think the best thing to do is build or buy 20 or more broad band bass absorbers and not mount them to the wall right away. Clean out all the stuff out of the room and start to place the panels in corners and just lean them up against the wall. Your going to need to move things around just to try to find the right sound for the drums. The foam you have is going to work best in your vocal booth but you could use some of it to place on the ceiling above the drums. You are best to put panels on the ceiling above the drums, but not sure if you really want to go through all of that. I think the key here is your really going to need a lot of bass trapping to get things in line. I think ones you are done cutting all the tracks you may be best to then take the panels and make the best mix area you can. Large is good!!!!
Have you thought about getting a snake and cutting the drums upstairs?? maybe in a bigger room or the garage? I really think with a ceiling that low your going to have some real problems getting a great drum sound. We did a studio like yours and ended up covering the entire ceiling with 2" rigid fiber glass panels.

Hope that helps you get started and GOOD LUCK!!

Glenn
Old 6th November 2005
  #13
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Ethan Winer's Avatar
 

Alex,

> I'm having trouble computing a room mode that is essentially six rooms in one <

There's no need to compute anything - and what would you do with a long table of numbers anyway? heh

Seriously, all small to medium sized rooms need the same thing: As much broadband bass trapping as possible (typical foam corners do not count), and then mid/high frequency absorption on any walls (or the ceiling) that will be close to either the players or the microphones.

--Ethan
Old 6th November 2005
  #14
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Yes, Ethan, perhaps I'm getting my head too much into this matter. Thank you all for your responses! I planned to foam up the ceiling above and around the drumset, in the vocal booth, and around the monitors, then put the bass traps in the corner that the drums are in. I can monitor and mix at lower volumes to try to minimize the effect the room has on it. I guess a "blanket" question of mine would be...should I attempt to divide the room up at all, or is keeping it open my best bet? I would prefer to keep it open, as that wouldn't hinder my options for room mics (I'm telling ya, LDC in the bathroom is GREAT!)
Old 7th November 2005
  #15
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Ethan Winer's Avatar
 

Alex,

> put the bass traps in the corner that the drums are in. I can monitor and mix at lower volumes to try to minimize the effect the room has on it. <

You can try that, but it doesn't really work. You might be able to mix really softly to reduce the audibility of echoes, but the skewed low end response will be exactly the same, just softer. And it's no fun at all to mix quietly! heh

> should I attempt to divide the room up <

You could go either way. Personally, I love working in a single large room. It's a lot easier to communicate with people, and there's a lot less getting up, walking through a door, coming back, etc. But that's me, and others here may tell you they prefer separate rooms.

--Ethan
Old 8th November 2005
  #16
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I think I'm going to stick with the room the way it is. I will probably use a tone generator to measure the low end response around where I have set up the bass drum, snare, and toms (specifically where the mics will be placed) just to make sure I'm not completely screwing myself. I will place foam on the walls and the ceiling around the drumset, and on the walls opposite the monitors. I have foam bass traps, so I might as well use them, although they are not ideal. I'll put them in the corner with the drums. Hopefully, I'll have enough foam left over for the booth. I guess I'll just leave all the crap that's in that closet in there (bookshelves, hanging clothes, etc). I'll try to round up as many blankets as I can to supplement. Honestly, I'm quite pleased with the sound I've gotten in the past years, I am just trying to improve on it. Thank you all for the responses so far! Any more advice is most certainly welcome.
Old 29th November 2005
  #17
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UPDATE:

In this post, I reference another thread I started about soundproofing material here: https://www.gearslutz.com/board/so-much-gear-so-little-time/50041-rigid-fiberglass-ala-ethan.html

Well, I'm getting good responses from clients about this project studio, so I've decided to kick it up a notch. Here's an update of the floor plan as it is now...



I would like to discuss several things...

The creation of a control room on the left side of the room. Let's talk temporary walls and soundproofing. Any experiences? I was thinking of putting walls just above the couch on the left and somewhere behind the stairs...Once that is fenced in, would it be a good idea to hang a heavy curtain behind the drumset? Just a hunch...Plus, it would divide up the room nicely.

The floor is carpet. Would it be prudent to put down some plank board? Taking up the carpet and putting in serious wood flooring isn't an option.

I'm still weighing options for sound enforcement material. I'm looking for Owens-Corning 703 & Owens-Corning 705-FRK, or equivalents. Musiclab mentioned Knauf "Insulation Board" 3lb & 6lb density...Anybody have experiences with this, and may I beg for yours, sir? djui5 , you had mentioned an alternative from thermafiber.com...Mineral wool "sound insulation fire blankets..." These seem like a very good and affordable solution. You've had good results from them? You mention it not being as dense as the Owens-Corning stuff...do you use dual layers anywhere in your studio to compensate, like in the corners? Anyone else use these? Mounting tips?

Thank you all very much for your responses thus far and for your time. I'll make sure I update with pictures as this project progresses...
Old 29th November 2005
  #18
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Glenn Kuras's Avatar
"I'm still weighing options for sound enforcement material. I'm looking for Owens-Corning 703 & Owens-Corning 705-FRK, or equivalents. Musiclab mentioned Knauf "Insulation Board" 3lb & 6lb density...Anybody have experiences with this, and may I beg for yours, sir? djui5 , you had mentioned an alternative from thermafiber.com...Mineral wool "sound insulation fire blankets..." These seem like a very good and affordable solution. You've had good results from them? You mention it not being as dense as the Owens-Corning stuff...do you use dual layers anywhere in your studio to compensate, like in the corners? Anyone else use these? Mounting tips?"

I went to the thermafiber.com site and could not find any numbers and not sure what Knauf is, but any of the other products you talked about should work fine.. Also all the ideas that Ethan and myself gave you still holds true...
Now you just have two rooms to deal with....
Old 29th November 2005
  #19
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AlexLakis's Avatar
 

Yeah, great, right? Two rooms, twice the headache.
Old 30th November 2005
  #20
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djui5's Avatar
 

*WARNING, PDF LINK*


http://www.thermafiber.com/pdfs/SAFB.pdf

http://www.thermafiber.com/pdfs/NRC%20Data%20Sheet.pdf


There's the info on them. It's the 2.5 pcf density, 2" thick.

To be honest, I haven't done a side by side comparison between them and 703/705, so I'm not sure how big of a difference there is.

I also haven't got the equipment set up in my room yet to test these things. I build 6 2' x 4' panels, each with one 2" thick piece of insulation in it. The back was sealed with 1/4" wood panels (some flimsey stuff), and the sides are 2x3's of pine (canadian ). I covered the front with Guilford fabric and left it open to the insulation.

In the corners I put a single sheet of the insulation 2 high, because the corners I built went up to 8 feet, then added another in the middle that's about 2' off the floor and 2' from the top. I sealed the sides and covered the front with Guilford fabric, leaving it open to the insulation.

Just standing in the room and talking I noticed a HUGE difference from the bare walls. I only did the front 2 corners, and put 3 panes on each side wall. I haven't done anything with the back or placed any diffusion yet.

We will see how it sounds. I brought it up as an avenue to look into. The specs on the stuff looks nice, so I went for it.

It's $50 for 12 2x4 "sheets" of the insulation here in Phoenix. It's not quite as hard as 703/705, but it's not fluffy like the normal house insulation sheets either. It's pretty stiff, but still flexible, if that makes sense.

There's pictures on my mix room thread.

I was tipped to the mineral wool thing from a friend (not naming names here, they can do that themselves). It held up in the panels on it's own, and for the corners I used spray adhesive to hold it into place. Worked perfect.

It has no "paper backing" on it, making it really really easy to work with.
Old 30th November 2005
  #21
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Curtis Franklin's Avatar
 

im a nerd too!

are those magic: the gathering cards on the pool table?
Old 30th November 2005
  #22
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Anderson's Avatar
 

Hi Alex!

Your biggest problem so far is the ceiling height. That is a killer for drums I'm afraid. And since you don't have so much "overhead" space I'd worry about fixing that first - you already have full nasty cancellation from 70Hz and up... resonances from 35Hz and up... Just from that ceiling. Very hard stuff to tame. Remember that to stop a 60Hz wave @ 84dB you need... 11m (36,6ft) of that "acoustic" foam. That says it all about foam I guess. Industrial high density foam is actually better - but much more expensive.

AFAIC skip foam, go for DIY diffusor panels (efficient and not that much more money than cheap foam) and talk to Ethan about his products. They will basically save your ass IMHO.

Then spend time placing the instruments & the DAW's monitors where they sound best. Closing that Donut shaped room somewhere is important as well.

Good luck!
Old 30th November 2005
  #23
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AlexLakis's Avatar
 

The Thermafiber is tempting, and VERY cheap. Perhaps I'll get some for variety and bulk. I'm a little confused as to the actual product...it sounds to me like it would be like a blanket, but in pictures, it just looks like a square piece of something more rigid. You just built a small wooden frame around them with a 1/4" thick piece of plywood on the back? How is this spaced from the wall?

If money wasn't an issue, I'd be going for Ethan's traps, however, I'm on a tight budget (namely a 3 month old son), so I need to cut corners (pun intended).

Yeah, the low ceiling is a bitch. The only mics that get too close to it are the overheads, and sometimes I don't even use them in lieu of the room mics. Sometimes, when I do use them, I use a HPF anyways. So, mainly, I'm more interested in mid/high frequency comb filtering as far as those go. According to Ethan's works, acoustic foam is actually better at absorbing these high frequencies than rigid fiberglass. So, I have been debating where to place all this foam I have as opposed to the heavy stuff I'll be purchasing...

Thanks for the replys!

Anybody with construction ideas on temporary walls/insulation? It'd be nice to put up temporary walls at an angle to avoid parallel surfaces, but how much of a pain in the ass would THAT be, eh?

P.S. Yes, those are M:TG cards. I worked at a comic book shop for a few years when I was 13 or so, and I've got about $20,000 (book value) worth of old, rare cards I'm sorting thru (well, making my wife sort thru) for ebay. Wanna buy 'em? heh
Old 1st December 2005
  #24
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Another update:

I've made the decision to build my own traps based on Ethan's old designs. Around $30 for each 2x8' trap works for me. So, here's what I'd like opinions on...

Where to place the traps. I've read up on placement, and I have a good idea on where I'd like 'em, but I'd like to hear some success stories from you guys too. I was thinking 10-15 traps might do it, balacing between the low-bass traps in the corners, mid-bass traps, and mid-high traps. Ceilings walls, corners...What are your opinions? More traps needed? I also have about 150 square feets' worth of 2" acoustic foam. I'll need to treat both the mixing "room" and the tracking "room."

Speaking of "rooms," I still have not received any suggestions on how to go about building relatively sound-proof temporary walls. Does anyone have experience doing this?
Old 1st December 2005
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexLakis
I'm a little confused as to the actual product...it sounds to me like it would be like a blanket, but in pictures, it just looks like a square piece of something more rigid.
If it's the same stuff I used, it's very dusty and delicate - meaning you pick one sheet up carefully or it breaks in half (they are pretty dense). Not a huge deal if you're stuffing between studs, but I also put it in the ceiling as well - 5/8 drywall hung from resilient channel leaving an air gap between the subfloor and insulation (or was it between insulation and ceiling... I forget). What a mess that was to install!!
Old 1st December 2005
  #26
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Glenn Kuras's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by AlexLakis
Another update:

I've made the decision to build my own traps based on Ethan's old designs. Around $30 for each 2x8' trap works for me. So, here's what I'd like opinions on...

Where to place the traps. I've read up on placement, and I have a good idea on where I'd like 'em, but I'd like to hear some success stories from you guys too. I was thinking 10-15 traps might do it, balacing between the low-bass traps in the corners, mid-bass traps, and mid-high traps. Ceilings walls, corners...What are your opinions? More traps needed? I also have about 150 square feets' worth of 2" acoustic foam. I'll need to treat both the mixing "room" and the tracking "room."

Speaking of "rooms," I still have not received any suggestions on how to go about building relatively sound-proof temporary walls. Does anyone have experience doing this?

I can see why you might want to build panel wood traps, but really think for a room your size you are much better off building (or buying) broad band bass traps out of 4" 703 or some other ridged fiberglass.. I looked at the thermo things but don't see any absorption coefficients, so I would not use it. Companies like mine and Ethan's pay big money for testing. If a company is not showing lab testing you have to ask yourself why..
If you do go with broad band panels focus on all corners of the room.. That is where they will work the best.

Glenn
Old 1st December 2005
  #27
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I was planning on putting 4"-thick 705-FRK in the corners, both vertically going up the wall, and sporadically along the top corners (ceiling). I plan to have 2"-thick 703 along the walls, alternating with acoustic foam, again, sporadically. I wouldn't think I'd need to cover the entire wall surface in a space like this...what about after it's sectioned off into smaller rooms? (See a few posts above for my ideas on where to put temporary walls.) Any input as where to put the walls/panels, to make my placements less.....sporadic? Again, I'm planning to do the corners, and also on the sides of the monitors, and on the ceiling between the monitors and the listener, as described on Ethan's website. I also assume I'm going to want to place some on the sides and on the ceiling about the drumkit. Anywhere else you would suggest?
Old 1st December 2005
  #28
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djui5's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 6strings
If it's the same stuff I used, it's very dusty and delicate - meaning you pick one sheet up carefully or it breaks in half (they are pretty dense). Not a huge deal if you're stuffing between studs, but I also put it in the ceiling as well - 5/8 drywall hung from resilient channel leaving an air gap between the subfloor and insulation (or was it between insulation and ceiling... I forget). What a mess that was to install!!


Not sure it's the same. This stuff held together really well. It was "like a blanket". Very minimal insulation anywhere, just a little on the gloves where I grabbed it.
Old 1st December 2005
  #29
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djui5's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by myfipie
I looked at the thermo things but don't see any absorption coefficients, so I would not use it.

Glenn


http://www.thermafiber.com/pdfs/NRC%20Data%20Sheet.pdf


It's the 2.5 pcf density, the top chart on the page.
Old 1st December 2005
  #30
Gear Guru
 
Glenn Kuras's Avatar
Oh, now I see the numbers!! I would go with 6 inch for the bass trapping and 3 inch for the first reflections...
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