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Combined Live Room & Control Room Studio Headphones
Old 21st June 2013
  #1
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Combined Live Room & Control Room

I have recently moved home and my new place has a room approx 6m x 5m which I intend on using as a home studio for some smaller project that don't require the hiring out of large facility. Due to the restricted size I wont be able to have a dedicated live room and control room so will have to resort to having the one room catering for both purposes.

Obviously there are disadvantages to this, particularly having no separation from the performance and the risk of ear fatigue and the risk of this affecting judgement on mic placement etc but on the positive side I do like the idea of having no physical barrier between myself and the performer/s and the relaxed and informal environment that this will create.

I would be interested to hear your opinions on this, what you would consider the pros and cons of such a recording environment, and if any of you have worked with a similar set up.
Old 21st June 2013
  #2
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Sofa King's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dialectic View Post
I have recently moved home and my new place has a room approx 6m x 5m which I intend on using as a home studio for some smaller project that don't require the hiring out of large facility. Due to the restricted size I wont be able to have a dedicated live room and control room so will have to resort to having the one room catering for both purposes.

Obviously there are disadvantages to this, particularly having no separation from the performance and the risk of ear fatigue and the risk of this affecting judgement on mic placement etc but on the positive side I do like the idea of having no physical barrier between myself and the performer/s and the relaxed and informal environment that this will create.

I would be interested to hear your opinions on this, what you would consider the pros and cons of such a recording environment, and if any of you have worked with a similar set up.
Although I do have some smaller iso areas, my main room and control room [ area ], are in the same room. One end is treated as a control room would be, the other is more live, and tweaked for tracking drums.
My main room is quite a bit bigger than what youve mentioned, but your concerns about the pros and cons are the same.

Ive been working in my space for about 15 years, so I know it pretty well, but youre right, mic placement is a bit more of a trail an error process when you dont have a physical barrier. But my process with something like drums, is simply to roll some tape, take a listen, adjust, and repeat.

Ear fatigue isnt really an issue, I wear phones when theres tracking in the main room, I can control the volume.


Not having that barrier does have a positive affect on most performers.
I even cut some things in this main space that I could just as easily do in one of my iso areas.

FWIW IMO, my main concern if I was in your shoes, would be to determine that my space could work acoustically for mixing, and tracking whatever you have planned. Meaning, If youve got a crazy low ceiling, its gonna be pretty tough to get a good drum sound.

But if it sounds good, you can find a process to get it on tape.

hope that helps.

Best of luck!
Sean
Old 21st June 2013
  #3
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I've been working in one big room for YEARS and I LOVE it!

I don't use my 3-room recording studio any more - and even when I was there a few years back, I always WAY preferred being in the same room with the singers, musicians, collaborators, co-producers and writers, etc.

IME, and for decades - physical separation and talkback just killed the vibe and spontaneous interaction for me.

Of course, there are situations where you absolutely NEED separation - loud drums, guitar amps, bass, horns, etc.

But for my projects - which, for years now, have all been singer/songwriter and film and TV production and recording, I simply have no need for separation. And again, I just LOVE being in the same room with singers, guitarists, bassists, keyboard players, percussionists, wind players, backing vocalists, DJs, etc.

If you have to do really loud guitars, basses, drums, loud live bands, loud guitar amps and rhythm sections, etc., you probably need an iso booth or live room of some sort. Or you can do remote web sessions, or overdub sessions in a multi-room facility.

In the recent past, when I need live drums - I have local and web session guys with kits all set up who track stuff for me remotely. But honestly, I've had very little need for live drums in the music I've done for years now. I worked for years programming drums with so many kickass drummers, that it's easier for me to just do the drum programming myself, and be done with it.

Obviously, if you're looking for real live drums, you might need a separate room - but not necessarily! I've tracked plenty of drums in my combined live and control room - and don't forget - live sound engineers do this ALL THE TIME. And no, they don't ALWAYS have a remote truck to do it in!

Anyway, bottom line - MUCH BETTER VIBE, COMFORT and ERGONOMICS tracking with my collaborators, musicians, artists, singer/songwriters, etc. in one big live control room!

So these days, this is how I'm set up. One big room for everything. Sunlight, trees, a sofa for collaborators - and an outside deck looking out on the woods and farm next door for fresh air, green leaves, blue sky and sunlight, as well as seasonal mountain views. Steps away from the gardens, kitchen, hiking trails, for breaks, inspiration and relaxation.

MUCH better than airless, dark rooms where everyone is physically separated and communicating over mics and headphones - this just kills the human spontaneity and interaction.

Of course, I'm not doing that much music these days - but that's a different story. I've had a life of music creation - and now with all this natural beauty surrounding me, I'm finding it less inspiring to sit in front of the computer all day long.

As always, YMMV - but I don't see how it's not worth a shot having everything in one room!

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Old 21st June 2013
  #4
Gear Guru
 

it is a must to establish a stop-and-go workflow

with loud music and without an isolated control room, you can not be sure what you are getting to "tape" until you play it back

it is very easy for bad stuff to slip in and not get caught until much too late unless you check early and check often. This discipline is not just for the engineer. It requires musicians who are holding plugged-in guitars to shut the hell up while you play back the takes. Especially at the beginning.

when you have a CR, you can solo things while the band is tracking. Even with Extreme Isolation phones, soloing stuff in the room with them is not going to be as useful.
Old 21st June 2013
  #5
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I do agree that if you're recording (especially, loud) live BANDS, you want some separation.

I'm so glad those days are past me - adjusting headphones mixes for everyone, etc. - crazy times.

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Old 21st June 2013
  #6
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RKrizman's Avatar
 

Get some flat sounding headphones that you know and love, hopefully the kind that block out a lot of the live sound, because that will be your tool for mic placement. Avoid things like the Sony 7506, which is a good, bright tracking headphone, but when you take them off and listen to the speakers everything sounds dull and lifeless for awhile.

Other than that, I love having everyone in one room.

-R
Old 22nd June 2013
  #7
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Thanks for all your replies so far, some real positive feedback that has got me looking forward to using my new space.

Any recommendations for flat response headphones to be used in such a situation?
Old 23rd June 2013
  #8
Quote:
Originally Posted by dialectic View Post
Thanks for all your replies so far, some real positive feedback that has got me looking forward to using my new space.

Any recommendations for flat response headphones to be used in such a situation?
.

REALLY digging the AKG 271s.

If you like the 240s, but you need closed-back for isolation - it's a no brainer. At least it was for me.

I've even done some production, editing and mixing work on them - and I normally hate working on HPs.

Worth a shot, at least - and they won't break the bank.

.
Old 23rd June 2013
  #9
Quote:
Originally Posted by RKrizman View Post
Get some flat sounding headphones that you know and love, hopefully the kind that block out a lot of the live sound, because that will be your tool for mic placement. Avoid things like the Sony 7506, which is a good, bright tracking headphone, but when you take them off and listen to the speakers everything sounds dull and lifeless for awhile.

Other than that, I love having everyone in one room.

-R
.

Indeed! The 7506s are freeking harsh. I can't even use them anymore without turning them WAY down.

At low volumes, they're not terrible - but agreed, I wouldn't use them for professional work -
every mix you do would sound like the club mix.

.
Old 24th June 2013
  #10
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Thanks for the suggestion Sqye, I will be sure to check out the AKG 271's.


When it comes to acoustics and room treatment, has anyone here found and issues when working in a room that is used for both tracking and mixing?
Old 24th June 2013
  #11
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Deep Noise's Avatar
 

I would make it LEDE room with few smaller walls that you can move to adjust the space. I've worked like this and I've liked to reamp a lot. That way we didn't have to be in that loud amp noise with headphones on for 8 hours a day. But that's just me. Good luck with your new room!
Old 24th June 2013
  #12
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travisbrown's Avatar
Actually quite like having everything in one room. Most often it seems that I'm recording in churches or halls and set everything up right on stage for tracking.

You often see Daniel Lanois do this as he prefers to move into the space where the band is most comfortable rather than take the band out into studio. Willie Nelson's Teatro, and Luscious Jackson come to mind.
Old 24th June 2013
  #13
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Garbage Island's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by dialectic View Post
Thanks for all your replies so far, some real positive feedback that has got me looking forward to using my new space.
Speaking of feedback...

While tracking electric guitars I find that I love how having the guitarist in the same room as the amp effects the tone of the guitar through subtle feedback. It's also nice to be able to A/B how the guitar sounds on tape vs. in the room without leaving the comfort of my chair.
Old 25th June 2013
  #14
Gear Head
 

I do most of my work in one room when I'm recording and I find it leads to a great connection to the players and the music. I get to know them faster and everyone is more relaxed when we can talk about everything in person instead of with talkback and through doors.

I miss it when I have to do stuff in separate rooms. Generally unless it's drums or a full live band I try be in the room with the musician.
Old 25th June 2013
  #15
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NB@VB's Avatar
 

+1 for one room design....Dialectic!

All the positives and negatives have been clearly made in the posts above this. I work in a space 5.5 by 4 metres with a low sloping ceiling. It works, yet it isn't ideal. If I could own more space, I'd simply 'blow up' my current setup. Working in the room with the artist is so much quicker and removes the 'caged monkey' style feeling for the artist (being stared at through a window). When I track bands I have often recorded all 4 or 5 musicians together purely to capture the live feel for the drums and the bass (the guitars are di'd with the use of fx pedals or daw emulation plugins) Then I re-record or re-amp guitars. The vocal is of course a guide.

It takes getting used to for sure, but it definitely can work, with some traits that a two room design cannot match.

I hope that helps your confidence in some small way. Attached is a pic of a band that recently recorded an ep.
Attached Thumbnails
Combined Live Room & Control Room-imageuploadedbygearslutz1372145991.951203.jpg  
Old 25th June 2013
  #16
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frans's Avatar
Been working like that for...errr... more than a decade. I like the interaction, the vibe, the fact you can throw a banana in the drummers face if he fails, or adjust the amps if a certain spot asks for less gain...
You will need headphones, one set for tracking and setting up mics, another set for protecting your ears. Do a search for isolation headphones. I have used many headphones, amongst them the Heil headphones Headphones | Amateur Radio Products | Heil Sound
and the AudioTechnica ATH-M50 work for me... and the musicians like them. Apart from the fact they have these effin unpractical "adjustable"/rotateable parts you have to sort out every time you grab them. For tracking you could also use a set of ear muffs like industrial workers use or those from the shooting range.
I can track a whole band in my room without having them put their amps in iso booths, so they can track without headphones, which has got to fit the style but is good on vibe. Minimal gobos between things like hihat and electric guitar cabs. Knowing how to dial in the sound (and the relative volume of all elements) before you hit record is essential. Repeat the last sentence. You absolutely must know what you want or in what direction you want to take it, because you can't endlessly tinker and edit, which can be a good thing, depending on style. You still can record one thing after another, if you feel like.
Old 25th June 2013
  #17
Quote:
Originally Posted by dialectic View Post
Thanks for the suggestion Sqye, I will be sure to check out the AKG 271's.


When it comes to acoustics and room treatment, has anyone here found and issues when working in a room that is used for both tracking and mixing?
.

I have a system of double-hung moving blankets all around my monitoring position. In essence, it's a 15' square x 7.5' high anechoic chamber around my mix position...usually, I leave the rear blankets up, and there is minimum 14' behind me to any wall surface (so reasonable reflection time off the rear wall). I know it sounds wacky, and perhaps unprofessional - but it freaking WORKS!

Personally, I have found that the NUMBER ONE issue producing, tracking and mixing music - is hearing your tracking and playback source material correctly and accurately. This begins with the correct speakers, and speaker placement for monitoring in your room.

I spent quite a lot of time for a few years testing various monitors - as well as placing, orienting and measuring speakers in my room - using standard measurement microphones, frequency sweep recordings, and frequency analysis software.

When I finally got the CORRECT speakers oriented and placed in my room, I implemented some simple room treatment, consisting of these thick felt moving blankets hung from my rafters, and draped across the ceiling beams for a damped ceiling. I even quadrupled the blankets in the room corners which helps tremendously for potential lower-frequency issues.

If I don't want a tighter iso-booth sound for vocals or acoustic guitars, I can raise the blankets on any side of my mix position to allow for varied acoustic reflection.

I realize it may sound amateurish, but it does work really, really well. You can use adjustable gobos, if you prefer.

So, to sum up - the three most important monitoring improvements for me were:
  • Acquiring the proper speakers (not cheap!)
  • Orienting the speakers correctly in the room
  • Killing many of the immediate reflected highs (potentially very cheap)

Tracking my own vocals and acoustic guitars from mix position is a no-brainer now - with the AKG-271s.

Easy as pie.

And again, if I need more acoustic reflection in the room, I simply and quickly collapse or expand a blanket wall.

Again, if blankets are too "unprofessional" for you, you might consider either home-made or professional collapsable/expandable gobos or moveable wall panels. These are easily built, or you can buy them.

Another control room playback issue you will come across is equal acoustic balance from different listening positions in the room. This is an issue in almost EVERY listening environment.

For instance, playing back material over "mains" or "near-mid surround" monitors for other folks in the studio - perhaps sitting behind you on a sofa in the "artist or guest" position.

I solved this problem largely by positioning and orienting both mains and near-midfields correctly in the room, and testing and measuring from multiple listening positions - again, using standard measurement microphones, frequency sweep recordings, and frequency analysis software.

In addition, my mains are dipole speakers - which radiate sound much more evenly in all directions - they have rear-facing tweeters and woofers. So listening to the mains - even with subs in - from any position in the room is much more uniform.

Anyway, my main point is that everything starts with the proper speakers placed and oriented correctly in the room. After that, kill some of the reflective highs, and if you like, either build or buy some gobo-like units for reflection and isolation issues.

Good luck, man.

Cheers!


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