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REW - When Are The Results Good Enough for Pro?
Old 9th August 2016
  #1
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REW - When Are The Results Good Enough for Pro?

I've searched, I've read, but can't seem to find the answer to , when is enough.......Enough, when it comes to tweaking and tuning your room.
Like many others here, it seems to be a life long project but it would be nice to get some sort of agreement as to what stats/metrics qualify as a pro level room.

For this discussion, I'd like to stick with the Control Room as the primary use of the space.

For a little simplicity, lets start with These Four Metrics:
1. All SPL (frequency response)
2. Impluse Response
3. RT60 (Topt)
4. Waterfall graph

I've seen numbers on FR thrown around such as +-7db as a target range.
IR response to -20dbfs by 1ms and beyond
RT60 Topt below 20, but I've seen ranges all over the place
Waterfall graph decays below 500? 400?

Completely realize this is as much an Art as a Science. When the science brings me down, I stop and Listen. But, would appreciate some opinions from others on the same quest.

Joe
Old 9th August 2016
  #2
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Great question/Topic.

Hopefully we get better answers than, 'You're done ... When You run out of money'.

Marked and following this thread.

thx
Old 9th August 2016
  #3
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sheggs's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonic Joe View Post
I've searched, I've read, but can't seem to find the answer to , when is enough.......Enough, when it comes to tweaking and tuning your room.
Like many others here, it seems to be a life long project but it would be nice to get some sort of agreement as to what stats/metrics qualify as a pro level room.

For this discussion, I'd like to stick with the Control Room as the primary use of the space.

For a little simplicity, lets start with These Four Metrics:
1. All SPL (frequency response)
2. Impluse Response
3. RT60 (Topt)
4. Waterfall graph

I've seen numbers on FR thrown around such as +-7db as a target range.
IR response to -20dbfs by 1ms and beyond
RT60 Topt below 20, but I've seen ranges all over the place
Waterfall graph decays below 500? 400?

Completely realize this is as much an Art as a Science. When the science brings me down, I stop and Listen. But, would appreciate some opinions from others on the same quest.

Joe
It is a good question and I think for some of these you can only get within ranges because some people prefer different types of rooms ie. some like rooms a little deader than others. If we were talking about a pure control / mixing room most people I come across would prefer things in the following ranges -

1) SPL - 7db or below is good, although I have seen some that move very little but these rooms have a LOT of treatment in them. In general often people get well within this range and then may just have one or two frequncies they have to work on
2) The idea is to have no reflections within -20dbs however realistically desks etc can be a problem for people
3) RT60 below 0.3
4) Waterfall graph - You would want the decay time under 300ms down to about 240 ms however I do know many people who like it a little deader than that and would go for a a decay times of 180ms and then counter act this with a lot of diffusion as well
Old 9th August 2016
  #4
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RJHollins View Post
Great question/Topic.

Hopefully we get better answers than, 'You're done ... When You run out of money'.

Marked and following this thread.

thx
or space
Old 9th August 2016
  #5
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You could adhere to the published and currently accepted standards (Though intended for broadcast studios, they largely apply to recording studios): EBU 3276[14, 15] and ITU-R BS 1116-1
Old 9th August 2016
  #6
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Money

+1 The published Broadcast Standards are well worth a look, including any BBC ones you might find in their R&D archives.
Without a budget the word Pro means little.
Much music is made in 'prosumer' rooms these days, and this is the majority of my acoustic work.
I will answer with a wish list rather than thresholds......

FR close to the Bruel and Kjaer Curve. Eq is often needed to put this ball in the net. Decent response down to 30Hz.

Third Octave T30 bands not varying by more than 10% from the adjacents.

Sloping from say 400mS at LF to a flat 200mS through Mid to Top.

Early reflections in the first 20mS below -20dB.

DD

Last edited by DanDan; 9th August 2016 at 02:36 PM..
Old 9th August 2016
  #7
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While your question(s) are good ones, I see some assumptions (or the appearance of) embedded.

The first one being that there is some threshold whereby bad sound becomes good, and good becomes great.

The second being that measurement data can fully reveal what we hear.

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

In my experience the matter at hand both in the measurement realm and the listening one is shades of gray.

While measurement data represents what we hear, it cant define it. What I mean here is the difference (to my ears) between good and great sound doesn't always show up in the measurement data. Or, what appears to be better measurement data sometimes turns out to be inferior sound. In other words, really nice looking data doesn't always mean the best sound.

Much of the problem is how the measurement data is retrieved in the first place. That is, a single point mic. Two ears with a processor in-between (our brain) both objectively and subjectively is different than that of a single point source. While there are several areas that could be discussed, directionality is forefront (IMO). That is, from a single point source measurement, we have no way of knowing from the data it provides what direction what sounds are coming from.

If the soundstage is paramount for a convincing music experience, then so also is knowing the direction of sound energy. Here I am mostly talking about reflected and/or delayed sound for we know what direction the direct sound is coming from.

As an example, one could look at a ETC with a certain energy profile (decay curve). If said energy was emanating primarily from the rear and front, that would sound TOTALLY different than if it was arriving laterally. Yet, the ETC could look exactly the same in both cases.

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

So, in trying to respond, I find myself thinking that maybe we need to ask different questions or at least augment the original questions within a defined context.

In my way of thinking, we need to divide the question into different parts. Those parts being related to time.

1) 0-20ms
2) 20-50ms
3) 50-150ms
4) 150+ ms

These may seem like arbitrary divisions, but they are not. It would take too many keystrokes for me to fully go into it, but let me oversimplify some and give brief thoughts to each. But before I do, where I am going with this is that the measurement criteria that we would describe as optimal or ideal is different for each time range. Using the IR window, we can look at our data in these different times easily.

What I like to do is look at the whole thing first (125ms left window, 0ms WRT, 500ms right window). This is the standard IR REW time window. But changing it to (3ms left, 23ms WRT, 50ms right) lets us look at 20-50ms alone. 3ms left, 53ms WRT, 150ms right lets us see 50-150ms. And so on.

WRT = Window Reference Time

So thats how it can be done. Now to what it means or what we want it to look like.

(I will continue this in another post at another time if it is a direction that the OP wants to pursue)

Last edited by jim1961; 9th August 2016 at 05:06 PM..
Old 9th August 2016
  #8
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DanDan's Avatar
Great Minds

Great minds think alike..... he said humbly.......
I had intended to recommend your quest to the OP Jim. The final and intermediate measured responses in that thread are the best I have seen. Better than Pro in other words.
https://www.gearslutz.com/board/stud...ning-room.html

DD
Old 9th August 2016
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by DanDan View Post
Great minds think alike..... he said humbly.......
I had intended to recommend your quest to the OP Jim. The final and intermediate measured responses in that thread are the best I have seen. Better than Pro in other words.
https://www.gearslutz.com/board/stud...ning-room.html

DD
Thx Dan. But lets use my page as an illustration. At the beginning of that thread, I wasnt there yet. If you go to the end, maybe I have

But where within the thread do you draw a line and say "at this point, this room became pro quality"?
Old 9th August 2016
  #10
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Thread Starter
Quote:
In my experience the matter at hand both in the measurement realm and the listening one is shades of gray.
Agree 100% Jim , that's precisely why I opened the discussion. Please continue with your train of thought.

I think anyone who has endured the mental/physical/financial process of getting a room well tuned can agree. My hope here is that if everyone will chime in with their opinion, we will see some trends in application and data that may help quantify my opening question of when is enough.....Enough?

Thanks Everyone for the input!

Joe
Old 9th August 2016
  #11
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Jim1961 .... We were hoping you'd share that definition.

[Yours was a great thread to follow and learn from ... thanks for sharing your efforts !]
Old 9th August 2016
  #12
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonic Joe View Post
Agree 100% Jim , that's precisely why I opened the discussion. Please continue with your train of thought.

I think anyone who has endured the mental/physical/financial process of getting a room well tuned can agree. My hope here is that if everyone will chime in with their opinion, we will see some trends in application and data that may help quantify my opening question of when is enough.....Enough?

Thanks Everyone for the input!

Joe
My data is available on my page already linked by Dan. So I wont repost it here.

Give me a day or two to continue what I was saying earlier.
Old 9th August 2016
  #13
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RJHollins View Post
Jim1961 .... We were hoping you'd share that definition.

[Yours was a great thread to follow and learn from ... thanks for sharing your efforts !]
Was? WAS?
Old 10th August 2016
  #14
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...continued

1) 0-20ms
2) 20-50ms
3) 50-150ms
4) 150+ ms

Back to timing.

Psychoacoustics tells us, depending on who you read, that energy returns up to 50-80ms are fused into what we perceive as the direct response. While the precedent effect dictates those later energies dont influence our directionality sense in terms of soundstage, they bolster or contribute to our sense of depth, tone, and image size of the direct.

Psychoacoustics also tells us that at some point, in the late return, the energy is perceived as a separate event. That is, instead of fusing with the direct, it becomes a separate source.

So back to our timing legend, we could do this:

1st event (0-50ms or 1) and 2))
Transition (50-80ms)
Later events (80+ms)

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

I have gone through the trouble of talking about timing so that when it comes to assessing what room measurements should look like, I have a point of reference.

In my way of thinking, a good sounding room should have the following criteria:

1) a muted or anechoic return for the first 20ms (-20db or better) down to the transition frequency (200-250hz or so).

2) A raised energy content from 20-50ms emanating from a lateral direction, tapering off towards the 40-50ms area (tail)

3) a diminished 50-150ms return (no higher than the 40-50ms energy levels

4) and a extended 150ms+ return (-30 to -40db tailing off exponentially)

The two attached graphs illustrate the kind of energy curve I am talking about and add some explanation to why. There is much more on this topic. FYI, this is David Griesinger's work, and yes, he talks about large spaces most often, but I have found that this point has application to small room acoustics as well.

-- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- -- --

What I would add here is that a good sounding room has a certain ratio of:

Direct Energy / 20-50ms Energy / 150ms+ Energy

Here I think we enter the realm of subjective preference. How dead or live you like it. What the room in question is to be used for. What genre or type of music is being played.
Attached Thumbnails
REW - When Are The Results Good Enough for Pro?-griesinger-most-rooms-copy.png   REW - When Are The Results Good Enough for Pro?-griesinger-ideal-reverb-copy.png  

Last edited by jim1961; 10th August 2016 at 05:48 PM..
Old 10th August 2016
  #15
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Just as an illustration, here is what the Direct (0-20ms), 20-50ms, and 150ms+ energy curves look like for one of my ambient presets.

I do not claim this is ideal or what everyone should aim for. Just a representation. A comparative view for the spectra at different times.
Attached Thumbnails
REW - When Are The Results Good Enough for Pro?-d50150.jpg  
Old 10th August 2016
  #16
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In summation, the customary tools such as FR, Waterfalls, Spectrograms, Decay and Banded ETC's are all useful. I am not suggesting they be ignored. I just feel looking at the relative strengths of the energy at different time periods is something usually ignored in most peoples evaluation and something that deserves some attention.
Old 10th August 2016
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by jim1961 View Post
Was? WAS?
hehe ... I was following your thread since March 2013.
Old 10th August 2016
  #18
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Thread Starter
Crossing the Line

Quote:
Originally Posted by jim1961 View Post
In summation, the customary tools such as FR, Waterfalls, Spectrograms, Decay and Banded ETC's are all useful. I am not suggesting they be ignored. I just feel looking at the relative strengths of the energy at different time periods is something usually ignored in most peoples evaluation and something that deserves some attention.
Excellent illustration of how to continue to dig deeper and deeper into the acoustical analysis. I've read your thread that DD referenced earlier. The adjectives needed to describe your quest are hard to choose, focused?, tenacious?, obsessed? (in a good way). I think any one that reads it will learn something.

So, through that documented experience, at what point in time/results do you feel you Crossed the Line from a good room to a great room? Or per say, from pro-sumer to pro level? I am focused on Control Rooms, but many of the same principals apply to Listening Rooms.

That point and Those metrics (in simplified form) similar to how I started the thread are what I'd like to see.

Please share
Joe
Old 10th August 2016
  #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonic Joe View Post
Excellent illustration of how to continue to dig deeper and deeper into the acoustical analysis. I've read your thread that DD referenced earlier. The adjectives needed to describe your quest are hard to choose, focused?, tenacious?, obsessed? (in a good way). I think any one that reads it will learn something.

So, through that documented experience, at what point in time/results do you feel you Crossed the Line from a good room to a great room? Or per say, from pro-sumer to pro level? I am focused on Control Rooms, but many of the same principals apply to Listening Rooms.

That point and Those metrics (in simplified form) similar to how I started the thread are what I'd like to see.

Please share
Joe
What you ask cannot be answered. There was no threshold where good became great. If we had a definition in terms of measurement data that defined good vs great, then maybe. But good and great, as things are, is a subjective impression. Nothing more. And furthermore, such evaluations are relative in nature. A FM broadcast is great compared to a AM one, and so on.

I know what your driving at though (I think). I did the same thing throughout my own journey. What I decided in the end was to look at as many other peoples mdat's (REW measurements) as possible and compare mine to theirs. When yours become better than most of the ones you see, then in a very broad sense, you can at least say your above average. And that is saying something given that most who publish any kind of data at all are above average themselves, considering that the vast majority of folks dont measure their room to begin with. One thing that aggravates me some is that most pros do not make their data public. So its difficult to see what pro is in terms of measurement data. Once in a while, I will see a single graph derived from a 250K room.

The other option you can take is to publish your own measurements, and let people cut it to threads If you read my thread, you know what I mean here. But at least this puts it out there where shortcomings can be pointed out. On the whole, many things pointed out by others have steered me in the right direction and been helpful. You do have to be mindful of trolls though.
Old 11th August 2016
  #20
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I would just add that many "pro" rooms are nowhere near flat or well controlled in the time domain. I suggest that a practical answer is when the room response is good enough for you to work comfortably tracking or mixing without making big mistakes because the room is fooling you, and, perhaps more importantly, you like it.

Also, if that does not drive you crazy enough a room that measures perfectly in every way does not necessarily sound good!
Old 11th August 2016
  #21
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An 'on-going' process to determine 'Pro' quality control room specs ... and what we did back in the daze before the Internet ... was talk with our highly respected Mastering Engineers. Pros like Bernie Grundman, Bob Ludwig, Doug Sax, etc [who have both quality rooms AND ears], would/can provide critical feedback.

Personally ... I think a 'goal' is to have a room that provides a 'neutral' sonic footprint that can offer a reliable translation to the outside world. As an Engineer, you must still make solid 'musical/audio' decisions. Having a great room with all the best equiptment does NOT guarantee a world-class output ...
Old 11th August 2016
  #22
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When you have isolation for the kick drum or vocals and you get a good sound coming in the mic's you have. Mixing in a balanced room also helps.
Old 11th August 2016
  #23
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Yeah, I hear ya !

But a train wreck of a CR room (99.999% of DIY mix rooms) is the equivalent of having 50 lb cement shoes on, whereas the average big wig pro in a pro room has a pair of the best Nike running shoes.

So who (regardless of "skill", "talent") is going to win the 100 yard dash ??

To me this is the elephant in the room that goes largely unseen. The one thing that all of the big wig, hot shot mixing engineers have in common is a GREAT mix room that they fully understand in terms of its' strengths and weaknesses. If you don't know what you are hearing then you are doomed from the starting gate. Your growth will be stunted because point A is really point C,Y,T,E,F and G combined, and point B is somewhere in another universe smoking DMT with Einstien's alter ego .

Everything is a big schizophrenic blur of unreality in 99.9999% of rooms peeps are using for production/mixing. So the shot was fired starting the race, and every time you get up you're in quicksand and you fall right back down on your face -- on and on to infinity !!!

I tried to explain this recently to a very gifted visual artist friend of mine. He understood virtually nothing until i explained it to him in terms he could grasp. I said "imagine that every painting, every sculpting that you work on vigorously for countless hours becomes something COMPLETELY DIFFERENT the moment you cross the threshold of your door with it ?" His reply was that would be absolute madness and would probably make him suicidal !! So you thought you had a masterpiece on the level of Picasso, but outside of your room it's just an unrecognizable blob of madness.

Get your CR/mix room straight, or just throw in the towel. That is my advice.

Last edited by sage691; 11th August 2016 at 04:52 AM..
Old 11th August 2016
  #24
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In addition to Sheggs and RJHollins "When you run out of space or money"--

Maybe when you run out of time or interest or motivation? When further tweaking gets too boring? Or when other tasks become more pressing?

Finishing too soon may be a symptom of attention deficit disorder. Taking forever to finish may be indicative of obsessive compulsive disorder! There is still a little bit of space in the room where a person can walk. I'll be done after I build one more absorber!
Old 11th August 2016
  #25
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Sonic Joe View Post
I've searched, I've read, but can't seem to find the answer to , when is enough.......Enough, when it comes to tweaking and tuning your room.
I think the answer is pretty simple really. When my mixes are accurately translating to the outside world, and i can hear the nuances of my studio system, across a large spectrum of other consumer listening devices, im happy.

Im not going to sweat the maths. the numbers are merely a ballpark without having a handle on your OWN auditory capabilities.
Old 11th August 2016
  #26
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The visual correlation that I have used ..... and the reasons for a 'controlled' room that does NOT add COLOR.

Take that same painter, and put him in a room to paint a picture. The LIGHTING in this room is obscured [as in UN-treated room].

He will MIX his colors as he actually SEEs them in this room.

When finished ... take painting to another room ... ask him if this is what He intended to paint.

The simpler example ... light a room with green light ... have someone mix and paint the wall white.

Surprise
Old 11th August 2016
  #27
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Quote:
Originally Posted by RJHollins View Post
The visual correlation that I have used ..... and the reasons for a 'controlled' room that does NOT add COLOR.

Take that same painter, and put him in a room to paint a picture. The LIGHTING in this room is obscured [as in UN-treated room].

He will MIX his colors as he actually SEEs them in this room.

When finished ... take painting to another room ... ask him if this is what He intended to paint.

The simpler example ... light a room with green light ... have someone mix and paint the wall white.

Surprise
This is why I have always stated that the philosophies concerning treatment between CRs and tracking rooms are 2 completely different animals from different universes !!!

Some of the best tracks I have ever recorded were in old school brick/wood commercial buildings (high ceilings) with NO TREATMENT anywhere to be found!! These rooms can have very unique signatures because of their lack of treatment, and it is all a matter of subjectivity based upon aesthetic tastes and where you place the microphones -- how much treatment do you think they had in that old house's stairway where "When the Levee Breaks" drums were recorded ? In other words, why would you want to tame a bump of +15 db at 80 hz in a RECORDING ROOM if that is where you have your kick drum located and your aim is a heavy rock sledgehammer kick to the skull sound ?? That bump IME is 100X better than anything that the most sought after Pultec could hope to achieve !!!

But a CR/mixing room needs to be as neutral and uncolored as possible as we are literally talking about painting with sound when we refer to what a mix engineer is doing. So if you are painting with rose colored glasses on then your paintings might have a tendency to come out rather boring and sterile when the glasses are taken off.

It is a completely opposite criteria (from tracking rooms) IMHO.
Old 11th August 2016
  #28
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I would temper it as 'different criteria' objectives ...

Often times, 'performance' rooms have variable acoustics, specifically to tailor the sound/style. Some rooms have elaborate acoustical controls from very live to warm, intimate. Swinging [hard/soft] panels, GOBOs, movable ceiling clouds, specialty booths.

Like great musicians say, 'play the room'. As engineers/producers, we would play in/with the room.
Old 11th August 2016
  #29
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Quote:
Originally Posted by sage691 View Post
The one thing that all of the big wig, hot shot mixing engineers have in common is a GREAT mix room that they fully understand in terms of its' strengths and weaknesses. If you don't know what you are hearing then you are doomed from the starting gate.
In my experience (and this differs for all of us) this is wishful thinking, most pro studios IMHE don't have GREAT rooms honestly and the results the hot shot mixers get is mostly because they are really awesome at what they do and compensate really well, they work through and beyond room issues and come out on the other side with something that sounds great and works on most system *despite* room issues, not because they have a great room!
Old 13th August 2016
  #30
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Quote:
Originally Posted by SteveGTR View Post
In my experience (and this differs for all of us) this is wishful thinking, most pro studios IMHE don't have GREAT rooms honestly and the results the hot shot mixers get is mostly because they are really awesome at what they do and compensate really well, they work through and beyond room issues and come out on the other side with something that sounds great and works on most system *despite* room issues, not because they have a great room!
Well, I was talking about comparing the average pro room to the average DIY bedroom (train wreck !!) control room. Are you suggesting that a million dollar CR with flush mounted mains, tons of trapping behind the walls, etc. doesn't offer any obvious advantages over a 10' X 10' X 10' bedroom ? Those two scenarios don't provide any obvious advantages to the pro, regardless of skill/talent ? Wishful thinking on my part ? Really ?
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