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Small room, low ceiling. Anyone?
Old 16th September 2019
  #1
Gear Nut
 

Small room, low ceiling. Anyone?

Is any of you doing mastering in a small room with low ceiling? (7ft)
Is it doable in such a small room or is it a complete no go?
I have to move to another place and all I have there is a room of 15' long, 8.5' wide and 7' high. Probably it's ridiculous to think of mastering in such a room, but if it's all you've got...?

Any feedback appreciated.
Thanx.
Old 16th September 2019
  #2
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12ax7's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alphavoyager View Post
Probably it's ridiculous to think of mastering in such a room, but if it's all you've got...?

Any feedback appreciated.
Thanx.
Its no more ridiculous than playing baseball in there!
.
Old 16th September 2019
  #3
Just filter out everything below 150Hz and your golden!

Old 16th September 2019
  #4
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 12ax7 View Post
Its no more ridiculous than playing baseball in there!
.



Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
Just filter out everything below 150Hz and your golden!



You two made me laugh :D
I was a bit optimistic, because I know a producer of a famous acapella band and I was in shock when I visited his "studio" in which he even masters the tracks.
He is working in his van with just perforated boards over the walls with some basic insulation and that's it. Furthermore, he uses Alesis Monitor 2 speakers :D
But despite these almost absurd conditions he manages to get things right.
I know such cases are exceptions.
My friend made his studio in a garage of similar dimensions and while I wouldn't say at this stage that it is properly done to master in it, I think with some more treatment and maybe speakers that would better match the room it would be ok. But even now, the sound it quite good and the measurements are also surprisingly good.
Old 16th September 2019
  #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alphavoyager View Post
I know such cases are exceptions.
Exactly...

...And based upon that same observation (and especially in today's market) I think it's kinda foolish to go to all the trouble to build a "mastering facility" just to cater to the "exceptions".
.
Old 16th September 2019
  #6
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by 12ax7 View Post
Exactly...

...And based upon that same observation (and especially in today's market) I think it's kinda foolish to go to all the trouble to build a "mastering facility" just to cater to the "exceptions".
.
It's not about building "mastering facility" really. It's more just wondering if the room would not be suitable to do some mastering.
I have an option to either deepen the floor or raise the ceiling although both of them are difficult projects. I would gain about 1.4 ft, so the ceiling would be 8.2' high. I suppose this is better, but room mode calculator doesn't say so.
Old 16th September 2019
  #7
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alphavoyager View Post
It's not about building "mastering facility" really.

It's more just wondering if the room would not be suitable to do some mastering.
Well, in that case, you just have to resolve yourself to the fact that you are not so much actually going to exactly be doing "real mastering" (per se), but rather more like going into "The Gunfight at the OK Coral" with nothing more than a water pistol.

I guess the short answer is that while "the law may be on your side", your chances of stellar results are (to say the least) minimal.
Old 16th September 2019
  #8
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alphavoyager View Post
if it's all you've got...?
If it's all you've got then you just have to make it work for you.

Those are not friendly dimensions at all though. Way back circa 2000 I had a room with similar dimensions and it was a nightmare, I could never tell what was going on in there. Our sunroom here is about that size and it makes a nice office but I wouldn't want to try and fit a mastering studio in there.

I don't want to discourage you! You can definitely do great work in a less-than-great room, it's just a lot harder and less fun. I do think that if you're charging people for mastering you should have a room that's way, way better than what your clients have, but if people are happy with what you do then that's all that matters.

Get as much treatment in there as you can and really, really get to know your monitors.
Old 16th September 2019
  #9
Gear Nut
Nothing wrong with that. Get high quality near fields and some room treatment.
Set up facing the long wall.
Old 16th September 2019
  #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Transco View Post
Nothing wrong with that. Get high quality near fields and some room treatment.
Set up facing the long wall.
From the OP:
"15' long, 8.5' wide and 7' high"
.
Old 16th September 2019
  #11
Gear Nut
Photo of your room, please?
Old 17th September 2019
  #12
Gear Nut
 

Below is a frequency response of my friends room and also a waterfall graph with room decays. His room is pretty much of the same dimensions as the room I'm asking about. He treated it, but only has bass traps in front corners but none at the back of the room. While definitely more suited for nearfield listening I think his room sounds quite good actually and the lows are surprisingly defined and tight.
He does have two critical dips there, but that could maybe be taken care of with more bass traps or some more experimentation with speaker position.

The funny thing is that when I use Amroc room mode calculator the room size that is usually thought of as ideal falls way out of range for acceptable and even modes distribution. The dimiension of this room falls out only in length, but with big bass traps I shorten it and I get on the border of acceptable. If I raise the ceiling Amroc says it is far worse. If I had 8.2' ceiling the width of the room should be about 6' to have acceptable proportions.

Since I'm not an expert in this stuff by any means I'm a bit confused.

The photo of the room won't help much because it's raw now with a lot of destruction (making an opening for the door from the other room, etc).
Attached Thumbnails
Small room, low ceiling. Anyone?-adam-a7x-sub-7-110-hz-eq-change-12db.jpg   Small room, low ceiling. Anyone?-adam-a7x-sub-7-110-hz-eq-change-waterfall.jpg  
Old 17th September 2019
  #13
Bear in mind that the "dimensions" of your room that all the golden ratios etc refer to are the solid structural boundaries: if you have thin plasterboard walls/ceiling a lot of low end will leak through these anway.

I'd recommend posting on the acoustics forum, but have a good read around it before you do: you'll hopefully get a sense of who the reliable posters are. Take everyone else's opinion with a generous pinch of salt.
Old 17th September 2019
  #14
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Hippocratic Mastering View Post
Bear in mind that the "dimensions" of your room that all the golden ratios etc refer to are the solid structural boundaries: if you have thin plasterboard walls/ceiling a lot of low end will leak through these anway.

I'd recommend posting on the acoustics forum, but have a good read around it before you do: you'll hopefully get a sense of who the reliable posters are. Take everyone else's opinion with a generous pinch of salt.
Thanx. I'll do that.
The walls are hollow concrete blocks, so they are the structural boundaries.
Old 17th September 2019
  #15
My advice is that it is always worth it.

Great songs have been released with less.
Old 17th September 2019
  #16
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DomiBabi View Post
My advice is that it is always worth it.

Great songs have been released with less.
I know. I've mixed and mastered a few songs that were all voted Song Of The Week on our national radio in a completely untreated room when I just moved in the house and didn't have the money to properly treat the room, so I worked without that. It's all doable, but it is true that it takes a lot more effort and you have to find various spots in the room for checking basses, etc.

Since I'm moving my studio now and it will be there probably for the next 10 years I want to make the best out of this deal.
Old 17th September 2019
  #17
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Make your room treatments modular (as much as possible) and you can take them with you as you move rooms. I've had a bunch of my panels for 16 years now, they're in their 3rd room.

Also, don't get too hung up on what the room mode calcs say....if you have the option to make the room bigger/taller, IMO a bigger room is always going to be preferable to a smaller one. At the very least you'll have more room for treatment.
Old 17th September 2019
  #18
If I were to move forward with mastering in that room, this would be my plan:

Study up and treat the room as well as possible, knowing that no matter what you do there will be peaks and dips in the low end.

Experiment with speaker and furniture placement/orientation while shooting the room with pink noise/tones and an RTA.

Try unorthodox placements that aren't "supposed to" work. You might be surprised. Maybe.

Try using multiple sets of monitors with different placements that complement each other's nonlinearities.

Make note of where the problem areas are, and especially how they differ when you move yourself around in the room.

Move yourself around in the room when working.

Supplement your monitoring with some great headphones that are flat through the lows. You won't "feel the bass" with phones, but they can be a useful check in a questionable monitoring environment.

Use reference tracks and spend a lot of time learning the room.

Check masters in other locations until you learn how translation will be.

The whole thing will require extra time, effort and expense, but in the end you can likely make a go of it!

P.S. Offer free revisions!
Old 17th September 2019
  #19
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loji's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by Alphavoyager View Post
Probably it's ridiculous to think of mastering in such a room...?
kinda answered your own question

most people would say it's not a good enough room for mixing in.


Doesn't mean you can't hit something into the general ballpark for your own releases.. but don't go charging other people for that work.

But before you drop a bunch of $$$ on a build-out for that space.

How much do you think your favorite Mastering Engineer charges? $100, $200? for the cost of 1x panel, you can have a baseline.

'Master' your track to the best of your abilities in your space ... then pay the $150 for a solid ME to master your same track. (not the other way around, it's much easier to mimic. . . master it how you would naturally first. THEN listen to the professional ME's)

Compare them everywhere. I think you'll open your eyes to how important the room is.


and if not! Great work! You just proved you could win a shoot-out and that's how ya gain clients these days. hang up your shingle and welcome to the fray
Old 18th September 2019
  #20
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by scraggs View Post
Make your room treatments modular (as much as possible) and you can take them with you as you move rooms. I've had a bunch of my panels for 16 years now, they're in their 3rd room.

Also, don't get too hung up on what the room mode calcs say....if you have the option to make the room bigger/taller, IMO a bigger room is always going to be preferable to a smaller one. At the very least you'll have more room for treatment.
Even if the ceiling height and width of the room are both the same?


Quote:
Originally Posted by Trakworx View Post
If I were to move forward with mastering in that room, this would be my plan:

Study up and treat the room as well as possible, knowing that no matter what you do there will be peaks and dips in the low end.

Experiment with speaker and furniture placement/orientation while shooting the room with pink noise/tones and an RTA.

Try unorthodox placements that aren't "supposed to" work. You might be surprised. Maybe.

Try using multiple sets of monitors with different placements that complement each other's nonlinearities.

Make note of where the problem areas are, and especially how they differ when you move yourself around in the room.

Move yourself around in the room when working.

Supplement your monitoring with some great headphones that are flat through the lows. You won't "feel the bass" with phones, but they can be a useful check in a questionable monitoring environment.

Use reference tracks and spend a lot of time learning the room.

Check masters in other locations until you learn how translation will be.

The whole thing will require extra time, effort and expense, but in the end you can likely make a go of it!

P.S. Offer free revisions!
This is how I'm used to working now I guess it won't be much different in the new room. I always had rooms where a lot of compromises had to be made. I don't think I'll offer mastering far and wide.


Quote:
Originally Posted by loji View Post
kinda answered your own question

most people would say it's not a good enough room for mixing in.


Doesn't mean you can't hit something into the general ballpark for your own releases.. but don't go charging other people for that work.

But before you drop a bunch of $$$ on a build-out for that space.

How much do you think your favorite Mastering Engineer charges? $100, $200? for the cost of 1x panel, you can have a baseline.

'Master' your track to the best of your abilities in your space ... then pay the $150 for a solid ME to master your same track. (not the other way around, it's much easier to mimic. . . master it how you would naturally first. THEN listen to the professional ME's)

Compare them everywhere. I think you'll open your eyes to how important the room is.


and if not! Great work! You just proved you could win a shoot-out and that's how ya gain clients these days. hang up your shingle and welcome to the fray
This is what I'm doing with a producer friend of mine. He sends me a track to master and sends it to another reputable ME. Then we compare. Usually I get it better from 500Hz and up, but ME gets it better in the lows, because in my current room I have next to zero idea what I'm doing down there. Probably the new room won't be much different in this regard.
Old 18th September 2019
  #21
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lowland's Avatar
Here's a counter-intuitive thought: before my studio was built ten years ago, I temporarily used two spaces that were less than ideal and of roughly similar size to yours.

I found by accident that in both cases having the speakers fire across the width of the room (with high density foam behind me) rather than down the long axis gave much better results, and although I did need to be quite close to the speakers it was a decent compromise.
Old 18th September 2019
  #22
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by lowland View Post
Here's a counter-intuitive thought: before my studio was built ten years ago, I temporarily used two spaces that were less than ideal and of roughly similar size to yours.

I found by accident that in both cases having the speakers fire across the width of the room (with high density foam behind me) rather than down the long axis gave much better results, and although I did need to be quite close to the speakers it was a decent compromise.
This is interesting. I can't imagine it working, but it might surprise me.
What I did see in small rooms is that I prefer to sit at the last 3rd or even quarter of the room, not much unlike sitting on a sofa on one side of the room with speakers on the other side. I get a much more complete picture this way.
Old 18th September 2019
  #23
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Alphavoyager View Post
Even if the ceiling height and width of the room are both the same?
I'm not an expert in acoustics so don't take my word for it, but given these small dimensions, yes.

However, if making the room bigger is going to cost you a lot of money, then no, because I don't think a room this size is worth investing a lot of money in.


Quote:
...but ME gets it better in the lows, because in my current room I have next to zero idea what I'm doing down there. Probably the new room won't be much different in this regard.
This is depressing! You said this new room will probably be home for 10 years....you really want to spend the next decade blindly guessing at the low end?

If you can make a nice master over 500hz you can make one under it too, but you need to be able to trust what you're hearing. Spending the next ten years in a room with crazy low end response isn't going to get you there, it's gonna drive you crazy. So unless you've already signed a 10-year lease and there are literally no other rooms anywhere in town, I would look at this new room as a temporary home while you look for something more suitable.
Old 18th September 2019
  #24
Gear Nut
Quote:
Originally Posted by lowland View Post
Here's a counter-intuitive thought: before my studio was built ten years ago, I temporarily used two spaces that were less than ideal and of roughly similar size to yours.

I found by accident that in both cases having the speakers fire across the width of the room (with high density foam behind me) rather than down the long axis gave much better results, and although I did need to be quite close to the speakers it was a decent compromise.
Yes, face the long wall. High quality near fields.
Old 18th September 2019
  #25
Gear Nut
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by scraggs View Post
I'm not an expert in acoustics so don't take my word for it, but given these small dimensions, yes.

However, if making the room bigger is going to cost you a lot of money, then no, because I don't think a room this size is worth investing a lot of money in.




This is depressing! You said this new room will probably be home for 10 years....you really want to spend the next decade blindly guessing at the low end?

If you can make a nice master over 500hz you can make one under it too, but you need to be able to trust what you're hearing. Spending the next ten years in a room with crazy low end response isn't going to get you there, it's gonna drive you crazy. So unless you've already signed a 10-year lease and there are literally no other rooms anywhere in town, I would look at this new room as a temporary home while you look for something more suitable.
No lease yet. My idea now is to make this a temporary solution for say 3-5 years and then eventually build a dedicated mobile wooden house for it. Till then I'll have to live with this room, probably not doing much mastering.
Old 18th September 2019
  #26
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thermos's Avatar
Cool thread! I mastered in a Brooklyn basement (7'3" ceilings) for a year and a half 2010-2011. I used nearfields, and headphones to get the low end right. It was SO much work, but I got some masters out of that room that people loved. If I had to do it again I'd get some kii 3s or Dutch and Dutch 8cs. Tons of trapping, especially overhead (probably the entire ceiling).

And HEADPHONES. Get some Audeze or something top of the line. The 4z I have are hella accurate in the lows.
Old 18th September 2019
  #27
Lives for snowflakes
 
12ax7's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Alphavoyager View Post
Till then I'll have to live with this room, probably not doing much mastering.
...Which brings us back to d'OH!:
.
Old 19th September 2019
  #28
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lowland's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by thermos View Post
Cool thread! I mastered in a Brooklyn basement (7'3" ceilings) for a year and a half 2010-2011. I used nearfields, and headphones to get the low end right. It was SO much work, but I got some masters out of that room that people loved. If I had to do it again I'd get some kii 3s or Dutch and Dutch 8cs. Tons of trapping, especially overhead (probably the entire ceiling).

And HEADPHONES. Get some Audeze or something top of the line. The 4z I have are hella accurate in the lows.
This echoes my own experience in compromised spaces: I used headphones quite a bit to check the lows, something that doesn't happen now, and worked my limited (ha!) resources to get results that still stand up today.
Old 20th September 2019
  #29
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thermos's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by lowland View Post
This echoes my own experience in compromised spaces: I used headphones quite a bit to check the lows, something that doesn't happen now, and worked my limited (ha!) resources to get results that still stand up today.
Headphones are so good now and also software corrected speakers, so working in compromised spaces is more possible than ever. But yes it’s certainly nice not to have to work with those constraints.
Old 20th September 2019
  #30
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lowland's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by thermos View Post
Headphones are so good now and also software corrected speakers, so working in compromised spaces is more possible than ever. But yes it’s certainly nice not to have to work with those constraints.
I'm glad that digital room and speaker correction is now an accepted tool, a very different reception from when I first got involved a few years ago when it was seen, certainly in the upper echelons, as some sort of cheating.

Incidentally, if the mods will allow, I'm going to sell my trusty and recently refurbed Trinnov ST2 Pro, to be listed in GS Classified soon.

Last edited by lowland; 20th September 2019 at 07:50 AM..
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