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6.5" Monitors in a Well Treated Small Room?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #1
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6.5" Monitors in a Well Treated Small Room?

Hello everyone,

I've always struggled with mixing low-end on my 3" Behringers. I use my ATH-M50x headphones with Sonarworks corrective EQ to check the low-end but still can never quite get it right. My mixes generally turn out too bass heavy or puffy sounding.

I am deeply determined to buy some slightly larger monitors (Focal Alpha 65 or Focal alpha 50) to provide me with the low-end information I'm struggling to perceive. I'm currently in the process of building acoustic treatment for my less-than-ideal space(s).

My space options are...

My spare bedroom (3m x 3.6m x 2.7m) soon to be HEAVILY treated with Rockwool Safe N' Sound—large, full-length bass traps filling all corners, 6" thick wall panels with slight air space behind them at my first reflection points (walls/ceiling) and covering the rear wall.

OR my large basement (16.7m x 9.1m x 2.4m) (I would use the treatment from my spare bedroom). I'm thinking this might be the better option to allow the bass to naturally decay rather than attempting to "trap" *pfft* it in a 3m x 3m box room with copious amounts of rockwool.

I would greatly prefer a 6.5" monitor (for better low-end separation / mixing bass-heavy electronic music) but I don't want to overwhelm my room and smear my image too badly. Can I pull this off with sufficient acoustic treatment or must I settle for a 5" monitor? :(
Old 4 weeks ago
  #2
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The bigger room will be better. Small square rooms are the worst scenario.

The reason people talk about using smaller speakers in smaller rooms is generally because they will have less bass, thereby showing less of the problems. The physical size of smaller monitors may also make positioning easier in a small room. As long as you have decent treatment and pay attention to setting things up right you can have larger monitors with no problem.
Old 4 weeks ago
  #3
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Starlight's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by joekvasnicka View Post
... or must I settle for a 5" monitor?
Bear in mind: Why do you need a BIG Studio Monitors even in the small Control Rooms?
Old 4 weeks ago
  #4
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Why do you need a BIG Studio Monitors even in the small Control Rooms?

The bigger room would definitely be better either way, but i’d highly recommend reading that thread
Old 3 weeks ago
  #5
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Quote:
The reason people talk about using smaller speakers in smaller rooms is generally because they will have less bass, thereby showing less of the problems.
I've seen that argument before, but frankly it makes no sense and is totally illogical. If you mix a track on monitors that do not cover the full spectrum of the music, then you you are NOT hearing some things that your final audience WILL be hearing! So part of your song will go to them without you ever hearing it.. That's not a good way of mixing!

Rather, the speaker you use should be chosen because they are able to produce the full range of sounds that you have in your mixes. Period. End of story. You must be able to hear what you are trying to mix! All of it.


If you only ever mix music for the piccolo and triangle, then you could, indeed, do that on 3" monitors! If you only ever mix the spoken word (never music), then you could probably to do that on 5" monitors. But if you plan to mix typical contemporary music, with keyboards, drums, bass, electric guitar, percussion, etc., then you need speakers that can faithfully reproduce the entire audio spectrum down to at least 31 Hz (the lowest note on a 6-string bass), or perhaps down to 20 Hz, if you plan to also have concert grand pianos or church pipe organs. And if you need to mix sound effects for movies, you'll need something to get down even lower, into the seat-shaking subsonics of earthquakes, canons, colliding planets, and suchlike.

So, first define what your MUSIC needs, and get speakers that are able to handle that. Then treat the room accordingly. The smaller the room, and the lower the lowest frequency, the more bass trapping you will need. But it has to be balanced, to ensure that it doesn't also "suck out" the mids and highs.

Quote:
/ mixing bass-heavy electronic music)
Well, there you are then! You need speakers that can handle the full spectrum, down to around 30 Hz.

Quote:
but I don't want to overwhelm my room and smear my image too badly.
That's a myth, actually! Putting big speakers in a small room will NOT overwhelm the room, and it will NOT smear the image at all! Having a poor layout within the room, and poor treatment, is what will smear the image, not the speakers. Ditto for being "overwhelmed". You NEED large speakers to be able to fully drive the room, then you need suitable acoustic treatment to correctly deal with the issues that the ROOM causes (not the speakers: it's the room that has the problems.).

Quote:
OR my large basement (16.7m x 9.1m x 2.4m) (I would use the treatment from my spare bedroom). I'm thinking this might be the better option to allow the bass to naturally decay rather than attempting to "trap" *pfft* it in a 3m x 3m box room with copious amounts of rockwool.
I would definitely go with the larger room in the basement! But you might need to partition off a section of that: at over 150 m2, it's too big for a decent stereo (2.0 or 2.1) control room. Documents like ITU BS.1116-3 and EBU Tech.3276 (you can find them here: usfeul studio building documents ) state that ideal size for a stereo critical listening room is 20m2 to 60 m2. Your basement is about four times too big! You could build acoustic isolation walls across one corner, then you could get a really nice room measuring 6.8m x 5.2 m x 2.4m. That would be 35m2 of floor space, and with reasonably good room ratio. With suitable treatment, that could be a very good room.

So, that's what I would do of that were my place: Section off part of the basement to get a good size room with a good ration, then buy the speaker that my music needs (and that my room needs). Then lay out the room correctly, with the speakers and mix position in the optimum locations. Then analyze the room with REW, and install treatment to deal with the acoustic problems of the room, and get it as close as possible to meeting the specs in BS.1116-3.


- Stuart -
Old 3 weeks ago
  #6
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Well put Stuart.
Old 3 weeks ago
  #7
Old 3 weeks ago
  #8
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Thank you, @Soundman2020, for the informative response! A partitioned room in the basement seems to be the way to go. I appreciate your suggestion for the dimensions too.

Quote:
...You could build acoustic isolation walls across one corner...
Is acoustic isolation integral to the room's acoustics? Let's say, for cost's sake, I left the drywall hollow—would this defeat the purpose of building the room in the first place? I suppose if one side is concrete and the other is drywall then low-frequencies would reflect off one and pass through the other creating an imbalance of sorts (not to mention resonating drywall)...
Old 3 weeks ago
  #9
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joekvasnicka View Post
Thank you, @Soundman2020, for the informative response!


Quote:
Is acoustic isolation integral to the room's acoustics? Let's say, for cost's sake, I left the drywall hollow—would this defeat the purpose of building the room in the first place? I suppose if one side is concrete and the other is drywall then low-frequencies would reflect off one and pass through the other creating an imbalance of sorts (not to mention resonating drywall)...
That's actually a much more complicated question than it looks at face value!

OK, if you build a stud frame and put drywall on both sides, then you have created a resonant cavity. It will resonate at a specific frequency, which is governed by the surface density (mass) of the drywall on each side, and the depth of the cavity. If something in your music happens to play that note, then the entire wall will resonate along with it. Thus, at that frequency the wall will not isolate at all, but rather will AMPLIFY that note, as well as re-transmitting it back into the room... probably not what you want!

On the other hand, if you fill that cavity with suitable insulation, then that will damp the resonance, drive the resonant frequency down slightly lower, and improve isolation somewhat. It would also re-transmit less back into the room. However, it still will not isolate very well, for a simple reason: the drywall on one side is directly connected to the drywall on the other side, through the studs. So any vibration picked up by the drywall inside the room would make the studs vibrate too, which in turn would make the drywall on the outside vibrate... therefore transmitting the sound right through the wall.

The same happens the other way. For example, if you have a furnace in the other part of your basement, or a washing machine, dryer, sump pump, etc., then the sounds from those would make the drywall on the basement side vibrate, and the sounds would get into the studio. So this isn't a good isolation wall.

A true isolation wall has no connection at all between the "inner" drywall and the "outer" drywall: you put it on two separate frames, instead of just one, with drywall on only ONE side of each frame, and the cavity between them entirely filled with insulation.

With that type of wall (sometimes called a "fully decoupled 2-leaf MSM wall") you can get pretty good isolation. You can also get much larger air gaps in a wall like this, which is good because that implies that the resonant frequency will be lower too.. and hopefully so low that it is off the bottom end of the audible spectrum.

Now, the question arises about just how big the cavity has to be, and how much mass you need on those two "leaves" of drywall. The answer to that can be calculate from a couple of simple equations, but to do that you need to know two things: 1) "How much isolation do you need, in decibels?". 2) "What frequency range do you need it at?" Answer those two questions, and it then becomes possible to figure out how to build the isolation walls you will need.


Now to answer your first question:

Quote:
Is acoustic isolation integral to the room's acoustics?
Yes, and no. Not really an answer! I know...

Isolation and acoustics are two different aspects of acoustics. There is some relationship between them, but not much.

Think of it this way: Isolation is what you do to stop sound getting out of your room. But if the sound cannot get out, that means that it stayed inside! All of the sound that did NOT get out, is still in the room, bouncing around all over the place... And that makes the room sound bad inside. Treatment is what you do to make it sound good again.

So, from that point of view they are related. A poorly isolated room lets a lot of sound out, while still keeping some inside... but it also lets in other sounds from the outside, that could mess with your recording/mixing sessions. And all of that sound that ends up inside the room, makes it sound "not so good", which is why you need treatment. Your treatment will deal with teh sound that didin't leave the room (there's no point in treating the stuff that is gone already). So, the more you isolate, the more you need to treat as well... but then you have problems with unwanted sound getting in, and also with your room sound getting out and annoying the neighbors...

Things are actually more complex than that, of course, but it gives you a rough idea of how it all works.


- Stuart -
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