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Square rooms - Is it even possible?
Old 10th November 2009
  #1
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Square rooms - Is it even possible?

So I've read a bunch in here and seen a few with my same issue but I'm looking for a straight yes or no as opposed to the "well this can make it better than before."

Is it even possible to get a square room, 12'8" x 12'10" x 9', to sound good for mixing? Sure I know there are things that can be done to help but I'm more looking for a yes or no. I'm buying a house right now and 2 rooms will be converted. One for tracking, one for mixing. I just want to know if I'll be able to get really good results in that room or if I've just gotta say screw it and make the living room into my mixing room. I don't know how much it actually helps but the 12 x 12 room has angled slopes near the top of the wall to the ceiling as well on 3 of the walls.

I'm hoping I can make that room happen but aside from having to live somewhere, that's the biggest reason I'm buying a house. I looked for a place that was in my price range that wasn't in a bad area that had unique rooms but just couldn't find it. I'm having one built but it's a set plan that I can't make adjustments on.

Sorry for the long post but any insight would be great. If it is possible it'd be nice if you could tell me what I'd need to do to get this room as good as it can be as well.

Thanks slutz!


EDIT: BTW I Just looked up the house floor plans and it looks like I lied. Here is a picture of the room in question. Where you see the dashed lines those are the slopes towards the ceilings.

Old 10th November 2009
  #2
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Rick Sutton's Avatar
 

Is it even possible to get a square room, 12.5 x 12 x 9, to sound good for mixing?

Yes, it is not ideal, but it can work. For years I mixed in a 9x12 room.
By the way, 12.5 x 12 is not square. Close, but there is a bit of a difference (to your advantage IMO)
Old 10th November 2009
  #3
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Rick Sutton View Post
Is it even possible to get a square room, 12.5 x 12 x 9, to sound good for mixing?

Yes, it is not ideal, but it can work. For years I mixed in a 9x12 room.
By the way, 12.5 x 12 is not square. Close, but there is a bit of a difference (to your advantage IMO)

Thanks for the reply man. I looked up the floor plans and it looks like it's 12'8" x 12'10". That's definately almost a square! I included the floor plan pic too. Looks like sloped up to ceilings on 3 sides.

Anyway thanks for the encouragement.
Old 10th November 2009
  #4
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Glenn Kuras's Avatar
As you know squ rooms are not ideal, but we have treated A TON of them and they work. The key is to put enough proper bass trapping in them. As far as using it as a live room you really are not going to want that sound so it is best to make it as non live as possible. Once again bass trapping with thinner panels.
Old 10th November 2009
  #5
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To be honest...no ... the modal behavior in such a room is so accentuated

The best way to treat these rooms that show problems at very specific frequencies is not using broadband absorption but TUNED absorption. This is rather expensive (RPG MODEX) or very experimental in the DYI domain.

There will always be a trade... you put too much absorption on the room to kill the room modes but you end up with a completely dry unpleasant space.

So you always have to get used to compensate for the room on the mixes with your ears or even EQ.

Check this article if you want to know why such a room will never be at a standard of a professional recording studio
Online Acoustics - Architectural Acoustics. Small and large spaces. Churches, concert halls, recording studios. Acoustical diffusers. - Differences between your home studio and a professional recording studio
Old 10th November 2009
  #6
Gear Guru
Yes We Can

I prescribed treatment for two rooms, both approx 12x12x 8 room some time ago. It ended up being one of my more successful consults. The rooms were in action already and were a disaster, so any improvement was going to be a huge relief. When finished the mix room was quite useable. The big surprise was the tracking room which does great drums. The treatments were entirely obvious. Superchunks, panel cloud and RFZ. Standard fare. In context, spectacular results, and a very happy customer. Context is everything here, remember what he started with.
I have worked as a freelance engineer in quite a few pro studios on both sides of the atlantic. I can remember a handful of them that sounded good to me, and I was also confident of the results, which proved true. A small handful out of many, and one stuck out as really great. Most were idiosyncratic in some way or another, either the room or the speakers or both. There is a taste issue. Many treated rooms, which may measure flat are entirely wrong for purpose. Flat is wrong for mixing, it doesn't translate.
Regarding the original question. It is in my opinion, possible to make almost any room workable. If your walls are brick, it will be more difficult. You may be lucky and have some plasterboard walls, which are much softer at LF, so the modes are weaker. Treat all corners aggressively with Superchunks. More Bass Traps in the ceiling corners. Thick 4 inch cloud with an airgap. RFZ side panels. Optimise your speaker and mixing positions, including speaker height. My customer trusted my advice and did all that was asked. He was over the moon with the result. So, treat it generously/aggressively, go for the 32 inch wide Superchunks and so on. Don't fear a dead room. It is the only possibility in this size range.
Best, DD
Old 10th November 2009
  #7
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People treat nearly square or square rooms all the time and work in them all the time. They're not perfect, but people make them work.

Frank
Old 11th November 2009
  #8
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Thanks for the replies everyone. I typed up a good size response and when I went to post it Gearslutz kicked me out and I lost it.

I guess now the only thing to do is figure out what exactly to get. I really want to get some real traps and not the homemade ones but I'm pretty sure I can't swing that right now buying the house and all.
Old 11th November 2009
  #9
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Of course they can make it usable but IMO there's no way such a small room can be turned into anything identical to a well designed control room. You can even work in a non treated room if you can adapt yourself to it. My question is not if you can work in a room but how do you compare the different types of rooms.

Seems that in this forum circulates the idea that one can turn a crappy room into a space having high standards similar to a professional recording studio. To say that a 12 x 12 room can be turned into a professional recording studio is at least deceiving. Apart from room modes you also have another parameters regarding imaging, time response and even psychoacoustics.

I think we have some very well design studios on the photo-diaries section (ex: Amesterdam Mastering for instance) to see that the amount of work, planning and materials involved in a professional space is not insignificant at all and goes well beyond the idea of just throwing some basstraps into your room.





Quote:
People treat nearly square or square rooms all the time and work in them all the time. They're not perfect, but people make them work.

Frank
Old 11th November 2009
  #10
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jhbrandt's Avatar
Quote:
"Seems that in this forum circulates the idea that one can turn a crappy room into a space having high standards similar to a professional recording studio. To say that a 12 x 12 room can be turned into a professional recording studio is at least deceiving. Apart from room modes you also have another parameters regarding imaging, time response and even psychoacoustics."
Amen, brother.

Don't do it, man! Believe me, you will regret it if you intend to do anything but demos.
Old 11th November 2009
  #11
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Glenn Kuras's Avatar
I would never build a squ room, BUT 90% of the people on here have to use rooms that where given to them (home studios), so with that said they really don't have any other option. And as Frank pointed out (and me) there are people turning out GREAT work in them all day long, so........................MIX AWAY BOYS!!!!!!
Old 11th November 2009
  #12
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HDJK's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by jhbrandt View Post
...
Don't do it, man! Believe me, you will regret it if you intend to do anything but demos.
What I would regret is if I wouldn't try it only because my circumstances (in this case the room) aren't perfect.

So I say do it
Old 11th November 2009
  #13
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Weasel9992's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by andrebrito View Post
Seems that in this forum circulates the idea that one can turn a crappy room into a space having high standards similar to a professional recording studio. To say that a 12 x 12 room can be turned into a professional recording studio is at least deceiving.
That's not even close to what I said Andre. I said that people make them work, which is a far cry from "similar to a professional recording studio". I will say that people do great work in rooms that would be absolutely unusable without treatment, and that has as much to do with the skill of the operator as with the integrity of the listening space. All I'm saying is that there's no need for a person to completely abandon the desire to work just because the room isn't perfect. It can be made to be quite usable.

Frank
Old 11th November 2009
  #14
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AwwDeOhh's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by Weasel9992 View Post
I will say that people do great work in rooms that would be absolutely unusable without treatment, and that has as much to do with the skill of the operator as with the integrity of the listening space. All I'm saying is that there's no need for a person to completely abandon the desire to work just because the room isn't perfect. It can be made to be quite usable.

Frank
+1
Is it ideal? No
Is it a perfect envirnment? No
Would the OP be better off in a more perfect environment? Yes
Can the room be made minimally acceptable? IMO Yes
Will professional engineers be knocking down your door to work in your room? No (but if you knock down a wall... well...ok.. no, lol)

If that's the room you have to work with, you can make it work for you. Treat the piss out of it. (will it rival pro studios? No, but you can make it work if it's what you have.... you may have to do some extra leg work checking on a variety of systems... )

P.S. This may or may not be the best room in your house for this purpose. What are the dimentions of the other room(s), and are they close enough to be workable?
Old 12th November 2009
  #15
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Glenn Kuras's Avatar
I will go one step further and say if I had to pick between non square room untreated vs a treated squ room, well give me the squ one!!
Old 12th November 2009
  #16
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Quote:
Originally Posted by andrebrito View Post
Of course they can make it usable but IMO there's no way such a small room can be turned into anything identical to a well designed control room.
Thanks for the reply but I am not expecting to have anything near identical to a pro control room. I was just asking if it was possible to get pretty decent monitoring in there. I don't mind having to check my mixes elsewhere or anything, I just want to be able to get an idea of what's going on down low. As it stands right now I have to completely guess. The biggest indicator I use now is knowing that if I can hear the bass clearly then I have way too much in my track. I'm just trying to get away from having to rely on BS tricks like that.
Old 12th November 2009
  #17
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Quote:
Originally Posted by AwwDeOhh View Post
+1
Is it ideal? No
Is it a perfect envirnment? No
Would the OP be better off in a more perfect environment? Yes
Can the room be made minimally acceptable? IMO Yes
Will professional engineers be knocking down your door to work in your room? No (but if you knock down a wall... well...ok.. no, lol)

If that's the room you have to work with, you can make it work for you. Treat the piss out of it. (will it rival pro studios? No, but you can make it work if it's what you have.... you may have to do some extra leg work checking on a variety of systems... )

P.S. This may or may not be the best room in your house for this purpose. What are the dimentions of the other room(s), and are they close enough to be workable?
Thanks for the encouragement. All of the bedrooms are squares. The living room is almost square. 14x16. The whole house is a collection of squares. It's not a big house, but it's a classy house. I'll be living alone and it was this or continue renting places which sometimes make it so I can't record at all. This was the best I could find in a decent area that I could afford. Sucks there aren't any really cool rooms to work with though.
Old 12th November 2009
  #18
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avare's Avatar
 

Build a false wall to unsquare the room! You don't need much of a reduction. 5% difference in the length and width is sufficient for EBU/ITT/alphabet soup recommendation compliance. Problem solved.

Andre
Old 12th November 2009
  #19
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jhbrandt's Avatar
YES!!

Quote:
Build a false wall to unsquare the room! You don't need much of a reduction. 5% difference in the length and width is sufficient for EBU/ITT/alphabet soup recommendation compliance. Problem solved.

Andre
and THEN treat it... It'll be NICE.
Old 12th November 2009
  #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by avare View Post
Build a false wall to unsquare the room! You don't need much of a reduction. 5% difference in the length and width is sufficient for EBU/ITT/alphabet soup recommendation compliance. Problem solved.

Andre
What constitutes a false wall? I guess I'm asking what would be sufficient. Also a 5% difference? So we're talking like 7 inches or so? Thanks for the help.
Old 12th November 2009
  #21
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jhbrandt's Avatar
Mesa,

I just did some calcs for you. At present with your walls at 12' 8" X 12' 10" X 9' you have modal issues all the way up to about 160 Hz. (like you didn't know that ) Lots of frequency bunching at intervals of about 10Hz and several coincidental resonances.

If you add 7 inches to the 12' 8" wall you will get a fair mode distribution. The volume will drop, of course from 1463 to 1396 cu. ft., but it makes the mode response (like totally 'way') better than it is now. VERY IMPORTANT: Don't add 8 inches.. the mode resonances go very bad at that interval.

Here are the charts from 152" to 144":
http://jhbrandt.net/Helpfiles/152inches.jpg
http://jhbrandt.net/Helpfiles/151inches.jpg
http://jhbrandt.net/Helpfiles/150inches.jpg
http://jhbrandt.net/Helpfiles/149inches.jpg
http://jhbrandt.net/Helpfiles/148inches.jpg
http://jhbrandt.net/Helpfiles/147inches.jpg
http://jhbrandt.net/Helpfiles/146inches.jpg
http://jhbrandt.net/Helpfiles/145inches.jpg
http://jhbrandt.net/Helpfiles/144inches.jpg

Notice that the mode spacing go from being bunched up to spreading out fairly nicely for such a small room until it hits 12' exactly and you get 6 doubles. So the best you can do in there is to add the wall. -- And, of course, treat the crap out of it. By doing this you can end up with a fairly nice and workable room.

Sometimes a few inches is all you need (That's what she said...)

Sorry. Anyway, good luck with your project... If you are handy with tools and have a little skill you'll be able to add that wall yourself - 2X4s on 16" centers, top and bottom plate, R13 fiberglass insul, and one layer of 5/8" gypsum board (that's the thicker stuff). - plaster and paint. heh

Compared to the extra traps and room treatment you would need to add without the wall.. hmmm -- you might end up with some extra money in your pocket. AND the room will work better.

John
Old 12th November 2009
  #22
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avare's Avatar
 

John:

Welcome to Gearslutz! Your last post is excellent, like all of your posts have been Gearslutz. It is a pleasure reading your writings and I am looking forward to many more.

Modally balanced,
Andre
Old 12th November 2009
  #23
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Glenn Kuras's Avatar
Quote:
Sometimes a few inches is all you need (That's what she said...)


Quote:
Compared to the extra traps and room treatment you would need to add without the wall.. hmmm -- you might end up with some extra money in your pocket. AND the room will work better.
Great point which shows we are all pretty much on the same page.
Old 12th November 2009
  #24
Gear Guru
Caveats

Some interesting thoughts here, but would one act on them, or are we trying to square a round peg? A false wall would shorten one dimension, lets say length. Then we would have the dilemma of speakers firing sideways into a shallower room. This has been shown to be quite nasty, repeatedly. Try it the other way, now we have a very asymmetrical room, with one side as a huge resonant panel trap. That is assuming the wall to be plasterboard. Brick would make matters much worse ; the modes may be better distributed but will be much stronger. So, really, would one recommend building a wall in an already fairly bad situation? I don't think so.
Over a few decades of making a living in sound, I have come up with a couple of rules of thumb, some do's and don'ts. Perhaps the most powerful conclusion which I will share is that some words are of no or negative value. Two spring to mind.

Professional.
Wrong.

Think about it. Within the Sound/Music context these words have little or confusing meanings and almost invariably just cause conflict.

Best, DD

DD

Last edited by DanDan; 12th November 2009 at 03:36 PM.. Reason: Typo
Old 12th November 2009
  #25
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Glenn Kuras's Avatar
Quote:
Originally Posted by DanDan View Post
Some interesting thoughts here, but would one act on them, or are we trying to square a round peg? A false wall would shorten one dimension, lets say length. Then we would have the dilemma of speakers firing sideways into a shallower room. This has been shown to be quite nasty, repeatedly. Try it the other way, now we have a very asymmetrical room, with one side as a huge resonant panel trap. That is assuming the wall to be plasterboard. Brick would make matters much worse ; the modes may be better distributed but will be much stronger. So, really, would one recommend building a wall in an already fairly bad situation? I don't think so.
Over a few decades of making a living in sound, I have come up with a couple of rules of thumb, some do's and don'ts. Perhaps the most powerful conclusion which I will share is that some words are of no or negative value. Two spring to mind.

Professional.
Wrong.

Think about it. Within the Sound/Music context these words have little or confusing meanings and almost invariably just cause conflict.

Best, DD

DD
If you made the false wall of fabric with trapping behind it that would be the best solution.
+1 for your post.

So may rooms, so many problems.
Old 12th November 2009
  #26
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avare's Avatar
 

Quote:
Originally Posted by DanDan View Post
Some interesting thoughts here, but would one act on them, or are we trying to square a round peg?
Good post. Glenn has already posted with responses to it, so instead of repeating what he wrote and other people no doubtedly will, I will just add the following.

A good room is a sum of design goals and compromises. No one factor can be determined in isolation. There are enough experts involved with this thread that the best solution for the OP will be developed.

Andre
Old 12th November 2009
  #27
Gear Guru
Quote:
A good room is a sum of design goals and compromises. No one factor can be determined in isolation.
No doubt Andre, no doubt.
I was intrigued with the wall recommendations so I took a look at it. I have the same conclusion, here's a very cute way to visualise and realise the effects of room dimension changes.
I borrowed this here from knightfly, who posts elsewhere. I hope he doesn't mind. It is very simple but very revealing also. roomtune.xls
So, let's get into this. Mesa some more info please.
What are the walls floor and ceiling made of?
How deep is that slope to the ceiling? Bad enough to prevent installation of a SuperChunk or other Triangles?
Within the context of the rest of the living space, could you shift any of the existing walls?
Best, DD
Old 12th November 2009
  #28
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andrebrito's Avatar
 

Reducing the area by 5 % or splaying the walls is not going to solve this problem. Broadband absorption can tame the entire low frequency range but this is a located problem so tuned absorption is the best way to go...

RPG MODEX is one of the solutions available in the market but a bit expensive

RPG Diffusor Systems
Old 12th November 2009
  #29
Gear Addict
 

What is the rule of thumb with the modex in terms of how many are required to treat a room? With bass traps, you certainly read about as much as possible. What about with these units in a room like this?
Old 13th November 2009
  #30
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I don't think there's a rule of the thumb but I would say 4 or 8 units.
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