Time for treatment

All about acoustics. This is your new home if you already have a studio or other acoustic space, but it isn't working out for you, sounds bad, and you need to fix it...
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Time for treatment


Postby howiedrum » Wed, 2020-Jul-01, 02:25

I am coming here from the recording studio construction posting on this forum. You can see my photos and my journey there under New Studio Build Underway. I have a few things left to do for construction, but now I am turning my attention towards treatment.

My space is 24ft long x16ft wide x 9ft-3inches high. 3,552cubic feet. It's function is a rehearsal/recording space. It is a one-room space. All mastering would occur elsewhere. So a tracking room. Lots of drums and percussion will be played in here but also electric guitar, bass, keyboards, and vocals at times. It has an inside out ceiling and one layer of 5/8 drywall over 3/4 OSB on walls with green glue in-between. The floor is laminate.

I have read different views regarding the necessity or lack there of for REW or similar software for analysis for tracking rooms. What do you think?

Right now my room is very live. Too live for my high end percussion where wooden percussion is sounding metallic with lots of echo and reverb.

To start I plan on building floor to ceiling bass traps in all four corners of my room. To control the high end I read that acoustical tiles work well. Any advice on the number, type, and placement of tiles would be much appreciated.

I have focused my research mainly on the studio construction and planning and not much on treatments. Any help will be great.

Thank you!!!!!

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Time for treatment


Postby howiedrum » Wed, 2020-Jul-01, 02:28

45 Ceiling Track Lights 2.jpg
Here is the room as of today looking east
46 Ceiling Track Lights 1.jpg
Looking west

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Time for treatment


Postby Soundman2020 » Wed, 2020-Jul-01, 14:35

Wow! It's looking pretty good in there, Howie! :thu:

OK, about REW and live rooms / rehearsal rooms / tracking rooms. Yes and no. :) Yes, it is worth doing REW tests! No, you can't do it the same way as you do a control room, and no, there's no "correct" response for such a room. Unlike a control room, there isn't even a "correct" place to set up your speakers and mic for doing REW tests in there! In whatever spot you set them up, you'll get different results from other places.

So why would you do it then? And what will it tell you?

First, you do it because it it will reveal a lot of useful information about the empty room, that will help in deciding roughly how to treat it. For example, it will show you what the overall decay times are like, and you can compare that to suggest decay times for the type of instruments you will be recording / playing, then that will give you a clue on how much treatment you need, as well as the characteristics of the treatment (coefficient of absorption, thickness, panel size, percent coverage, etc.). However, this isn't a control room! So it's not just a matter of plugging a few numbers into a calculator then putting specific things in specific places. Live room treatment is different. It's about your ears too, not just graphs and equations.

Second, you do it because it is more accurate than your ears.... and I'm saying that right after I tell you to trust your ears! :roll: :shock: What I mean is that your ears will tell you there is something wrong with the bass response (for example), but your ears won't tell you what frequency range is causing that... but REW will tell you. Or your ears might tell you that you have flutter echo issue, but you can't quite figure out what is causing it: REW can help you figure it out. Etc. So it's a combination of ears and REW that will help you treat your place.

So, do some REW tests (I'll get to that later...), then do some listening tests (with a good speaker playing typical instruments in typical locations), then use those two to make a rough plan of the treatment.

BUT FIRST! Before you do that, decide on WHAT you want the room to sound like! You mentioned several instruments and purposes for the room, so based on that you should come up with a description of how you want the room to sound: Do you want it bright, airy, subdued, warm, dull, dead, zingy, neutral (probably not...), dry, heavy, bold, clean, boomy, etc... That's your decision, as the studio owner: Nobody can tel you what is "right" for your place... you have to decide on that yourself. What is it that would keep musicians coming back to your place, because they love how it sounds? There are some general guidelines for that, but it's also a personal thing. I'm not sure if you have seen the new series that I'm writing right now, but there might be some useful advice for you in there: INTRODUCTION TO DESIGNING YOUR OWN STUDIO

Having said all that, and considering that you want to play and track a broad range of instruments and genres, I would suggest that the best approach for your pace would be to make it variable. If you have a room that sounds great for percussion and drums, it will be pretty lousy for vocals and acoustic guitar... and the reverse i also true: if you make it sound great for vocals, then it will not be so good for electric guitar or drums. Etc.

There are two approaches for making your room variable: you can do what I call "zoning" it, or you can treat it with variable devices. Or both!

"Zoning" just means that you have two (or maybe more) different acoustics regions in the room: make one end of the room very bright and airy, the other more subdued and dry, and maybe a warmer, more diffuse area in the middle. That way, you can set up each instrument and the mics for it, in the locations around the room that are most suited to that instrument. Thus, when you are tracking vocals you might put the artist very deep into a "dead" zone in the room, with them facing a "warmer" zone, but the mic facing the deadest part. While for drums, you might set those up in the "warm" zone, facing the "bright" zone, and have a couple of distant mics in different spots to pick up the room sound, in addition to having mics on the drum kit itself. Zoning can work well for tracking individual instruments, or maybe even small bands with 2 or 3 instruments, but it gets complicated when you have half a dozen musicians with their gear and instruments... you normally find that you want to put several of them in the same spot! Or you can't find a good spot for the ambient mics, because you can't get them far enough away from all the gear.

The other option (the one that I prefer), is to just some of your treatment "variable", so you can change the acoustic response for any point in the room (or for the entire room), as needed. Here's an example of how to do that: What is variable acoustics? How do I do that?

Regarding REW testing in live rooms, I do mention that in the follow-up comments on the article about how to test your control room with REW: How to calibrate and use REW to test and tune your room acoustics

I would suggest NOT using so-called "acoustic ceiling tiles" in your room. They are fine for offices and shops, but they don't really do what you need in a professional tracking / rehearsal room, like yours. Recording drums under acoustic tiles, for example, will make them sound like c**p! Rather, I would first figure out what you want for your room, then treat the parts of the ceiling accordingly. And yes, you can also have variable devices on your ceiling! I have a design for that... :)

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Time for treatment


Postby SoWhat » Wed, 2020-Jul-01, 15:28

Greetings Howiedrum,

I read through your build thread. My reaction, like many others, was a mix of pure joy mixed with a dose of horror. You apparently have the patience of a saint...

While I am no expert, I am a fellow drummer, so I'll add my two cents based on the photos above. Please periodically check the track light mounts, but particularly before recording. Since drums and percussion can offer plenty of vibration, the lights may become loose in the track. After all of the aggravation you endured, the last thing you need is annoying rattles/buzzes on your recordings, which might be picked up by your overheads.

Congratulations thus far!!!

All the best,


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