The most important thing you can have in your studio is also the most overlooked. Many people have many opinions on acoustics and there is a lot of false info out there. It's my goal with this write up to inform you on what proper acoustic treatment is, why you need it, and how to go about adding treatment.
First off, allow me to dispel a couple myths.
Myth 1: Acoustic treatment is soundproofing.
Reality: WRONG! Soundproofing is preventing noise from entering and exiting a room. Acoustic treatment is controlling the sound within a room to prevent peaks, nulls, and ringing. In fact, acoustic treatment will make the sound from your speakers seem quieter, meaning you turn up the volume, possibly making the noise bleeding out of your room worse!
Myth 2: I can just slap some acoustic foam, or even bed foam or eggcrate on my walls.
Reality: DON'T DO IT!!!! This will only make things worse. Tossing some foam on the walls will deaden the highs and high mids, leaving the bass untouched. Its harder to perceive bass problems, but they are just as real and much more important (especially in electronic music).
What is proper acoustic treatment?
Proper acoustic treatment is intended to solve a few different issues. Lets just focus on small rooms (Smaller than 20'x20'). The first, and most common issue is the development of peaks and nulls.
These are most common and prominent in bass frequencies.
Here is an example of the peaks and nulls in my studio without any acoustic treatment.
As you can see, there are tons of peaks and valleys. This is typical of small rooms.
People talk about monitors coloring the sound, but look at the null at 120Hz! Talk about coloration!
Another common problem is modal ringing. The easiest way to describe ringing is for you to go into a small empty, square room, or a long hallway and clap your hands. Clap p p p p p. This is also referred to as flutter echo.
Here is a graph of the decay in my room before treatment.
The graph is a rendering of the frequency response over time.
Notice the bass is still ringing all around after a solid 400ms. Most people reading this have dealt with latency or delay time in audio effects, so you know how long 400ms can be in the audio world.
Question: How do I fix my room??????
Absorption and Diffusion.
In a nutshell, broadband basstraps and lots of them.
DIY basstraps are the cheapest solution, and are quite easy to build.
For my room, I chose Live End Dead End
treatment style. That is to have one end of the room (the side you face while listening) completely dead, and the back wall a bit more live to keep the room comfortable and to prevent adding too much reverb, while still keeping bass under control.
I built 10 superchunk basstraps for my room based on my own designs, as well as an array of diffusers for the back wall. I also built three typical 2'x4'x4" broadbands and two 2'x'2'4" ones.
For the wall to wall corners I built frames out of 1"x2"s. It's much like a painting canvas frame, the height of the room, and the width of a 2"x1"x"8' split into three equal sections (top, middle and bottom supports). The final size was 8'x 32" x 1". I then covered them in fabric.
Next I cut fluffy fiberglass insulation into triangles to fit into the corners behind the frames.
I stacked the insulation, using twine stapled to the wall to keep from compressing and/or falling over.
Next I attached the frame built to the wall covering the insulation.
In the pic you can see a finished, mounted frame. and in the bottom right, an unfinished frame.
These were super easy to build, cheap and are are extremely effective.
I had a similar design on the wall to ceiling corners, only instead of cutting triangles, I just tossed straight bats of insulation behind them and tied them to the ceiling. (If you want detailed info on those LMK)
My favorite bass traps were the wall to floor corners. My friend and I built tables, and stuffed them with fiberglass.
The first step was to build a table from 2x4s and chipboard.
The dimensions of the table are up to you. We chose 18" deep 8' long and something like 4ft high.
After building the tables, we added a grid structure of twine to hold the fiberglass.
Then stuffed them with the glass (half done in pic).
Then wrapped them with fabric.
TADA! CDJ stand, the other wall acts as the synth stand!
For the diffusers on the back wall I went with this design:
[Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
As for the ceiling...We built a 4in thick cloud, 32"x8'.
I'll do a separate thread on that, I'm making one for a friend this week.
You can get a good feel for how the traps are setup in this shot.
And now.... The after treatment graphs!
As you can see, my room sounds exceptionally tight. Mixes translate and I can hear all the detail I paid for in my monitors. (I can also get a very clean vocal recording).
Still working on the null at 50Hz....
Perhaps I'll do a thread on tuned traps as I fix that.
Hope this helps all of you! Feel free to at your own tips
and fire away with questions.
Here is my current studio,
You can learn more about it here: [Only registered and activated users can see links. Click here to register]
It's a custom built room, totally tuned. Almost perfect response, I'll see if I can get some waterfalls soon.
The front corners are 4 ft deep bass traps and the rear wall has an 18ish inch deep QRD diffuser.