Join Bobby Owsinski for an in-depth discussion in this video Personal studio parameters, part of Music Studio Setup and Acoustics.
It seems like just about everyone has their own studio these days. Usually it starts off with some equipment haphazardly thrown into an extra bedroom, office, garage, basement, or living room that eventually needs to be turned into a room with better playback accuracy than in it's present form. Regardless of how the studio started and what you're recording, every studio has the same basic perimeters when it comes to improving the sound. Let's take a look at them. The Size. The size of a room matters a great deal in the ultimate acoustic outcome of a room.
Usually, extra rooms or offices are very small with low ceilings. A situation which calls for a lot of bass trapping, and that makes the room even smaller. In general, the larger the room, the easier it is to work with and the better it will sound. The Shape. The shape of the room also has a bearing on how it sounds. The ideal of shape for any listening room is rectangular. And as I'll discuss later on in the course, there's even a specific formula for the best dimensions. That being said, many times, the typical rooms you get converted into studios are close to, to a square or even worse a cube.
Which become very difficult to acoustically treat because the dimensions are not sonically friendly. The Isolation. Determining the amount of isolation that your room needs is another major factor in how you approach the acoustic treatment of a room. Ask yourself these questions. How important is it that you keep the outside noise from leaking in? How important is it to keep the sound you're making from leaking outside? What kind of material are the walls currently made of? Is there a window in the room? How good is the seal on the door? Isolation is one of the major concerns of most personal facilities and unfortunately, it's also one of the most expensive to implement.
Especially if the structure of the space already exists. It's a lot cheaper if you're starting off with just the shell. But most personal studios don't have that advantage. HVAC, or Heating Ventilation and Air Conditioning. Fresh air in a room is very important. The more bodies you get in a room, the more you need to think about heating, ventilation and air conditioning. Or what's known in the construction trade as HVAC. The more isolated the room is, the faster it will heat up with the musicians' bodies in motion. At the very least, you'll have to exchange the air in the room frequently to keep everyone from passing out.
Recording. Once upon a time it would have been ludicrous to consider having a studio with no wall between the mixing and the tracking areas. But through the years, this has been found to be a very acceptable way of recording. Many engineers and producers love the instant communication with the players, and soon get used to monitoring at low levels or over headphones. The problem is that any room gets more complicated if it's meant to serve a dual purpose, which in this case means adding an area of some sort for live tracking. Even if you're only planning on recording vocals, some singer's iron pipes can be every bit as annoying to your neighbors as a blasting Marshall stack.
If you decide you need to over-dub loud vocals, guitar amps, horns or even certain types of percussion, you might consider constructing a vocal booth, or even springing for a pre-fab vocal booth. Finally, before you commit to any area as your studio, be sure to ask yourself the following questions. Is the size of the room sufficient for your needs? Is the room a rectangle? Does the isolation need improvement. What kind of recording area is needed? What's the maximum number of people or players that the room needs to fit.
The answers to these questions will determine how good your room is going to sound, how much money it will cost to improve, and if it's even feasible or not.
- Design ideas for your studio setup
- Understanding what soundproofing materials don't work
- Increasing isolation in your space
- Timing a room's reverb
- Purchasing acoustic materials: what and where
- Making your own soundproofing elements
- Do-it-yourself acoustic panel construction
- Creating a reflection-free zone (RFZ)
- Buying pre-made acoustic treatments