VoiceCouncil will no longer be updated. Articles will still be available for some time.

Room Acoustics 101 -Top Tips

560x200-acousticsDo you pay as much attention to a quality music listening experience as you do a quality performing experience?

You might be serious about wanting to get into recording or mixing OR you might just want a better music listening experience at home – whatever the case, these tips are for you.

They come from Graham Cochrane – a freelance recording and mix engineer living in Tampa, Florida and founder of TheRecordingRevolution.com, one of the world’s most loved audio recording and mixing blogs with over 200,000 readers each month.

Graham, If you were going to give a class called Room Acoustics 101 – what would be the one tip you would like to emphasize above all others?
More important than how you “treat” your walls or what materials you use is where you place your speakers. You want to create a balanced sweet spot for your mixing position.

Example of an acoustic treatment fail – in a small studio space
Putting your speakers right up against a wall.

Another example of a fail!
Putting your desk setup in the corner.

What one should know about room acoustics in a small home space they want to use as their mixing location.
The best thing I could say is move your desk so that it is centered against a wall. Then make sure your speakers are at least one foot away from the wall and corners. Create an invisible triangle with your two speakers and your ears, with each side of the triangle being the same distance.

300x126-quoteWhy is this the way to go?
This setup will give you even reflections on the left and right of your listening position as well as a focused sweet spot for you to sit and hear the stereo image at its best. If you can put up some absorption type panels directly to the left and right of your listening position that will help minimize the first angle reflections and clean up your stereo image even more.

I’m listening to music in a small room on some great monitors – I’ve got carpet on the floor, but things are still pretty “boomy” – what can I do?
The best thing you can do with your monitors (beside get the placement right like we’ve discussed) is to simply turn them down. Grab your output volume knob and turn that puppy down to a pretty quiet level – one at which you can mix but still have a casual conversation with someone next to you without having to raise your voice. This minimizes room reflections (and potential boominess) and helps you hear what is really coming out of your speakers.

Top tip on acoustic treatment for recording drums
You can get away with very little treatment when it comes to drums. Just use a drum overhead mike technique that is relatively close to the kit and not too close to the ceiling.

Top tip on acoustic treatment for recording guitars
Close mic with a dynamic microphone and you won’t have any problems.

Top tip on acoustic treatment for recording vocals
Move to the center of your room, get about 6 inches to a foot away from the mic, and aim the back of the mic at your most reflective surface.

Graham CochraneGraham Cochrane

The Recording Revolution