Room Acoustics and Treatment

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  • @ianuarius  Jan 5

    I've been thinking how I could do some acoustic treatment for the room. Recording vocals often sounds kinda awful.

    Here's the room...

    * Height 265 cm (8.7 ft)
    * Width 360 cm (11.8 ft)
    * Double-layered curtains in the back wall, thick cotton (gray) and a bit lighter cotton (orange).

    As you can see, I can't really install bass traps anywhere... except maybe around the corners at the ceiling. I also don't want to do something completely insane like put a bed upright in there, because it's also our living room.

    So, I'm looking something temporary. I have a very thing bedspread/counterpane that is available, but I'd have to hang it up somehow and I'm drawing a blank. Any ideas?

    Also, these things have pretty good reviews...

    But for the price, I'm hesitant. I've also heard a lot of really bad things.

  • @johnstaples  Jan 6

    Cheap, easy, portable, works great!

  • @ianuarius  Jan 6

    @johnstaples Looks very interesting. I'm not a big DIY person, so it also looks kinda like a nightmare. 😁

    The thing that bothers me is that I sing standing up so I'd have to get it 6 feet off the ground somehow. And also... how well do the diffusers work. As I understand it, thicker is better (...and that's not just with acoustics materials!)

  • @barbara  Jan 6

    @johnstaples I think it's high time I tried something like this! I've always just tolerated room noise. @ianuarius thanks for posing the question here. I think you could probably just string that collapsible cube up using it's portable handle, and using your curtain rod as the anchor for it. Seems pretty lightweight. You could even easily adjust the height as needed for different sources.

  • @johnstaples  Jan 6

    @ianuarius I am def NOT a DIY person either! I hate building projects (unless it is virtual on the computer!)

    The box is a pre-assembled soft storage cube. The acoustic panels were purchased and trimmed to fit. And...that is it! I added a small flexible leg tripod to hold the mic.

    I also sing standing up so I just place this whole assembly on a shelf or on a stack of boxes or whatever! I sing close to the mic so my head is near the open edge of the box and nothing behind me ever seems to affect the sound quality.

  • @johnstaples  Jan 6

    @barbara, hanging from a curtain rod would be a great solution. This is a really simple, cheap and effective solution.

  • @oddbod  Jan 6

    We all like to spend money in the hope of improving our recordings in various ways but how much difference to the final product does all this room treatment stuff really make to the average amateur bedroom studio and is that difference really going to be perceived by the listener?
    With all the other variables - equipment, mic placement, EQing, FX, personal preference & judgement, etc, etc...
    You do have to wonder

  • @johnstaples  Jan 6

    If you're happy with your recordings don't change a thing! If you wanna try a cheap DIY solution go for it and see if you like the results. From there the sky's the limit!

  • @ianuarius  Jan 6

    @oddbod It's mostly about controlling the room sound. In certain styles of music it doesn't even matter. But with the stuff that I record (heavy metal, edm etc.) I'd prefer if the vocals didn't sound like they were recorded in a living room. I get this awful room reverb that makes everything sound small and boxy. You can't do anything about it with EQ, FX etc.

    Another possible reason for room treatment is monitoring benefits. If the room adds a ton of frequencies to the sound that you monitor from your speakers, then it's more difficult to mix the thing accurately. Or so I've heard. Don't have any experience from well-treated rooms. I honestly just want to get rid of the room reverb.

  • @vomvorton  Jan 6

    I’ve got one of the SE Electronics mic shield things and it definitely makes a difference. I’m really happy with it, the only issue I had was that it’s pretty heavy so I had to buy a new mic stand with a bit more weight to support it.

  • @ianuarius  Jan 6

    @vomvorton Great to hear. I could get one. What sort of mic stand did you get if you don't mind me asking?

  • @axl  Jan 6

    @ianuarius I've researched this topic forever in the past. Everybody on the internet seems to be all about "proper room treatment" but if you don't have a house and a room to spare like me, that's just impossible.

    So for now (until I own that house!), I've settled with a Thomann reflection filter that sort of does an acceptable job of dampening those ugly room acoustics on my vocals a little. For mixing I'm using headphones. I really like my DT 880 Pro.

    My mic stand is a K&M and cost about 100 Euros as far as I can remember. But it's so worth it. I never want to go back to cheap mic stands again.

  • @guatecoop  Jan 6

    @axl I have also researched room treatment endlessly in the past and have resorted to a few strategies that have minimized the effect that the room has on the sound. For bass I just go direct in and electric guitars I close mic only. The drums can be super tricky and I’ve found that using the recorder man or Glynn Johns mic-ing along with close mics on the kick and snare really minimize the effect that the room has. Acoustic guitars and especially vocals is the trickiest for me and has taken some trial and error to find out what works. On the ceiling I have used Roxul Safe and Sound in the basement over where I record those, along with a “gobo” around the mic. I also use heavy wool blankets hung behind me or the singer to prevent reflections. Eventually I would love to build some movable panels to place wherever I need them and then be able to put them away, but I’m not there yet. Good topic!

  • @ianuarius  Jan 6

    That's what I read from an SOS article. That if you have a cardioid mic, it's going to pick up reflections from behind the singer. So, it's a good idea to have the blankets etc. behind the vocalist. (Another reason why the reflexion filters are kinda sketchy.) I have the curtains. Maybe they'll be enough.

  • @shac Jan 6

    I've been thinking a lot about this recently. I watched this video the other day ( There are a few tips on simple room setup, but for absorption of sound to improve recordings his main point is that mass of material is the most important thing. He recommends making Rockwool panels. I'm thinking about having a go at putting some together.

  • @tesla3090  Jan 6

    If all you need is vocals you probably don't need bass traps (unless you can sing at <300 hz in which case, damn...) You might look into one of those portable mic shields.

    Or go with the old record into your coat closet trick

  • @ianuarius  Jan 6

    Thanks guitar center.

    @tesla3090 Voice generates low frequencies regardless of the note that you are singing.

    I can't really setup a microphone in a coat closet because... well there are so many reasons, where to start...

    The closets are too tiny. The hat shelves are around my throat so I can't very well put a mic stand in the closet.
    And even if I could, my computer is at the other side of the room, which would make recording small takes a nightmare. The whole apartment would be full of mic cords, headphone cords, power cords... not to mention I'd have to run around to press record and stop and all that.

    Let's just stop there. That's just not feasible.

    And yea, I can't open the link because guitar center hates people in the EU, but I did mention portable mic shields in my first post. Is that what you meant?

  • @scottlake  Jan 6

    Acoustics was my profession and basis of my masters degree. Hit me up on my sound board with contact details. I have some questions for you regarding your room. DIY can work wonders where no technically correct efforts have been made in the past. Not saying this is your case. That’s why I have some questions.

  • @scottlake  Jan 6

    Btw Tesla’s suggestion was to record vocals INTO not IN the coat closet. This is one of the best DIY tricks IF the closet is reasonably filled with clothing. Also, given a lack of room treatment, dynamic, cardioid mics will do a better job of rejecting reflections in the room. The absolute worst thing you can do is to record directly in front of a computer screen. Comb filtering is nearly guaranteed if you do and that is a hallmark of today’s home recording sound.

  • @ianuarius  Jan 6

    Oh I see. The difference of 'into' and 'in' kinda escapes me in this context as I'm not a native speaker. But yea, that clears it up. However, it's still not really feasible.

  • @vomvorton  Jan 6

    @ianuarius Not sure what brand my mic stand is, I just made sure that I got one with a heavy, metal base (as opposed to heavy metal bass which is another sonic issue entirely 😉) so that it can support the reflection filter without toppling over.

  • @tesla3090  Jan 6

    @ianuarius Weird, I'm surprised guitar center wouldn't be GDPR compliant.

    I hear you about the closets. Yeah, that's basically what I linked. I've heard good things about those but never used one myself.

  • @lvgd09  Jan 6

    I just use a dynamic mic for vocals and acoustic guitar. However, I sing and play straight into the mic. To me, the sound I get is pristine. I use the C1 gate compressor (excellent) anStudioOne Pro EQ and send to FX channel with reverb or delay or both....sounds pretty good. Good enough for a demo. I agree with @oddbod but I don't want to try to discourage anybody from tightening up their recording area. The thing is we can get good enough sound without all the bells and whistles. Further, it depends on your talent level too as to whether it is worth it to crank out more money for better mics or recordings equipment. My audio equipment is in the thousands of dollars now and I still don't have a vocal booth. I'd rather work with a real singer anyway than winging all vocals myself the best I can, and mostly in one or two takes. So, I'm not a great singer so the audio quality is not going to help, uh, me. When and if I start getting downloads I will consider upgrading even furt

  • @rustyp Jan 7

    It sounds like we have a pro in the room in @scottlake, but I'll tell you what I've done and have gotten good results with.
    at times I've put up a couple of mic stands to create a sortof triangular alcove and draped blankets over them to dampen reflections. Could you set up something similar to enclose yourself near the drapes?
    Also, do you have rugs on the floor?

    One of the best pieces of advice I've ever heard came from engineer Rob Chiarelli. He suggests using a good pop filter and singing close to the mic, even a condenser mic. You'll get the proximity effect, and you'll get a better signal to noise ratio thereby drowning out more room noise.

  • @sph  Jan 7

    I did the blankets over the boom arm of a mic stand thing behind me but most of the time vocals are done very quick and I forget to set everything up. Also I'm a tall guy recording in a low ceiling basement room so there's no place for sound absorbing material above my head.
    But thanks for the reminder to get "into the FAWM zone" 😀

  • @downburst  Jan 7

    @vomvorton, say more about your mic stand when you get a chance? I got a reflexion filter too, but I'm 6 feet tall, so to get it at the right height I need a stand that's about, hmm, 80ish inches or about 2000 of those fancy millimeters you use. I haven't been able to find one, though I have found some extension tubes, which I'm a little wary of.

  • @standup  Jan 8

    I think those reflection filters do some good. We have one. Put it on a cheap boom stand, it will go as high as you need it to.

    I'm lucky--decent sized basement space that I've done some treatment to. Roxul rockwool tucked between the rafters to damp the whole ceiling. Panels of fiberglass material on the walls to kill reflections. Bales of fiberglass insulation in the corners and at the back of the room to kill the lows. It kinda works.

    BUT if you can't do stuff like that, a reflection filter is a good start. Hanging a blanket behind you while singing into a mic with a reflection filter behind it is a good strategy.

    I had to record some vocals in an untreated room in our house during 50/90, and I stood 1.5 feet (half meter) from the mic and it sounded awful. So I put the reflection filter up and moved so that my mouth was 2" from the mic, and it was OK.

    If you're in an awful sounding room, get closer to the mic. Close source = less room sound.

  • @sph  Jan 8

    One more point to think of: If you have several acoustic guitars in your recording room hanging from the wall or just standing around these will resonate in one way or another and create a sort of reverb.
    I put cloth between strings and fretboard to dampen the sound.

  • @downburst  Jan 8

    Eric, the basement room I records in has exposed aluminum ducts over my head that ring if I sing loud. It's horrible. I am ooen to suggestions on how to fix that.

  • @standup  Jan 9

    Rod, I guess you could build a drywall box around the ducts? Or thin plywood? And maybe stuff it with insulation so that the insulation is pressed up against the ducts between the box and the duct?

    Maybe you could rig something with foam insulation sheets, something in contact with the metal to keep it from ringing.

    In my basement we have iron radiator pipes full of water. They don’t ring.

  • @scottlake  Jan 9

    They just need a little bit of mass on those ducts. Every flat surface, use duct tape to tape a handful of nails or washers or bolts. The ringing will stop. That’s about the cheapest solution. And you will be using duct tape for nearly its intended purpose!

  • @majordanby  Jan 9

    The biggest issue I always have is my computer fan is audible in my mixes. I try to create barriers but it is still audible; especially when I am recording multiple tracks through my mic. I may try something like this sound blocker as they are relatively cheap. Great idea 👍

  • @vomvorton  Jan 9

    @downburst not sure what the max height of mine would be (I'm only 5'7") but the brand is 'Ultimate Support' and it's one of the straight-up-and-down variety - I think any of the angled ones would struggle to support the filter. It might also depend on what surface your mic stand is on - I have a fairly soft carpet and found that I had to get something with a really heavy base or else the reflection filter made it really top-heavy and unstable.

  • @vomvorton  Jan 9

    @majordanby I used to have that problem too - I have old recordings where the fan noise really bugs me when I listen back now. Putting various barriers in the way helped a little but eventually I ended up buying a laptop for recording because they generally seem a lot quieter (my old desktop PC was also well past its best anyway though!)

  • @spingo  Jan 9

    I grabbed some moving blankets today to make little room divider things like this:

    You could grab one and chuck it over the curtain rod when it's vocal time, to have an absorbent thing behind you?

    Or maybe open a door and throw one over it to make a tent?

    Hey, it worked for Ray Charles:

  • @spingo  Jan 9

    Ooh, inline pictures.

    You could get one or two of these folding room divider thingies and put blankets on them, too, maybe yourself a little room to sit in.

  • @ianuarius  Jan 9

    Man, I wish I had something to hang blankets on/from.

  • @downburst  Jan 9

    @vomvorton that was my feeling too. I guess rather than looking for a taller stand I should find something to sit the stand on.

  • @downburst  Jan 9

    @spingo I like that tent idea! I don't think moving blankets are very good for loud guitar but I bet they're fine for vocals. And not too expensive--thanks.

  • @spingo  Jan 9

    @ianuarius What about an over-door hook or if there's no door, a doorway chinup bar? Neither need screws.

    @downburst Well, they wouldn't silence loud guitar, but they'd quiet it a little to keep them out of the vocal mic or something, and definitely kill any room reverb in the guitar mic.

  • @kc5 Jan 9

    This may be too simple, but I figured I would put it out there. Since it doubles as your living room, I wonder if you could put up some wall quilts on both walls. The wall with the picture and the wall with the individual photos. There are quite a variety in different sizes, colors, thicknesses, images, prices, etc. I'd measure the space on the wall that is empty and try to find something that covers most of it. Just a suggestion. The Etsy site has lots of wall quilts.

  • @ianuarius  Jan 9

    @kc5 thanks. I'm mostly looking for something more portable. I don't want to cram too much on the walls. It's not a bad idea. I'm going to have to research a bit and see if there's something that would fit the bill.

  • @johnstaples  Jan 9

    Portable? Cheap? Easy to do? No change to room?

  • @scottlake  Jan 10

    If you add wall hangings make sure to pull them out away from the wall about 10 cm.

  • @ianuarius  Jan 10

    @scottlake So, I could technically get some type of wall quilt as a decorational item for the living room, but pulling it 10cm away from the wall is... well, both really difficult and would make it look ridiculous. So, I suppose that's out of the question.

  • @kc5 Jan 10

    They usually hang on a rod. I suppose the holders/rings could be rigged to temporarily pop out from the wall, though probably not 10 inches away. Maybe 3-5.

  • @scottlake  Jan 10

    10cm is roughly 4 inches. You will get more benefit from the quilt or wall hanging acoustically not from an absorption as well as diffusion performance perspective. As for appearance being ridiculous, I would have to disagree. Another option is to make a wooden frame and staple a rug to it, put absorbing foam on the back, and hang that out a little ways from the wall. That’s what I have done and it completely kills flutter echoes in the room. I have a blog post where I have some photos of this. I will find the link and post it here

  • @scottlake  Jan 10

    Here’s the article. Most of it is about tuning my monitor EQ but near the end of the article I show the wall hanging. https://worshipbandwingman.wordpress....

  • @scottlake  Jan 10

    https://worshipbandwingman.wordpress..... Direct link to article instead of the overall blog

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