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Tips on new studio setup?

Posted: Wed Aug 28, 2019 1:06 pm
by jacreeve
Hi folks,

Can anyone offer me some tips for setting up a home studio? I've never had a dedicated room of my own before (at least not one where I'm allowed to do things like drilling into the walls! :D ), so this is all quite new and exciting for me. The room at my disposal is pretty small (L: 3.1 m; W: 2.85 m; H: 2.55 m), and unfortunately not that far off being cuboid. I gather this is not ideal.

I imagine bass traps are going to need to be fairly high up on my list. I'm also thinking of lining one of the longer walls with open shelving to store all my music gear. I'll need to get a desk as well - maybe something like this: https://www.gear4music.com/Recording-an ... tural/2QY9. That's as far as I've got in my thinking up to now.

Any thoughts, recommendations or resources that you could share with me? Any favoured brands, or things I should avoid? I don't have a huge amount of cash at the moment, so I'd like to get something basic working fairly quickly, and maybe look to upgrade gradually in the future.

All thoughts gratefully received. Thank you!

Jac

Re: Tips on new studio setup?

Posted: Fri Aug 30, 2019 10:12 pm
by YellowStudio
The desk looks very nice but this is also an option: https://www.ikea.com/gb/en/p/bekant-des ... s39282249/
I have a standing desk combined with a regular stand for my keyboard and a little table for the mouse. It's not perfect but for me it feels good to be able to work both sitting and standing. :-)

Maybe room correction software: https://www.musictech.net/guides/buyers ... libration/

Re: Tips on new studio setup?

Posted: Mon Sep 02, 2019 4:02 pm
by ResonantTone
Hey Jac!

I recently (within the last couple years) redid my music space and it sounds like it's a similar size. Got some thoughts for ya, but I figured I'd ask some questions first.

1) Do you already have studio monitors? If so, what are they?

2) What's the ceiling/floor made of? (I'm guessing the walls are drywall?)

3) Have you checked in to any resources on determining what your room sounds like? (a simple sine sweep can give you lots of info right off the bat)

4) Do you have decent headphones?

Re: Tips on new studio setup?

Posted: Tue Sep 03, 2019 1:10 pm
by jacreeve
Thanks YellowStudio - yes, I had wondered about the idea of a standing desk....I do too much sitting as it is for my day job. I shall give that idea some more thought. Thanks also for the link on room correction software - it looks like it could be very useful. Much appreciated.

Hi Andrew/ResonantTone (not sure how you prefer to be addressed!) - here are some answers for you...

1) Do you already have studio monitors? If so, what are they?
I'm currently using a pair of Fostex PM 0.4s. Would love to upgrade at some point, but probably not the first thing on the list.

2) What's the ceiling/floor made of? (I'm guessing the walls are drywall?)
Ceiling is plasterboard on joists, floor is vinyl on top of chipboard/concrete. No drywall - the studio is in a weird little extension that the previous owners bolted onto the front of the house, so I reckon it will be breeze blocks on all 4 sides.

3) Have you checked in to any resources on determining what your room sounds like? (a simple sine sweep can give you lots of info right off the bat)
Not yet!

4) Do you have decent headphones?
Sadly no.

Re: Tips on new studio setup?

Posted: Tue Sep 03, 2019 1:32 pm
by ResonantTone
Jac,

Andrew is fine! :) And let me premise my advice with the notion that I’m not an expert by any means!

1. I’m not familiar with those particular monitors, but knowing their low end frequency response and how it interacts with your room is pretty important. As a general rule of thumb, smaller rooms don’t do great with bottom end, but there are a ton of variables. Bass traps can definitely help (they were a life saver for me) but try to get everything setup and see what’s goin on before you drop a couple hundred dollars on traps.

2. Hard flat surfaces are generally terrible for accurate listening. You’ll be getting a lot of audio reflections, which essentially changes what your ear is hearing and cause all kinds of issues. I’d definitely recommend some kind of carpet or rug if possible.. as well as sound absorption panels for the early reflection points at the very least.

3. So once you get setup, I’d definitely try a simple sine sweep and see what gets abnormally loud and what seems to disappear. Most modern daws should have some type of plugin for this. It is definitely not the best approach to determining exactly what’s wrong with the room (an rta mic and some software is much more accurate), but it will at least put you on the right track to figuring out where your big culprits are.

4. Some accurate headphones can be great for reference.. especially when dealing with imperfect mixing spaces.

Bottom line, it will be hard/almost impossible to make it perfect.. but the good news is you don’t really need it to be. You just need it decent and most importantly, you need to become familiar with how your setup sounds. The more time you spend in it and the more you do some comparative listening with reference tracks, the better you’ll get and making good mixing decisions for your projects. Familiarity and a good ear can get you some seriously awesome results.

Hope that helps ya little! Keep us updated on how it goes! :)

Andrew

Re: Tips on new studio setup?

Posted: Tue Sep 03, 2019 9:38 pm
by andygabrys
You are probably going to get a lot of opinions on this thread......so here comes mine.

While I agree with many of the things Andrew said, you have to be realistic about what you are trying to achieve and how much you want to spend.

1) if you don’t have headphones, don’t bother with buying anything else or shooting your room with a sine wave until you have a basic decent pair of phones. Spending about $100 US will get you a basic pair of closed back phones from Sony, Audio Technica, AKG or similar manufacturers.

Cross referencing with headphones is the cheapest way to get a different perspective on ambience and bass extension. it’s not great for panning necessarily unless you like LCR mixing.

A lot of people mix in weird rooms at low volume and cross reference against commercial tracks with monitors and phones and their stuff sounds great - so after basic gear it’s definitely the ear not $$$$ of gear.

2) if you have that then bass traps are likely the next best money you could spend but it helps to understand what you are trapping.

Most rooms are rectangular. With parallel walls and usually hard surfaces (gyp-rock or drywall). They usually have a lot of flutter echo in the higher mids and high freq. this is easily tamed by using fibreglass or roksul or similar panels which are available from a million places in the US like GIK acoustics.

So these kind of panels take flutter echo really easily but as long as they are double thickness (4”) and placed across any of the 12 right corners in a rectangular room they will take away a lot of bass buildup.

Most people orient their monitors down the long dimension of the room. Say you have a room that is 3m wise and 5m long you put the monitors in the corners on the short side and they fire down the 5 m length of the room. Monitors on sand filled stands (easy to make with basic building supplies) with the monitors 0.5m off the walls will be a great start. Most people have 2-5bass traps they put in the corners behind the monitors and then on the first reflection points on the sides and the end wall of the room behind their computer monitor. Most people’s rooms end up with a dead end where the monitors sit and a live end behind them that is farther away and doesn’t effect things too much but helps with a little room ambience and it doesn’t sound like you are mixing in a vocal booth - like not totally dead.


Anyways - like I said it’s relative. You aren’t mixing million dollar records. Basic monitors and headphones mixing at medium volume for tone and super quiet for level balances will get you a really long way especially if you reference against commercially available recordings.

Good luck!

In case you were wondering - yes I bought bass traps and probably have 9 of them in my room. They were a great investment (like spend $600 US on them years back) but having been producing for a while now I don’t even feel they are essential. There are so many great pieces of software out there like iZotopes Tonal Balance plugin that really help you get things balanced without having to mix loud or spend $$$$$ on expensive monitors, lots of room treatment, or software that accommodates for your particular room weirdness. Naturally if you have tons of €$$$$ burning a hole in your pocket that stuff is all fine. 🤪

Re: Tips on new studio setup?

Posted: Thu Sep 05, 2019 6:40 am
by waveheavy
My 2 cents...

If you do have any rectangular dimensioned room at all, always setup your mix position on the short wall, about 3/8 back off your front wall.

You can build simple bass traps out of mineral wool and fabric. Don't even have to build wood frames if you're not picky how they look.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LTAtp7CUIvs

Ideally, especially need traps in all four corners. then a cloud overhead at the mix position. Then 1st reflection points at the sides (have someone hold a small mirror along the side walls moving it while you sit at your mix position; wherever you see your monitors in the mirror, that's a 1st reflection point and needs to have an absorber. Can use a basic 1 inch thick fiberglass board covered with fabric for basic absorber. Usually need an absorber on your front wall behind your monitors. Especially need bass traps on the rear wall.

Don't want a completely 'dead' sounding room. You can get plastic molded diffusers from GIK to liven a room up if needed.

Re: Tips on new studio setup?

Posted: Thu Sep 05, 2019 10:27 am
by jacreeve
Thanks everyone, this is really, really helpful! I watched the video that you posted, Dave/waveheavy, and I think my current setup (in the corner of my spare room) isn't doing me any favours for mixing/recording. Hopefully I can get a similar improvement with a bit of work. Sounds like headphones will be a good investment as well, cheers!

Re: Tips on new studio setup?

Posted: Thu Sep 05, 2019 10:59 am
by andygabrys
that's a good video that illustrates what "flutter echo" is and how it colours you recordings.

The other issue is when you are mixing something that has already been recorded say at at amazing commercial studio.

Its hard to tell what kind of ambience (reverb/delay) you need to add if your room is adding some to what comes out of your speakers.

This might help for some ideas - scroll down to see some typical room setups https://www.gikacoustics.com/acoustic-advice/

Q for you: the guitar on tunes like Cedar avenue on your page - how much extra reverb did you add? What about the drum kit on the same tune?

Re: Tips on new studio setup?

Posted: Thu Sep 05, 2019 12:14 pm
by GBall
I’m pretty sure we all do the same kind of research/web searching, but the link below was new to me. To summarize it, a team of university students at Worcester Polytechnic Institute took on a project to:
“…demonstrate cost effective methods of acoustic treatment for independent and at-home recording artists that they could easily incorporate in their space. It is essential that the report focus on spending as little money as possible in order to align itself with the position an at-home recording artist would find themselves in ...”
One reason I’m writing here is that I was surprised at some of their findings, I had accepted the common view that broadband absorption or Bass Traps were the best approach – and being quite wrong according to this study. Being as they put it “… with little effect.”

They agree that subjectively the character of the room changed a bit. But did it improve the frequency response of the room to give you a more accurate environment for judging the quality of a mix at the listening position? Their answer was no.
“None of our absorption materials made a great impact on the absorption properties of the rooms. Using more expensive commercial equipment is not inherently better than less expensive fabric, plywood floorboards, etc. In fact neither the commercial material, fabric, floor boards, or our bass traps did anything to alter the frequency response of the room dramatically.”
What did work dramatically according to the study, was the Cardas method of placing speakers. For myself I’ve been careful in the measurement and placement of my Nearfields before, but mostly with the intent to avoid the worst room nodes. The Cardas method relies on different math to use nodes to its advantage.

Anyway, thought it would be an interesting and useful conversation…. Here is the link

https://web.wpi.edu/Pubs/E-project/Avail...014-15.pdf