How To Get The Best Sound Out Of Your Sound Stage Studio
The story is a common one. You’ve labored for weeks, months, even years to create the best studio you possibly can. You’ve purchased the perfect equipment, optimized your computer, maybe you’ve even scored a client or two, but now you’re faced with a horrible realization: the space in which you’re working was never, ever intended to be a sound studio space. All that great equipment is rendered completely moot by the acoustics of the room, and you don’t have any money left to hire out a professional room treatment. What in the world are you going to do about this?
Though a professional treatment is, of course, the best option for every sound stage studio, there are definitely ways to create a comfortable, accurate sound by yourself. You just need a little patience.
Reassess the Reverb
Reverb is one of those tricky acoustic elements with the potential to either make or break your studio sound. Too much of it, and you’ll have echo from here to eternity. Too little, and every noise in the room will sound dead and flat, as if all the air had been siphoned away when no one was looking.
Finding the perfect balance between the two is simple: just pad the walls. Reverb is created by sound waves hitting hard, flat surfaces, then bouncing off and into each other. A certain amount of that is desired, but too much will completely distort the room’s inherent sound qualities and ruin your recording. So instead of giving the sound something to bounce off of, give it something to sink into. Pad largely offensive surfaces with material meant for cushioning; egg boxes are perfect for this, but even covered fiberglass will do the trick.
But be forewarned: too much padding, and you’ll accidentally achieve what’s known as complete absorption, or the deadening of a room. If you’ve eliminated every surface, the room is only absorbing sound, not reflecting even a comfortable amount. You’ll need to create absorption in the areas where the reverb is overly offensive; you can figure this out by blasting your favorite record and listening for the muddiest areas of the room. Strive for a bright, but not overly echoed, all-over sound, and keep adding or subtracting padding until you’ve completely achieved it.
Waves and Walls
The hardness and flatness of your studio’s walls aren’t the only threat to an accurate sound; the walls’ positioning is equally as vital. Like we mentioned before, sound waves love to bounce off surfaces. Sometimes this is good; let them bounce away! But it’s an absolute problem when you have two hard, parallel walls facing each other. Instead of meandering around the room as sound waves should, they’ll get stuck bouncing back and forth between these surfaces.
This phenomenon is called the standing wave, and it’s one of the most troublesome problems in any studio space. The only way to cure this is to very much force the sound away from that area, effectively diffusing it to other parts of the room. When creating absorption in your studio, pay special attention to these areas. Break up the flatness of the parallel walls by adding whatever padding material you’re using, and continue to room test until the standing waves are completely eliminated.
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