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Old June 8th, 2009, 10:15 AM   #1
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how to deaden a room

I am looking to turn a finished basement with substantial echo into an audio studio, and I am wondering what the best solution for deadening the room is.

Regarding acoustic foam, is the most effective solution usually to cover all of the walls with it (and add rugs to the floor), or are there certain spots, based on where the microphones and subjects are, that require more (and require no) foam?
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Old June 8th, 2009, 04:43 PM   #2
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Depending on your budget and how serious you want to get, it really is worthwhile getting some pro advice at the outset of an acoustic project.

Doing these things by trial and error can drive you nuts, waste time and you end up spending the money anyway.

Even though you're not building Abbey Road, a clever specialist can work wonders, I'd ask around.

Cheers.
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Old June 8th, 2009, 05:20 PM   #3
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Sound on Sound forum has a very good area for this sort of thing.
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Old June 8th, 2009, 06:39 PM   #4
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What are you trying to do exactly? If you're only trying to record vocals (voice over, etc.) imo the best idea is to find a closet and sound proof that.

A walk in closet is the perfect vocal booth, just glue some foam to the door and behind the mic, and drape some comforters on either side of the closet (or even just hang up some clothes if that's your only choice - anything that blocks the "echoes")

I've been recording singers and rappers (as well as my own vocals) for over 10 years this way and gotten great results. Otherwise I've seen people (pros in the industry) using a large room and setting up somewhat of a triangle with mattresses, with the mic in the middle - anything that works, who cares if it looks ugly
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Old June 8th, 2009, 06:54 PM   #5
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Allan has the right idea. I use to work in a high end audio store where one of my jobs was to install equipment in peoples homes. These weren't your typical customers and stereo systems. The most expensive system I installed was $300k. So the clients were serious about getting the most out of their equipment. We would actually balance a room using various techniques. Given that people still had to live in their environments we were limited but we would use a variety of techniques. Acoustic panels come in different looks now but I use to use Sonex a lot. It doesn't look pretty and it can be expensive (about $80 for a 2'x2' panel).

If you're building an audio studio I'd say to make everything adjustable. You don't the room to be totally dead. There has to be some natural reverberation in the room or a lot of the typical harmonics that are produced will be lost.

If you're somewhat technically oriented this is a pretty good article on room treatment.

Acoustic Treatment and Design for Recording Studios and Listening Rooms

The best thing if you're willing to spend the money would be to hire someone. If not you can have a lot of fun and headaches doing it yourself. There is some software you can buy that used with a good mic and A/D unit can be used to do this. It will take a lot of time and could be expensive but you will learn a lot about how to make something sound good. I recently did a shoot at Fantasy Studios in Berkeley, CA. They've recorded some greatest jazz albums in their studios. Listing to their room acoustics and how the engineer could change the characteristics of sound by moving one or two panels brought me back to my days of moving a table 1 foot left or right to see if it made a difference.
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Old June 8th, 2009, 11:20 PM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Natan Pakman View Post
I am looking to turn a finished basement with substantial echo into an audio studio, and I am wondering what the best solution for deadening the room is.

Regarding acoustic foam, is the most effective solution usually to cover all of the walls with it (and add rugs to the floor), or are there certain spots, based on where the microphones and subjects are, that require more (and require no) foam?
Do you really want the best? Or do you mean best bang for the buck/budget?

This subject can get hopelessly complicated. But there are some great "Good enuf for government work" solutions too, like the triple mattress booth.
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Old June 8th, 2009, 11:41 PM   #7
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foam isn't the be all do all end all solution by any means. its also really expensive because you really want the 4"-6" thick stuff. the thinner material only works on higher frequencies.

room shape and ceiling height can have more play then anything else. also, you will see various hard shapes mounted on studio walls. these don't absorb sound, they diffuse it.

the best thing is to have a room with the walls at angles to each other, and the ceiling not parallel to the floor. this will do the most to create a natural sounding space with little echo on its own. redoing walls is more effort, but getting the space right is the best starting point. if you have a ceiling thats 7ft or less, you're really stuck, and it may simply not be worth the effort to try to even do. if you room is square, or close to it, that is the worst shape to work with, so don't even try unless you want to spend some crazy time and effort.

and.... sound level reduction is best done with dense limp materials. lead foil was the old standard... of course we now know using it isn't such a good idea. old thick blankets can also work.

having some panels with thick material can also be VERY handy to move in as needed.

also do not forget fire retardant treatment. don't think if using ANY material that has not been treated and has an acceptable rating for local fire codes. commercial foams usually come in 2 grades, rated and unrated, guess which is more expensive, but safer.

oh, and air handling is also a potential problem. before you try to convert a closet into a vocal booth, you had best be sure its got ventalation or anyone in there will quickly overheat.


its not simple... I'd evaluate if the space is workable first.
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Old June 9th, 2009, 07:36 AM   #8
 
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As a first cut, you can do quite well with throw rugs and strategically placed foam(auralex). Acoustically designed rooms are rather impossible when you're working with a structure already built.The "strategic" treatment is to only foam the corners of the room, floor to ceiling. Reflected waves are damped most effectively in this way.
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Old June 9th, 2009, 01:27 PM   #9
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Thanks to all, this is extremely helpful.
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Old June 9th, 2009, 11:01 PM   #10
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Originally Posted by Bill Ravens View Post
The "strategic" treatment is to only foam the corners of the room, floor to ceiling. Reflected waves are damped most effectively in this way.
Um, while bass can build up in corners, (who records in a corner?) the real problem is standing waves and hard, flat parallel surfaces. You need to add enough foam to control the HF bounce. That's absorption. Then you need to break and scatter the waves. That's called diffusion. A good sounding room requires both attention to absorption and diffusion.

Regards,

Ty Ford
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Old June 9th, 2009, 11:40 PM   #11
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Make it real home like with a bookcase with various shaped books, some wool persian carpets on the walls and maybe a centre tube from a carpet store in the corner, cover it with fabric and put a statue of Marc Bolan on it.
Just trying to make a point that it doesn't have to be that industrial studio look with formaldehyde foam and drywall seeping into the air. Anything it takes to break up the surfaces. Keep the untreated surfaces opposing the parallel softer surfaces.
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