Optimizing Your Recording Room: Controlling Sound - dummies

Optimizing Your Recording Room: Controlling Sound

By Jeff Strong

After you create a recording room that’s as isolated from the outside world as possible, you need to control or at least deal with the way sound acts within your room.

Sound travels through the air in the form of waves. These waves bounce around the room and cause reflections (reverberations or echoes). One of the problems with most home studios is that they’re small.

And because sound travels very fast (about 1,130 feet per second — the exact speed depends on the humidity in the environment), when you sit at your monitors and listen, you hear the reflected sound as well as the original sound that comes out of your speakers. With big rooms, you can hear the original sound and reflections as separate sounds, meaning that the reflections themselves become less of a problem.

For a good home studio, you need to tame these reflections so that they don’t interfere with your ability to clearly hear the speakers.

How all these reflections bounce around your room can get pretty complicated. Read up on acoustics (the way sound behaves) to discover more about different room modes: axial (one dimension), tangential (two dimensions), and oblique (three dimensions). Each relates to the way that sound waves interact as they bounce around a room.

Knowing your room’s modes can help you come up with an acoustical treatment strategy, but very complicated formulas are used to figure out your room’s modes, especially those dastardly tangential and oblique modes.

You can find out more on room modes, as well as discover some room mode calculators, by using your favorite Internet search engine and searching for room modes.

An excellent source for sound control and acoustics information is Ethan Winer’s forum at Musicplayer.com. You can check it out at Musicplayer Forum.

Sound control plays a major role in two aspects of recording — tracking and mixing — and each requires different approaches for you to get the best possible sound from your recordings.