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Good monitors vs. room treatment

Discussion in 'Room Acoustics / Studio Design' started by JohnTodd, Oct 16, 2010.

  1. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    Hi!
    I am an artist (...ducks chairs thrown at him...) trying to make a better recording in my home studio.

    So, I am looking at purchasing some real monitors, albeit not terribly expensive ones.

    But I also need room treatment.

    Seeing as how "all things recording" are interconnected, which one should I focus on? I can't make accurate mixes with inaccurate speakers. I've been using the same speakers for years so I "understand" what good music sounds like on them. (Altec-Lansing).

    But I recently did a home-brew frequency analysis of my room. I used Sound Forge to generate some sine sweeps from 20-20Khz, played them back through the speakers with my condenser mic at the mix position. The result? The perfect sines were trashed into something resembling a bumblebee's flight. All over the place.

    I can't make accurate mixes with an inaccurate room.

    But my mixes have gotten numerous compliments on their clarity. I prefer dense arrangements and put a lot into making each instrument clear and audible.

    So, what to do? Better monitors or room treatment? I must take it one step at a time in this studio.

    Wanting to learn more;
    -Johntodd
     
  2. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Can you post a sketch up of your 'studio' space? That will help the gurus have an idea of what can be done for the room. Also, what would be your budget for monitors? That will also help folks balance the pros and cons of room vice monitors.
     
  3. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Same as the JackAttack.


    I'll add this though... I have RealTraps all over my room corners and ProSoundFoam covering corners and back and sides and its never been more clear, fun and easy to mix now. What a difference. The foam helps reflection and the traps make an incredible difference with my ability to hear and mix the bass. You'd never know this until you have your room treated really well. Now, just by moving the bass volume a bit, I hear what it does to the mix. Its easier to fit the mix in the pocket, if you follow me.
    I am beginning to hear the weaknesses in other people's mix's as well because I have educated my ears.
     
  4. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    Studio sketch

    Studio1.jpg

    Just your basic American house bedroom. About 16X12 ft, wood paneled walls, carpet.

    My budget is $100-250, but I would go as high as $350 if I absolutely gosh-darn had to do it. I was looking at these monitors based upon recommends from RECORDING.ORG:

    Rokit 8 G2
    http://pro-audio.musiciansfriend.com/product/KRK-Rokit-Powered-8-Generation-2-Factory-Restock?sku=482827

    The 4X12 cab is where it is because it sounds sooooo good there. My apologies to the sensitive among you. :)

    @audiokid:
    I am thinking such thoughts. I've been researching traps and the like here at this site and at others. I'm going to build things myself. I'm currently renovating my parent's Pre-WWII house, so my 'skillz' are up to it. Corner traps, panels, superchunks, QRDs, and movable baffles are in my plans. Can't do a cloud right now due to ceiling heights. Or maybe a thin cloud? Is there such a thing?

    Thanks everyone!
    -Johntodd
     
  5. TheJackAttack

    TheJackAttack Distinguished Member

    Thanks for the sketch. Is there furniture in this bedroom or is it empty? We get lots of folks here wanting to do what you're asking and there are beds, clothes, furniture, blow up dolls, girlie mags, etc lying around. If you have basically an empty room with your recording gear then much more can be done.

    For monitors, I think 6" is the way to go but I don't know what would be in your price range. For $500 you can get the NHT M-00. The various KRK get some love around here but I haven't used them. Regardless, 8" cheap end monitors universally sound muddy to me and not clear and clean.
     
  6. BobRogers

    BobRogers Well-Known Member

    It's not that crucial a decision since you will have to do both eventually. But room treatments help you when you are tracking and when you are practicing - monitors don't. I'd start out with at least a few bass traps in the corners.
     
  7. Davedog

    Davedog Distinguished Member

    Sound control does more in the long run than spending money on a pair of speakers that, at this point, you dont know anything about. At least you are familiar with the speakers you're now using and treatment can only clarify their sound. After you treat your room, you can then decide what type of monitor would be best for your situation. As for your budget, that $350 max will go a LOT farther with room treatment than a pair of low-end monitors.

    Choosing a monitor always has a period of training for your ear before any results can be realized to the positive. Where-as hearing tracks in a balanced room will be immediate on the return.
     
  8. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    Same as BobRogers and Davedog.

    To add... Ethan Winer ( http://RealTraps.com ) sent me his RealTraps a few years back ( very professional product, packaging and shipping I must say!) and I was too hung up on foam back then. I never totally understood the bass traps concept until I opened my mind, watched these video's and then installed them as recommended.

    Ethan was a moderator here years ago. When he introduced his concept to us, there was some scepticism seeded. A few key engineers ( whom I looked up to) mocked at it all. Understandably, because we are so conditioned to believing what our ears hear (like acoustic foam for instance where you immediately experience deadness when its around you) I believed them and lost out.
    With bass traps ... you don't experience reflective deadness like you do with foam. What you don't hear is a good thing and I think this is where the breakdown (scepticism) comes in. I'm certain those engineers expected to hear the "foam effect" and immediately dismissed them (live and learn).

    Bass traps keep a room lively while controlling low end. Bass traps are essential for controlling low freq standing waves that foam cannot treat. When you have it right (both foam/absorption and traps) frequencies becomes more even, understandable and manageable ( lower end monitors will get you by). Only then, IMHO are you able to mix the bottom end more accurately and more modern. If you want to have balls to your music... deal with bass, deal with absorption.

    Watch these. Take special note to the importance of ceilings since you have a low ceiling. http://realtraps.com/videos.htm

    Over the years I have accumulated specific products I believe are essential for modern DAW production ( hybrid DAW and midi studio's where less is more). There is so much hype and wasted money spent around products so close to the other that you don't need to keep duplicating. So much hype drives us all in circles. I firmly believe once you've treated your room, this all becomes so apparent.

    Since we are discussing treatment in general here, I have also acquired a large amount of foam from a new company ( http://prosoundfoam.com ). They have upped their level of quality even more in the last month (Sept 2010) and from my understanding is equivalent to Auralex at much less the cost. What I just received is all expected! I am very impressed with this product and have both RealTraps and ProSoundFoam in my studio. My room is much more flat now. When you need foam, I definitely recommend calling them.

    Invest in room treatment absolutely first.
     
  9. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    You know, I think I will go with room treatments. BobRogers comment makes good sense...the treatments will help during tracking, practice, and mixing. audiokid and Davedog also point out some good concepts.

    So, traps in the corners, panels on the walls, and something on the ceiling.

    Thanks everyone!
    -Johntodd
     
  10. JohnTodd

    JohnTodd Well-Known Member

    Been reading the tech articles on Realtraps.com. Good stuff!
     
  11. Jeemy

    Jeemy Well-Known Member

    Its actually incredibly cheap to self-build basstraps and medium-range absorption using rockwool (you guys call it semi-rigid fibreglass), wood frames, and fabric coverings. Its also incredibly cheap to find digital printers who will output onto canvas.

    You can easily outfit your room with wood frames, stuffed with rockwool and wrapped (I use pond netting designed to keep birds out of fishponds), and then cover over it with printed fabric.

    Until you hit something like 25ft on each side, there are so many low-frequency modes in a room that measurement can't tell you much more than that the solution is low-to-mid broadband absorption (so 4-inch thick rockwool with a good 4-8 inches behind it, on the corners). So in fact its very easy and cheap to do your room and have it looking really cool - just pick a few band posters and have them output onto canvas, or buy cheap velvet or towelling fabric - and it doesn't just pay dividends in monitoring but in tracking as well.

    Absorption first, speakers 2nd. This presumes a minimum level of speaker but I have to say I'm of the opinion that if you can't afford more, a decent set of ALs or HKs is a fine home/bedroom solution until you can lay down $500-1000 on monitors.
     

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