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What to look for in a mastering/recording room

Discussion in 'Room Acoustics / Isolation / Treatment' started by Eraserfish, Jun 29, 2014.

  1. Eraserfish

    Eraserfish Active Member

    Hey fellas, I'm in the market for a small house and want to build my best solo studio yet. I live in Germany where the houses are made of thick cinderblock and most of the rooms are small and squarish around 4 meters X 5 meters and have an average height between 2.25 and 2.4 meters. I've been trying to find something a little larger for special projects and infrequent but welcome jam sessions, but european houses are known for small rooms. I'm a solo recording musician, so everything will have to be done in this one room, recording, mixing, mastering. I'm looking for some tips as i look at houses that may guide me into making a better choice. For example, do cellars make better studio rooms than ground floor? Do top floors with sloping ceilings make bad rooms? Are high ceilings bad for acoustics? Is there anything that would be especially bad for a new studio that I should be on the look out for (other than the obvious stuff like loud neighbors, living on a busy street or near train tracks and airports). I'm looking for little stand alone houses with a little distance from the neigbors so my biggest worries will be in setting up the room for great acoustics.
    Space likes this.
  2. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    When building a studio, engineers will search for different particularities depending on the task. Doing it all in the same room is a challenge because each task demandes for a different type of treatment.

    You should know that when you play a sound in a room, the dimensions of the room will reflect the sound a certain way that some frequencies will be emphasis more than others. In result, your recordings will often have more of those frequencies and if you mix in that same room, you will be tricked by the illusion there is too much of those frequencies in your mix. You can use a calculator to help you figure out what are those frequencies
    here's one : http://www.bobgolds.com/Mode/RoomModes.htm

    In the end, our brain can compensate a lot of things. If you get to know how music is suppose to sound in your room, you'll get better results.
    So listen to a lot of commercial CDs. ;)
  3. DonnyThompson

    DonnyThompson Distinguished Member

    I also highly recommend Rod Gervais's book Home Recording Studio - Build It Like The Pros

    Rod is a member here at RO, and his book contains a wealth of knowledge, perfect for what you are attempting to do.

  4. audiokid

    audiokid Staff

    All the above and you could also consider renting a choice church or similar that could be used for tracking particular sessions or the final session. Maybe there is a perfect one near the house you might buy?
    My suggestions, if you are at all serious, don't try and make a small room work for tracks that need a bigger sound in them. They always sound boxy and need savage eqing. Its never as fun mixing either. You spend more time trying to do the impossible. Mixing never ends up the way you hoped.
    Invest in good dynamic mics if you have small room challenges. Dynamics will sound excellent with a high quality mic pre.
    If you are forced to use boxy rooms that need acoustic micing, I'd kill all wall reflection (Rods Book) and learn to use room emulation and sound replacement as much as I could.

    Future project I have coming, we are using small studios (which is what most people have) for working out all the creative and supporting tracks. When the serious tracking is needed, and we are all ready, we're going into a church and doing it again.
    To me, its a waste of time goofing around with boxy rooms if you are trying to get quality sounding acoustic related musical performances. Been there done that.
    I have built a mixing /mastering studio with the ability to take it on location.
  5. Eraserfish

    Eraserfish Active Member

    Hey thanks for the replies. I purchased Rods book as a kindle and I'm reading it now. He really gets into the math of frequencies....cool. I've been playing with the calculator from pcrecord but don't really understand it completely. I'm wondering what the perfect room dimension would be to get that nice sloping curve. Seems like high ceilings are generally pretty good. One of the houses I'm taking a serious look at has a room that isn't so wide but it's longish and has a ceiling that starts low and increases in height up to about 20 feet. That could be a pretty good room for open acoustics with my AT4047 and Ribbon mics. I'd rather have a room that's a little too big and then control it with creative sound dampening than work out of a 4 meter X 4 meter box again. @audiokid...when I grow up I'd still like to have your fingers on one of my projects to see how a pro does it. I've spent the last year in Afghanistan really listening for the first time and going into each track with HP/LP and a graphic EQ, and I've started to enjoy it. I hadn't realized before how much my tracks were competing with each other for space in my mixes. It was really bad on a sonic level. I had been putting my drum tracks on one track. Now I seperate the components of kick, snare, highhats, and cymbals so I can control them better. I will actually rewrite or get rid of tracks now that step on eachothers toes sonically to keep the overall mix sounding better, vocals coming through clearer etc. For the first time I'm getting to the point that I would be proud to hand my music to a mastering engineer without thinking there's not much he's going to be able to do with that. Before some of my mistakes were so internal to the individual tracks that even the best engineer couldn't have saved them.
  6. pcrecord

    pcrecord Don't you want the best recording like I do ? Well-Known Member

    As I said earlier, having the best recording room isn't the best mixing room, specially if it as a lot of reverb in it. But if you have no other choice than doing it all in one room, you can transform it's acoustics using removable draps and Gobos.

    I've made some reversable gobos (one side absorbtion and one side reflection). It expend the possibilities !
    942394_10151938589124966_1001273519_n.jpg 970067_10151938589119966_386252201_n.jpg
  7. kmetal

    kmetal Kyle P. Gushue Well-Known Member

    I like the idea of that room w a sloped ceiling and 20ft at the highest point! Hmmm natural reverb for tracking, love it. But basically since it's gonna be a muti purpose, I think the general idea is a good mixing environment can be more suitable for tracking, than a good tracking room is suitable for mixing. In other words, you need accuracy in your mix room. Recording rooms don't, they just need to sound good. So if your gonna lean in one direction, a mix focused room w the ability to track, is probably the way to go. As an aside, I thought working In a multi room facility would be wicked awsome, after using two small adjacent rooms in my baseman for years, and it is, but man, is it annoying having to walk back and forth thru the rooms all the time when I'm by myself, and getting mic placement, and gains ect. Don't think your necessarily at a disadvantage right away w a one room studio.

    As far as what I'd look for in a pre existing room? I like high ceilings, and I'd look for something that didn't have any super crazy alcoves or anything weird, a simple rectangle it's cool. You'll learn about room ratios, in the book, which are a good guideline for how rooms w good low end distribution. So I'd keep an eye on that,

    Dunno what your experience is in construction, but if it were I personally, I'd be looking for a wide open basement, where the plumbing and heating stuff is as close together in one area as possible, and the other part has minimal piping/ducting ect. Or a place that has area enough for an outbuilding. Things like budget and construction skill, and will power will determine what's best, and that's even if your considering building/adding at all.

    Also, you could look into a place that has walls that you could tear down to make two rooms into one bigger one.

    Basements are good becuase they are on a concrete foundation (here in the US anyway) and concrete and earth (dirt) Are ecellent at containing sound. Wooden decks, and 2nd floors require quite a it more work right off the bat. Not impossible, but more elaborate, and expensive.

    The book you got is awesome, and rod it a really helpful dude, I was able to talk to him for about an hour on the phone one time, the dude just knows his stuff. Lol I took notes.

    But yeah, as your reading thru please ask anything you don't fully understand, or even stuff you do, there's a lot of super helpful people, and spefically in the construction forum, space, max, rod, and andre. But quite a few of the cats around here have or had pro studios, and have worked in them, some of them Have had many studious, so your likely to get good advice, even from some of the people who aren't specifically experts in acoustics/construction.

    As you get closer to the actual purchase/serious contender phase, that's the time to get really specific.

    I don't think rod responds to threads that don't outline the required information in the sticky, and rightfully so. But he's made it pretty easy by being clear about what he needs. Obviously some of the stuff you don't know yet, but if you are remotely serious about this, I'd read the sticky, answer as much as possible now, and fill in the blanks as you go. I'm not trying to be like one of those people on the threads to dodge questions, or be like, the thread police, at all. It's just that there are some amazing people who can help,you for nada, and that's what they wanna see, so I'd take full advantage of it.

    May I add congrats on you considering purchasing a house!

    Ps, as far as a mastering room, I would just forget that idea, unless you are exclusively a mastering engineer, w a ton of money ect, mastering rooms are a different animal, between the tolerances acceptable in the frequency response, to the equipment, I would stick w the idea of a mix/rec room. Not to say you can't do some home studio based mastering processing, but I think a true mastering room is just out of the scope of what your looking to do.
  8. Eraserfish

    Eraserfish Active Member

    Thanks for the replies. I've spent some hours reading Rods book and also the mixing handbook suggested by one of you guys. Also spent a lot of time in the forums, especially the one about ChrisH's basement A or B dilemma with a lot of suggestions from the big boys of recording.org. I'm sure I will make lots of mistakes, but I won't need all the frills and isolation of a full recording studio. I don't track drums or bands, just my vocals and guitars, the rest is pretty much in the box or comes in through a DI. I'm thinking seriously about building a vocal booth though, I just need to set it up so that I can use my computer while I'm in there to record myself. Wireless mouse and plexiglass. I'm still intimidated by the room treatment for mixing though. Lots to learn. I will post photos and specifics when the time comes.

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