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Flooring, monitors

New to the forum (as a contributor at least - I've been reading the posts for a few months) and new to recording though I'm an expert (classical) musician, know quite a bit about computers, and am familiar with Cakewalk SONAR, and Sony's Vegas and Sound Forge (amongst other programs).

We're about to have an off-the-shelf garden office installed and I hope to be able to begin teaching myself something about recording. The room will be similar to those shown in the links below and will be 5.4 by 3.6m.

My immediate concerns are as follows:

1. Should I be asking for carpet or laminate flooring? Would the answer be different depending on the emphasis I might put on listening versus recording (voice and piano)?

2. How should I go about choosing monitors? I'm going to have no more than about £200 (c. $350) available and see the purchase as improving on my hi-fi speakers rather than getting something that will do for the longer term. I shall be sitting facing one of the 3.6m walls and was planning to have powered monitors mounted on stands behind an approximately 80cm deep table.

What sort of power output should I be looking for please? How much can I rely on recommendations from pop musicians? Would the money earmarked for stands be better spent on more expensive monitors even if they would then have to sit on the table?


moonbaby Thu, 03/08/2007 - 14:54
Can you say, "Pergo"? for the flooring.
The best inexpensive monitors for neutral, nearfield use are the NHT M00's... active (built-in
power amplifiers and processing) designed for
professional engineers to carry around from studio-to-studio. $500.00/pr. They are a steal, worth every
dollar,er, pound. NHT ("Now Hear This")-Google it.

ghellquist Wed, 03/08/2006 - 08:09
Hi Cygnus and welcome to the forum.

I think most of your questions really regard the neighbour forum Acoustics & Design. Around here we seem to spend most of our time on location taking whatever acoustics we find there. So how to treat a room is perhaps not our forte.

I´ll give some very personal ideas on your points, but remember I am just an amateur as recordist, profession is controller.

1 - go for laminate flooring from many reasons. Hygienics is one of them. Acoustics is another. A wall-to-wall carpet can dampen some of the high frequencys, but you could equally use movable carpets and then get a larger choice. Too much dampening of only the high frequencys is not a nice thing to have in a room. For recording acoustic sources I often like hardwood floor.

What you will have to work on is the low and low mid frequencys, dampening them with bass traps in order to get rid of the worst standing waves. That kind of questions is where our neighbour forum is the right place. That will help make playing in the room more pleasant, will make recordings sound better and allow you to hear more details when listening so it is a great win.

2 - I am sorry to say that in that price bracket of monitors I have not really had any luck with active monitors. They are sort of in the vogue right now, so you pay a bit extra just for that.

I would think that good hifi monitors is a better choice, and you can often get some a few years old at quite a reduction in price from new ones.

Placing them on stands of course is a better choice, but you can have them on the desc if you want. One solution is to put some heavy stone blocks on the table, a bit on foam on top of that and then finally the speaker. The heavy stone and foam helps a bit in stopping the table from vibrating. In addition it moves the speakers up a bit so you get less sound reflections from the tabletop.

3 - as for power. Recording equipment does not require very much power, but can be a bit sensitive to noise on the line. Be sure to get a decent ground into the recording feed as the equipment will like that. If you plan on having light dimmers or large electric heaters you might like to get a separate feed for that from the main switchboard to add a little bit of separation. In your situation I would definitely invest in some kind of overvoltage protection to protect against lightning and such.

Best of luck. A lot of fun planning awaits you.


Pro Audio Guest Wed, 03/08/2006 - 14:59
Thanks very much for your reply.

I hope I haven't offended anyone by posting here. I seriously considered tailoring my queries for the Acoustics and Design forum (I'll certainly post there for advice on treating the room) but very much wanted the perspective of those who deal with classical music (my circumstances could not be much more different from the live room/control room separation of the pop music recording studio!).

I shall think no more about carpet: it now seems so obvious that laminate would offer so much greater versatility.

I have to say however that I am now bewildered about monitoring. Surprised that you recommended hi-fi speakers over specialised nearfield monitors, I did a quick search and the very first articles I read ( and suggested the same thing (taking into account the differences in price).

I don't really trust the sound of the hi-fi amplifier and speakers I've had since childhood, and feel obliged to try to find something more reliable, but am now unsure what to do (or am maybe just shocked by the amount of research that's going to be involved). I take it that you wouldn't be concerned about things like the lack of balanced inputs in the case of hi-fi equipment?

When I asked about power output I was actually thinking of the power of the amplifier but am grateful for the reminders to make sure the building is wired suitably.

JoeH Fri, 03/09/2007 - 16:07
Before you toss out the carpeting idea, consider a combination of both. (Looks like you'll have a lot of wood above your head, as well. This is good). Your immediate mix area under your feet might be laminate or hardwood, with the further reaches of your room carpeted. (I like the one shot of the older gentleman seated and reading...looks like hes' on carpet as well.)

I prefer hardwood for recording and sessions, not nec. mixing. My new "Session room" (living room) is all hardwoord flooring, with thick drapes, and it sounds wonderful. My old mix room (up until 2 days ago) was industrial carpet on hard stone (40-yr old cured concrete) floors with 1950's era tar-based tile. I found the blend quite useful and sonically neutral. Walls were also stone, with interior studding & insulated panelling, treated in various spots for slap & echo, etc. (sonex, etc.) and the usuall assorment of bass traps & diffusers in critical spots.

I realize your room dimensions are more rectangular than my old space (22x22x8). I work(ed) in a corner, mix position/speakers facing out, so I didn't have to deal with parallel surfaces either; the room was big enough to absorb the bad stuff coming back at me. (i'm currently in a new temp space until the new studio is finished: 22x23x10, and it's a big difference with the higher ceiling.)

It's all about making it sound smooth and natural, finding the right balance between non-reflective, not too diffuse, and not too dead. Tht's why I like the carpet w/hardwood in the middle combo.

I like the pictures you posted. Is this type of building prefab?