Room treatment isn't necessary

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Profile picture for user Colin
Submitted by Colin on Sun, 01/21/2018 - 15:32

This has been in my heart and on my mind for a long time and I wanted to share. I'm by no means a professional. But I've made some absolute classics in my time of being a home studio recording artist of 12 years.
With that said, I think room treatment such as bass traps and acoustic treatment is a waste of time and money and work. I know in my heart that I could have easily made a radio hit wonder had I made the right song, regardless of the room treatment.

If the ax is dull and its edge unsharpened, more strength is needed, but skill will bring success.

Let me be the first to congratulate you on your success! Let me also point out that by your own admission that you are "by no means a professional". Let me also say that those of us who are, prefer to work in environments that make it much much easier to hear the things going on with off the floor captures no matter whether it is a "hit" or a certifiable stinker.

I understand your point, which seems to be,'a hit song is a hit song no matter the environment it's recorded in'.....I get that. There may not even be a whole lot of difference in the gear used on making a 'hit' song.....most of it is an inspired writing and arrangement of such ...done in a way that is accessible and easily understood by the listening audience. Because, seriously, without a listening audience, what would happen to the 'hit' song??

So in response to your post, while it might indeed be a waste of time, effort, and money to build out a recording environment with acoustic controls and sound treatments, for you, for others....myself included....it's an absolute must.

Makes me wonder right up front, how much time you have spent in an actual professional studio environment........probably not a lot seeing the tenor of your post......If you had you would never have that conclusion. Usually it only takes about ten minutes for someone with a discerning ear to become totally awakened to the beauty of being able to HEAR everything that is going on in the arrangement and production of even the most banal music. Having a truly HIT song in a truly incredible controlled environment allows for complete concentration on the smallest detail without having to be distracted by untamed reflections, bass buildup, flutter echoes, notes that are seemingly out of tune with themselves.......etc.

Had you ever experienced this you would know exactly what I'm saying...................

Acoustic treatment get you there faster and gives you more options... You can do an album in a crappy sounding room and have it sound good... But everything you do there will sound the same... Options and speed are the reason treatment is used.

My take on rooms is simply down to the thing you are recording. A voice, an orchestral instrument, a piano, and acoustic guitar - these things sound different in different rooms. Same with drum kits. Forget recording - just play them, and you are instantly aware how supportive or destructive the space can be. However, my DI's bass and synths sound the same in any room - and if you hit record, then the sound of the instrument is recorded pretty faithfully. Of course, a pair of speakers used for monitoring sounds different - but often you can get used to how they sound compared to other people's speakers, or of course - use enclosed headphones - which remove the room element.

The room is critical. One continuing project I do involves a concert pianist, and his excellent grand in his nasty reflective room is easily beaten by a decent piano VST - and even he can hear it.

Room treatment puts a troublesome room closer to a room that supports the people in it. Often not quite getting there, but always better than a no-treatment room. Even big recording spaces with wonderful acoustics for one use can need treating to be able to work for other material.

Having a hit has very little to do with quality, and never has!

I think it would be futil to debate the use and need of acoustic treatment.
But it boils down the expectations one puts in where he/she works.
These days, I meet a lot of recordist who simply doesn't care for fidelity or doing things the best way. Some are just not hearing the difference and others just resolve to the thinking of 'it won't mather in earbuds'

I'm pretty sure a room could be built with such a design that no absorbtion will be needed (thinking of a very big room)
I've recorded in small rooms for a long time and without treatment they all sounded crap.. (at least to me)

Hey @Colin Thank you for sharing such a passionate pov on room treatment however, you are going to have a hard time convincing this crowd whats good for you is good for the rest of us.
That being said, I'd love to hear recordings/ mixes you've done without treatment. Please share more to support your theory.

audiokid, post: 455381, member: 1 wrote: Hey @Colin Thank you for sharing such a passionate pov on room treatment however, you are going to have a hard time convincing this crowd whats good for you is good for the rest of us.
That being said, I'd love to hear recordings/ mixes you've done without treatment. Please share more to support your theory.

https://recording.org/posts/454846/

https://recording.org/threads/jc.63165/

Thanks Kurt.

Colin, post: 454838, member: 47940 wrote: [MEDIA=soundcloud]our-peace/jc-1

I like what you are doing, nice job on the SSS in this track. Not my style of music, I much prefer your Jamaican mix https://recording.org/posts/454846/ to this but both have a vocal footprint that sounds like you should or could be using some room treatment to help the comb-filtering and boxy sound I hear in the vocals.
Or maybe I just don't care for the reverb you are using.
For what you have done though, you are doing a good job mixing.

Far be it from me to question someone who has recorded absolute classics in his time. Is it possible that the OP just had the good fortune of having an inherently good room and/or has done lots of close micing? The vocals are well performed, but I can definitely hear the home-made quality of the sound captured.

My philosophy is that I'm not recording instruments or singers, I'm recording spaces, as excited by instruments or singers. In this case, the room is a critical instrument in my recording and in different ways, a critical tool in assessing what I've recorded.

I think it's more likely that the OP has either very limited experience in well treated spaces, or perhaps none at all, as Dave has previously mentioned. (@Davedog ).
If he's never had anything to compare his room to, then all he knows is what he has experienced this far.
I'm sure the same holds true regarding cheap mics, preamps, and monitors, too, that they probably sound "fine" - or maybe even "great" - to those who have never had the opportunity to use models that are better.
I don't see the point in arguing with him. I'm not entirely convinced that he didn't start this thread to intentionally stir up the muck just for his own amusement...maybe not, maybe he really believes what he says. I dunno. It's obvious he's got his mind set on doing things his way, there's really no point in debating it further, he's entrenched in what he believes.

DonnyThompson, post: 455722, member: 46114 wrote: I think it's more likely that the OP has either very limited experience in well treated spaces, or perhaps none at all, as Dave has previously mentioned. (@Davedog ).
If he's never had anything to compare his room to, then all he knows is what he has experienced this far.
I'm sure the same holds true regarding cheap mics, preamps, and monitors, too, that they probably sound "fine" - or maybe even "great" - to those who have never had the opportunity to use models that are better.
I don't see the point in arguing with him. I'm not entirely convinced that he didn't start this thread to intentionally stir up the muck just for his own amusement...maybe not, maybe he really believes what he says. I dunno. It's obvious he's got his mind set on doing things his way, there's really no point in debating it further, he's entrenched in what he believes.

Let's not undermine anyone's capacities and experiences. Even someone who did go to a big studio could miss the differences that a trained ear will perceive.
We all understand things at our own level and I truly respect that. Recording.org gave me the opportunity to grow and learn so much over the years. I think it's on us to walk back and provide the next learning step members need to go forward.
Being impatient or judgmental isn't going to help anyone.
Everyone wants to go fast and get there, even us who want to help.. I talking to myself too.. we need to stop and slow down for some people ;)

pcrecord, post: 455723, member: 46460 wrote: Let's not undermine anyone's capacities and experiences. Even someone who did go to a big studio could miss the differences that a trained ear will perceive.
We all understand things at our own level and I truly respect that. Recording.org gave me the opportunity to grow and learn so much over the years. I think it's on us to walk back and provide the next learning step members need to go forward.
Being impatient or judgmental isn't going to help anyone.
Everyone wants to go fast and get there, even us who want to help.. I talking to myself to.. we need to stop and slow down for some people ;)

nice one, Marco.
(y)

pcrecord, post: 455723, member: 46460 wrote: Let's not undermine anyone's capacities and experiences. Even someone who did go to a big studio could miss the differences that a trained ear will perceive.
We all understand things at our own level and I truly respect that. Recording.org gave me the opportunity to grow and learn so much over the years. I think it's on us to walk back and provide the next learning step members need to go forward.
Being impatient or judgmental isn't going to help anyone.
Everyone wants to go fast and get there, even us who want to help.. I talking to myself to.. we need to stop and slow down for some people ;)

I'm simply pointing out that his initial post appeared to me to be bait for an argument.
He says, "I'm by no means an expert..." Yet goes on to give his "professional" opinion, validating himself as having recorded many "instant classics" over his tenure of 12 whole years, as his sole criteria for forming and validating his opinion... As if that criteria should be enough to tell a forum full of truly professional audio people that we've all been "wasting our time and money" adhering to science and physics in relation to acoustics and treatment, and on our collective and individual journeys for the best sound and accuracy in sonics that we can get.
No one else here saw this as being even the slightest bit inflammatory as the main intent of the post? No? Just me? Or as an opportunity to post his music for the sole purpose of upping his listen count?
Okay... Then if I'm wrong about any of that, I sincerely apologize. Truly.
-d.

DonnyThompson, post: 455730, member: 46114 wrote: I'm simply pointing out that his initial post appeared to me to be bait for an argument.
He says, "I'm by no means an expert..." Yet goes on to give his "professional" opinion, validating himself as having recorded many "instant classics" over his tenure of 12 whole years, as his sole criteria for forming and validating his opinion... As if that criteria should be enough to tell a forum full of truly professional audio people that we've all been "wasting our time and money" adhering to science and physics in relation to acoustics and treatment, and on our collective and individual journeys for the best sound and accuracy in sonics that we can get.
No one else here saw this as being even the slightest bit inflammatory as the main intent of the post? No? Just me? Or as an opportunity to post his music for the sole purpose of upping his listen count?
Okay... Then if I'm wrong about any of that, I sincerely apologize. Truly.
-d.

My comment wasn't directed at you Donny. Out of the ones that are understanding and patient, you surely sit on top of the list ;)
Since the industry of gear making now aims for home studio and musicians by making them believe anyone can record a billboard album with 200$ worth of gear, we are bound to get more missinformed new members. The world just forgot that recording is an art that it is as or even more complex than learning to play an instrument.
Ask any young musician and they will either say quality doesn't mather or by learning to play guitar they automaticly have the skills for recording.

I guess I should have put my comment in a new thread, but this one is a good exemple of long time members staying calm and sharing their thoughts to influence but not condemne a beginner missinformed statement. I can't count the times I facepalm myself when reading some posts on home recording facebook groups. 90% of the of the post start with 'What's the best . . . . for 200$' and 80% of the answers are from people who have no clue what the are talking about. When they get here out of desperation, the new members are just not equiped to discern the truth from plain bulls...t. If we remove the blindfold too quickly they will just go blind. So it's up to us to feed them slowly to reality.

After saying all this, I agree, throlls exists and we should spot them sooner that later to avoid aggrevations. In this I think we are doing a good job so far.
That's why RO stands with such good quality informations in it's database.