Learn from Bob Hodas how to tune your room.
“There’s really only one place in the room that’s going to be the best”. – Bob Hodas
For more info: bobhodas.com
Last week I stopped by my neighbor’s studio. He records voice overs for Jamster. If you live in Europe you know the company because they are the ones who torture you with ring tone commercials like the dancing annoying frog. I noticed he had a SE Reflexion Filter sitting on his couch. I asked him what he was doing with it and if he liked it. He said he did use it for a while but he just built an all new vocal booth and it was overkill. He told me he was selling it and I could take it and try it out.
Although my studio is well treated it’s still not perfect and I always was very interested in the SE Filter gizmo. It sure looks cool. I took it into my room and tried to hook it up. I say tried because the thing is very heavy and even my strong mic stand wasn’t good enough. Eventually I rigged it up to work and got to testing it out. I recorded a bunch of audio files with and without the filter. So what happened? Nothing. What do I mean?
There was absolutely no difference between the audio files using the filter and without it. I have read on many forums that this thing works. However, now I suspect that most of these people got this home and convinced themselves it was doing more than it was. I’m not saying for sure it can’t help you but this is not a slam dunk product. I clearly heard my room reflections and computer fan in pretty much the same way with or without the thing. I listened very carefully and set it up in many different positions.
I tested the Reflexion Filter extensively and found that it definitely reduced room reflections. I tried it with vocals, both sung and spoken, and it gave me a tighter, more focused sound. – emusician.com
The thing was I had the money to buy it from him, it was new looking and I could had it for almost nothing. Before I tried it I had myself gear lusting for it. Even after I knew it was useless to me I had to sit down and snap myself out of buying it. After all the thing looks pretty nice with its chrome curves!
My point is trust your own ears. Even if everyone is telling you the sky is green if you see it blue call it blue!
A video of Erasure using the Reflexion Filter: click here
If your creating a project studio your probably focused on what microphone pre-amps and keyboard controllers to buy. But before you head to your local synthesizer shop you should be considering sound treatment. I have had several different studio spaces and I always had the same speaker set up. In each room the sound was drastically different. The same set of speakers that sounded bass light in one room sounded like bass monsters in another. I always had some sort of amateur hock sound treatment set up like cheap foam on the walls and carpeting. That stuff really doesn’t work to create an even nice sounding room. The reason I was able to mix in those rooms is I took time to learn each room and always took my mixes to other studios, cars and boomboxes for tests and adjustments.
When I opened my new recording studio in Berlin I did things the right way. I hired an ex-employee from the Fraunhofer Institute (the German company who created the MP3). He tested the room with special mics and software, designed proper treatment and then had builders come in and create my space. They installed sound proofing, a new wall and door, bass traps, diffusion, and a ceiling cloud. You can see photos of the entire building process and the finished studio: click here
There are a lot of companies out there providing products to help you treat your studio. Auralex, Primacoustic and Real Traps are the most well known. I would consider Real Traps first for a few reasons. They have the best specifications for treating your room and they look professional. I don’t want dayglow orange foam pyramids on my wall. In the video above you can see where the money your spending is going. I have a suspicion that the foam products come with a huge mark up.
If your on a tight budget you can build your own bass traps with Rock Wool. In fact, another nice thing about Real Traps is Ethan Winer the owner shows you just how to do that on his website. That shows you what kind of person he is considering he also sells them. There is also another company called Ready Acoustics that offer fabric sleeves for Rock Wool that can get you into a room of Bass Trapping for a low price.
Have you invested in some sound treatment for your own studio?