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Special Studioakustik

Checklist: Good acoustics in 8 steps

Published 4:45 am on Friday 23rd September 2022 by Beat Magazine

The checklist: Good acoustics in 8 steps

When setting up a studio or improving the acoustics afterwards, it is very easy to proceed analytically and chronologically. Therefore, we have compiled a checklist that you can work through step by step to create the best possible listening situation at the end.

1 // Capture room

The first thing to do is to record the sizes and dimensions of the room: Lengths, widths, heights and other special features. Incidentally, if you have a choice, a larger room will provide better acoustics, although it may be more costly to insulate it appropriately. Also, a rectangular format is more suitable than a square one, if that can be included in the planning. Both shapes are feasible, they then differ somewhat in the type of acoustic treatment. As described in the introduction, each room has its own modes, which can be calculated on the one hand and measured on the other. For the latter, you will find the Room EQ Wizard in the magazine downloads and instructions on the following pages. For the former, Dr. J. Hunecke, in turn, used a computer to detect problematic frequencies in a room.

2 // Treating corners

Room corners per se offer great potential for overemphasized bass, but fortunately they can be combated relatively easily with bass traps. These are thick acoustic modules that can also absorb bass. Foam is generally more difficult here, because it tends to dampen mids and highs. Further on in the special, you‘ll find a formula for calculating the necessary material thickness. For bass around 120 hertz, for example, you would need about 70 cm of foam. So you‘re much better off with bass traps made of mineral wool in this range.

By the way, corners also include the transitions from wall to floor or ceiling. It can therefore be worthwhile to place bass traps horizontally at these transitions, if budget and space allow.

3 // Plan for sloping ceilings

Sloping ceilings take volume out of the room and are therefore not quite optimal, but not tragic. As a listening position, you should choose a place between the slopes if possible, so that the early reflections are not reflected back from the slopes. If this is not feasible, place the speakers preferably under a roof slope, as far away as possible from the opposite slope, so that it is not behind directly the listening position.

4 // Vocal recording?

Vocal booths are often planned for vocal recording, but they are costly to design and offer extremely poor acoustics due to their narrowness. It is better to do without them and integrate the recording position into the actual studio. Here, mobile mic screens can still be installed if necessary. In the end, this is much less effort and produces a much better sound.

5 // Set up the listening position

No matter how many rumors there may be about acoustics and the damping behavior of elements and modules, when it comes to the placement of the monitor boxes, all sources usually agree: the setup must be symmetrical. The most common and recommended placement of monitor boxes is an isosceles triangle, with the cones of the tweeters at the level of your ears when you sit at your seat. The uniform distance here is ideally 120 cm, and the monitors should be placed on stands so that they are acoustically decoupled. A good starting point is 38% from the shorter wall, but at least 40 cm. Windows on the back wall should be avoided. If this is not possible, they will be acoustically treated. More on this later.

6 // Locating the early reflections

Once the boxes have been set up, the next step is to find the locations of the early reflections. These can be detected optically and by using the „mirror trick“. As can be seen in the picture above with the room modes, the speakers radiate their sound waves to the front as well as to the side and also up and down. Therefore, it is relatively easy to determine with the eyes where the sound will arrive first.

Alternatively, with a mirror and another person sitting at the listening position, you can also use a trick: Hold a mirror at the person‘s ear level from your body, place yourself with your back against the wall and slowly walk along the wall to the left of the monitor. Once the person sees the membranes, the reflection point is found. Repeat the process on the other side and for the back wall.

7 // Damping and distributing

However, the aim is not to simply dampen all points in the room, but to achieve a natural sound image. Rather, the area around the monitor is damped, while further back in the room more diffusers are used to distribute the sound instead of damping it, so that the sound image remains more open.

Damping elements are usually used at the points found for the initial reflections, as well as on the walls behind and next to the monitor speakers, and diffusers are usually used on the rear wall of the room. The ceiling above your monitor can also cause acoustic inconsistencies, but these can be eliminated with hanging elements. How and which modules you use best, you will learn in the other guides below.

8 // Re-measurement

Once the speakers have been placed and the acoustic modules have been installed, you should re-measure the room to find out whether the room modes have actually been reduced or eliminated as desired. You will find instructions on how to do this further on in the special. However, since humans are creatures of habit, the ear can also decide here.

Let‘s go!

You can now work through this checklist with the information on the following pages of the special to find the best possible treatment for your studio acoustics. By the way, with Lukas Rimbach from GIK Acoustics we have a professional on board as support this time, who is not stingy with tips and know-how.

Click here for the studio acoustics guide overview

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