Thinking of acoustic treatment for room, want advice

Thinking of acoustic treatment for room, want advice
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#1

(not sure what category to post this in; moderators feel free to move this!)

So, I am having a frustrating experience with my mixes. I come up with what I think are decent mixes in headphones, but I just don’t love the way they transfer to my monitors or car, etc. So I’m finding I just keep re-mixing and re-mixing and not making any progress (yeah, I know, I need to post this stuff for more bashing; I will, I will :slight_smile: ). But I’m thinking I need to really look at some acoustic treatment in my room, cuz it is pretty awful.

It’s a spare bedroom with a vaulted ceiling and nothing on the walls (drywall).

Room dimensions:
14.5’ x 15" (window wall is 14.5)
9’ 3” to peak (111”)
82” to low end of wall before it slopes up.
There are two windows, 25” off floor, at the end of the room with the peak of arched ceiling.

My problem is cost: I can spend a bit on this, but I’m just doing this for fun, as a hobby. Having a blast with it and learning tons. But I consulted with GIK for some rx’s, and the guy I spoke with was awesome, but he’s coming in at $3,000, which would be cool if I did this professionally, but, well, you know what I mean.

From everything I’ve read, covered panels with Owens Corning 703 insulation seem to outperform Auralex foam stuff pretty big time, so I’m okay with going in that direction. Maybe I should just do the OC panels for just bass traps and use foam for higher frequencies?

Anyway, Mike’s (from GIK) rx’s were pretty impressive:

  1. 6 -Tri-Trap Corner Bass Trap© with Range Limiter @ $150.00 treat all corners $900.00

  2. 4 -244 Bass Trap w/FRT (rectangle) Full Range @ $74.99 sidewalls only (5.25” x 24.25” x 48.25”). $299.96

  3. 3 -244 Bass Trap w/FRT (rectangle) Full Range @ $74.99 ceiling panels $149.98

  4. 3 -6A Alpha Series Rectangle with 2D Scattering @ $198.00 on the back wall (6” x 23″x45.5″). $594.00

  5. 2 -Monster Bass Trap w/FRT (rectangle) with Range Limiters @ $142.50 2 below the windows (7.3” x 24.25″ x 48.5″)

  6. 2 -Monster Bass Trap w/FRT (rectangle) with Range Limiters @ $142.50 on the back wall $285.00 (7.3” x 24.25″ x 48.5″)

  7. 2 -Monster Bass Trap w/FRT (Square) with Range Limiter @ $82.49 on the 2 sidewalls at the rear of the room (one behind the entry door. (7.3” x 24" x 24”). $164.98

  8. 2 -4A Alpha Series Bass Trap Diffusor/Absorber (Rectangle) with 2D Scattering @ $138.00 on the rear sidewalls above the square Monster Traps.(4” x 23″ x 45.5″) $276.00

Still, it seems like quite a bit of overkill for me. I’m finding tons of instructions for building my own panels pretty inexpensively, but most of those are only 2-3" deep; Acoustimac sells 4’ x 2’ x 2" panels, finished, for only $58.

As you can see from GIK’s rx’s, most of the panels they’re recommending are 5-7" thick. I mean, I have no doubts that it would be better and be amazing, but $3,000 is a bit over the top for me.

Would love thoughts as to suggestions as to what would be meaningful compromises for me, and where should I not compromise?

Looking at Mike’s rx’s, what are the pieces I could do without (he ranked them, so I hunch that the last one’s on the list could be the first to go)?

If I went the DIY route, or Acoustimac, how MUCH of a downgrade would that be to go to 2" panels? Save me a ton, but would I be short-changing myself?

Should I cough up the big bucks on the bass traps from GIK and scale down to 2" panels from Acoustimac or DIY?

Should foam be a part of the equation?

I should clarify that “most” of my work is done ITB, but my vocals are recorded live, as are my guitars: electrics are DI and played thru amp sims (mainly S-Gear, but also Guitar Rig and Amplitube), and acoustic is mic’d (sometimes double-mic’d). So my interests are for a better recording environment for guitars and vocals, but also (especially?) for mixing.

From everything I’m reading, and tutorials I’m going thru, I keep hearing over and over that room treatment should be a top priority, that can’t be covered up with plugins, etc. I’ve been reading up on what treatments are “best” but IDK how to balance “best” with what’s more practical for me. I’m serious about doing some acoustic treatment, but don’t wanna go overkill. I think I’m “getting it” that it would make a huge difference in my mixing. But, hey, what do I know anyway!? :neutral_face:

So that’s where y’all come in. Speak truth into my life and point me in the way I should go!

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#2

This is probably the fork in the road route, but have you considered getting the IK ARC 2 so you can monitor your room better, and then just set up a vocal/isolation booth for vocals and acoustic guitars? You can even do a temporary setup, depending on how often you record, with mic stands and moving blankets (etc) as acoustic treatment.

I have been pretty happy with the ARC 2 setup, I’d probably call it a game-changer. It was a mind-blower at first, especially in some realizations of how rooms reflect sound and how our ears perceive things. I knew all this stuff on an intellectual level, and to some degree on experiential, but when software can correct your room tone it’s like “damn!” to make that paradigm shift. For better or worse, it happens right after you do the setup with their custom omni mic, which just takes a few minutes. BAM!

https://www.ikmultimedia.com/products/arc2/

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#3

I can weigh in here with my own experience. I am proudly amateur in my approach, and can’t justify spending money on acoustic treatment for a hobby. So I built my own!

My room is a larger room, perfectly square and made of the hardest concrete on earth. They should have built the Chernobyl reactor from this concrete. So for me, I have the difficulties of a square room, with ultra reflective and non absorbent walls. The problems were obvious at first, with lots of flutter echoes coming from every direction. I got some acoustic foam panels, both from a local DIY store, and a heap from Ali Express for next to nothing. I put those panels at my first reflection points, and at various points in front of me, behind the monitors, on the ceiling and other places around the room.

I then built a total of 8 broadband absorbers that do an incredible job of absorbing echoes and bass as well. For the positioning of these panels, I moved the panels around the room and just listened to where I could audibly hear a reduction in echoes, and moved my head around to see what was happening to the standing waves that the bass frequencies were creating. It ended up that I’ve got a total of 5 panels on the front wall, some at 45 degrees on the corners, some at 45 degrees on the ceiling. I’ve got the remaining ones behind me in various places.

The panels were built from Rockwool panels, doubled up and then secured onto a wooden frame using some cotton that is wrapped around them and stapled to the frame. They look neat and tidy, and the wife doesn’t mind them being there.

As for the sound, I know you can get scientific and technical about these things, but I didn’t have the time or patience to go through that. I knew the sound in my untreated room as awful. I mean really awful. I could not get a decent level on my bass because moving your head a tiny bit from side to side would be the difference between hearing almost no bass to hearing a deafening amount of bass. Now, playing any mix, I’m confident that walking around my room I hear an almost consistent sound from any location. Again - it’s not close to perfect, but the difference is night and day.

I think what made the difference for me is the depth of my panels. With the two panels of rockwool, and the depth of the frame, I think my panels are about 6.5 inches or so.

Again, my approach is not professional, but I do know the sound of my room now. When I go to my friends house (he’s also a fanatical mixer) the difference in sound is stark. He has zero acoustic treatment, and when I listen to my mixes on his speakers I want run out of there. It’s not pleasant, and knowing that my mixes are sounding pretty decent in my room, and on my headphones / car / stereo / boombox shows me just how deficient his room is for mixing.

#4

Buy some decent cans and mix on those.

#5

yeah, like AJ said… I have AKG 240’s (pretty standard) and Adam A7’s - I compromise between both. My room is a bit bigger but I still don’t trust it, anyway.

The A7’s don’t really produce much bass at all, just a little, this might be helpful to you, headphones are pretty consistent in the bass, you don’t really need that in nearfield monitors.

For example, Yamaha NS10’s are vicious in the mids and almost bass free… not even kidding.

#6

Straight away, my first thought is: did you give Mike a budget, or ask what the ideal solution for your room would be? I worked with Mike as well when I did my room recently. I told him my budget was about $1,000 and he stuck to it. I ended up spending around $1,200. Just a thought! My room is just for tracking right now because I mix mostly on headphones, but I think it turned out great. You may be spending A LOT for that last 10% of acoustic goodness.

I also have this tip for getting your mixes to sound good in the car: 2.1 computer speakers. I have the Logitech Z623 speakers, and they highlight the same kind of problems that the car does for me. I’ve never heard anyone give this tip, but everyone says to check your mixes in the car… so if I have a system that sounds like my car but I don’t have to go outside then it’s a win in my book. Plus it’s just such a common playback system.

If you’re into Sonarworks, they have monitor calibration systems. That could be worth investing in, with a part of your acoustic treatment budget.

#7

Nicely done. So, when you say doubled up, that means 4" thick? That’s awesome. How long did it take you to build all of those?

#8

AJ, I mix on Grados, which are purportedly pretty decent. The highs are a little bright though, which I can see from how Sonarworks adjusts the sound.

Vaughan rx’d the AKGs, which are easily affordable.

So do you mix on headphones mostly? I’m curious, cuz I’ve been mainly mixing on my Grados and I do a LOT of referencing (I bought Mastering the Mix’s Reference plugin, which is a nice way to reference, but is an absolute PIG of a resource hog. It’s awful. It’s the only app that will crash REAPER on me, consistently. I digress…)

I get frustrated and discouraged cuz I feel like I’m getting pretty decent mixes in my cans, but when I listen in my monitors or car I’m not pleased. Just sounds so amateurish. I guess I get kind of shy and probably should post my mixes more. I think the feedback would maybe move me along faster. I’ve found it so helpful. I guess I gotta get over my inhibitions. Hard for me.

I do hear some stories of people who mix mainly and sometimes exclusively on headphones, and several on this forum that get great mixes. If the world would listen to my stuff on Grados I’d be a star! :grin: But until then, I was thinking the room treatment would maybe take me to the next level.

what phones do you use?

#9

Do you use any kind of acoustic simulation/adjustment software to correct your phones? Like Soundworks or ARC2?

One would “think” that it shouldn’t matter if you’re referencing, but I’m hearing from people who know more than I do that it does make a diff. Thoughts?

#10

Doubled up panels, on top of a frame which had some space built into it as well. Later on today I’ll take some photos to show you.

They are incredibly easy to make if you can use a power drill. I made 8 panels in about 2 hours, including time to chat with my friend! If you want I can dig up the plan I followed and upload it here.

#11

That’d be awesome. Can’t wait to see your pics too. Thanks!

#12

I mix in the studio when a client is attending, on cans in my kitchen when I have the choice (AKG K701).

I have no experience of Grado but a lot depends on the model. Did you do your research? Is the model you are using recommended by others for mixing?

So either your cans or your mixes are lacking. As you say, post the mixes on BTR if you want to learn more.

Highly unlikely. I’ll be straight with you because I believe you are about to spend a considerable amount of time and money to no effect. Don’t do it. Until you are producing mixes of some sort of quality that you are reasonably satisfied with, no amount of room treatment is going to help you. Focus on improving your mixes first. BTR is free - use it, you will learn a lot.

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#13

Here are some pictures of my panels. You can see that they look rather like single mattresses hanging up on the wall! The are in totals, 6 and half inches thick. I’ve made sure that they don’t sit flush up against any wall, as to give room behind them to allow sound to travel and get trapped.

I’m also attaching a PDF set of instructions that I followed. It’s really easy to get them made, and I calculated that 8 panels cost me a total of around €60, factoring in wood, cotton, rockwool and screws.

DIY-BASS-TRAPS-MADE-EASY.pdf (395.3 KB)

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#14

Wonderful. Thnx!

TB

#15

Yeah. The Grados are highly touted. Very nice sounding phones. I think they sound great, but I suspect are too bright for mixing. I might check out the AKGs.

Thanks for your candor. I’ll get some of my mixes up.

#16

yep, I would do the madpsychot DIY thing, or just get some dull (flat) cans for balance.

In my last real studio, I had full ‘double wide’ rolls of insulation (still in the wrapper) standing in the corners and wall to ceilings, covered with 1/4 " ply … obviously you can get creative with a cool design arrangement of hole - saw cuts in the ply after that - but that worked really well. It was ambient but the bass was almost totally absorbed.

Or go crazy with the art thing…

#17

Thanks, Cristina. I spoke with Mike again today and he was very helpful. Did some tweaking in his rx’s to make it closer to do-able for me. He also had some helpful suggestions for some DIY work I can do, which is also what madpsychot suggested.

I’m probably going do that and maybe pick up some cans with a flatter frequency profile, like Vaughan and AJ suggested. Will be a step up and more versatile than what I have now.

… and I need to start posting some more stuff to be bashed!

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#18

I’ve decided to follow the advice above and get some better cans for mixing. Looking at the AKG’s or maybe Sennheiser HD 600’s. Not sure yet.

Another question though: apart from room treatment for mixing is treatment for recording.

So if I got some decent headphones for the mixing process, is there a less expensive route to go for acoustic treatment for recording just guitar and vocals. Would I do better to treat the full room with sound-absorbing panels, which is very doable (thanks MadPsychot, for the plans), or just get or make some free-standing panels to create some sound absorption around/behind my recording space?

So, e.g., GIK sells what they call portable isolation booths and also “gobos” (no idea what that stands for!), which are basically free-standing acoustic panels. (more info here)

Would love to hear people’s thoughts. Especially, if anyone has any experience with anything similar to this. Would that be adequate for me?

#19

The good news is that acoustic treatment for tracking is way less complicated than acoustics for mixing. First step is to break up any parallel walls. Anything is better than nothing. You can usually hear the problem spots by just walking around your room clapping and listening to where it keeps ringing.

You can make or buy panels to put on the wall, hang blankets on a mic stand, hang guitars on the wall. Really anything that breaks up those nasty reflections is going to be moving in the right direction.

Just to show the difference that even crappy Styrofoam diffusers make in a room, here’s an A/B of an impulse made in a room before and after these 1 inch thick styrofoam diffusers.

Before:

After:

And here’s a spectrograph of the two.

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#20

@Tesgin - I was just reading this thread because I desperately need to treat my room and saw that you’re looking for headphones. Looks like it’s your lucky day! :wink: