Acoustic Panel Installation
The world is now full of great sounding, inexpensive digital equipment for recording and amazingly detailed microphones and monitor speakers that should sound wonderful when you take them home.
The most common lament we hear these days is “Why doesn’t my new stuff sound as good as the records I am listening to?”
The real answer is that, very likely, the space you are listening in, has resonances and reflections and uneven responses to the sound you are making, and you are hearing the imperfections in your environment nearly as well as the music. It is a very common problem today, that the space in which you work is likely the largest impediment to your ability to hear well and interpret your recorded art in a meaningful fashion. You can’t really appreciate how good your $2000 microphone and $3000 speakers sound if the room is just bouncing the sound at you in an unpredictable and uncontrolled fashion.
Fortunately, there are some simple common-sense techniques to apply to help in this situation, after which, there are a few, relatively low-cost products which can be applied in a sensible fashion to fix probably 80-90 % of what ails your acoustic situation.
Here are a few freebie thoughts for you….
- If you are trying to do this seriously, consider dedicating a room, or most of a room, to the process. Having done that try to pay attention to the basic geometry of the room. The Greeks figured out (three thousand years ago…) that if a space exists in the basic ration of Phi (The Golden Ratio, or Golden Section) which is approximately 1.61….., then the likeiihood is that the room will start out sounding pretty good in the first place. (I.e…. if the ceiling is 10′ high, then the width should be about 10 X 1.6 = 16 feet wide and the length should be about 16 X 1.6 = 25 feet long. If your room dimensions are approximately in these ratios, you are in a great starting place)…. but let me guess…. maybe you are not so much in this zone…. but that’s OK… we can still work through this….
- Once you have dedicated your space to this process, try to find a symmetrically balanced listening position within that space….i.e….when you are sitting in your listening chair, you are sitting on an imaginary line that divides the room in half, so that half on the room’s space is on your left and half is on your right. Now put your workdesk in front of you and try to get your monitor speakers arranged so that your ears are in a level plane, even with the tweeters, and the two speakers and your head form an equilateral triangle. So, tweeters at ear height aiming at your ears with the speakers maybe 2-3 feet in front of your outstretched arms, pointing along that equilateral triangle and your head is along that middle axis of the room space-wise…..A pair of decent speaker stands for your monitors, correctly placed just behind or to the sides of your desk, might be a real good idea to help you achieve some of this basic geometry that is necessary to a good common-sense start.
- Next, look at the surfaces in your space to see if they are hard and reflective, or soft and absorptive. Ideally, you are trying to reach a nice balance between these two. If, when you set up, playback on your speakers sounds too “room-y”, then the likelihood is that you have too much reflective surface in your space and not enough absorption to handle the amount of energy your speakers are putting into the room. The first place is go, is to look at treating the “primary reflection points” of your room with some absorptive material, like acoustic foam or fiberglass panels. The “primary reflection points” are those spots on the side walls or back walls or ceiling, that are hard reflective area, where if you hung a mirror on the wall, you could see the speaker in the mirror from your listening position.. Treating just a couple of square feet of each of the “primary reflection points” can buy you about 80-90% of the needed solution in many, or most, situations.
- For more tips and discussion, email me with as much detail as you can muster and I will be happy to try to work up a sensible solution for your needs: firstname.lastname@example.org
We have great solutions available, from Auralex, Primacoustic, AcousticsFirst and others to help solve the problems in your room sensibly and reasonably.