It’s never been easier to create great-sounding tracks, especially if you like electronic or heavily sample-based music.
Every DAW on the market today comes with an extensive collection of ready-made loops, hits, pads, and riffs, not to mention all those synths and samplers included. And then, when you’re happy with your mix, there are plenty of really amazing plugin effects available that can give you a loud and brilliant master, sometimes using just one button.
If you’re an electric guitarist or bass player looking to put pieces together in your favorite rock genre, you’re probably more interested in capturing the feeling you get from your precious collection of amps and pedals played for real. .
And things are even more complicated for drummers, acoustic instrumentalists and singers. In short, if you are an instrumentalist and looking to truly capitalize on your talents and training in producing your own tracks, there is no avoiding the terrifying world of sound engineering. You know … with microphones.
There was a time when you had going to the studio to record – and at great expense too – but now we have the option of doing it all ourselves. Since purchasing this magazine, you will probably have already set up some sort of home setup and learned a few tips on how to get the most out of it.
Today we are spoiled for choice when it comes to microphones, audio interfaces and speakers; we have powerful computers to run the show; and we can get our hands on reasonably priced software to solve almost any production problem that might arise. Nonetheless, when we see our favorite recording artists at work on TV or YouTube, we can’t help but yearn to be in one of these super chic studios.
So what’s so great about studios anyway? It’s just a bunch of pieces with gear in them, isn’t it? And if we have the equipment, why can’t we turn our homes into studios? It stands to reason that studios have great mics and preamps, and all kinds of unnecessary toys to play with, but it’s actually all the other stuff that makes them such a wonderful place to record.
Our first attempts at home recording are often disappointing because the sound can be crap – it can feel like there’s a never-ending stream of boring stuff trying to sabotage the session.
Take noise, for example. That’s a problem – both keeping it outside and keeping it inside. Dirty signals can make recording electric guitars a nightmare. When you first set up a session, you inevitably end up looking for just one other female XLR to 1/4-inch jack adapter.
And why are the guitar signals so bad, and where is this buzz coming from? Studios, of course, have cabinets full of useful tips for solving these problems, as they’ve been there time and time again.
Feng shui audio
Apart from all the peripheral requirements, the main obstacles in the home studio are the rooms themselves. Good studios are masterpieces of acoustic design, while our own rooms contain all kinds of acoustic gremlins that can make it difficult to get a good recording – and even harder to hear it properly.
In this feature, we will take a detailed look at the issues you will encounter while checking in at home and present you with in-depth solutions. Starting with the most important space of all – the control room – we’ll show you how to get the optimal listening setup and solve the most common acoustic problems.
We’ll debunk some myths, reveal some trade secrets, and show you step-by-step how to create basic acoustic treatments that don’t involve fancy software or unnecessary pieces of sponge.
The essential control room
It is essential to have your control room first and then to sort out your recording rooms. If your monitoring environment sucks, how can you expect to make good judgment on the sounds you record in other rooms, let alone try to mix and master everything when it’s recorded?
Our quest for good monitoring and great-sounding rooms is thwarted by the unholy trinity of anti-bass, horn, and reflection. Fortunately, there are sound equivalents of Garlic, Holy Water, and Silver Bullets to help ward off these evil forces, which we’ll show you in the following walkthroughs – and those techniques apply too. control rooms and recording areas.
Knots and Bass Modes
Rectangular rooms inevitably suffer from standing waves or “modes”. This is a bigger, meaner version of what happens when you blow on a bottle and ring it, or sing along in the shower and find a particularly loud note that seems to fill the space.
A normal-sized room will have X and Y dimensions long enough to match the long-wavelength low and sub-bass frequencies (300 Hz and below), and being among the resonance of these low frequencies results in a imprecise listening environment and, ultimately, a mix with a bass that sounds totally different when played elsewhere.
Imagine that you could see two large luminous sine waves hovering in your room when you play a low note on your synth; one lengthwise, one widthwise. If you move around the room, these frequencies will appear stronger at the points where the sine waves peak, and quieter where they descend.
There will also be points where the two different frequencies meet and interfere, causing exaggerated peaks and valleys, and if your listening position is in one of these places, you are going to end up with a very compromised sound. . – either too much or too little of the modal frequencies.
On top of that, loud, high-pressure bellies occur near hard walls, and are often the reason you might hear more bass on the sofa in the back of the control room than between the loudspeakers. speakers. All of this creates a very uneven bass response which in turn causes an unbalanced listening environment.
The 38% rule
Most home rooms are rectangular and suffer from these bass issues, but on the other hand, it’s easier to target the issues in a room. predictable coin, so you’re probably starting off from a pretty positive position. Bass response is invariably at its weakest halfway through a rectangular room, so listening in the center of a square will be disastrous.
Fortunately, we can use the â38% ruleâ to find a position in the room where we are least likely to encounter bass knots or interference. This rule says that a point 38% down the length of the room is most likely to provide an interference-free listening position.
If you measure 38% from both ends of your room, then you will have two options. Some engineers also calculate 38% across the width of the room, resulting in four starting positions for placing the chair.
Grant your room
Finding a good listening position can solve your bass problems, but the modal frequencies in your room may just be too loud. This typically happens at around 65Hz and 125Hz.
Unfortunately, no amount of foam, egg cartons or mattresses will solve this problem – you will need bass absorbers. Reading the websites of manufacturers like Real Traps and RPG will reveal great and effective products, but they can be prohibitively expensive. A single 50-500Hz low frequency absorber can cost Â£ 300 or more – and you might need six to solve your problems!
However, it’s not difficult to create your own versions of it all. Low frequency absorbers work by vibrating in sympathy with low frequencies and are mostly constructed from metal and high density foam or rubber. From old BBC documents to public patent information from the Fraunhofer Institute, it’s all there if you look.
Find your listening position
Step 1: The first step is to use a mic and spectrum analyzer to see what a uniform bass response looks like. Place your best condenser mic a few inches from one of your speakers and use your DAW or synth to send a 500Hz sine wave test tone to that speaker only. Set up an input channel for your DAW’s mic and mute it.
2nd step: Adjust the test tone and mic input level so that the level is approximately -12 dB. Insert a spectrum analyzer into the input channel, set it to âpeak holdâ and slowly sweep the 500 Hz test tone all the way down. Take your time so that the analyzer has time to record each frequency and repeat the scan two or three times.
Step 3: Freeze the spectrum analyzer display. You should see that the bass response decreases evenly. Typically, you can find the slope starting at around 100Hz and decreasing by 10dB from around 60Hz, then gradually dropping down to 40Hz. This will vary wildly depending on your mic and speakers, but we’re looking for to see a uniform slope for comparison.
Step 4: Now move the mic to the listening position you suggest, reset the tone to 500Hz, and increase the mic input so that it still measures -12dB. Insert a second spectrum analyzer and repeat the scanning procedure. Now freeze that second curve and you will probably see some bumps and bumps on the 500Hz to 20Hz path. If the trace matches step 3, you’re sorted. If it’s lumpy, find a new post.
Step 5: Draw a plan of your room and measure the 38% points. Measure both length and width to give four possible options for our new listening position. (Of course, some of these points won’t be practical.) Once you’ve found a likely location, move the mic over there and place a speaker where it would be if you were monitoring from that position, then repeat the sweep. and measure treat.
Step 6: After trying a few options, hopefully you’ve found the spot with the smoothest bass response curve. If there are any lingering bumps you will need additional bass / wideband absorption, but this will be the best listening position. at the bass level, and you should build your control room around it. The next thing is to place your speakers correctly.