Diffusion is different from other ambient processing, like absorption, because it helps liven up the sound whereas processing tends to stop it in its tracks (ideally for the better of course). But there are so many misconceptions about broadcasting that many new producers tend to avoid it or willfully recall all that it entails.
We wanted to right those wrongs so music producers of all skill levels could find some serious benefits from using broadcast in their music production rooms.
To do this, we interviewed Chad King of Automod, a company that manufactures high-quality custom diffusers for home and music studios. We skipped the technicalities and instead relied on Chad’s professional knowledge to help you get simply the best possible results, fast.
Discover Audomod’s quality diffusers
Audomod manufactures some of the best diffusers in the industry.
How can I know? Well they were kind enough to send me a small diffuser for my own bedroom sized studio for review and after following Chad King’s advice outlined below the sound quality of my room has improved considerably.
Customization options allow you to get a pro-level diffuser for less than you think, so check out the different options on Audomod’s store below.
What types of studios benefit the most from the presence of a broadcaster?
Most recording and mixing studios can benefit from additional sound diffusion. Well-placed sound diffusers can help add a sense of space and life to recordings in mixing rooms, concert halls and vocal booths.
Small rooms can be made bigger or ceilings can feel taller with the right placement of the sound diffuser. Once low frequencies and reverberation times have been reduced through sound absorption, diffusers can add energy and liveliness to a recording while limiting additional reflections.
Diffusion usually comes second to absorption when it comes to dealing with studio acoustics.
Think your studio needs a facelift? Here’s how
How important is the placement of diffusers in music studios?
Placement is critical in the functionality of sound diffusers.
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Diffusers receive and redirect sound energy, so it is important that they are directed towards the action. Generally, a sound diffuser will be placed at a point of first reflection between the sound source and the control or recording station.
Placed elsewhere in a well treated studio and the broadcast sound will likely be absorbed before it is even heard. Each sound diffuser should also be far enough away from the monitoring position for the lowest octave of the broadcast sound distance to fully form.
Lower frequencies are physically longer, and if this distance is not maintained, the listener may experience phase issues or other anomalies.
Where is the most common place to install a diffuser in a room or studio?
The size, shape, and intended use of the room often help determine the placement of the sound diffuser. Usually, the diffusers are placed at the points of first reflection, or mirror points, between the sound source and the monitoring or recording position.
You can find them by having someone hold a mirror up to the wall and sit in a watch position. The place where you can see the sound source is a mirror point. If the room is narrow or the ceiling is low, diffusers will often be placed on the sides or above to help eliminate these recording limitations.
Small diffusers are sometimes placed on the front wall behind monitors in small mixing rooms, but this usually works best with higher frequency range diffusers so you can maintain the necessary distance between diffuser and listener. In a live room where there may be multiple sources of sound, or the source may be moving, diffusers can be placed on a back wall to add a sense of depth to the space.
What are some common mistakes producers consistently make when installing diffusers?
Many new producers think that once they hang a diffuser somewhere on the wall, their acoustic problems will be solved.
They underestimate how many extra reflective, parallel, untreated wall surfaces exist in their space. Sound Diffusers are powerful tools when developing a soundscape, but they’re only really effective if you’re able to deal with the low initial frequencies and the majority of the reflections, usually with bass trapping and absorption. .
Some people try to use deeper diffusers in very small rooms, where the diffuser is located too close to the listening position and cannot diffuse these low frequencies effectively. Other producers mount diffusers too high on the wall where the broadcast sound bounces off the ceiling and won’t be picked up by the ears or microphones.
How do you know which diffuser is right for the room you’re making music in?
Each room has a different acoustic profile and will require unique sound processing to be an effective listening and recording environment. The final size, number, and placement of sound diffusers often comes down to personal preference, but here are some tips to get you on the right track.
For very small rooms or tight situations where the listener will be located close to a diffuser, opt for a shallower, higher frequency range diffuser. If your listening position is limited to a small area, such as someone sitting still at a desk, smaller diffusers at your reflection points will work.
If the listening position is a larger area with multiple people, or people sitting and standing, you’ll want to make sure your diffusers account for this larger space at the reflection points. Try to keep your diffusion symmetrical where possible, by mounting it in the center of the front wall, back wall or ceiling, or mounting it in pairs on the sides. Listen to trouble spots in your bedroom.
Irregularly shaped rooms, concrete walls, free standing pillars, chimneys and other features can cause unwanted reflections which can be better dealt with by diffusion.
Sound diffusers are best at dealing with unwanted reflections and maintaining a lively feel while avoiding the disorienting “dead” sound of a room with too much absorption.