Required Acoustic Treatment

The acoustic design is the most important part of any recording studio design. The required acoustic treatment affects what you can actually use the room for. Now to be clear, when I talk about acoustic design, I am talking about the actual response and sound of the room you will be using. Unfortunately somewhere along the line, people have confused acoustic design with soundproofing design and the two are very different.

So what do you need to consider when designing the acoustic? The first major decision is what will the room be used for.

For example:

If the room is going to be used for mixing and mastering, you are going to want quite a short response curve or reverberation time, because you are more concerned about what is coming out of your studio monitors than what you are hearing around the room.

Whereas, if your room is going to be for recording live drums and instruments, the response curve or reverberation time will more than likely be longer.

When designing the required acoustic treatment for a control room, you also need to consider if you want a dead end and a live end. The dead end will enable you to only hear the sound coming from your studio monitors, this will enable you to hear all the detail. The live end of the control room is still controlled but sounds more like your living room. Usually, there would be a sofa in the live end of the control room, the live end is where you would A/B your mixes with other similar style music and ensure your mix is balanced which is a lot harder to hear in a controlled/dead environment.

When designing the required acoustic treatment for a live room, you also need to consider if you want the room to be flexible or variable. If you are planning on recording drums, you might want to really hear the room to help give your drum room mics something to use on the mix down. Whereas you might also like to record guitar amps and not want the room to interfere with the sound. The same goes for recording vocals, if your close mic’ing, you aren’t bothered about the room.

So how do you start?

Well once you know exactly what the room will be used for you then need to see if you have enough space in your building to fit the ideal room size along with all the soundproofing. Once you are happy with the rough size of space you think you will require. You then need to start crunching numbers….

So what numbers do you need to crunch?

You need to find a room ratio that will produce a nice decay curve, there are loads of tried and tested ratios out on the internet, so it’s your choice. We have our own ratios that we have used time and time again and know how they will respond to different types of use. Once you think you have the perfect ratio and it fits in your space along with your soundproofing. The next step is to check out how all the frequencies will respond in that ratio, paying particular attention to the low end. Why the low end? Because it’s a lot harder to fix frequency issues in the low end than it is in the high-frequency end.

So you have your ratio, it has a lovely response curve and reverberation time, you have checked for any issues with the low-frequency response and are very happy. So now what…

You now need to check the Axial Mode – Tangential Mode and Oblique Mode to make sure you don’t have any standing waves. This involves a lot of maths. You also need to cross-check all the different Axial Mode – Tangential Mode and Oblique Mode frequencies and make sure they don’t match as well. We have our own very large spreadsheet with calculates all the audible frequencies with the Axial Mode – Tangential Mode and Oblique Modes and then cross-checks them with each other, it saves so much time and enables you to quickly see if a room ratio is going to work. Unfortunately, if any of these calculations brings up an issue it’s back to the drawing board and you have to start the process all over again.

Once you have a usable ratio, you can then easily understand exactly what the required acoustic treatment will be. If you have a very small room, again this may bring up issues, as you may need large bass traps and not have enough space to fit them.

There are so many things to think about, which is why we recommend you buy one of our off-the-shelf recording studio design packages or even choose our custom recording studio design package if your space is either too small or you plan on being a little more elaborate with your space.