R/E/P > Acoustics in Motion

Measuring/testing the room...


Hi Francis!  Thank you so much for being a guest moderator here on the REP.  And it's perfect timing too, a friend of mine just built a home studio for recording drums and in a couple weeks, when construction is finished, we will by scratching our heads trying to figure out how to acoustically treat it! LOL

So my question is... how do you measure/quantify what needs to be done?  Do you use test equipment and software to measure the room to see what you really need to do?  Do you just use your ear?  Do you look and listen to the room and then guesstimate/experiment until it sounds good?

I've always wondered if it is beneficial to try and get measurement equipment or if its better to just do it by trial and error... any comments/suggestions?

Great question!!..

Measurements:  We (Lars and I) have always felt our best test equipment was OUR EARS!! We use them first and last whenever we test, adjust, tune (whatever you want to call it) a room. We also use TEF, MLS and SMAART to verify what we hear!!

Test Gear: As I said, we rely on TEF, MLS and SMAART currently as our acoustic test systems. These tools are very helpful when making finicky adjustments to crossovers and monitor systems and allow us to "see" things beyond the resolution we can hear (easily)..

BUT.... we feel that there are many things in a Critical Listening Environment that we can hear, that do not easily show up on the measurements. So... use your EARS first and last. Use test gear to verify and quantify what you're hearing. (ie: is that dip at 150 or 200 Hz??). Playback system response is very subjective and we always have to get a feel for what the client is looking for (pretty easy in a Hippity Hoppity install, but always a mystery elsewhere!!).

In a recording (live) room, we seldom do measurements except for a RT-60 test (each octave decay time) when we want to quantify what the final decay time is in a 'live' room. We use our experience do "design" the room to sound appropriate for it's size and intended use. Most of the mid-sized performance rooms (large booths, small live rooms) we design have a "mid-acoustic" as I call it. They are treated very similarly to control rooms (as opposed to "out of control rooms" which we often are called in to fix!!). We try to make these rooms sound natural when we speak loudly in them. This is a really good test. Does your voice sound natural, and does it maintain this natural sound when you YELL!... Whooping and Aaahing in rooms is one of my wierd personality quirks!

So, use a moderate amount of absoption, some reflective (or diffuse) surfaces that are not parallel to eachother, and start listening.. Setup the drums>> what do they sound like?? If it's too "splashy" add some more adsorption.. you know what I mean?

Hope this helps!

Thank you soooo much! That acutally helps tremendously!

Even though the room isn't finished, my friend setup some drums to see what it sounded like.  It sounds amazing!!!  Charles Swanson designed the room (not sure if you know him).  My friend basically said to him, "whatever you do, drums sound killer in the room".

We want to try and do things to the room that we can change depending on the drum sound needed.  As of right now the room seems to have somewhere around  a 2.5 second~3.5 second RT60 (just a guestimate from looking at my watch after I shout).  The decay sounds pretty even frequency-wise, might have a slightly longer mid range decay.  But nothing too bad.  Right now though, the room is really big sounding (think "when the levy breaks" by Zepplin).  Which is cool that we can get that sound in this medium sized room.  But, not everyone wants that, so we're going to try and put up removeable treatments so we can change the from room dead (or varying degrees of dead) to very live sounding depending on the session.

I'll look into renting an MLS, TEF or SMAART system to aid us in our quest.  

Thank you again for your words of wisdom and thank you for moderating this forum!  It's great to have you here!!!




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