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Author Topic: Checking out your monitoring space/equipment?  (Read 6541 times)

Thomas W. Bethel

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Checking out your monitoring space/equipment?
« on: November 11, 2007, 10:49:46 am »

I have been doing a lot of mastering lately.

I have also been aware that my room does not sound the same way that it did when Don Mitchell, my acoustical engineer, had finished tuning the room a couple of years ago. We had added some additional sound modifying devices with his approval and added some equipment since the last time he had checked out the room with his sophisticated equipment. I decided, on whim, to check out the room and found it lacking so after a couple of very productive days and lots of time with my AKG measuring microphone, an RTA and some pink noise my room is back to being the way it was before.

This got me wondering how often others on this forum take the time to check out their monitoring system/room and what, if anything, do you find that needs tweaking. Since we all use our spaces as our final checkout for how something sounds it seems that we should also be checking the room for changes on a more or less scheduled basis. Is that the case or do you instantly know when something is amiss?

Any thoughts would be most welcome. Thanks in advance.
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Thomas W. Bethel
Managing Director
Acoustik Musik, Ltd.
Room With a View Productions
http://www.acoustikmusik.com/

Doing what you love is freedom.
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Andy Krehm

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Re: Checking out your monitoring space/equipment?
« Reply #1 on: November 11, 2007, 01:06:55 pm »

Thomas W. Bethel wrote on Sun, 11 November 2007 10:49

I have been doing a lot of mastering lately.

I have also been aware that my room does not sound the same way that it did when Don Mitchell, my acoustical engineer, had finished tuning the room a couple of years ago. We had added some additional sound modifying devices with his approval and added some equipment since the last time he had checked out the room with his sophisticated equipment. I decided, on whim, to check out the room and found it lacking so after a couple of very productive days and lots of time with my AKG measuring microphone, an RTA and some pink noise my room is back to being the way it was before.

This got me wondering how often others on this forum take the time to check out their monitoring system/room and what, if anything, do you find that needs tweaking. Since we all use our spaces as our final checkout for how something sounds it seems that we should also be checking the room for changes on a more or less scheduled basis. Is that the case or do you instantly know when something is amiss?

Any thoughts would be most welcome. Thanks in advance.

Last month, over a period of a couple of weeks, I was getting the feeling that something was amiss with the stereo sub balance to the mains.

I had been using the monitoring system for well over a year so I was very used to it.

But I now I started wondering why people were sending me in mixes with kicks that were a little hot! It was subtle, but a definite pattern was emerging.

Finally, I asked my tech to see if anything was amiss. We have active subs and an active monitor controller so I figured those were the first things to check.

As it turns out, the monitor controller, which is programmable, had glitched and changed the values of the sub volume by + 1 dB. Fortunately, my tech guy had written all the programming down so we didn't have to retest everything. Once he changed it back, it felt exactly the same as the day we did the last room tuning with our designer.

Other than changing rack gear around, there really isn't much we could change in our room from the day it was finished, furnished, room tuning checked and monitor system calibrated.

The one thing we are thinking about trying is raising the couches at the back of the room by making platforms for them with bass trapping material. This would be to see if we could get the sub frequencies to come down a dB or 2 by getting the ears closer to tweeter height and by absorbing a little more sub frequencies.

Our designer says an unintended result might be to make us want to raise the sub levels as the sweet spot may be affected by the extra trapping which of course would undo the benefit of any extra trapping! However, raising the couches with no trapping will help for sure as I have sat back there with various sized cushion to raise me up and it sound more like the sweet spot when the ears are higher up.

At any rate, a project for January!

Sonovo

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Re: Checking out your monitoring space/equipment?
« Reply #2 on: November 11, 2007, 03:54:34 pm »

Hi Tom,

great question.

Around here things are usually pretty dead in January, so I usually spend that time cleaning, catching up on paperwork, testing and maintaining the gear, web related stuff, and completing in-progress projects (like that sidecar I've been planning on building for 2 years now Rolling Eyes).

One of the more important things I do is to test my monitor calibration and listening environment. I don't re-measure the room acoustically every year (every other year), but I do check the monitor placement, calibrated levels and balance, etc. Usually there's always something that can be improved upon, if only just a little.

Cheers,
Thor



Thomas W. Bethel wrote on Sun, 11 November 2007 13:49

I have been doing a lot of mastering lately.

I have also been aware that my room does not sound the same way that it did when Don Mitchell, my acoustical engineer, had finished tuning the room a couple of years ago. We had added some additional sound modifying devices with his approval and added some equipment since the last time he had checked out the room with his sophisticated equipment. I decided, on whim, to check out the room and found it lacking so after a couple of very productive days and lots of time with my AKG measuring microphone, an RTA and some pink noise my room is back to being the way it was before.

This got me wondering how often others on this forum take the time to check out their monitoring system/room and what, if anything, do you find that needs tweaking. Since we all use our spaces as our final checkout for how something sounds it seems that we should also be checking the room for changes on a more or less scheduled basis. Is that the case or do you instantly know when something is amiss?

Any thoughts would be most welcome. Thanks in advance.

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Ben F

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Re: Checking out your monitoring space/equipment?
« Reply #3 on: November 12, 2007, 08:22:12 pm »

Yes there is nothing worse than a slight niggling "this doesn't seem right" in the back of your mind on a big session, especially with clients.

Over Christmas is definitely a good time to check and calibrate gear. Tube gear especially can start doing strange things with the phase if the tubes are starting to go, but it's not immediately obvious. Digital clocking problems can drive the most sane person mad.
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Thomas W. Bethel

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Re: Checking out your monitoring space/equipment?
« Reply #4 on: December 04, 2007, 08:08:03 am »

When our studios were built there were some HVAC compromises that had to be done to get the studios constructed and functioning in a given time period. Over the years we have  updated these compromises and yesterday we finished the project with the removal of some round diffusers that had been part of the original installation but had long since been abandoned. I was never happy having this 16" diffuser located about 3 feet back and 6 feet above my head (when seated). When it came out and I went back to listen I was amazed at the difference that appendage had made in the overall sound of the room. We also removed the same diffusers from our other studio but because of the placement it made less difference to that studio but you could still tell the difference. Anyway it will take me a couple of days to get use to the new "sound" of the room and then things will hopefully be back to normal. The room is so well designed that even small changes in accoustics are readily apparent but this was more than a small change. It is something we have been working with our HVAC contractor for months on how to do it correctly and with a minimum of fuss. They have a whiz kid on their staff, Brian, who came up with the final solution and did the tear out and install himself. If you EVER need a good HVAC contractor in the Nothern Ohio area contact these guys

http://www.gogeisel.com/ they are the BEST.....

Anyway this is the last tweak we have to do to the acoustics and the HVAC so for a while things can get back to "normal"
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Thomas W. Bethel
Managing Director
Acoustik Musik, Ltd.
Room With a View Productions
http://www.acoustikmusik.com/

Doing what you love is freedom.
Loving what you do is happiness.

Greg Youngman

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Re: Checking out your monitoring space/equipment?
« Reply #5 on: December 04, 2007, 10:28:56 am »

I'm thinking of some great old studios I've spent some time in... A&M, Devonshire, Sound Factory, United, Wally Heider, Westlake, MGM, Kendun, Sunset and some others.  I don't care how much or what kind of treatment a room gets... sound perception changes with changes of weather or temp/humidity in a room.  Your ears also change day by day.  I don't get too anal about dumping money into room treatment.
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Sonovo

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Re: Checking out your monitoring space/equipment?
« Reply #6 on: December 04, 2007, 02:17:30 pm »

Thanks to this thread I actually started building the sidecar that's been put on hold for almost 2 years...! Surprised

Hopefully will be done in a week or so (building a piece at a time in between sessions).

I agree with you Thomas - sometimes relatively modest changes make pretty big acoustic changes in the sound of a room.

Thor



Thomas W. Bethel wrote on Tue, 04 December 2007 11:08

When our studios were built there were some HVAC compromises that had to be done to get the studios constructed and functioning in a given time period. Over the years we have  updated these compromises and yesterday we finished the project with the removal of some round diffusers that had been part of the original installation but had long since been abandoned. I was never happy having this 16" diffuser located about 3 feet back and 6 feet above my head (when seated). When it came out and I went back to listen I was amazed at the difference that appendage had made in the overall sound of the room. We also removed the same diffusers from our other studio but because of the placement it made less difference to that studio but you could still tell the difference. Anyway it will take me a couple of days to get use to the new "sound" of the room and then things will hopefully be back to normal. The room is so well designed that even small changes in accoustics are readily apparent but this was more than a small change. It is something we have been working with our HVAC contractor for months on how to do it correctly and with a minimum of fuss. They have a whiz kid on their staff, Brian, who came up with the final solution and did the tear out and install himself. If you EVER need a good HVAC contractor in the Nothern Ohio area contact these guys

http://www.gogeisel.com/ they are the BEST.....

Anyway this is the last tweak we have to do to the acoustics and the HVAC so for a while things can get back to "normal"

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Thomas W. Bethel

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Re: Checking out your monitoring space/equipment?
« Reply #7 on: December 04, 2007, 05:43:24 pm »

Greg Youngman wrote on Tue, 04 December 2007 10:28

I'm thinking of some great old studios I've spent some time in... A&M, Devonshire, Sound Factory, United, Wally Heider, Westlake, MGM, Kendun, Sunset and some others.  I don't care how much or what kind of treatment a room gets... sound perception changes with changes of weather or temp/humidity in a room.  Your ears also change day by day.  I don't get too anal about dumping money into room treatment.


I too have heard different things at different times in the same studio and have wondered what changed...

I also think that if you have a well designed room that small tweaks in the room maybe very noticeable.  If you are doing mixing or mastering on a suspect monitoring system with acoustical or transducer problems the room and or speakers may mask problems that are in the music that you are trying to master or mix.

A good room and good monitoring speakers are the two things I don't think you can do without and call yourself a professional mastering engineer and I always try and tell the newbies that is the first thing you should take care of before you run out and plunk down your hard earned cash for a new limiter or equalizer. If you can't hear what you are doing you can't master it correctly.

MTCW
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Thomas W. Bethel
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Acoustik Musik, Ltd.
Room With a View Productions
http://www.acoustikmusik.com/

Doing what you love is freedom.
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crna59

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Re: Checking out your monitoring space/equipment?
« Reply #8 on: December 04, 2007, 06:18:42 pm »

Thomas W. Bethel wrote on Tue, 04 December 2007 16:43


A good room and good monitoring speakers are the two things I don't think you can do without and call yourself a professional mastering engineer

If you can't hear what you are doing you can't master it correctly.


I couldn't have said it any better.
The 2 days that I spent with Bob Hodas was the best investment I could have ever made.
I'll probably start some sh*t, but in the larger cities, what is the percentage of ME websites that show the actual room... 5% ?
That new comp or EQ is a helluva lot cheaper than a proper room...
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Bruce A. Brown
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bblackwood

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Re: Checking out your monitoring space/equipment?
« Reply #9 on: December 04, 2007, 07:16:25 pm »

crna59 wrote on Tue, 04 December 2007 17:18

Thomas W. Bethel wrote on Tue, 04 December 2007 16:43


A good room and good monitoring speakers are the two things I don't think you can do without and call yourself a professional mastering engineer

If you can't hear what you are doing you can't master it correctly.


I couldn't have said it any better.
The 2 days that I spent with Bob Hodas was the best investment I could have ever made.
I'll probably start some sh*t, but in the larger cities, what is the percentage of ME websites that show the actual room... 5% ?
That new comp or EQ is a helluva lot cheaper than a proper room...


It's true the room is vital, but in my experience most every serious mastering room/facility has pics online. IOW, I don't think anyone that enjoys a good reputation is in a poor room...
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Brad Blackwood
euphonic masters

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Re: Checking out your monitoring space/equipment?
« Reply #10 on: December 04, 2007, 08:20:32 pm »

i have never posted pics online, nor a gear list.
2007 has been my best mastering year ever.
i must be doing something else right.
but i think that i could do better;
so i appreciate the advice.

jeff dinces

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Re: Checking out your monitoring space/equipment?
« Reply #11 on: December 04, 2007, 11:24:07 pm »

bblackwood wrote on Tue, 04 December 2007 19:16


It's true the room is vital, but in my experience most every serious mastering room/facility has pics online. IOW, I don't think anyone that enjoys a good reputation is in a poor room...


Hey Brad -
When ya gonna post pics of your new room?
Smile

It would be cool to see it.

Best regards,
Steve Berson

crna59

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Re: Checking out your monitoring space/equipment?
« Reply #12 on: December 05, 2007, 12:43:28 am »

bblackwood wrote on Tue, 04 December 2007 18:16

It's true the room is vital, but in my experience most every serious mastering room/facility has pics online. ..


I guess I was a little too quick to speak. Brought up the NY Mastering directory. There were 36 listings... 4 websites had room pictures. Guess these guys need to get busy... or maybe they're too busy mastering?

That would be cool to see your room Brad. I like to see the working environments. Maybe I can pick up a few pointers on how others work.
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Puget Sound Studios
Bruce A. Brown
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bblackwood

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Re: Checking out your monitoring space/equipment?
« Reply #13 on: December 05, 2007, 07:22:19 am »

crna59 wrote on Tue, 04 December 2007 23:43

bblackwood wrote on Tue, 04 December 2007 18:16

It's true the room is vital, but in my experience most every serious mastering room/facility has pics online. ..


I guess I was a little too quick to speak. Brought up the NY Mastering directory. There were 36 listings... 4 websites had room pictures. Guess these guys need to get busy... or maybe they're too busy mastering?

Only four? Wow, I guess I was too quick to speak!

That's strange, though - I can easily come up with probably 10 places that I know have pics online in NYC alone!

Quote:

That would be cool to see your room Brad. I like to see the working environments. Maybe I can pick up a few pointers on how others work.

Yah, this thread is a reminder to light a fire under my contractor to to get the trim guy out here! The room has been done/functioning since April yet I've been so busy I haven't been able to get them out here to cover up all the seams with the wood trimming. As soon as that's done I'm having a photographer come out and will be adding them to the website...
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Brad Blackwood
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Re: Checking out your monitoring space/equipment?
« Reply #14 on: December 05, 2007, 01:45:16 pm »

crna59 wrote on Wed, 05 December 2007 00:43

bblackwood wrote on Tue, 04 December 2007 18:16

It's true the room is vital, but in my experience most every serious mastering room/facility has pics online. ..


I guess I was a little too quick to speak. Brought up the NY Mastering directory.


Bruce -
What directory are you talking about - do you have a link? I've been wanting to expand advertising my place and I realize I'm most likely not listed there!


Quote:

There were 36 listings... 4 websites had room pictures. Guess these guys need to get busy...

Anyway some places here in the area that off the top of my head DO have pics of the room(s) on their website:
Sterling
Masterdisk
Jigsaw
Scott Hull Mastering
Ed Littman Mastering
Total Sonic Media
Turtle Tone Studio
Salt Mastering
Trutone
The Cutting Room
Foothill Digital
Engine Room Audio

Probably could come up with 20 more if I did a Google search.  SO - I think the perception based on that link is probably not true to what the general practice is.

Quote:


or maybe they're too busy mastering?


I think it's important to note that Bernie Grundmann Mastering is one place that has no pics (or even info beyond an address and telephone!) on their website.  So having pics of a room on a website doesn't qualify a place as being good!  Anyway - I think the ME's level of experience is just as critical factor (if not more) as the room they are working at in fact.

Best regards,
Steve Berson
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