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Author Topic: Checking out your monitoring space/equipment?  (Read 6546 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
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Acoustik Musik, Ltd.
Room With a View Productions
http://www.acoustikmusik.com/

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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/

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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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Room With a View Productions
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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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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
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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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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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TotalSonic

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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

Patrik T

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Re: Checking out your monitoring space/equipment?
« Reply #15 on: December 05, 2007, 02:38:06 pm »

Most work is carried out in the L speaker only.

index.php/fa/6895/0/

Best Regards
Patrik
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crna59

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Re: Checking out your monitoring space/equipment?
« Reply #16 on: December 05, 2007, 04:39:41 pm »

TotalSonic wrote on Wed, 05 December 2007 12:45



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!

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

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!


Here is the website directory I went by.

http://www.newyorkmusician.com/pgs/mastering.html

Sterling just has artist renderings on what their rooms look like. I saw Ed's, Engine Room, Jigsaw and Truetone. That's the only 4 I saw. I guess the other's are deeper in the site.
I know Bernie doesn't have to justify his business by putting up photos, but it would still be nice to see the rooms. We put most of our money in the rooms anyway so we should show them off!
I was just looking at all the "high-end" rooms that are advertised everywhere. I guess anyone can put up a shingle. Like Brad says above, most every serious mastering facility has pics online.

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Bruce A. Brown
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Re: Checking out your monitoring space/equipment?
« Reply #17 on: December 05, 2007, 04:52:54 pm »

crna59 wrote on Wed, 05 December 2007 15:39


I was just looking at all the "high-end" rooms that are advertised everywhere. I guess anyone can put up a shingle. Like Brad says above, most every serious mastering facility has pics online.

It's like I tell folks over and over - check the credits. Anyone with money can build a nice room and equip it - those with experience will show up all over credit listing sites (like allmusic). Even client lists on their websites are suspect - I've seen several websites listing credits on their mastering pages for stuff they simply did some editing on! Nowadays, it does seem like everyone does mastering, so that's the one way you can tell if someone has experience doing this, regardless of pics or gear.
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Brad Blackwood
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TotalSonic

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Re: Checking out your monitoring space/equipment?
« Reply #18 on: December 05, 2007, 04:56:18 pm »

crna59 wrote on Wed, 05 December 2007 16:39



Here is the website directory I went by.

http://www.newyorkmusician.com/pgs/mastering.html


Cool - thanks for the link!

Quote:


I know Bernie doesn't have to justify his business by putting up photos, but it would still be nice to see the rooms. We put most of our money in the rooms anyway so we should show them off!


I disagree - I think most have put money into rooms in order to get functional work places that are acoustically accurate.  There's things in my room that isn't necessarilly cosmetically "pretty" and doesn't make for a good "show off" - instead I placed my cash into acoustic treatments and let the cosmetics be what they are.  Personally I don't give a damn what other ME's think of the looks of my room - I'm more interested in having a place that's layed out in a way that makes it comfortable for me and my clients and that I know I can do good work in - and one that I didn't need to go into debt (or have a day job) in order to open.

Best regards,
Steve Berson  


crna59

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Re: Checking out your monitoring space/equipment?
« Reply #19 on: December 05, 2007, 05:15:04 pm »

TotalSonic wrote on Wed, 05 December 2007 15:56


I disagree - I think most have put money into rooms in order to get functional work places that are acoustically accurate.  There's things in my room that isn't necessarilly cosmetically "pretty" and doesn't make for a good "show off" I'm more interested in having a place that's layed out in a way that makes it comfortable for me and my clients and that I know I can do good work in - and one that I didn't need to go into debt (or have a day job) in order to open.



This is what I'm talking about. I saw that Bob K. didn't have a console in front of him. I saw that in a couple of other places too. I tried to emulate that in my place by putting the console on casters. I think someone would be crazy as hell to put hundreds of thousands of dollars into a studio/mastering facility just to use it as a "hobby".
Do people have couches in their rooms? What about acoustical treatments? Those are the things I like to see and get ideas from. Most of the time you see a narrow shot of the console/speakers... What's beside/behind you? Equipment? Coffee machine? Stripper pole? I have a wine cellar behind me. I think that's cool! What's ergonomic for you?

Sorry... didn't mean to hijack thread....
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Bruce A. Brown
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TotalSonic

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Re: Checking out your monitoring space/equipment?
« Reply #20 on: December 05, 2007, 05:34:24 pm »

crna59 wrote on Wed, 05 December 2007 17:15

What's beside/behind you? Equipment?


yup.  couple of racks of digital tranpsorts and digital routers, and the MCI JH110M

Quote:


Stripper pole?


Hee hee - there's actually a pole that's in my room in fact - it's unfortunately way too close to the wall for a stripper to actually use it though - you can see a good shot of it at
http://www.totalsonicmastering.com/image/gaberoth.jpg

Quote:

 I have a wine cellar behind me. I think that's cool!

Got to admit I like the idea also!
Hard to beat Millbrook Sound Studio's full brew pub though - http://www.barfungul.com/

Best regards,
Steve Berson

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Re: Checking out your monitoring space/equipment?
« Reply #21 on: December 10, 2007, 08:58:40 am »

TotalSonic wrote on Wed, 05 December 2007 16:34

crna59 wrote on Wed, 05 December 2007 17:15

What's beside/behind you? Equipment?


yup.  couple of racks of digital tranpsorts and digital routers, and the MCI JH110M

Quote:


Stripper pole?


Hee hee - there's actually a pole that's in my room in fact - it's unfortunately way too close to the wall for a stripper to actually use it though - you can see a good shot of it at
http://www.totalsonicmastering.com/image/gaberoth.jpg

Quote:

 I have a wine cellar behind me. I think that's cool!

Got to admit I like the idea also!
Hard to beat Millbrook Sound Studio's full brew pub though - http://www.barfungul.com/

Best regards,
Steve Berson


Hi Steve,

Millbrook (Paulie) actually has an English Pub and not a brew pub.  He has every beer in the world there. He built it many years ago when he was recording the band Golden Earing. They kept going out after the session and getting arrested for driving drunk on the wrong side of the road. Paulie figured before they got killed he better give some place to unwind at the end of the day. Best thing is when you walk into Millbrook, you walk into the pub... bands love it!

As for me I check my room every other month or so. Or when "something doesn't sound right".

I also keep a bunch of vintage equipment behind me in my room. It eases the musicians and engineers and gives them something to talk about. 1964 Gretch Drums, 1963 B15, 1980 Musicman bass, 1950's Sony C37A, Altec Cokebottle mic's, etc...

As I sit in the one third position in the room they don't have much (if any) influence on the sound. Unless you forget and leave the snares on the drums Very Happy

index.php/fa/6919/0/
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To see some of our work please click on any of the visual trailer montages located at... http://robertetoll.com/  (all music and sound effects were mastered by Silvertone Mastering).

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Re: Checking out your monitoring space/equipment?
« Reply #22 on: December 10, 2007, 09:01:19 am »

Here is a shot of the front...

index.php/fa/6920/0/
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Larry DeVivo
Silvertone Mastering, Inc.
PO Box 4582
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
www.silvertonemastering.com
To see some of our work please click on any of the visual trailer montages located at... http://robertetoll.com/  (all music and sound effects were mastered by Silvertone Mastering).

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Re: Checking out your monitoring space/equipment?
« Reply #23 on: December 10, 2007, 12:51:05 pm »

Silvertone wrote on Mon, 10 December 2007 10:01

Here is a shot of the front...

index.php/fa/6920/0/


How far are you from the speakers in the sweet spot at the console?  It might just be the angle of the photo but it looks really close!  I've often thought of trying a closer listening position than my current 10 ft or so.  How did you arrive at that arrangement?

Best,

- J.

Patrik T

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Re: Checking out your monitoring space/equipment?
« Reply #24 on: December 10, 2007, 02:09:45 pm »

JLaPointe wrote on Mon, 10 December 2007 18:51

 How did you arrive at that arrangement?



Because there is a dog guarding the "rear line"?

BR
Patrik
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Silvertone

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Re: Checking out your monitoring space/equipment?
« Reply #25 on: December 11, 2007, 06:56:12 am »

JLaPointe wrote on Mon, 10 December 2007 11:51

Silvertone wrote on Mon, 10 December 2007 10:01

Here is a shot of the front...

index.php/fa/6920/0/


How far are you from the speakers in the sweet spot at the console?  It might just be the angle of the photo but it looks really close!  I've often thought of trying a closer listening position than my current 10 ft or so.  How did you arrive at that arrangement?

Best,

- J.



I'm 9 feet from the speakers at that point. The room is 30' deep and the speakers are about two and a half to three feet off the front wall.

I arrived at it while talking over the design with Steven Durr, usually you want to sit at the 1/3rd or 2/3rd position in the room. I just chose the 1/3rd. I guess I was use to it after recording and mixing for 20 years! Also I didn't want to spend the 8K in diffusion panels for the rear wall that was spec'd at the time. However I am about to buy the diffusers for the rear wall from a studio that closed recently up this way. I'll be spending 1/10th the price for them.
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Larry DeVivo
Silvertone Mastering, Inc.
PO Box 4582
Saratoga Springs, NY 12866
www.silvertonemastering.com
To see some of our work please click on any of the visual trailer montages located at... http://robertetoll.com/  (all music and sound effects were mastered by Silvertone Mastering).
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