Space - The Final Frontier.

László

Too Many Notes
Joined
Apr 26, 2012
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34,761
Location
Michigan
Today I decided to create more space in the studio. I got me some planzzz (that's 'plans' with an accent on the zzzz ;)).

I want to record some of my orchestral tracks with real orchestral instruments, and blend them with what I have. I've done this in the past, and it really livens up the music without having to spend $60,000 to rent an orchestra and a sizable hall for music that will never sell for even the cost of a stick of gum.

To do it, there has to be room for a small group of musicians. They'll need a place to sit. They'll need music stands. And room for both in order to play!

I'll certainly need more room than I started out with today.

Fortunately, the studio is a good sounding room no matter where someone sits to record, so I can have several musicians play in the recording area where the amps sit, and a few play closer to the workstation area.

I looked around hard at my setup. The first thing I realized is that a second keyboard stand my brother and I made for my last studio in the early '90s, that has mainly been an unused stand for pottery barn decor since moving into my current space, could be moved into the storage room.

Boom! Done! Never mind my back. That's done too.

A black leather 'client armchair' I've had for many years hasn't had an actual client's butt on it in eons. No one goes to studios from ad agencies any more, it's all done by sending files for approval. I was using it as a guitar stand.

I moved it out, and will probably send it to Goodwill.

I had already moved a pair of black wood bookshelves out of the way in my usual recording area. Those I need as a place to keep stuff I work with and books I refer to. There's a matching chest of drawers for mics and small items. That's staying, too.

Tomorrow I plan to move the amps 3 feet closer to the wall and reclaim some of my 'recording area' space. I realize the amps look like they're against the walls in pics, but they're several feet away from the walls and sticking into the room.

I have an orchestrator friend I'll hire to translate my scores into sheet music the musicians can read and work with.

Just have to finish clearing some of the clutter, have the scores prepared, and hire the musicians. I'll try and conduct, but will have my friend on hand in case I'm not skilled enough at it, he's very good. Granted, this will probably take me through the summer, but had to start somewhere.

Couple of pics to follow.
 
There’s a lot of room at the workstation now. Oodles of useful space. I found a spot for my old law school diploma by moving a painting to the recording area. I don’t know why, but I hung it. What the heck. I worked hard to get the degree, might as well put it up there.

cwdUSzZ.jpeg


I’ll get a few more square feet out of this space by moving the amps closer to the walls. Right now they're several feet into the room. The rug is 8x10', so while it's not Abbey Road Studio, it's not a tiny area. I'll be able to set up a semi-circle of 6-7 chairs.

VIMqnsU.jpeg
 
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The Best Laid Plans Of Mice…oh, and men…and the Craptastic outcome.

Moving the amps gained me only between a foot more room toward the rear wall and 18” toward the left wall. I had to leave space to get to the rear controls on the DG and Lone Star, room for speaker, AC, and signal cables to and from amps and switcher, etc.

All but one of the speaker cabs are open back or ported, and they sounded better a bit away from the wall as well.

So maybe I can squeeze one more musician into the semicircle. Maybe.

vmcxDzC.jpg


On the plus side, even a small amount of extra room isn’t a bad outcome, and I have a little room for some mic stands in the nook. Beats dragging them from the storage room, or finding space elsewhere when I'm lazy, which is usually the case.

uCLbZUE.jpeg


I also decided not much is sadder than having the first thing you see walking into a studio be a law school diploma. So I moved some artwork back where it was originally.

sl0nN6n.jpeg


Was it worth the effort?

Ummmm…uh…probably-ish kinda maybe.
 
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Plus you get the added pleasure of searching down new early reflection spots in your mixing spot.

That’s like, weeks of free entertainment.
I already have the early reflection spots at the mix position handled, because I didn't move the spot where I mix.

Hmmmm…..I think you’ve got room for another amp! :p
Yes, if I move the mic stands (which of course is easy). I need to be able to access the back of the switcher/power rack, AC plug, etc., so I don't want to move it over to the right any more than it is. I need enough space to sit down, see and reach the back panels without becoming a contortionist.

If I put the amps closer together just gets more difficult to operate their rear controls, plug in cables, etc. I also like to give the open backs enough space for the reflections coming from the backs to reach the room mics. Otherwise the sound is a little less open. It only takes a few inches between the cabs to accomplish that.
 
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Cool Space. So Many Keys! Also the best piece is that steampunk pulley lamp. Almost Giger but not quite.
I love that thing. I have the matching floor lamp, but I decided it took up too much floor space, so I moved it upstairs. If I find a space for it after I do these sessions it may return to the studio.
 
Nice one Les, love Robert’s painting (nude, assuming it is his work, certainly looks in his style) on the wall.

Thanks! It feels a bit empty now, but I like being able to walk around without bumping into things, so that's a plus, too.

Plus you get the added pleasure of searching down new early reflection spots in your mixing spot.

That’s like, weeks of free entertainment.

I was going to suggest those dividers that break down echo.



















Echo, echo, echo, ech, ech, ho, ho, o, oooo.



Who said that?
 
Nice one Les, love Robert’s painting (nude, assuming it is his work, certainly looks in his style) on the wall.
Thanks, yes, it's one of his; a watercolor he painted about 25 years ago.
I was going to suggest those dividers that break down echo.
Those are absolutely not needed in my well-treated room.

However, I do have a folding highly absorbent (down to 40 Hz) gobo to block off the amps when I have to crank them up loud. I place a mic between the gobo and the amp.

If you check out at the photographs I posted, you'll see that there are two kinds of room treatment mounted on the walls: The thicker panels that are 3 1/4 inches thick are bass traps that are highly effective down to 80Hz, and still pretty decently effective down to 40 Hz. These panels also have diffusors built in. The ones in the room corners are mounted diagonally, where they're even more effective than the flat-mounted panels.

The flat mounted panels are also spaced a couple of inches from the surface of the wall to help with absorption, and would be slightly more effective if I install 4" spacers. However, I'm waiting until I repaint the studio for that. Right now, it's fine as-is.

These are set up at the front and back of the room, where they do a great job of smoothing out the low end, and minimizing issues that result from low frequency waves bouncing back and forth and creating nulls and peaks in bass response. Low frequency wavelengths are very long. Because my room is 33 feet front to back, it will accommodate a 35Hz wavelength, which is very low indeed.

In addition, I have a trap on each side wall by the speakers, though the one on the right is a little off-center due to the door. Because bass is omnidirectional, and because the left speaker is positioned near a poured concrete basement wall (concrete is very reflective, drywall "gives a little" if there's no concrete behind it), it is positioned immediately across from the side of the speaker.

The right speaker is near the doorway to my storage room, there's no concrete next to it. So that wall will flex and pass bass into the storage room a lot better than the left speaker, and placement of the absorber on that side can be more flexible. Nonetheless I have a portable bass trap on a stand that I put opposite the speaker for critical mixing; it's portable because correct placement is where the door to the storage room is located.

On either side of my desk are thinner panels (1 1/4 inches thick) that are mid and high-frequency absorbers; these are located at the first reflection points at the mix position, and were both calculated via a fairly complex (for me, I'm no mathematician, but I managed to do it) formula.

This was verified as well by the very simple "mirror test" where correct placement is determined this way: a mirror is moved along the right and left walls; where the opposite tweeter is seen in the mirror is usually the correct first reflection point. So placement was verified both ways.

These panels are very effective in the mid and high frequencies where comb filtering, etc., from side walls causes problems.

Here's an article explaining basically how to create a reflection-free zone at the mix position; this is what I followed and it works like a charm:


The side walls that are behind my mix position have minimal effect on what I hear at the mix position, and don't need treatment.

The room sounds very even, smooth and has no obnoxious standing waves, yet there's enough liveliness preserved along the side walls to make the room sound really good. Of course, physics being what it is, I use the term 'obnoxious' to mean standing waves that create boomy or 'not there' bass; only an acoustically perfect room can eliminate standing waves completely. Still, my room sounds very fine for its purpose, and it's accurate enough that I can both mix and master in it effectively.

I also installed a layer of insulation above the ceiling tiles to prevent rattling and help tame the noise coming from the studio.

Basically, the room requires no additional treatment for recording acoustic or electric instruments, or vocals. It sounds good. It's not a great idea to record instruments or voices in an acoustically dead space, in my opinion. Obviously it isn't a concert hall or Abbey Road, but that's why they make reverbs.
 
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I already have the early reflection spots at the mix position handled, because I didn't move the spot where I mix.


Yes, if I move the mic stands (which of course is easy). I need to be able to access the back of the switcher/power rack, AC plug, etc., so I don't want to move it over to the right any more than it is. I need enough space to sit down, see and reach the back panels without becoming a contortionist.

If I put the amps closer together just gets more difficult to operate their rear controls, plug in cables, etc. I also like to give the open backs enough space for the reflections coming from the backs to reach the room mics. Otherwise the sound is a little less open. It only takes a few inches between the cabs to accomplish that.
Pro tip.....never reflect where you mix........
 
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