Categories
Acoustic Treatment How To Video Voice Over

Spare Bedroom? Let’s Make A Home Studio! – Part 3

This is the final submission to my little Star Wars-esque trilogy. I quickly realized that pics and text weren’t going to do it for showing the final result of my treatment installation in my home studio. So, I opted for a video. I probably ramble a bit, here and there and I realized afterward that I don’t seem to have a “good side”. So, please be kind. I’ve never done something like this before. 🙂

But, I think it is clear that the treatment (and studio in general) work very well. I am pleased with the results.

Here are some before and afters to help show the impact that the treatment has when recording voice-overs. I’m using the raw files, because I think they showcase the echo quite prominently. The final, in my opinion, is far better than the first one. I was thrilled when I did my first VO in the treated room. Money very well spent. Check out the comparison.

Without Treatment
[audio:http://dl.dropbox.com/u/2926250/PCV-RAW.mp3]

With Treatment
[audio:http://dl.dropbox.com/u/2926250/APC-RAW.mp3]

Well, without further ado, let’s watch my directorial and acting debut showcasing the new home studio.

Thanks for sticking around through the series. I hope it helps someone out there attempting to do the same thing.

Till next time…

David (Cali Dingo)

 

Incidentally, you may notice these nice little “sharing” buttons on the bottom of the posts. Feel free to use them. Share away as much as you like. 🙂

 

 

Categories
Acoustic Treatment How To

Spare Bedroom? Let’s Make A Home Studio! – Part 2

To continue with my saga of creating the perfect home studio, we come to the final piece of the puzzle which happens to be the stuff of legend…acoustic treatment. Yes, I’ll admit, in the beginning of all of this I was looking at the big box holding all this treatment and thinking to myself, “Did I just get suckered outta my hard-earned money? Will I even hear a difference?” I’ll report the final verdict later.

First, let me recap why I decided to throw down some cash and sweat a little to put this stuff up. Upon doing voice over work and just general acoustic recording, I began to notice that when I processed my audio (ie: compressor, limiter, etc.) I had a little problem with what they call echo-flutter. The mic was picking up my voice, however… it was also picking up the echo of my voice bouncing off the walls around me. As I stated, this was most notable once I applied compression or the like to the audio. So, I ended up spending enormous amounts of time getting REAL surgical with my audio edits to help alleviate the issue. But, to no avail.

I’ve heard of acoustic treatment and what it could do for a room, however it runs in my nature to be skeptical about everything… even when I have nothing to lose. But, I had lost my patience and decided to give it a whirl. I embarked on the good-ship internet, located what treatment would be good for my room and began my research as to how to put this stuff up. Well, low and behold, there weren’t that many blogs or articles describing exactly HOW to put these things up. There were plenty talking about how you should include these in your studio, just nothing telling me exactly how to actually do it. So, I realized it was up to me to get a little creative and see what I could come up with.

There were a few off the cuff remarks on how some people did it such as gluing the treatment to particle board or gluing it to ceiling tile and then screwing it onto the wall or ceiling. The one thing I realized, however, is being that you are putting several pieces of treatment together to create the bass trap or what have you, it can eventually add up in weight. Coupled with 2′ X 2′ particle board or ceiling tile that weight continues to go up, which means now you have to anchor these suckers into your wall and quite frankly I was beginning to see that I would have to actually work to get these up. I don’t like work.

I just painted my room and fixed all the anchor holes that were left by the prior owner, so the idea of adding more holes into the wall didn’t appeal to me. I wanted to use as few screws to hold these up as possible, which meant I needed to lessen the weight. Also, I wanted to keep the cost down in regards to the supplies needed to get these up. I just spent some money on the paint supplies and not to mention the treatment… I was done spending money. So, I had three rules I wanted to adhere to: Cheap, Minimal Holes, Light Weight.

Here’s how I accomplished it…

Step 1: The Tools

Step 1
Screw Driver, Picture Hanging Kit, Brackets (Straight & Corner), Wood Screws, Washers, Tube Tak Adhesive, Bottle Of Your Favorite Wine and Wine Bottle Opener. Work like this is always better with wine (or beer).

 

Step 2: Cut The Wood For The Frames

Step 2
The idea is to build a frame to which the treatment will be glued using the Tube Tak. I forgot the name of this wood, but you can find it in the garden section at Home Depot (I think it's used to make lattice for fences). They cost $1 a piece...I bought 5. Cut these into 2' lengths and we're going to build frames that we will hang on the walls and in the corners of the room. Be sure to use a mitre hand saw, as this wood will shred if using a large tooth saw.

 

Step 3: Build The Frames

Step 3
Here is an example of a corner frame. Three 2' lattice boards bracketed together to make a corner frame. This one is sitting upside down... flip it and it should fit right into the corner of your room. Use the Tube Tak to glue it to the wood.

 

Step 4: Screw On The Hangers

Step 4
Screw the picture hangers into the wood. This wood will split easy, so don't screw too tight. Put one hanger in the corner and two on the ends of the top boards. We'll hang these like a painting.

 

Step 5: Hang It

Step 5
Line the screws in the wall with the hangers and hang it up, like you would a picture. Be sure to line up the hangers and screws BEFORE you put the treatment on. Otherwise, have fun trying to line everything up with the treatment in the way. Hence why I had to add support for the arms on this one. I couldn't line up the screws to the hangers.
Step 5 Continued
Here is an example of me lining up everything first and then adding the treatment. It fits very snug in the corner. Of course, this was the last one I did. lol. Lesson learned.

 

Step 6: Make Your Wall Panels

Step 7
Glue your treatment together, let it dry and then glue the 2' X 2' to one 2' board with the hanger already on it.

 

Step 7: Hang The Wall Panels

Step 8
I used two screws and just hung them like pictures. They are extremely light in weight and very mobile.

 

Step 9: Screw The Rest Where Needed

Step 9
Use your wood screws and washers to screw in the remaining panels wherever you need them. Here is a sample of my ceiling treatment. Again, I glued the panels together and made two 2' X 2' panels and screwed it into the ceiling with just two screws each... one in a corner and the other in the diagonal corner.

 

Side notes:

The Tube Tak takes a while to dry when using it to glue the treatment to wood. I was surprised by this. I ended up letting it sit all night and by next day it was stuck good. Also, for extra support, glue the treatment to each other as well as the frames when constructing your bass traps and wall panels.

Be sure to use washers when screwing the panels directly into the walls. The screw has a tendency to disappear into the hole in the treatment and not secure the treatment to the wall.

In Part 3, I will be posting a video of the final product with some before and after samples. My room sounds great and the flutter echo is greatly reduced. Will it compete with Capital Records’ Studios? Um.. no. But, it improved my home studio enormously and it didn’t cost an arm and a leg. I bought my treatment either on sale or from a lesser known company and I’m happy with the results.

I hope this helps someone out there looking to do the same with their home studio. If you have any questions on anything I didn’t cover, just leave me a comment. I might just have an answer.

Till next time…

David (CaliDingo)

 

 

Categories
Acoustic Treatment Audio Editing Mix/Master Recording Voice Over

Spare Bedroom? Let’s Make A Home Studio! – Part 1

So, as I have stated/mentioned in prior posts, I have long had a “home studio” in a spare bedroom in the house. I used the room as is, with just my furniture “cleverly” situated in odd areas. As an example of my odd layout, I decided to put my desk in a corner of the room. Why? Don’t ask me. I guess I was trying my hand at eccentric interior design? Not sure. Plus, I had no acoustic treatment, which didn’t affect the layout, but it did affect the “sound” of the room. As a graphic design / web design office it was just fine. As a music studio? Not so much. Needless to say, over the course of me recording, mixing and mastering audio, I began to realize this room was dishing out all sorts of problems. For instance:

Recording – Too much ambient room noise, and not the good kind. When recording voice overs, echo-flutter was all too apparent. It became a nasty problem once I was in the processing phase, because once I added any compression that echo-flutter was very, up front and center. It made me work harder in the editing phase, attempting to knock out the noise wherever there was a pause in the vocal. I still do this when editing, but I had to get real surgical when dealing with all the echo-flutter. Talk about time consuming, not to mention the echo was still somewhat present during the voice over. Maybe no one else heard it, but I did and I’m the only person that matters…  besides my wife. 😉

Also, when attempting to record, my room had… well, no room, thanks to my eccentric interior design (I wish I would have taken “before” pics. I always forget to do that). The layout was horrendous which led to me pulling cords outta my guitars or knocking over my preamps. I looked like one of the Marx brothers when trying to record.

Mixing/Mastering – This is where the acoustic treatment was badly needed…only I didn’t know it for quite a while. Being that I’m married and my studio is in a house that my wife lives in, I typically use my monitors, KRK Rokit 5s, for referencing only. However, the acoustics in my room made referencing a bit more daunting. The mix from my monitors sounded totally different from what my headphones were telling me. This would lead me go back to the mix and try and fix what the room said needed fixing, only to go back to the headphones and find out that the changes I just made, based on my monitors, sounded off. Once I studied up on acoustic treatment the light bulb went off and I began to understand that my room was playing a dirty trick on my ears.

So, I sat down, did some research and discovered that I needed to change the layout and add some acoustic treatment. Upon realizing how much work was going to be involved I decided to also change the color of the room. You see, I made my home studio in a kiddie bedroom. It had a baseball-themed light fixture and powder blue paint. Perfect for a little boy. But, it has been annoying me since I took the room over as my office/studio. Now was my chance.

Let the work begin…

Getting Ready 2
The tray is filled. Really liked this color on the swatch sheet and liked it in the bucket. I was hoping I'd feel the same once it was on my walls.

 

Old Paint Color
Here is a view of what the old color was like (with patched holes to boot). This is the closest to a "before" pic that I have.

 

Got the first coat on and this pic shows a good example of the color difference. Good call on the color, eh?

 

Here's a better view of the new color. I forgot what it was called.

 

It was cold outside and hot inside my room. Had to fight the moisture monster as the paint up against the window kept running..

 

Finished 1
The "almost" finished room. The walls and trim are all painted and the furniture and gear are all moved into place. Much better use of space, I say. I can actually access the closet. My drum kit was blocking the right closet door before.

 

Finshed 2
The corner where I used to have my desk.

 

Frankie's picture is yet to be hung. I acquired a Paul McCartney painting from my artist brother that will be hung above my desk.

 

Better use of space and the acoustics should be much better with this layout once I apply the treatment. That is the theory at least.

 

My Assistant
Finally, all of this would not have been possible without the undying support of my fearless assistant. He's on salary.

 

Whew! It was a lot of work, but I love the results. Part 2 will cover the addition of acoustic treatment to the room. Let me know what you think so far.

Till next time…

David (Cali Dingo)

 

 

Categories
Mix/Master

Studio Goodies…Yum.

In the last post, I mentioned that I was to be receiving some studio goodies…including some acoustic treatment for the walls. Well, I arrived at home that evening to find some big ol’ boxes waitin’ for lil’ ol’ me. (Geez, that’s a lot of apostrophes!) Yep. The first shipment arrived. Since then, the other boxes of goodies slowly arrived one after another. Thanks goes to my dutiful (not to mention beautiful) wife who kept bringing them inside off the porch so’s no one would mischievously saunter off with one tucked under their arm.

So…what was in the first batch of boxes, you ask? Allow me to provide a picture guide of sorts as I opened and gazed at each one slowly throughout the evening. It took me an unusual amount of time to “unwrap my presents”, as I often sit and start daydreaming about how awesome everything in the world will be, now that I have ___________ (fill in the blank with the appropriate goodie).

As you’ll notice, I only have 2 boxes of acoustic treatment… the rest being headphones and monitors. As stated before, the other boxes of acoustic treatment came later. I’ll post those soon.

So without further ado, and in the order I opened each goodie…

#1. Sennheiser HD650s. These are truly awesome mixing headphones. Nice recommendation from Joe over at HomeStudioCorner.com
Look at this beauty. I just love opening new toys. lol
A close up of the mighty Sennheisser HD 650s. As Nigel said...'Don't touch them. Don't even breathe around them.'
#2. KRK Rokit 5 Monitors. Near-field monitors to be exact. I felt it alright to get these now that I was going to install acoustic treatment on the walls. Otherwise...would be a waste of mulah.
The packaging.
The Rokits on full display. Somehow I got a really neat glow effect off my kitchen counter. They look even more magical now.
#3. Auralex SDK Wedgies. These are the 1' X 1' kind. The first in a long line of acoustic goodies I'll be adding to the studio.
They're just bursting out of the box. To quote Pato Banton...niceness.

Well, that’s it for now. I’ll be posting some more pics of my other acoustic goodies I bought soon. Once I have my room set up, I’ll post pics of the end result.

All I can say is, I absolutely love getting new gear/equipment. It’s, it’s … superfly, brother. Very giddy and will sign off now.

Till next time….

David (Cali Dingo)

Categories
Mix/Master

Acoustic Treatment? … In my studio?? … Could it be??

Hello All!

I’ve recently been doing a lot of audio mastering lately. This has opened my eyes to a little something I’ve heard about from other mixers and mastering engineers….acoustic treatment. What is this you say? Well, I’m not entirely an expert, but in a nut shell, acoustic treatment is treatment you do to your room (adding absorbers and diffusers on the walls) to keep audio frequencies from bouncing back and forth and altering your ability to hear correctly what is happening in the mix. For a more in-depth explanation go here.

All’s I know is that I’ve recently been realizing how much trouble I’ve been having trying to “hear” my processing on a song I’m mastering. I get it sounding great only to take it out to the truck or play it on my CD player in the room and…..I’m hearing all sorts of strange things that weren’t there previously. So, I’ve heard others talk of this mythical thing called “Acoustic Treatment”, saw a little cash lying under the pillow (thanks tooth fairy) and took the plunge.

I’ve yet to use them, you see I’m actually opening the box tonight (10/25). But, it appears that these things should really do the trick (alongside my new headphones & monitors). I’ll get back to you with pictures and let you know how it’s going. It may take me several weeks to get this stuff up…not because it’s hard, but because I’m lazy. True story.

At any rate, upon researching these suckers I’ve also been reading A LOT about digitally altering your room. Yep. Using a “plugin” to “correct” the frequency problems in your room. You can read about that in more depth here.

I happen to have mastering software that let’s you utilize this feature. I’m not interested in using it, but out of curiosity I thought I’d see what a Pro has to say about using digital correction over acoustical treatment.

Bobby Owsinski is pretty darn renown for producing/engineering and nowadays for all the books he puts out on said topics. I follow his blog religiously and have read many of his books. I emailed him and here is what he said:

David,

None of these (referring to several digital room correction products I mentioned) are the cure to a bad room. The better the room sounds, the better they work. I think ARC (IK Mutlimedia ARC System) is a more comprehensive than the ones built into the speakers, but I think you’re still better off to treat your room first. It costs less to treat your room than to try to electronically fix it, and it’ll sound more natural as well.
Personally, I’d rather just determine the deficiencies in the room then learn how to live with them.
Bobby

So, there ya have it. I feel much better about my purchase now. Looking forward to opening the box and will be posting pics soon. Do you use acoustic treatment? Tell me about it below.

Till next time…
David (Cali Dingo)