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Helping to make room acoustics easier to digest, one video at a time

Dennis Foley October 12, 2014 No Comments
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I received the following email from Peter who has been following our Room Acoustic Video tutorials on our YouTube channel. I thought it was worth sharing as this gets to the crux a little bit on the area of expertise. You see online, everyone is an expert these days. Everyone with a blog, a forum account, a social network account, you name it, everyone is an expert, everyone has a point of view and I get that. Where it becomes dangerous is when people over reach themselves and cross into domains where they really don’t have the field experience to be offering “thou shalt do this” advice. Why? Because it ends up costing some other poor guy or gal a tonne of money by following that advice.

Know your limitations

I don’t say that to judge or be mean. I just think people need to really think how much time goes into really mastering a subject. In sport a common refrain is the 10,000 hours test. That is to say have you spent 10,000 hours over your lifetime, training and honing this one skill to an extreme level? If you have then maybe you can be considered an expert but only if your results are also outstanding, i.e. you win gold, silver or bronze at the Olympics.

Well the same could be said for room acoustics advice. Until you’ve built hundreds if not thousands of rooms, spent years on R&D and designed technology to match the problems you encounter, how can you offer “expert” advice? The truth is you can’t. I’ve been at this for 30+ years and there are still the occasional things I’ll come up against that I need to really think about. It’s not easy, there is no “magic bullet” solution, and there is no one size fits all. There are hundreds of things that must be done in the correct order sequence if you are to achieve an optimal sounding room. Miss a step or do something out of sequence and the whole stack of cards collapses.

So listen to Peter’s advice for he is wise…

Howdy Dennis,

I’m glad that there are “hands-on” acoustic experts such as yourself out there.

I’ve been looking into home recording for a number of years now and it seems that every one speaks from the same page. I get the part about absorption of high frequencies, but they all seem to believe that a few 4″ corner foam blocks will actually take care of a 38′ low frequency wave. I guess most of them are getting sponsored by the gear they use and promote. For the most part, all of these “home based studio” engineering/producer gurus spout the same rhetoric and to be honest, I have no doubt that there isn’t a Jac Holtzman, George Martin or Phil Spector among them. Heck, they’ll end up spending thousands on their studio and still have squat to show for it, but if all you seek is electronic, techno-mind-numbing club mixes with a bass that makes your fillings rattle, good luck with that.

Anyway, my situation is not one where I have to have the most cool set-up or chic items. It’s a hobby and I’m not going to break the bank, because in the long run a decent recording can be made in almost any setting, depending upon what your definition of “good” sound is.

Thank you again, Dennis for taking the time out of your hectic day to look over my situation. At least, in the future I know there is a company out there that can separate the BS from the acoustic absolutes that exist.

Thanks so very much
Peter

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Dennis Foley

I am an acoustic engineer with over 30 years’ experience in the business. My technology has been used in Electric Lady Land Studios, Sony Music of New York, Cello Music and Films founded by Mark Levinson, and Saltmines Studios in Mesa, Arizona, along with hundreds of others.

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