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How Room Modes Impact Your Music

Dennis Foley January 29, 2014 No Comments
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Today’s smaller rooms have more room modes because they are smaller in volume. Your room size and how the energy moves within it effects what you will and will not hear.

In this video, I discuss what room modes are and how they can impact your musical presentation. You will see why room modes smother certain frequencies all together and then how some modes exaggerate others. All of this produces an unbalanced sound presentation. With this knowledge, you can then go room mode hunting and find the modal pressure issues that impact your room.

Have you been listening to your favorite music and then all of a sudden a bass note is struck and you can’t hear anything? The bass note smothers everything.

How about a guitar solo where some of the notes on the scale are just out of proportion with the magnitude of the other notes? You try moving your chair first because it is easiest but that only helps the guitar solo not the bass boom. Next, you try moving your speakers only to find that now, you have no bass at all. You are the victim of the dreaded room mode and it looks like you have many in your room. How do you stop this acoustic attack if moving your listening position or speakers will not help?

Room Modes Do Not Care About The Price Of Your Gear

With the price of today’s equipment, you want to hear every watt and every note. Amplifiers and speakers can cost thousands of dollars and each watt can cost hundreds maybe thousands of dollars. You want to hear everything you paid for and not miss anything. Room modes will get in your way and smother or blur certain parts of your audio presentation. It is not your equipment that is causing this, it is the energy from your speakers that won’t fit into your room.

Room Modes Equal Pressure

Room modes are high and low pressure areas created within your room and are based upon the dimensions of your room. The dimensions of your room do not match up with the length of the frequencies that are trying to fit into them. Since the frequencies are longer than your room, they struggle to get comfortable, sort of like a large person trying to fit into a compact car. Parts of the music or person will be comfortable and fit but other parts will not. The frequencies that don’t fit are usually the lower frequencies or bass notes. These frequencies are responsible for that feared and dreaded term bass boom. This is how room modes impact your music.

Large Pressure Fronts

If you measure the room modes of your room on an analyzer, you will quickly see that the pressure areas are of magnitudes that are +15dB – +20dB in some cases. Room modes can be in the corners of your room where all the walls, floor, and ceiling intersect. In fact, the corners of your room is where all frequencies that contain room modes end. They can be in the middle of your room off to the left or right of your listening position.

They can be along both side and front walls and there is no special pattern to where they decide to take up residence in your room with its particular set of room dimensions. How can we stop this assault? By learning how to locate them, measure them and treat them!

And luckily for you in next weeks video I’m going to show you to do just that using some very inexpensive gear. So stay tuned for that (NB: You need to be on my mailing list to access the next set of videos on room modes. You can sign up here).

Thanks and speak soon
Dennis

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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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