Last week I was asked by Han about room size ratios. “Can you tell me what kind of ratios are good for control rooms and what’s bad? Even if it’s just an approximation that would be great.”
With control rooms, listening rooms, live rooms, vocal rooms, there are sizes that are unique and different for all of them and they all have their kind of minimum ideal situations. Then with that as your benchmark you can work this to go smaller or go a little bit larger. Let’s get back to our friend’s question about control rooms.
The rule with any room is to get it out of the way so it doesn’t interfere with what you’re doing. In an ideal world we wouldn’t have to work in a room but unfortunately we do. So when we have a room, we have issues that we have to deal with.
So for a control room we have large pressure issues because we listen at lower passages and lower pressure levels and we listen to higher pressure levels. Some studios even have small monitors that they mix upon, large monitors that they play backup on and they like to hear how the music that they produce sounds in both formats. Both speaker sizes because those speaker sizes are representative of probably what their customers are using to listen to their product.
Our Recommended Control Room Dimensions Ratio Is…
That said for a control room the best thing to start with is a dimension that we keep in our minds all the time as kind of an ideal for control room or a listening room for that matter. It’s 17 and a half wide, 10-foot-tall, 23-foot long. That is a great start that will go a long way to minimizing the real serious pressure issues that we would have to treat and that would have to take up a lot of space to treat. There are points where we can treat almost any issue with the room if we have enough space to treat that issue.
Unfortunately by treating the issue we make the room smaller. That may or may not be good for you as the end user so the bottom line here is we have to figure out, let’s get the largest room that we can get without having to do a lot of treatment. Now realize that we still have to treat some of the space but let’s try to get the biggest footprint we can, the best ratios and the best volume that we can so that our treatment issues don’t consume so much of the space of the room and that’s in our database.
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That’s why we have these three groups of rooms because there’s break points that the amount of space you have to give up to treat the problems that the room has because of its size and volume makes the room so small that it becomes not usable and then you pass that room distortion barrier by getting so small that the room is just not usable for audio at all and there are break points like that.
So a 10, 12 ceiling height is really good in a control room and the 17 or 18-foot width is wonderful. Even with splayed walls, right angled walls for reflection management, angled ceiling for reflection management, diffused rear wall for reflection management.
So it’s a good start to mention but just send me the dimensions that you have to work with. Give me the largest footprint that you have available and then I’ll work from that number and see what we can accommodate.
What’s a kind of starting point as far as an absolute ‘no’ in room dimensions?
In North America it’s eight foot ceilings, that’s what we live with unfortunately, and that’s the worst dimension for acoustics. Secondly 12-foot dimensions are really bad and you’ve matched the 8-foot and the 12-foot together and they’re just not good at all. So then you get two dimensions of the three in your room that are bad. So the 8s’, the 12s’, anything less than 14′ in a width or a length is problematic, anything less than eight-foot is problematic in a height.
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