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What Is An Ideal Control Room Dimensions Ratio?

Dennis Foley September 11, 2014 33 Comments
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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.

In Summary

If you would like your room acoustic issues analysed for free by me then please fill in the form here and I will be happy to take a look for you.

Thanks
Dennis

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. Connect with me on Google+

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33 thoughts on “What Is An Ideal Control Room Dimensions Ratio?

  1. Hi,

    A very nice offer in your ideal room dimensions artikle indeed to send dimensions and get your feedback. I hope the offer still stands.
    I’m a writer/producer and work in a space that I can use for the next 4 years.
    I’m trying to make it workable without the illusion that it can become a high end facility.
    Im planning the studio space adjustments and am wondering what I could best do with the following controll room dimensions.
    21.9 deep, 22.24 wide, 9.350 high.
    Current left and front wall are build from a product called Faay which looks like a drywall/wood/drywall combination.
    Floor, ceiling and left/backwall are solid (aprox) 1 foot concrete.

    I’m also wondering when I adjust my dimensions how effective a double or triple layered drywall/rockwool wall is in terms of low frequenties. (wouldn’t they just penetrate and bounce of the nearest solid enough wall and come back?).
    I understood that a large airspace between two walls can improve isolation a lot, but a smaller gap (say 7″) could create e new problem area.
    Hope to get some insights.

    Thanks for your response in advance!

    Best,
    Floris Glasbeek

  2. Hi! I am about to build a editing room and though I know the best room LxWxH ratio 23’x17’x10′ is the ideal ratio I do not have so much space. The length I have is 19′ and height around 12′. What is the best width to have?
    Please help!

    • Hi Caleb,

      Room size and volume are directly related to the amount and frequency of energy you are placing in the room. I am not familiar with the term editing room but if you are referring to a film editing room, we will need much more information. We will need to know what types and amounts of energy will be used within the room. Are you using a full range audio system or monitors that cross above 50 Hz.? Is there a low frequency energy source? What is the number of subs and what is their diameter?

      These are some of the many issues that must be addressed. There is no ideal room size. Usage will give you a range of options to work with that has minimum size and volume for that particular usage. Usually sizes and volumes above these minimums will work.

      Go to this link and fill out the requested information. http://www.acousticfields.com/free-acoustic-treatment-room-analysis-tell-us-about-your-room/.
      I will then run your numbers against our data base of 116 built and measured rooms and give you some minimums to work with in your efforts.

  3. My room is 13.4′ long, 12′ wide and 7.5′ high. Which is essentially the worst kind of dimensions judging from this article. Is there anyway to make a room like this work for mixing??

  4. Hi Sir
    I am really worried about ceiling’s hight 10 , 9 or 8 ?
    I have a room which is 10 feet ×9 ft
    ( hight also 10 )if I will add more width (3-4 feet )in this is this useful ?
    Please guide me sir

  5. Hi Colin, thanks for the advice you have given so far.

    I am looking at working on converting my garage into a recording space for my drums, as well as using it for a mixing station if possible. I was wondering if you could provide some insight into whether my room dimensions/ratios are any good, or if I can improve this in some way? Please note that these dimensions are prior to the soundproofing that I am planning to undertake.

    Length: 16.5 Feet
    Width: 9 Feet
    Height: 8 Feet (this is the height from the floor to the wooden beams. There is a large gap above these beams to the roof but it is triangular. I was planning on creating a sound proof ceiling at the level of the beams).

    If you require pictures of the room I can send you these.

  6. hi my room is 18ft L 10.5 w and 11 f h
    concrete foor ,1 cornet block wall 18f L and the opposite wall is drywall also 18 f l ,
    window makes most the last wall 10f wide and the wall paralle to that at the entrance is about 11 to 12 f wide drywall

    note* the dimensions entrance door wall 12 W 18f L ,10f W ,18f L and 11 f tall

  7. I have a small room that can’t be treated below100 Hz. Have you had any experiance with the Room Equalization software which uses a calibrated mic. Would these work in the less than 100 Hz frequencies.

    Thanks
    Gary

    • Hi Gary, All I can say to you is try and listen to the results. Only you can tell what is acceptable and what is not acoustically. Remember, the difference between great and average is always in this perception.

  8. Hello Dennis,
    My name is Will and I am working on my own studio. The dimensions you gave in your article of 17 and a half X 23 X 10 or 12…would these figures be more ideal if these were the finished dimensions, meaning inclusive of all acoustic treatment? My thought was to add 2 feet or so to the room sizes, then treat the areas as needed to bring them into the proper ratio, a little breathing room so to speak. Really like your site BTW.

    • Hi Will. Thank you for your support. Those should be the ID, internal dimensions, after treatment. If you have a larger foot print to work with, I would go to a 23′ w x 14′ h x 33 l. I would also build the low frequency technology into the walls themselves. This eliminates the need for large, freestanding, low frequency absorbers within the room. Go to this link and fill out the information. I will run your dimensions against our data base and we can get the right size ratios to match your usage. http://www.acousticfields.com/free-room-analysis/

  9. Dennis,
    Thanks for your swift reply. Really don’t have any rock solid dimensions yet as I am still in the thinking stage. I do know that the plan is to build the studio inside a much larger metal building, so size, design, soundproofing, etc. won’t be problem. The studio part will be totally independent of the rest of the building…bathrooms,kitchen/eating areas will be outside the “studio” but still inside the larger building. Just trying to give you an idea of the general direction of my project. I will send dimensions once I settle on a plan. Built a studio back in the 70’s…24′ x 50′ building…ampex 16 trk. mm1100, ampex2 trk. Rooms were acousticly treated, but no foam, all reflection and absorbing materials. Loved doing it, but I wish I would have had the internet back then!
    Thanks again
    Will

  10. hi sir,
    I have a room 24 x 15 x 10.(L x W x H)
    I want to divide this room to make a live room and a control room as well.
    Please let me know what would be the best dimension for making a partition. Your guidance would be of so much help.

  11. Good day to you sir!

    I’m in the planning stages of a home based studio. I’m trying to figure out the best ratio for the control and live room. I have one big room above my garage 26′ wide by 28′ long. Note the room has slopped ceilings (12/12) (one big triangle?). Within that room I’m trying to fit a live room to track drums and other instruments as well as a control room and maybe even a tiny vocal booth. I’ve drafted a plan in sketchup and the current control room dimensions are 8.8′ width, 12′ length and 12′ high at the highest point in the room. I’m wondering if that’s manageable. The live room dimensions are 20′ wide, 14′ length and 12′ high at the highest point. I’m wondering if what I’ve got is somewhat ok as far as my control room in concerned and if not try and figure out what to do to make it better. It is possible to stretch the control room by eliminating the vocal booth. I could make the control room approx 10/11′ wide by 20′ length if that would be better. That would take away about 1 or 2ft off the length of the live room. Any thoughts? sorry about the long post :/ Any help/advice would be greatly appreciated!!

    Thanks!

  12. hello, i want to know if 10,5 W / 6,18 H / 14,21 L (feets) is a good dimension for a Control Room?! thank you very much (Gaston from Argentina)

  13. Hello ,
    I have been given a room 20 feet in length 13 feet in width and 9 feet in height for construction of a 5.1 mixing studio . How good will it sound at the end and your expert comments please .

    Thanks .

    Clarence

  14. Right now I am planning an 18 by 24 foot room with 10 foot walls that go up to about at 17 foot vaulted ceiling (8/12 pitch). The 2 foot increments on the side will make construction much easier, but would mixing to 17×23 vastly improve the sound in my space? Using as a one room studio. Thanks!

  15. I have a space 15’10″L x 11’11″W x 10’H that I’m wanting to turn into a control room/listening room. What kind of treatment will I need? Currently there is a drop ceiling, so potentially the ceiling height could be increased a bit.

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