I get the privilege of going into many rooms and environments that are devoted to sound play back or recording. Anyway you look at it it is a room dedicated to sound and the reproduction or recording of it. I have been in both types recently and I am glad to report that the passion that drove all of us to this business is still alive and kinda well.
Those of my clients and friends who run larger studios are struggling to try and keep their rooms full of expensive equipment full of engineers using it. They are struggling with lowering their rates to attract more business or keeping their position in the marketplace by keeping their rates in line or ahead of studios that offer less. All of this business stress drains the life out of their appreciation for the music. It is very sad to see.
Small Project Studios
My friends and clients that have smaller studios are divided into two groups. There are those that are extremely busy and there are those that are not busy at all. The busy ones seem to be doing a little bit of everything and everyone is busy. They are using their rooms a lot, so they become more aware of all the acoustical issues that they don’t like and have been living with.
Since they are busy, they have the cash flow to now address the acoustical issues in their rooms. There are really two main areas that need treatment in the smaller studios and the first one that everyone has in common is low frequency issues. Everyone hears low frequency resonances in a certain room position at a certain frequency. They need special high performing sound sponges in these areas. They have to be small and powerful because space is at a premium in small studios.
Reflections and high or higher reverberation times are also an issue. Numerous reflections from their wall surfaces are becoming more noticeable even if they are already treated with some type of room acoustic treatment. Not only is the reflection from the side wall becoming interfering with the direct sound from their monitors because they realize that they do not have the proper amount of absorption for the pressure levels that they listen at.
Small project studio owners are not happy with their overall reverberation times in most of their rooms, period. Most notice and comment on the room still being “too hot” after they have treated it when the room was built. I recently added new foam to a 35 year old vocal room that has been in use all that time for vocals and voice overs. The new breed of voice overs seem to want more absorption in the male and female vocal ranges.
With all of this activity in the rooms and the desire to make acoustical changes, the music for a brief time gets to be first again. People are excited about improving their sound quality in their rooms and everyone is on the same page of music. It is amazing to me that when the music is first, everything seems to move more easily and when the room sound improves the music benefits.
I am also seeing something occur that I have really never seen before. I am seeing long time, hi-fi, two channel, listeners willing to make structural changes to their room to improve the quality of their systems. I mean serious structural changes like building new walls and removing others, even within a living room. I have two clients right now who fit into that category.
Both have their systems set up in the main living room of their homes. One system is audio and video with a large flat panel hanging on the wall between the left and right channels. The second client has an audio only two channel system set up. His video screen is in the other room. No mixing of technologies for this client. This is an audio only room. Make no mistake about that.
Side Walls First
We will be building new side walls on both systems, so that side wall composition and distances are equal for primary reflection management at the listening position. One must have the same distance for both channels and it is a good idea to have the same material density for each side wall also. We will be using absorption technology for reflection time management at the listening position.
Low Frequency Resonances
Low frequency room modal resonances will be controlled in both rooms by using either frequency specific low frequency absorbers or a more broadband approach depending on the frequency and amplitude of the resonance. We will focus on the area directly behind each rear ported speaker and work out into the room from that starting position.
We will even spec in some diffusion for front and rear walls. Both clients are very serious about their sound and know that they have the quality level of equipment to produce it they are just not hearing it They are both tired of the room getting in the way of their equipment and the sound quality. They are so tired, that they are willing to move walls to get it. Now, That’s what I call passion.
Music is all of our passions and must come first. It is this passion that helps me reset my human clock if you will. Day to day business and personal issues seem to creep in where ever they can. They are like water. They find every place to get in and dampen our spirits. We can not let this happen, especially in today’s times. Close the door in your studio or listening rooms, sit down and then close your eyes. Press play. Hear the reason and passion all rolled into one. It is just between you and the music where it has always been. Carry this passion with you.