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Should I use a sidewall diffuser in my control room?

Dennis Foley August 14, 2014 No Comments
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I saw an image the other day where somebody was using a sidewall diffuser in their control room. How would that work? Is that going to be positive or negative?

It’s something that’s not that well practiced. I don’t see a lot of it because diffusion adds space and air and it may not produce the detail in the mix that the engineer wants so I don’t see a lot of that in the rooms that we work with.

The objective in a control room is to minimize the time signature of the reflection so you hear that direct sound coming out of the speakers and you get rid of the room sound. That’s why people sit near field when they mix because they don’t want to hear the room.

Sidewall Diffusion in a control room might not be best

If you put diffusion of the sidewalls, and I have seen it done but mainly two-dimensional, you’re going to sacrifice a little bit of definition at the mixing and monitoring position and trade that off for a little bit more air. Okay, if that’s your objective, if that’s what you’re trying to incorporate into your recordings, so be it.

And this gets back to room usage and gets back to what are we trying to do with our music? What are we trying to accomplish with our source material? What’s our goal?

A person who mixes for home theater mixes way differently than a person who does two channel. He has more sources to deal with. He has three more channels and probably a low-frequency channel to deal with.

It all depends on room usage

So it just depends on the usage, what the engineer’s trying to go for but the point is that we do have the tools to minimize the impact of the room and once minimized we have more tools to really get the room out of the way to a point where you can hear everything in your source. That said once you hear everything you may not like your source anymore and that’s what many people experience now when they come here to the studio.

“Well I really like this music and I’ve been listening to it on XYZ for all these years”. Well when you come to my studio, you’re suddenly in a room that won’t let you miss anything and “yikes I don’t like anything” and that happens a lot.

So that said, what’s right? And what’s wrong? well I guess one person could argue and say “you know all these years I’ve been listening to it and I’ve liked it but when I came here to your room and heard everything and heard how bad it really sounded I don’t like it”.

I don’t know, different strokes for different folks I guess but remember the goal is to connect to the music emotionally and if you’re doing that without having a dedicated listening room well bless you I think that’s great. Unfortunately most of us can’t do that we have to get the room out of the way so we can hear everything, a lot of us try to do that and that’s what we do.

In Summary

If you would like to learn more about room acoustics please sign up for my free videos and ebook by joining the mailing list here. I send room tuning tips and things for you to test in your room every Wednesday. They are easy to follow and will really help you enjoy more of your music.

Alternatively feel free to contact me directly at: 520 – 392 – 9486 MST or info@acousticfields.com. You can see more of my research and development story and why I started Acoustic Fields at: https://www.acousticfields.com/who-we-are/.

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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