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PostPosted: Wed Mar 28, 2018 3:33 pm 
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Hello. I am a singer songwriter and looking to build my own home studio in our new house. I have read lots of information on this site over several months as well as all the rules and regulations before making my first post so I hope I will be able to at least be up to speed with the basics in the hope of getting some guidance.

I play guitar, violin and small hand percussion. I am also a singer. I won't need to record drums or bass instruments. My garage is below the house and is an average size with 3m ceilings so I thought I would park my car in the street and use the space for a recording studio :) The structure is brick wall and concrete ceiling with a tiled floor and, although it can get a bit noisy when there is lot's of activity upstairs, it is not too bad overall.

I am not really a mixing engineer and at first, I was not even going to build a control room. I have a friend who lives not too far away that has a nice mixing space and we were going to use my space only as a live room and mix over at his place. This plan is still an option if my design ideas fail or would be compromised because of space constraints etc. Having said that, I tried my best to come up with design ideas that would include a control room and a live room and I came up with this design. There is space below the stairs that I wanted to use as a storage area which is why there is a door in the live room to this area. I think this design sacrifices a minimal amount of space while having the doors in the right place and makes use of the storage space below the stairs.

So I will upload the design and hope to get some feedback from you all. Thanks for a great forum and lots of wonderful information. I will keep reading.


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PostPosted: Thu Mar 29, 2018 2:32 pm 
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Another design idea for consideration. The control room would be slightly longer now and be around 20m2 which I believe is the minimum size.

cheers


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2018 8:03 am 
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Welcome!

Design 1 is good in that you can come and go through the control room rather than the live room. Access into your control room through an angled wall could be pretty crazy.
Design 2 is good in that achieve a large live room and a control room that is just big enough (considering your control room is secondary to your tracking needs). At the bottom of the live room, you have an angled wall which isn't necessary as you would probably have a big old bass trap device in that corner which could provide you with angled slats. Again, access into your live room through an angled wall could be pretty crazy.

Both designs suffer in the stair area. Sealing up a stair way could/would be an absolute nightmare if treated as your outer leaf (which you currently have it as in your designs). Think about it. Sealing them air tight. Making sure they have enough mass to match the rest of the outer leaf. Crazy. I'd personally frame around the stair way with a wall that is part of your outer leaf. You'll lose a bit of space, but it will work better. I get that you're at the rough layout stage, but once you start drawing it in more detail, you'll see that your stairway door needs to be on an actual wall.. that's the wall I'm talking about building ;-)

Greg

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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2018 5:11 pm 
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Gregwor wrote:
Welcome!

Design 1 is good in that you can come and go through the control room rather than the live room. Access into your control room through an angled wall could be pretty crazy.
Design 2 is good in that achieve a large live room and a control room that is just big enough (considering your control room is secondary to your tracking needs). At the bottom of the live room, you have an angled wall which isn't necessary as you would probably have a big old bass trap device in that corner which could provide you with angled slats. Again, access into your live room through an angled wall could be pretty crazy.

Both designs suffer in the stair area. Sealing up a stair way could/would be an absolute nightmare if treated as your outer leaf (which you currently have it as in your designs). Think about it. Sealing them air tight. Making sure they have enough mass to match the rest of the outer leaf. Crazy. I'd personally frame around the stair way with a wall that is part of your outer leaf. You'll lose a bit of space, but it will work better. I get that you're at the rough layout stage, but once you start drawing it in more detail, you'll see that your stairway door needs to be on an actual wall.. that's the wall I'm talking about building ;-)

Greg


Thank you for the reply. The bass trap suggestion is great and I will make this change in the design as it makes total sense to use that area for bass trapping rather than waste it.

I didn't understand the part where you say: "I would personally frame around the stairway" because this is exactly what I intend to do. I thought that this was clear in the design. The green wall is a 2-leaf drywall decoupled and framed around the stairway.

Another question: Why would entering the room through an angled wall be crazy?


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PostPosted: Fri Mar 30, 2018 5:19 pm 
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Gregwor wrote:
Welcome!

Design 1 is good in that you can come and go through the control room rather than the live room. Access into your control room through an angled wall could be pretty crazy.
Design 2 is good in that achieve a large live room and a control room that is just big enough (considering your control room is secondary to your tracking needs). At the bottom of the live room, you have an angled wall which isn't necessary as you would probably have a big old bass trap device in that corner which could provide you with angled slats. Again, access into your live room through an angled wall could be pretty crazy.

Both designs suffer in the stair area. Sealing up a stair way could/would be an absolute nightmare if treated as your outer leaf (which you currently have it as in your designs). Think about it. Sealing them air tight. Making sure they have enough mass to match the rest of the outer leaf. Crazy. I'd personally frame around the stair way with a wall that is part of your outer leaf. You'll lose a bit of space, but it will work better. I get that you're at the rough layout stage, but once you start drawing it in more detail, you'll see that your stairway door needs to be on an actual wall.. that's the wall I'm talking about building ;-)

Greg


Hi Greg, Is this what you mean by making a wall around the stairway? I also corrected the corner of the live room (great tip!)


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2018 1:33 am 
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Hi there "attaboy_jhb", and Welcome!

Adding to what Greg has already said, I was wondering if you have considered a modification of your first option (first post), but rotating the control room 90° so that it faces the live room. That would allow you to have a window between the rooms, for good visual contact between the engineer and musicians. That would be my first choice.

Also, you don't need to splay your walls so much: it's a waste of space, and isn't necessary. It's a myth that studio walls must always be angled: they can be if you want them that way, but it is NOT a requirement. There are some good reasons for doing that, but unless your studio is subject to one of those reasons, you don't need it. Wasted space, more complicated construction, lower room, volume, higher cost... lots of things going against it, unless you really need it.

Quote:
I have read lots of information on this site over several months as well as all the rules and regulations before making my first post so I hope I will be able to at least be up to speed with the basics in the hope of getting some guidance.
:thu: :yahoo:


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with 3m ceiling
Nice! That's an excellent bonus!

Quote:
The structure is brick wall and concrete ceiling with a tiled floor
Also very nice! All of this bodes well for a really good studio.

Quote:
There is space below the stairs that I wanted to use as a storage area
Which way do the stairs slope in your diagram? I'm guessing that it slopes down to the left, with the lower end of the stair case at the left hand wall and the higher end towards the right?

Quote:
The control room would be slightly longer now and be around 20m2 which I believe is the minimum size.
It's the smallest recommended size for a critical listening room, yes, but that doesn't mean that it's the smallest possible size. John has designed many small studios, including ones that fit inside a shipping container, and I have done quiet a few where the area is less than 20m2. Right now I'm working on a really tiny one that is just 9m2. The design is complete, and it is under construction, nearing completion (just some treatment still remaining). A recent note I got from the owner (unsolicited comment) when he did some initial testing, says : "All I can say is HOLY CRAP, this thing is insane. I’ve never heard imaging so clear and such full low end like this! Its pretty incredible!" So having a room smaller than 20m2 is not a death sentence: it can be done, as long as you take care with the design and treatment. The smaller the room, the harder it is. Very small rooms (such as this one I just mentioned) need extreme care, and truck loads of treatment to get usable, but it can be done. I'm not posting the owners comment to "blow my own horn", so to speak, but rather to illustrate that even very small rooms can sound reasonably good, and be entirely usable, if they are designed properly.

In other words, you can go smaller than 20m2 if you need to, but the smaller you go the harder it gets. And if you can keep it to 20m2 or above, that's excellent: your job will be easier.

- Stuart -

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2018 4:21 am 
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Hi Greg, Is this what you mean by making a wall around the stairway? I also corrected the corner of the live room (great tip!)

That's exactly what I meant ;-)

And to add to what Stuart said about not angling your walls, you can still have the appearance of angled walls (acoustic treatment) but when you frame up the walls, they can all have nice 90 degree corners. So, no different than the corner you've already "corrected". Bottom line, make stuff 90 degrees and use the right angled corners for effective bass trapping! This also will solve the "crazy" angled wall entry door dilemma. And to clarify what I meant, imagine loading a piano through one of those doors in an angled hallway. That WOULD be crazy hahaha

Greg

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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2018 4:58 pm 
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Soundman2020 wrote:
Hi there "attaboy_jhb", and Welcome!

Adding to what Greg has already said, I was wondering if you have considered a modification of your first option (first post), but rotating the control room 90° so that it faces the live room. That would allow you to have a window between the rooms, for good visual contact between the engineer and musicians. That would be my first choice.


Hi Stuart and thank you for the warm welcome. A lot of the info I have picked up over here comes from you so another big thank you for that. I have considered flipping the room 90° but that posed two problems. 1. to keep the room rectangular with nice dimensions it would reduce the live room and I wanted the live room to be bigger than the control room 2. The entrance would have to be on the front wall of the control room. Not sure if the second one is a problem or not but just always see designs with the door on the side walls of the CR.

Soundman2020 wrote:
Also, you don't need to splay your walls so much: it's a waste of space, and isn't necessary. It's a myth that studio walls must always be angled: they can be if you want them that way, but it is NOT a requirement. There are some good reasons for doing that, but unless your studio is subject to one of those reasons, you don't need it. Wasted space, more complicated construction, lower room, volume, higher cost... lots of things going against it, unless you really need it.

Oh ok that is good, I was inspired by many control rooms designed on this site and many seem to have angled CR walls. here for example are a few I like http://johnlsayers.com/Recmanual/Titles/Plans.htm . The garage studio is one that doesn't have angled walls but almost all the others do so thought that it was preferable.



Soundman2020 wrote:
Which way do the stairs slope in your diagram? I'm guessing that it slopes down to the left, with the lower end of the stair case at the left hand wall and the higher end towards the right?

Yes you are spot on! I can see you have done this before :D

Soundman2020 wrote:
It's the smallest recommended size for a critical listening room, yes, but that doesn't mean that it's the smallest possible size. John has designed many small studios, including ones that fit inside a shipping container, and I have done quiet a few where the area is less than 20m2. Right now I'm working on a really tiny one that is just 9m2. The design is complete, and it is under construction, nearing completion (just some treatment still remaining). A recent note I got from the owner (unsolicited comment) when he did some initial testing, says : "All I can say is HOLY CRAP, this thing is insane. I’ve never heard imaging so clear and such full low end like this! Its pretty incredible!" So having a room smaller than 20m2 is not a death sentence: it can be done, as long as you take care with the design and treatment. The smaller the room, the harder it is. Very small rooms (such as this one I just mentioned) need extreme care, and truck loads of treatment to get usable, but it can be done. I'm not posting the owners comment to "blow my own horn", so to speak, but rather to illustrate that even very small rooms can sound reasonably good, and be entirely usable, if they are designed properly.

In other words, you can go smaller than 20m2 if you need to, but the smaller you go the harder it gets. And if you can keep it to 20m2 or above, that's excellent: your job will be easier.

- Stuart -


That is great. Rooms that small must be difficult and it is a great achievement if you can make it work so well done. I am sure it takes a lot of skill to do that. Luckily my space is not so small so hopefully it will be more forgiving of my lack of experience when it comes to studio building. I wanted to use a room with good dimensions as a start to help me with treatment. I have read that good ratios can help treatment and reduce modal problems. The control room in my design checks out nicely on bobgolds website so I felt safer using it.


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PostPosted: Sat Mar 31, 2018 5:05 pm 
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Gregwor wrote:
Quote:
Hi Greg, Is this what you mean by making a wall around the stairway? I also corrected the corner of the live room (great tip!)

That's exactly what I meant ;-)

And to add to what Stuart said about not angling your walls, you can still have the appearance of angled walls (acoustic treatment) but when you frame up the walls, they can all have nice 90 degree corners. So, no different than the corner you've already "corrected". Bottom line, make stuff 90 degrees and use the right angled corners for effective bass trapping! This also will solve the "crazy" angled wall entry door dilemma. And to clarify what I meant, imagine loading a piano through one of those doors in an angled hallway. That WOULD be crazy hahaha

Greg


Ok I understand. I will remove the angled walls then. Do you know why so many designs over here have angled walls? Does it depend on the design/dimensions some how or if there are many rooms?


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PostPosted: Sun Apr 01, 2018 10:49 am 
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Welcome. Youre definately in good hands. It would be good to outline your needs and goals for your studio so everyones on the same page.


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PostPosted: Mon Apr 02, 2018 10:29 am 
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I have considered flipping the room 90° but that posed two problems. 1. to keep the room rectangular with nice dimensions
"Nice Dimensions" in what sense? "Nice" as in comfortable for fitting in people and gear? Or "nice" as in "fitting a good modal response room ratio"? If it's the former, that that0s understandable, but it doesn't look that way to me: a room 4m wide by 6 long doesn't seem uncomfortable. If it's the latter, then don't worry about it TOO much: room ratios are useful for predicting disaster, but if you have to choose between making a room smaller to hit a "good" ratio, or leaving it a bit larger with a not-too-bad ratio, then go with larger. Always. As long as your dimensions are not exact multiples, or within 5% of being exact multiples, then you should be OK. It seems to be that this should be attainable in your case.

Quote:
it would reduce the live room
Why? I don't see that. If you simply take the outline of your first option, turn it into a rectangle (instead of having those angled walls), and rotate the interior so that it is facing the live room, then that would leave you with both rooms about the same size as they are now...

Quote:
The entrance would have to be on the front wall of the control room. Not sure if the second one is a problem or not but just always see designs with the door on the side walls of the CR.

Attachment:
BRAUS-CR-to-ISO-SML-ENH.JPG


Maybe that answers your question? :) That's from a studio I designed for a customer in Australia a few years back. That's actually the door from the CR to the isolation booth, but it could just as well be the door from the CR to the live room in your case...

Quote:
I was inspired by many control rooms designed on this site and many seem to have angled CR walls.
Right! But there's a specific reason for that, and it has to be done with a full understanding of "why" and "how" and "what".

There's basically on four valid reasons why you would want to angle your control room walls:

1) You have no choice, because there's something structural in the building that prevents you from keeping them straight (eg, support columns, exterior walls, HVAC ducting, pipes, etc.)


2) You want to solve a flutter echo problem that you are predicting will occur. In this case, you would have to angle the walls by a total of more than 12° to deal with that, but in reality flutter echo can be dealt with much more simply with ordinary acoustic panels on the walls, which you would need in any case. So this isn't really a valid reason.


3) Because your basic control room design concept requires it. Some concepts, such as RFZ, NER, MR, CID and others require angled surfaces at the front of the room, as they are an integral part of the acoustic design, reflecting sound away from the mix position. This is a VERY valid reason, and personally I highly recommend the RFZ style approach. Pretty much all of the control rooms I design these days are RFZ, as it produces the best room acoustics, even in very small rooms (and large ones too, of course!). But if you want your room to be RFZ, then that takes a lot of extra design effort, and in reality the room itself is usually rectangular anyway: it's just the speaker soffits and "wings" that are angled, not the actual walls. You might have seen me mention this room on other threads: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=20471 That room is rectangular at the front (not the back, but that's another story.... :).) Even though it LOOKS like the front has angled walls, it doesn't: Here's the front of the room under construction:

Attachment:
RDMOUS-BUILD-02nd-construction-all-soffits--2012-12-08-photo 1-ENH-SML.JPG

You can clearly see the rectangular front of the room itself, and also the shape that it will eventually have, after the soffits are finished.

Here's another case, currently in the final stages: viewtopic.php?f=2&t=21368 That one is even "worse": it's based on a square! Technically, its a "corner control room", oriented on the diagonal across the square, and it's more of an equilateral trapezoid than a true square, but you can see that the room shape is basically square. The front corner is "chopped off", then once again the speaker soffits create the angled surfaces that forms the reflection free zone (RFZ) around the listening position.

If you want to do an RFZ style room, I would highly recommend that. But keep your walls and basic room shape rectangular, then create the RFZ shape with that shell using angled "panels" at strategic locations, and angled correctly.


4) The fourth reason that you might validly decide to angle your walls, is "because it looks cool"! Some people just want a "cool" looking room, and decide to angle their walls for that reason alone. If you follow the "function follows form" school of architecture (I don't...), then you could do that, and then adjust the design and treatment as necessary to accommodate the angled walls.

In general, splaying or angling your walls will waste space, and in general you want as much space (air volume) inside your room as possible. That's why I prefer to build rectangular rooms and then shape them internally. Occasionally I have NOT gone that route, and I ended up angling the actual front section of the side walls, for various reasons. It can work, certainly, but from experience I can tell you that it's a lot more complex to do that.

Quote:
here for example are a few I like http://johnlsayers.com/Recmanual/Titles/Plans.htm . The garage studio is one that doesn't have angled walls but almost all the others do so thought that it was preferable.
Many years after John wrote that manual, he updated his design concept, then posted this, right here on the forum: " it's not necessary to angle sliding glass doors. I used to think it was but I don't angle them now." Most of the designs on that page of the Rec Man show the angles due to the sliding glass doors being angled.

That said, John is a very experienced designer! He sometimes does things that "break the rules", and he succeeds! Because he has the experience and knowledge to be able to do that.

Quote:
Luckily my space is not so small so hopefully it will be more forgiving of my lack of experience when it comes to studio building.
No problem! Don't let lack of experience hold you back. After all, every single studio designer started out with a total "lack of experience" on his first design... :) The most important thing when you start out is to overcome that lack of experience by researching and learning, and playing around and reading and asking, until you get the basics in place in your head, and can adapt them to your own place.

Quote:
I have read that good ratios can help treatment and reduce modal problems.
Weelllll....yes and no! Modal response is important, yes, but it's not the most important aspect of studio design. Not by any means. It's just one of many aspects. As long as your room ratio is not terrible (a cube, for example), then you are likely going to be OK. And even then, even if it is a square or a cube, it can still be made to work. Take another look at that room I mentioned: I deliberately designed that based on a square, since there's no other option for a corner control room: it HAS to be square! If not, then it won't be symmetrical, and symmetry is more important than ratios. So I designed it as a square, then modified the square to improve the modal response, then treated the problems. So even though it is square (and not far off from being a cube, either!), with careful design you can get around that. It's far more important to maximize the room volume, get good symmetry, get decent layout and geometry, set up the speakers and mix position in optimal arrangements, and design good treatment.

Yes, it is better to avoid rooms that have bad ratios, absolutely. When you can. But a room with a bad ratio is not necessarily a death sentence, as long as you treat it properly.

Here's something I wrote on another thread a while back, and I'll repeat it here for you, as it describes the issues with modal response:


------------

Room ratios is a whole major subject in studio design. It works like this: The walls of your studio create natural resonances in the air space between them, inside the room. This is totally different from the MSM resonance of the walls themselves: this is all about what happens INSIDE the ROOM, not what happens inside the walls. Two totally different things.

So you have resonant waves inside the room. We call those "standing waves" or "room modes". Those "modes" (resonances) occur at very specific frequencies that are directly related to the distances between the walls. They are called "standing waves" because they appear to be stationary inside the room: they are not REALLY stationary, since the energy is still moving through the room. But the pressure peaks and nulls always fall at the exact same points in the room each time the wave energy passes, so the "wave" seems to be fixed, static, and unmoving inside the room. If you play a pure tone that happens to be at the exact frequency of one of the "modes", then you can physically walk around inside the room and experience the "standing" nature of the wave: you will hear that tone grossly exaggerated at some points in the room, greatly amplified, while at other points it will sound normal, and at yet other points it will practically disappear: you won't be able to hear it at all, or you hear it but greatly attenuated, very soft.

The peaks and nulls fall at different places in the room for different frequencies. So the spot in the room where one mode was deafening might turn out to be the null for a different node.

Conversely, if you have a mode (standing wave) that forms at a specific frequency, then playing at a slightly different frequency might show no mode at all: for example, if a tone of exactly 73 Hz creates a standing wave that is clearly identifiable as you walk around the room, with major nulls and peaks, then a tone of 76 Hz might show no modes at all: it sounds the same at all points in the room. Because there are no natural resonances, no "room modes" associated with that frequency.

That's the problem. A BIG problem.

Of course, you don't want that to happen in a control room, because it implies that you would hear different things at different places in the room, for any give song! At some places in the room, some bass notes would be overwhelming, while at other places the same notes would be muted. As you can imagine, if you happen to have your mix position (your ears) located at such a point in the room, you'd never be able to mix anything well, as you would not be hearing what the music REALLY sounds like: you would be hearing the way the room "colors" that sound instead. As you subconsciously compensate for the room modes while you are mixing, you could end up with a song that sounds great in that room at the mix position: the best ever! But it would sound terrible when you played it at any other location, such as in your car, on your iPhone, in your house, on the radio, at a club, in a church, etc. Your mix would not "translate".

And you also don't want major modal issues in a tracking room, for similar reasons: As an instrument plays up and down the scale, some notes will sound louder than others, and will "ring" longer. The instrument won't sound even and balanced.

OK, so now I have painted the scary-ugly "modes are terrible monsters that eat your mixes" picture. Now lets look at that a bit more in depth, to get the real picture, and understand why they look bad, but aren't so bad in reality.

So let's go back to thinking about those room modes (also called "eigenmodes" sometimes): remember I said that they occur are very specific frequencies, and they are very narrow? This implies that if you played an E on your bass guitar, it might trigger a massive modal resonance, but then you play either a D or an F and there is no mode, so they sound normal. Clearly, that's a bad situation. But what if there was a room mode at every single frequency? What if there was one mode for E, a different mode for D and yet another one for F? In that case, there would be no problem, since all notes would still sound the same! Each note would trigger its own mode, and things would be happy again. If there were modes for every single frequency on the spectrum, and they all sounded the same, then you could mix in there with no problems!

And that's exactly what happens at higher frequencies. Just not at low frequencies. Because of "wavelength"...

It works like this: remember I said that modes are related to the distance between walls? It's a very simple relationship. Remember I said the waves are "standing" because the peaks and nulls occur at the same spot in the room? In simple terms, for every frequency where a wave fits in exactly between two walls, then there will be a standing wave. And also for exactly twice that frequency, since two wavelengths of that note will now fit. And the same for three times that frequency, since three full waves will now fit in between the same walls. Etc. All the way up the scale.

So if you have a room mode at 98 Hz in your room, then you will also have modes at 196 Hz (double), 294 (triple), 392 (x4), 490(x5), 588(x6), 686(x7) etc., all the way up. If the very next mode in your room happened to be at 131 Hz, then there would also be modes at 262 Hz(x2), 393(x3), 524(x4), 655(x5), etc.

That's terrible, right? There must be thousands of modes at higher frequencies!!! That must be awful!

Actually, no. That's a GOOD thing. You WANT lots of modes, for the reasons I gave above: If you have many modes for each note on the scale, then the room sounds the same for ALL notes, which is what you want. It's good, not bad.

But now let's use a bit of math and common sense here, to see what the real problem is.

If your room has a mode at 98Hz, and the next mode is at 131 Hz, that's a difference of 32%! 98 Hz is a "G2". So you have a mode for "G2". but your very next mode is a "C3" at 131Hz. That's five notes higher on the scale: your modes completely skip over G2#, A2, A2#, and B2. No modes for them! So those four notes in the middle sound perfectly normal in your room, but the G2 and C3 are loud and long.

However, move up a couple of octaves: ...

There's a harmonic of your 98Hz mode at 588 Hz, and there's a harmonic of your 131 Hz mode at 524 Hz. 524 Hz is C5 on the musical scale, and 588 Hz is a D5. They are only two notes apart! Not five, as before.

Go up a bit more, and we have one mode at 655 and another at 686. 655 is an E5, and 686 is an F5. they are adjacent notes. Nothing in between! We have what we want: a mode for every note.

The further up you go, the closer the spacing is. In fact, as you move up the scale even higher, you find several modes for each note. Wonderful!

So at high frequencies, there is no problem: plenty of modes to go around and keep the music sounding good.

The problem is at low frequencies, where the modes are few and far between.

The reason there are few modes at low frequencies is very simple: wavelengths are very long compared to the size of the room. At 20 Hz (the lower limit of the audible spectrum, and also E0 on the organ keyboard), the wavelength is over 56 feet (17m)! So your room would have to be 56 feet long (17 meters long) in order to have a mode for 20 Hz.

Actually, I've been simplifying a bit: it turns out that what matters is not the full wave, but the half wave: the full wave has to exactly fit into the "there and back" distance between the walls, so the distance between the walls needs to be half of that: the half-wavelength. So to get a mode for 20 Hz, your room needs to be 56 / 2 = 28 feet long (8.5M) . Obviously, most home studios do not have modes at 20 Hz, because there's no way you can fit a 28 foot (eight meter) control room into most houses!

So clearly, the longest available distance defines your lowest mode. If we take a hypothetical dimensions as an example (typical of home studio sizes), and say the length of the control room is 13 feet (4m), the width is 10 feet (3m), and the height is 8 feet. (2.5M) So the lowest mode you could possibly have in that room, would be at about 43 Hz (fits into 13 feet or 4M perfectly). That's an "F1" on your bass guitar.

The next highest mode that you room could support is the one related to the next dimension of the room: In this case, that would be width, at 10 feet / 3M. That works out to 56.5 Hz. That's an "A1#" on your bass guitar. Five entire notes up the scale.

And your third major mode would be the one related to the height of the room, which is 8 feet /2.5M, and that works out to 71 Hz, or C2# on the bass guitar. Another four entire notes up the scale.

There are NO other fundamental modes in that room. So as you play every note going up the scale on your bass guitar (or keyboard), you get huge massive ringing at F, A# and C#, while all the other notes sound normal. As you play up the scale, it goes "tink.tink.tink.BOOOOM.tink.tink.tink.tink.BOOOOOM.tink.tink.tink.BOOOOOM.tink.tink...."

Not a happy picture.

There are harmonic modes of all those notes higher up the scale, sure. But in the low end, your modes are very few, and very far between.

So, what some people say is "If modes are bad, then we have to get rid of them". Wrong! What you need is MORE modes, not less. Ideally, you need a couple of modes at every single possible note on the scale, such that all notes sound the same in your room. In other words, the reverberant field would be smooth and even. Modes would be very close together, and evenly spread.

So trying to "get rid of modes" is a bad idea. And even if it were a good idea, it would still be impossible! Because modes are related to walls, the only way to get rid of modes is with a bulldozer! Knock down the walls... :shock:

That's a drastic solution, but obviously the only way to get a control room that has no modes at all, is to have no walls! Go mix in the middle of a big empty field, sitting on top of a 56 foot (17 M) ladder, and you'll have no modes to worry about.... 8) :roll:

:shot:

Since that isn't feasible, we have to learn to live with modes.

Or rather, we have to learn to live with the LACK of modes in the low end. As I said, the problem is not that we have too many modes, but rather that we don't have enough of them in the low frequencies.

Obviously, for any give room there is a point on the spectrum where there are "enough" modes. Above that point, there are several modes per note, but below it there are not.

There's a mathematical method for determining where that point is: a scientist called Schroeder figured it out, years ago, so it is now known as the Schroeder frequency for the room. Above the Schroeder frequency for a room, modes are not a problem, because there are are lots of them spaced very close together. Below the Schroeder frequency, there's a problem: the modes are spaced far apart, and unevenly. (The Schroeder frequency is a bit more complex than just that, since it also considers treatment, but this gives you an idea...)

So what can we do about that?

All we can do is to choose a "room ratio" that has the modes spaced out sort of evenly, and NOT choose a ratio where the modes are bunched up together. For example, if your room is 10 feet long and 10 feet wide and 10 feet high (3m x 3m x 3m), then all of the modes will occur at the exact same frequency: 56.5 Hz. So the resonance when you play an A1 on the bass, or cello, or hit an A1 on the keyboard, will by tripled! It will be three times louder. The nulls will be three times deeper. That's a bad situation, so don't ever choose room dimensions that are the same as each other.

You get the same problem for dimensions that are multiples of each other: a room 10 feet high (3m) by 20 feet wide (6m) by 30 feet long (9m) is also terrible. All of the second harmonics of 10 feet will line up with the 20 foot modes, and all of the third harmonics will line up with the 30 foot modes, so you get the same "multiplied" effect. Bad.

In other words, you want a room where the dimensions are mathematically different from each other, with no simple relationship to each other.

That brings up the obvious question: What ratio is best?

Answer: there isn't one! :)

Over the years, many scientists have tested many ratios, both mathematically and also in the real world, and come up with some that are really good. The ratios they found are named after them: Sepmeyer, Louden, Boner, Volkmann, etc. Then along came a guy called Bolt, who drew a graph showing all possible ratios, and he highlighted the good ones found by all the other guys, and predicted by mathematical equations, plus a few of his own: If you plot your own room ratio on that graph, and it falls inside the "Bolt area", then likely it is a good one, and if it falls outside the "Bolt area", then likely it is a bad one. Sort of.

So, there are no perfect ratios, only good ratios and bad ratios.

It is impossible to have a "perfect" ratio in a small room, simply because that would require enough modes to have one mode for every note on the musical scale, but that's the entire problem with small rooms! There just are not enough modes in the low end. So you can choose a ratio that spreads them a bit more this way or a bit more that way, but all you are doing is re-arranging deck chairs on the Titanic, in pleasant-looking patterns. The problem is not the location of the deck chairs; the problem is that your boat is sunk!: Likewise for your studio: the problem is not the locations of the modes: the problem is that your room is sunk. No matter what you do with the dimensions, you cannot put a mode at every note, unless you make the room bigger. It is physically impossible.

But that does not mean that your room will be bad. That's the common perception, and it is dead wrong.

All of this leads to the question you didn't ask yet, but were probably heading for: What can I do about it?

Here's the thing: Modes are only a problem if they "ring". The wave is only a problem if the energy builds up and up and up, with each passing cycle, until it is screaming, and then the "built up" energy carries on singing away, even after the original note stops. That's the problem. If you stop playing the A1 on your guitar, and the room keeps on playing an A1 for a couple of seconds, because it "stored" the resonant energy and is now releasing it, then that's a BIG problem! The room is playing tunes that never were in the original music! :shock:

If a mode doesn't ring like that, then it is no longer a major issue. (It is still an issue for other reasons, just not a major one....)

So how do you stop a mode? You can't stop it from being there. But you CAN stop it from "ringing". You can "damp" the resonance sufficiently that the mode dies away fast, and does not ring. You remove the resonant energy and convert it into heat: no more problem! In other words, it's not good if you own a large angry dog that barks all the time and bights your visitors, but it's fine to own a large angry dog with a muzzle on his mouth, so he cannot bark and cannot bight!

You do that with "bass trapping". A bass trap is like the dog muzzle. It doesn't get rid of the problem, but it does keep it under control. You use strategically placed acoustic treatment devices inside the room that absorb the ringing of the mode, then it cannot ring. There are several ways to do that, with different strategies, but the good news is that in most rooms it is possible to get significant damping on the modes, so that they don't ring badly, and don't cause problems. Note that bass trapping does not absorb the mode: it just absorbs the ringing. Some people don't understand this, and think that the bass trapping makes the modes go away: it doesn't. All it does is to damp them. The modes are still there, and still affect the room acoustics in other ways, but with good damping, at least they don't "ring" any more.

And that is the secret to making a control room good in the low end! Choose a good ratio to keep the modes spread around evenly, then damp the hell out of the low end, so modes cannot ring. It's that simple.

The smaller the room, the more treatment you need. And since those waves are huge (many feet long), you need huge bass trapping (many feet long/wide/high/deep). It takes up lots of space, and the best place for it is in the corners of the room, because that's where all modes terminate. If you want to find a mode in your room, go look for it in the corner: it will be there. All modes have a pressure node in two or more corners, so by treating the corners, you are guaranteed of hitting all the modes.

As I said, there is no single "best" ratio, but there are good ones. You can use a "Room Mode Calculator" to help you figure out which "good ones" are within reach of the possible area you have available, then choose the closest good one, and go with that. And stay away from the bad ones.

Arguably, Sepmeyer's first ratio is the "best", since it can have the smoothest distribution of modes... but only if the room is already within a certain size range. Other ratios might be more suitable if your room has a different set of possible dimensions. So there is no "best".

But that's not the entire story: So far, all the modes I have mentioned are only related to two walls across the room, opposite from each other. I mentioned modes that form along the length axis of the room (between the front and back wall), others that form along the width axis (between left and right walls), and others that form on the height axis (between floor and ceiling): Those are the easiest ones to understand, because they "make sense" in your head when you think about them. Those are called "axial modes", because they form along the major axes of the room: length axis, width axis, height axis.

However, there are also other modes that can form between four surfaces, instead of just two. For example, there are modes that can bounce around between all four walls, or between the front and back walls as well as the ceiling and floor: those are called "tangential modes". And there are other modes that can form between all six surfaces at once: they involve all four walls plus the ceiling and the floor. Those are called "oblique modes".

The complete set of modes in your room consists of the axial modes, plus the tangential modes, plus the oblique modes.

That's what a good room mode calculator (a.k.a. "room ratio calculator") will show you. There are bad calculators that only show you the axial modes, which is pretty pointless, and the good ones show you all three types.


Use one of these Room Ratio calculators to figure out the best dimensions for your room:

http://www.bobgolds.com/Mode/RoomModes.htm

http://amroc.andymel.eu/

Both of those are very good, and will help you to decide how best to build your room. They give you tons of information that is really useful to help figure out the best dimensions.

However, modes aren't that important, despite all the hype they get: Modes are one aspect of room design, but there are many more. It's wise to choose a ratio that is close to one of the good ones, or inside the Bolt area, but you do NOT need to go nuts about it! There's no need to nudge things around by millimeters or smalls fractions of an inch, hoping to get a "better" ratio. Just stay away from the bad ones, get close to a good one, and you are done. End of story.

----------


so there you have it! "Everything you ever wanted to know about modes, but were afraid to ask"! :)



Quote:
Do you know why so many designs over here have angled walls? Does it depend on the design/dimensions some how or if there are many rooms?
For the reasons I mentioned above. Like me, John is also a fan of RFZ design ("Reflection Free Zone"), which is why many of his rooms do have angled walls (or what appear to be angled walls...). NER, CID and other concepts also use angled walls, for similar purposes. You can do it if you want, as long as you understand WHAT you are doing and WHY you are doing and HOW to do it correctly.


- Stuart -


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2018 12:26 am 
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Soundman2020 wrote:
Nice Dimensions" in what sense? "Nice" as in comfortable for fitting in people and gear? Or "nice" as in "fitting a good modal response room ratio"?

Yes I meant having a nice room ratio. Ok so it is nice to have but not the end of the world if your dimensions aren't the best. I had a look on bobgolds and actually a nice room dimension for the control room could be had in that space so I will play around with the calculator and see what works out best.

Soundman2020 wrote:
Why? I don't see that. If you simply take the outline of your first option, turn it into a rectangle (instead of having those angled walls), and rotate the interior so that it is facing the live room, then that would leave you with both rooms about the same size as they are now...

Oh yes you are right, I was thinking of the other design when I wrote that. Your suggested layout had crossed my mind at the beginning but the thing that made me move away from this idea was that the entrance to the control room then would be in the corner of the room. Doesn't treatment need to go there? You did say that the modes can be found in the corners of the room so I figured that area should be allocated for bass traps and since the entrance is there, well I couldn't think about how to overcome that. [/quote]


Soundman2020 wrote:
Maybe that answers your question? :) That's from a studio I designed for a customer in Australia a few years back. That's actually the door from the CR to the isolation booth, but it could just as well be the door from the CR to the live room in your case...


Nice! Yes it does. So the door is between the two speakers. Is there any drawbacks to having a door there? Are these speakers flush mounted?


Soundman2020 wrote:
Right! But there's a specific reason for that, and it has to be done with a full understanding of "why" and "how" and "what".

There's basically on four valid reasons why you would want to angle your control room walls:

1) You have no choice, because there's something structural in the building that prevents you from keeping them straight (eg, support columns, exterior walls, HVAC ducting, pipes, etc.)


2) You want to solve a flutter echo problem that you are predicting will occur. In this case, you would have to angle the walls by a total of more than 12° to deal with that, but in reality flutter echo can be dealt with much more simply with ordinary acoustic panels on the walls, which you would need in any case. So this isn't really a valid reason.


3) Because your basic control room design concept requires it. Some concepts, such as RFZ, NER, MR, CID and others require angled surfaces at the front of the room, as they are an integral part of the acoustic design, reflecting sound away from the mix position. This is a VERY valid reason, and personally I highly recommend the RFZ style approach. Pretty much all of the control rooms I design these days are RFZ, as it produces the best room acoustics, even in very small rooms (and large ones too, of course!). But if you want your room to be RFZ, then that takes a lot of extra design effort, and in reality the room itself is usually rectangular anyway: it's just the speaker soffits and "wings" that are angled, not the actual walls. You might have seen me mention this room on other threads: http://www.johnlsayers.com/phpBB2/viewt ... =2&t=20471 That room is rectangular at the front (not the back, but that's another story.... :).) Even though it LOOKS like the front has angled walls, it doesn't: Here's the front of the room under construction:


If you want to do an RFZ style room, I would highly recommend that. But keep your walls and basic room shape rectangular, then create the RFZ shape with that shell using angled "panels" at strategic locations, and angled correctly.


4) The fourth reason that you might validly decide to angle your walls, is "because it looks cool"! Some people just want a "cool" looking room, and decide to angle their walls for that reason alone. If you follow the "function follows form" school of architecture (I don't...), then you could do that, and then adjust the design and treatment as necessary to accommodate the angled walls.

In general, splaying or angling your walls will waste space, and in general you want as much space (air volume) inside your room as possible. That's why I prefer to build rectangular rooms and then shape them internally. Occasionally I have NOT gone that route, and I ended up angling the actual front section of the side walls, for various reasons. It can work, certainly, but from experience I can tell you that it's a lot more complex to do that.


Ok so I will use a rectangular room and then angle the treatment inside the room for a RFZ. Got it! Does this apply for live rooms too? I read in many places that what makes live rooms sound good are non-parallel surfaces and more room volume. In my case, I think my live room will be a medium or even on the small size when you think about professional recording live rooms. There is so much info on treating CR's but when it comes to LR's how should they be treated? FYI I am only recording small instruments no bass or drums.



Soundman2020 wrote:


so there you have it! "Everything you ever wanted to know about modes, but were afraid to ask"! :)


- Stuart -


Thanks. That is a great explanation of modes and a great read.


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2018 1:46 am 
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Quote:
Yes I meant having a nice room ratio. Ok so it is nice to have but not the end of the world if your dimensions aren't the best.
Right! Avoid the really bad ones if you can, but prioritize more important things.

Quote:
the entrance to the control room then would be in the corner of the room.
True, which is not good. But you could keep that short passage behind the rear of the room (just without the angled wall). If you take the passage to a door in the middle of the rear wall, then you could use the area beyond that for storage (the continuation of the "passage", past the door).

Quote:
Doesn't treatment need to go there? You did say that the modes can be found in the corners of the room so I figured that area should be allocated for bass traps and since the entrance is there,
Right! There are other options for treatment in cases where you really have no option but the corner for your doorway, but it certainly is preferable to keep your vertical corners for bass trapping.

Quote:
So the door is between the two speakers.
Right! It's a good place for the door.

Quote:
Is there any drawbacks to having a door there?
Possibly some reflection issues, and possible some SBIR issues, but those can be minimized.

Quote:
Are these speakers flush mounted?
Yes. That's an RFZ style room, so the speakers pretty much have to be flush mounted.

Quote:
Ok so I will use a rectangular room and then angle the treatment inside the room for a RFZ. Got it! Does this apply for live rooms too?
No, not really. Control rooms have very specific, very tight specs, because they must be as "neutral" as possible: a control room should not have any "sound" of it's own - It should just sound like it isn't really there. Not adding anything to the clean direct sound from the speakers, and not taking anything away either. But live rooms are different: they are supposed to have character and vibe. Live rooms are supposed to have their own sound, that helps to enhance the sound of the instruments. That "character" can be whatever you want it to be, but usually you want tit "warm", "airy", "pleasant", not too bright, not too dull, etc.

Quote:
I read in many places that what makes live rooms sound good are non-parallel surfaces and more room volume.
I would certainly agree with "more room volume"! Absolutely! But I would not necessarily agree with "non-parallel surfaces". Take a look at this photo:

Attachment:
abbey-road-KS_03.jpg


That live room is perfectly rectangular: all the walls are mutually parallel, so according to the people who insist that walls must always be non-parallel, that room must sound terrible, and obviously would be rejected by musicians, especially famous ones.... except that the room in that photo happens to be the main live room at Abbey Road! :) Arguably one of the best live rooms in the world... A whole bunch of VERY big names have recorded there, and a whole bunch of VERY big albums have come out of that room... including one named after the studio itself!

So no, it isn't true that live rooms cannot have parallel walls. As long as you treat the room well, there's no problem with parallel. Or non-parallel. You can do it any way you want.

Quote:
In my case, I think my live room will be a medium or even on the small size when you think about professional recording live rooms.
Right, but that's not too much of a problem. Treat it to get the sound YOU want it to have, and you'll be fine. Of course, there will be some limitations, simply due to the size, but you can still get good recordings in a room that is MUCH smaller than Abbey road!

Here's something that might open your eyes a bit, and get you re-thinking about your space not being great:

http://johnlsayers.com/Pages/Spark_1.htm

That one is actually quite a bit SMALLER than yours will be... :) It's inside a shipping container!!

As you can see, small spaces can be made very usable. Spark 1 is world-class, despite its size. And as you can also see, there is plenty to design in there. So how does it sound inside? Good question: Click on the video to play it, and listen carefully to the sound of the commentators voices, and the sound of the guitar: It would be pretty hard to beat that sound, even in a much larger studio.

Want more evidence? Here's a link to a recording done in that studio:

Danny Boy

Listen to those vocals, and the guitars.... All recorded inside a shipping container studio... :shock: Now tell me your place, which is BIGGER, can't sound just as stunning!... :)


Quote:
There is so much info on treating CR's but when it comes to LR's how should they be treated?
That's because CRs must be tightly controlled, so there's a very specif, detailed goal that you are aiming for: Flat frequency response across the board, slightly flavoring the low end (for the famous "B&K curve"), flat time domain response across the board, not varying by more than 0.05 seconds between adjacent frequency bands, and with overall decay time being in accordance with the volume of the room, perhaps rising slightly in the very low end and falling off slightly in the very high end, with no early reflections in the first 20ms, followed by a diffuse sound field after about 30 ms, but at least 10 dB down, preferably 20 dB down. Etc. All of that can be planned, and measured, and attained, because that's what a control room NEEDS. But a live room can be anything that YOU want it to be: Bright, dull, airy, dead, warm, delicate, soft, cool, subdued, sizzley, echoey, ... whatever term you want, you can build your room like that. It depends on the instruments you will be tracking in there, and on your own personal preference. For a room that needs to be flexible, to track widely different instruments and styles, you could even make the acoustic response "variable", by using something simple like gobos on wheels, or something more sophisticated sch as panels on the walls and ceiling that can be opened, closes, slid, rotated, flipped, swung, or otherwise moved in some way to expose a different surface to the room, that changes the response. For example, you could have panels that can be flipped over, exposing a hard surface on one side or a soft, absorptive surface on the other side, or doors that slide closed to cover a diffuser or a panel trap, so that it no longer acts on the room... the possibilities are endless.

- Stuart -


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2018 4:43 pm 
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Soundman2020 wrote:
True, which is not good. But you could keep that short passage behind the rear of the room (just without the angled wall). If you take the passage to a door in the middle of the rear wall, then you could use the area beyond that for storage (the continuation of the "passage", past the door).
I understand what you are saying and this was something I considered too but the stairs also have storage space below them and if we make an alley behind the CR then wouldn't we lose even more space? This was one of the reasons for splaying the wall in the first designs I posted so not to waste the space or an entire alley and get to use the space below the stairs as storage.

Soundman2020 wrote:
But live rooms are different: they are supposed to have character and vibe. Live rooms are supposed to have their own sound, that helps to enhance the sound of the instruments. That "character" can be whatever you want it to be, but usually you want tit "warm", "airy", "pleasant", not too bright, not too dull, etc.


I like all those adjectives for recording violin and acoustic guitars but not sure how to go about that since most the treatment I have read about is for CR's. For live rooms people just say, bigger and non parallel surfaces with the appropriate RT60 is best but it is hard to find more info about this. Perhaps because it is subjective and depends on the usage? If that is the case, there must be something we can fall back on if we want decent acoustic recordings which is the knowledge I am hoping to gain over here. I must say I am struggling with this one though so keen to hear what you think.

Soundman2020 wrote:
I would certainly agree with "more room volume"! Absolutely! But I would not necessarily agree with "non-parallel surfaces". Take a look at this photo:

Attachment:
abbey-road-KS_03.jpg


That live room is perfectly rectangular: all the walls are mutually parallel, so according to the people who insist that walls must always be non-parallel, that room must sound terrible, and obviously would be rejected by musicians, especially famous ones.... except that the room in that photo happens to be the main live room at Abbey Road! :) Arguably one of the best live rooms in the world... A whole bunch of VERY big names have recorded there, and a whole bunch of VERY big albums have come out of that room... including one named after the studio itself!

So no, it isn't true that live rooms cannot have parallel walls. As long as you treat the room well, there's no problem with parallel. Or non-parallel. You can do it any way you want.


:o :D I had never seen this before, so thanks for sharing. Could the fact that it is so big mean that shape doesn't matter anymore? Know any small live live rooms that are famous so that I can be inspired please?

Soundman2020 wrote:
Here's something that might open your eyes a bit, and get you re-thinking about your space not being great:

http://johnlsayers.com/Pages/Spark_1.htm

That one is actually quite a bit SMALLER than yours will be... :) It's inside a shipping container!!


That is incredible! :o



Soundman2020 wrote:
For example, you could have panels that can be flipped over, exposing a hard surface on one side or a soft, absorptive surface on the other side, or doors that slide closed to cover a diffuser or a panel trap, so that it no longer acts on the room... the possibilities are endless.


So for small instruments like hand percussion or acoustic guitar could you give me some specific treatment advice to get a nice not too dead not too live sound?

Thanks for this very interesting and very educational chat Stuart. I am learning lots! :D


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PostPosted: Tue Apr 03, 2018 5:21 pm 
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You could do storeage behind the control room and a machine room under the stairs or vise versa..
Bass trapping covered in wood slats, foil, pegboard, etc will keep the livelyness there and keep the sound light and airy.


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