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Affordable Ways To Improve Your Studio Acoustics

You’re reading this because you have:

  1. Decided the room you’ll be making music in.
  2. Invested in all the equipment needed.
  3. Spent time and money fitting it together in your studio.
  4. You have the best monitor speakers, DAW, plugins, and a high-powered computer or music production laptop

At this point, many skip on the biggest piece of gear that holds all the equipment together – the room itself!

The room you’ve chosen will have an impact on the sound you hear, no matter if you’ve built a mixing studio in your garage or even in one of your bedrooms.  Each room has a specific shape, size, and timbre that contribute to its acoustics.

Let’s go through some simple and affordable ways to improve your studio’s acoustics on a limited budget.

#1. Make your studio sound isolated

Your first objective of improving the studio’s acoustics is to make your studio is sound isolated. You have to make sure you stop your sound from going out of the room. But in this case, what you really have to do is stop outside noises from coming into your studio.

Some common issues you might face before making your studio sound isolated are-

  • Outside noises: Traffic, construction, and people
  • Equipment noises: Air conditioner and computer fans.
  • Impact noises: Anything that makes a sound while hitting the ground.

#2. There are four ways to make your room sound isolated

  1. Sound Damping: Damping is the method of dissipating vibrational energy before it can build up and radiate as sound. Green Glue is one of the best damping compounds on the market. You should sandwich the Green Glue between two rigid panels
  2. Increasing the weight: The walls can vibrate because of all the sound energy created by the placement of your monitors or speakers. Try to make the walls thicker than usual, so it does not respond to the sound energy. But if you already have an existing room, try building an additional structure using sheet-block.
  3. Sound Decoupling: Decoupling is the process of transferring sound by isolating the contact area with a pliable rubber. To decouple the room, you need to isolate layers using resilient channels and sound clips to create a floating wall. Build a floating floor using Auralex U-Boats. You can build a double wall, so it leaves an air gap to block sound.
  4. No Air Gaps: Our final job is to fill up every little crack in the room. This part is essential because tiny cracks are all the noise that needs to go in and out. You can use an acoustic caulk, automatic door bottoms, and a foam gasket to seal up the gaps. Acoustical caulk can seal up any cracks in the perimeter of the room. The automatic door bottom blocks the open space at the bottom of the door.

You tried all you could to get rid of the unnecessary sound. Yet, you are struggling with your mic picking up unwanted sounds. You can try using a noise gate plugin unit as a cheap solution. You can learn more about noise gates here.

#3. Remove the natural reverb of a room (sound absorption)

Did you ever try to hear the sound of the ocean in a seashell? It sounds like there’s a mighty ocean in the seashell, doesn’t it? The phenomenon is called air cavities. Just like the seashell, a hollow wall can cause an air cavity. When the wall is vibrated by the sound, the air in the wall cavity is also vibrated. When you try blasting the studio with loud music, you might feel the vibration. Sound energy travels through all types of materials. But sound absorption materials can take the sound energy and transfer it through a method called thermodynamic transfer. Sound absorption is the loss of sound energy when it hits the absorbent material.

You need both absorption panels and bass traps for the best result. Absorption panels are perfect for high and mid frequencies. For low frequencies, use store-bought bass traps or DIY bass traps for your room corners.

You can get your sound absorption panel and bass traps from the Gikacoustics.

Sound panels

Photo created by sid4rtproduction – www.freepik.com

#4. Work on sound diffusion

Sound diffusion is how sound waves are dispersed and broken up. Sound acts like light in many ways. Sound reflection is one of the prime examples. The sound diffuser stops the sound from bouncing off various surfaces. There are some reflection points (where the sound from the speaker hits the wall). These reflections can be very annoying as the producer may hear the reflection while playing. To kill the reflection, you need a sound diffuser. 

Without any diffuser, a room will generate room modes. An acoustic diffuser can also fix issues as flutter echo and filtering. A sound diffuser does not have a place surface. Because of its uneven surface, the sound doesn’t reflect in one direction. As a result, it lightens up the sound reflection. 

You can buy an acoustic diffuser from your local shops. But if you are short on a budget! Don’t worry. You can also build your own sound diffusers. It is straightforward to make and customize. The best wood for making diffusers is the plywood.

Check out this video on “How to build an acoustic diffuser” by TheDSproject.

#5. Optimize speaker placement and speaker calibration

So in this section, we will talk about speaker or monitor placement. To begin your measurement techniques, you can start with an omnidirectional condenser microphone. You can use Behringer ECM8000 as you have a short budget. But if you have fellow producers who own a DPA Microphone 4004 High-SPL, you can try borrowing for the test. The results will not disappoint you. 

The listening position and the speaker position must follow some protocols. Sonarwork offers an incredible system called Reference 4. It calibrates your speakers to your room by generating sound. If you cannot do any acoustic treatment, a pink noise mic can be a great help. You can take measurement information about the sound waves and reflections. Then try experimenting with it until you have the best result.

Finding the right position

If you’ve already followed all the tips, and are not satisfied with the sound,  other problems with your mix could be coming from the placement of your studio monitors.

Ideally, your room for the workstation should be rectangular. A room with four corners can create problems like room modes and standing waves. But you can still correct your square room by placing your panel differently.

The correct placement of your monitors should be placed equidistant from the side walls. It should also face the bigger side. Your monitors will make reflections on the nearest wall. The monitors should be placed at ear level and form an equilateral triangle with your head. Ideally, they should be 2 meters apart from one another. Your position also should then be 2 meters from the monitor.  

Start now!

So we talked about problems we might face with the studio’s acoustic and how to fix them. Can it get better? Yes, definitely. But we chose the most superficial and affordable solutions. So get your equipment now and start building your studio for the best acoustics.

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