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i'm moving into a new apartment and have the opportunity to have one room as a studio. before i move in, i want to make sure it's solid enough to mix in. what is the first thing i need to do in regards to acoustical treatments? hire someone? alpah or sonex treatments?--the room is about 12'x15' w/ 10' ceilings... do i need to "test" it in some way so that i don't make it too dead?


You may have significant issues that Aurlex cannot help you with. It is expensive stuff, and only works so well as treatment. They claim that their stuff works for REALLY treating a room, but my experience with it is that it doesn't do that much for a basically flawed designed room.

But, do check it out.
The Auralex site has a submittal form where you can ask their audio engineers a question. They responded in about 24 hours with a detailed (rather than canned) response to my question. Also, they do sell some less expensive kits. I got the smallest kit (Roominator Alpha) for my room (nearly same size as you describe) for 299 at Mars... so far the foam is working well for me.

What kind of accoustic treatment do you like, Sonusman? (Always interested in other's experiences).
Believe it or not I went to a Foam Factory and got Acoustic foam for a good $$.Youll find if you go to Music suppliers the price will be more becuase you are buying ("Acoustic Foam"). Its still foam.
Check your local phone book. Youll save some of your budget.Tell them you are using it for Acoustics. My store sells alot of Acoustic Foam to local Studios.

[This message has been edited by RedPepper (edited 03-16-2000).]
Have you ever seen those blue egg looking paper sheet things at the supermarket? maybe 2x3' or so? You usually see them after hours when they're stocking, and I don't know what it's actually used for.
ANYWAY, I heard these are a good alternative to the foam stuff.
That's just what I heard.
You're asking a question about "soundproofing, and then inquiring about acoustic treatment companies. They are two different birds.

As far as the soundproofing, the only way you'll really be able to do much good is to start doing some remodeling. Putting acoustic treatment on the walls will help you shape the sound and accuracy of your mixing environment, but won't keep you from pissing off your neighbors.

Simply putting "foam" on your walls in an attempt to deaden the sound will be counter productive if you want to create a half way decent mix. The foam will absorb your highs, but not lows, thus creating a very muddy and dull mix. Not good.

And it will do very little for soundproofing, anyway. The bass is the part that will carry the furthest and loudest, and the foam will do nothing there.

Hope this helps,

Nate Tyler
i was under the impression that if you stick huge, one foot cubes of foam in the corner of the room that will soak up the bass that collect in the corners.

[This message has been edited by kristian (edited 03-20-2000).]
Nate's quite correct on the difference between room treatment and soundproofing. The interesting thing about soundproofing is that anything you do to dampen the sound <i>inside</i> the room is self-defeating. this is how it works: If you want to operate at a certain db level, but are concerned about your neighbors, and pad your walls to dampen the sound, you still want that same effective db level so you will turn up your monitors louder to compensate--with the same net db levels outside the room!

However, if you want to treat the room to reduce room effects in your recording and playback, that's a different story.
1. Get a really good pair of headphones, and use them a lot!
2. Physically uncouple the speakers from the room by putting them on foam pads or hanging with bungie cords.

3. Use small near-field monitors. They emit less of the bass frequencies which is what leaks out of your apartment the most.

Hope this helps!
Don't use headphones for mixing. The way your mix sounds in headphones is very different from how it sounds in monitors (and ordinary speakers). Also, headphones kills your hearing so if you plan on having as hobby (or profession) for a long time, throw away your Walkman or play it *very* low. JB's other suggestions are good though.

tvpnyc - Was your question about sound proofing or acoustic treatment of the room? I suspect you need both if you don't have deaf neighbors (like a mixing friend of mine has, lucky bastard). Also, are you mixing and recording in the same room? or are you only into mixing

I'd have to agree, mixing doesn't work on headphones. You'll notice that even small shift in position on your head will significantly alter the way they sound. It's hard to get a good read on what you're hearing, and they kill your ears very quickly--i.e. they introduce listening fatigue and your ears are then shot for the next 24 hours or so.
From what I've read, effective "sound proofing" is best accomplished when the room is designed and built with that purpose in mind. That way you can put special sound "insulating" materials in the walls, ceiling and floor to stop the sound waves from propagating outside the room. Basically, in an apartment situation, you can't even walk across the floor without pissing off your underneath neighbors, so maybe you should look into renting a house or something...or maybe a separate studio space.

On the other hand, if what you want is to treat the room for flutter echoes and bass build-up, the accoustic foam will serve that purpose well. There are different types/shapes of foam for different purposes and you need to place them correctly in the room for maximum benefit. Even if you don't like Auralex or think their stuff is overpriced, they're website does have some good literature on the basics of accoustic treatment.
The Auralex book "Acoustics 101" (downloadable from their site) has a lot of neat tips on soundproofing. With the room dimensions you have, you could consider a room-within-the-room construction. That would definetly help the most with soundproofing the room. Floating an entire room within your existing room and getting a pair of good near-field monitors so you don't have to play so darn loud would probably make it possible for you to mix at any hour of the day.

Just make sure that your "inner room" doesn't have dimesion that support room resonance (too much), i.e. lentghts that are the same or multiples of eachother such as 8x8x16 or 6x12x18. (Neither of the examples are of course possible with your present dimensions but you get the idea).

Finally, the "Acoustics 101" has a picture of a good mixing room design but it might be a bit too much work. You'd get a really cool looking room if you did though:-)

Good luck