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SignalBoosting Production and Recording Studios

Frame 4 :

Studio Acoustics


When it comes to a total all-in-one small studio environment, SignalBoosting has custom designed differing frequency absorbing panels in a cost effective manner that will aid an engineer in their audio shaping tasks during the mix and mastering stages as well as make them flexible enough to be quickly removed in incremental fashion for a more live room environment when recording.

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Whether you're  a "DIY" person, hobbyist or professional, SignalBoosting can supply the expertise to help in whatever capacity you wish. If you're that "DIY" kind of person and handy with construction projects to include a soldering iron, we can be hired in a professional consulting manner, by designing, instructing and even supplying some or all of the materials to bring about your desired studio situation. We can also, be contracted for a complete studio project by supplying all of the materials and labor.

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Design an Economical Studio Environment for Audio Shaping

by  Robert  ( Ry ) Maher
("Outline Version!")


  
Designing and building a studio that aids an engineer in the audio shaping tasks set before them, is so much more important than one might realize when first approaching the whole concept of recording, then mixing tracks together and finally sculpting the mixed track (mastering) to translate over to a world full of audio playback systems that can differ greatly. The final product called "sound" is something that must be made fit for many varieties of media delivery systems as well as fall within the capabilities of the human ear experience being able to enjoy sensory wise what the mind is interpreting. So, the  parameters and specifications of the human ear as well as the devices reproducing the sound must be studied carefully to get a suitable result.

   The often, overlooked, but impossible to rule out, third component to the intelligibility and enjoyment factor of sound is the environment in which it was captured (recorded) as well as the listening environments within which it is being played back. So, there is a whole list of items that we must study in depth in order to get a handle on controlling the end result of what is finally heard in hopes that it will become an enjoyable listening experience when moved around from audio system to audio system great and small.

   To further explain what is meant by intelligibility, we must cover how it is that our sense instrument called an "ear" perceives the sounds that it is taking in. Like any instrument the ear has a certain range of perceiving sounds that we call vibrations and it's through counting those per second that we come up with what is called a "frequency." "How often a vibration vibrates!" They named them after a guy name Hertz who studied vibrations! Now, nothing will be intelligible to the ear if it's trying to hear a vibration that's out of it's range of sensing the vibration. The human ear  hears or just feel senses vibrations that are between 20Hz to 20KHz. Through the early pioneers of the telephone, there were studies done to determine what were the most intelligible frequency vibrations to the human ear. Thus, the results of that study are often referred to as the "Fletcher-Munson Effect" having been named after those doing the research. What they found were that the human could comprehend best the sounds vibrating at between 1KHz (kilo hertz) to around 6KHz in relationship to a small speaker (audio system "telephone") reproducing sounds which had vibration reproducing restriction parameters of it's own.

   Since, we are focusing on what an audio engineer in a studio is going to need to do to those vibrations called frequencies in order to maximize the intelligibility and enjoyment factor for the human ear listening experience, we must further look into how the ear helps the mind differentiate between vibrations made by musical instruments as well as vocals when it comes to recording them and the after process called mixing and mastering to control them by keeping them from being in conflict with one another as far as the human ear perception of intelligibility is concerned. When two instruments occupy a vibration space at the same time it becomes hard for the ear to focus in on either instrument's sound, thus impeding the enjoyment factor through the absence of the intelligibility factor! Many call this phenomenon "mud" or "boomy" when listening to recordings of instruments and vocals mixed together. Because of this an audio engineer needs not only to take into consideration the equipment he's using to capture sounds with, but must also pay attention to the equipment reproducing (playing back) the sounds.

   Now, when it comes to playing back the sounds at the mixing and mastering stage, the engineer needs (that third often overlooked component) a proper environment in which to listen to it, in order to truly hear the vibrations of sounds that need sculpting in order to reduce or even end the intelligibility conflicts depending on the desired result of controlling the cloudy character of the mixed vibrations of "mud" which often reduces the enjoyment factor when playing back!

   So, how important is the studio listening environment when it comes to the recording, mixing and mastering stages of sound? Very! Then, why do people skip what I think is as equally important as the equipment involved in the entire process? Some, I believe at first, are mesmerized by the sale of that next magical piece of  "hit making equipment" or "digital plugin" but soon realize that it's not bringing about the sought after result. Much of this madness is often driven by the economics of their individual situation. It also, must be noted, that the environment at the recording stage according to desired effect, will often differ greatly from the needs of the environment setup for the mixing and mastering sculpting stages. So, how do you balance out all these important sound management processes?  We will try to address these as you continue to read.

   Most small home studio folks I've met, just drive themselves crazy through frustration not understanding the importance of the environment in which they are working. When
it comes to a recording environment the scope of desired effect is what will rule the setup and can greatly differ in just about all situations and we will therefore not concentrate on
that part of a sound engineer's job, but will later touch on how you can make your mixing and mastering stage environment quickly adjustable for such situations. We will instead concentrate on the mixing and mastering stage environment which aids the engineer in hearing what the end result will be when it comes to translating from audio playback system to audio playback system great and small. Most rooms due to the reflections (echos) it will produce, will reproduce the sounds out of balance, meaning they will over accentuate certain vibration frequencies. This will most often happen in the lower vibration ranges within our hearing spectrum. Just to get straight to the point, we need to bring what is called a flat "Equalization" response to the environment. In order to do that the room must bring all the frequencies which are usually accentuated under control so that you can hear to adjust all frequencies in relationship to one another to bring out that listening enjoyment factor to it's highest degree when it comes to translating from audio system to audio system in the real playback world.

   To address these issues, what we have designed at SignalBoosting is a room that is quickly convertible between the recording and mix / mastering stages which can, when it comes to recording, be adjusted in varying desired degrees of ambience. Sound is much like a ball in billiards bouncing around a room finally dissipating out it's pressure level set by it's (cue stick) instrument of projection. What we must do to control all the bouncing around of those vibrations commonly projecting from a speaker is to take into account it's angle of projection and then try to control the overly accentuated frequencies through sponge-like saturation at the points at which the angle of projection will cause the sound to come in contact with the room. Again, think of the room as like a pool table, how the remaining stationary cue ball (that is the speaker) sends the other ball (the sound) at it's appointed angle to bounce off the side at a certain point in a multiple side bouncing course of travel that will end over time in accordance to the (sound pressure energy level) with which it was sent.      

   Now, some of what I write here, the reader will just have to take my word for it as it would take many hours of explanation as to why I am targeting certain frequencies at certain contact points in a room with differing frequency saturation sponge like panels. Take a typical rectangle room and the last most radical surfaces in which the sound will come in contact with (right angle corners and ceiling to wall right angles) will be the ones where we will put our thickest panels targeting absorption of the low bass frequencies centering around 40Hz. The point at which the speaker sound first hits the wall due to it's angle of projection will be where we target saturating the highest frequency centering around 500Hz. Like the ball of sound on a pool table will travel to other wall surfaces until it fully dissipates, we at the second point in it's travel will target the frequencies centering around 250Hz. At the third point we will target frequencies centering around 100Hz. We will also hang what are known as cloud panels from the ceiling mostly targeting 250Hz. You may be wondering how we have arrived at these exact location points of saturation. Well, with the aid of a mirror and taking into account the angle of the sound projection, we are able to determine the points at which the sound will most likely strike next. Figuring out how to use that nifty tool is what I will leave up to you through experimentation to find out. I think that using the pool table analogy will be sufficient enough for you to figure it all out.

   Remember the "Mud" brought up earlier? Well it just so happens that  within the frequencies between 250Hz to 500Hz Mud is generated and the "Boomy" can happen below 250Hz and that is why being able to hear those frequencies being reproduced while not being overly accentuated at the same time is so important! The engineer must be able to hear, especially at the tracking stage before mixing them together, what's needed to bring clarity between the instruments and vocals that are all competing for the same real estate on the frequency spectrum.  The engineer can bring that clarity to life by carving out the frequencies that interfere with each other giving each instrument and vocal it's own space when mixed together. A properly treated environment makes the task easier!

    When it comes to a total all-in-one small studio environment SignalBoosting has custom designed these differing frequency absorbing panels in a cost effective manner that will aid the engineer in their audio shaping tasks during the mix and mastering stages as well as make them quickly removable for a more live room environment when recording.




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