Last updated on November 1, 2018 by

The room you choose to record or mix in can have a huge impact on the outcome of your mixes.

Choose the wrong room and you could really struggle to get results you’re happy with.

In this video, I’ll show you a few things to consider when deciding on a room to mix in.

 

Hey, I hope you are well. So I’ve got something a little bit different for you today. I am going to be doing a very short series on setting up a home studio from scratch, because I’ve just moved into a new place.

This is my studio and it’s Thursday so I need to post a video. I don’t have a studio to do any mixing. So instead what I am going to do today is just talk you through room choice, because that’s really important. Then in the next video, we will go through speaker positioning, because this is something that a lot of people overlook, it’s really important, more so important than acoustic treatment in a lot of cases.

So I will show you me testing out the room, different speaker locations and walking through that type of process. Then I will do another video on acoustic treatments.

But first, let’s talk about room choice because I was fortunate in this new place – in my place I only had one very small room but in this new place that I’ve just moved into with my new wife, got married in June and then we’ve been on honeymoon for the whole of July and now we are moving into a new place, so it’s been crazy couple of months.

And this is it, this is the studio. So, this is the room that I settled on in the end, and before I tell you why that is, I am going to just go and show you the other room. So let’s go take a look.

So this was one of the other options and this room is a similar size, it’s slightly rectangular but also nearly square, which is very bad. So the fact is when you are choosing a room dimensions, you want to avoid square rooms, you want to ideally avoid small rooms.

And then the other factors are furnishings. If it’s a new place, that’s not really going to be a consideration. As you can see, all the rooms here are pretty empty. And beyond that you can think about things like the flooring, so in here we’ve got carpet, whereas downstairs was wooden floor.

If you are actually going to go through the effort of treating your room, then wooden floor is better, because carpet will dampen high frequencies but not low frequencies, so you can get a slightly muffled tone; whereas if you have wooden flooring, and then you have treatment, that treatment is going to compensate for the fact that you get more reflections in the wooden flooring, and it’s going to sound a bit brighter, a bit livelier, but also more controlled once you add that treatment.

Having said that, if you are not planning to add any treatment on the carpet, probably it’s going to help a tiny bit, it’s going to give you a tiny bit of absorption but if you are going to do it properly then wooden flooring is best.

So the issues with this room were the floor, carpet and the dimensions are okay, it is not a square so that’s fine, but it’s closest to being a square than the other room, which is a major issue.

And besides that, there aren’t really any other issues. Let’s go and look at the other room.

Now, this room is much, much smaller. And it could work, this is actually a similar size to my last studio, so I know it works and in here I’d position myself up on that far wall. Generally, you want to have the speakers [inaudible 00:03:07] down the longest length for the room, we will talk about that in the next video.

But this could work, it’s wide enough that we could get the speakers in the good position where you are kind of in a triangle without being halfway. Again, we will cover all of that, but you need to start thinking about where would you put the speakers, does it make sense, can you get the speakers in the right position in this room.

And it would be a struggle here, because in order to have an equilateral triangle between me and the speakers, I’d probably have to have the listening location about halfway through the room, about so you can see there’s the window and the speakers would be there. If you look up at the ceiling, the light is pretty much halfway and the speaking – sorry listening position would probably be about there.

Now, you want to avoid being halfway across the room because then you are going to get a really strong buildup of resonant frequencies and standing waves in that room. So it could work, small rooms like this do work. They are just a bit more problematic; and equally on the other hand when you’ve got a bigger room available, why would you pick the smaller room, because in the big room I could put a drum kit in there, I could do more stuff, have a [inaudible 00:04:16].

So this was the second room and now let’s go back to the final room that [inaudible 00:04:19]. Okay, so here we are in the main room, so it’s probably the biggest of the three, it’s slightly more rectangular, because you’ve got a bay window.

The floor is wooden flooring, which is good. And let’s talk about this bay window. This is really interesting. So bay windows are quite good from an acoustical perspective. First of all, having big windows so that you can see here the window is bigger in general, there’s more [inaudible 00:04:47] the room is window in the last room.

And windows are actually pretty good because they are essentially like free [inaudible 00:04:54]. So sure windows are a bit reflective in the higher frequencies, so you could see that as being a highly reflective surface. And when you compare it to a wall, windows aren’t reflective in the lower frequencies, they will actually let them through. So it’s basically a bass trap. And when we are talking about speaker location, let’s say the speakers are going to be like one here, one here, so they can be pointing away from the window, which is generally the case when you have a home studio that has windows you would point and speak away from them.

Well, the high frequencies are very directional and because the speakers are pointing towards my ears, away from the window, it’s not going to cause much of an issue because the high frequencies are going to come to ears, they are going to go past me to the back wall, there will be absorption there. So by the time they’ve actually made it to the window by bouncing off that back wall, the side wall and all around the room, they are going to be pretty quiet anyway.

The low frequencies however coming up the monitor are going to be omnidirectional, they are not as directional. So, the [inaudible 00:05:56] is actually at the back as well with my monitors, a lot of monitors have that. But it’s not an issue, because the low frequencies are going to be stronger in this window area, they are just going to go straight through the window, and just go out into the world, which is great, that’s what we want, we want to get rid of all the bass that built up in the room.

So that’s actually really helpful having windows behind your monitors. And then the other thing that’s really cool is the bay window kind of acts as if the speakers are slightly [inaudible 00:06:25] and there are several acoustical benefits for speakers to be behind the front wall and [inaudible 00:06:31].

So I will go into that in more depth from [inaudible 00:06:34] acoustics but that was one of the key reasons why I picked this room along with the more rectangular dimensions and the wooden floor. So there you go, that’s room choice. It’s easy to think it’s not as important as speaker position or acoustics treatment but it’s one of those cool three things.

So in the next two videos, we are going to continue this kind of blog style. In the next one it’s going to be speakers position and you can watch me testing different speakers positions using Room EQ Wizard, with [inaudible 00:07:02] trying to find the best speakers position in the room and I have loads of tips and tricks for you about setting up your speakers probably.

And then I will do another video about acoustic treatment because I’ve got some nice floor to ceiling bass trap coming in from GIK Acoustics, I’ve got loads of [inaudible 00:07:17] myself and I will tell you a bit more about that process. And then finally we will put it all together and we will do some comparisons with before and after.

So that’s all to come, I hope you enjoyed this slightly different format. Now, I would love to hear from you. Leave a comment below what room did you choose in your room. If you had a choice, which one did you choose? Why? What are the upsides of the room that you work with? What are the downsides?

Let’s get a conversation going about room choice and how you are overcoming some of the limitations of your room, because that’s normally the case; in a home studio, I don’t have that much choice.

So let me know what issues you are having, how you overcame them; or if you need help overcoming some issues, I would be happy to help.

So that’s all for today and I will see you next week.

 

Audio professional, musician and founder of Musician on a Mission.

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