Stop Worrying About Room Acoustics

2013 Dec 20, 2013

Many of you home studio owners are worrying too much about room acoustics. You’re over thinking things. Whether it’s trying to perfectly treat your walls with absorption panels, or building custom bass traps, you’re after a pro sounding room in your home studio. But let me break some news to you: you’re not in a pro studio, you’re in your home.


Via OK Apartments Flickr

Your Room Will Never Sound Pro

The reality is, your room will never sound like a professional tracking or mixing room. You don’t have floating floors and ceilings, walls within walls, or even the right shape of a room to sound as pro as the big boys. Your room was built to be a bedroom, or an office, or a living room, or a basement, not a recording studio. It’s time to embrace this limitation.

Oh sure, you can make your room sound better than it currently does. I’ve made the case for acoustic treatment before. Also where you place your speakers make’s a huge difference to how you hear the mix. These are two easy things you can do to instantly improve the sound of your room. But you’ll never get it perfect and it will never sound pro.

Your Room Doesn’t Have To Sound Pro

But here’s the good news: your room doesn’t have to sound pro in order to churn out pro sounding tracks. What a relief! You see, all of that effort to make your room more professional was really just a step to get you to your real goal: pro sounding recordings. So you’re really not after how the room sounds, but how your tracks sound. Big difference.

Now, obviously good room acoustics are a good thing. They make your life easier and you can track things like drum room mics and string quartets beautifully. But most of us can create fantastic recordings without those things. And if we focused our room acoustics enhancing energy into better mic placement, performance, and mix technique we’d likely get better sounding tracks sooner.

How To Maximize Your Room

Trust me on this, I have worked in big nice studios and home studios. Would I love to work in a professionally built and tuned room every time? Sonically speaking, yes. But the truth is, I get great sounding tracks (recordings and mixes) out of a small humble home studio every single week. You can too.

Here are some suggestions to get more out of your current space:

  • Use a close mic technique. The closer your source is to the mic, the less your mic will “hear” your room. And in your case, that’s likely a good thing.
  • Use the back of the microphone. Most cardioid mics reject sound on the back. So use this to your advantage and point the back of the mic to what you don’t want to hear.
  • Tune your speakers with reference tracks. As far as mixing goes, if you can place your monitors in such a way that reference tracks sound their best (i.e. not too much or too little bass) you can get closer to a more accurate sound when you’re tracking and mixing.

Remember, you’re already limited in your home studio. It’s just the way things are. Don’t fight your limitations, but rather embrace them and move on. Find ways to get around your limitations and focus on what you can control in order to get better sounding tracks.

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