Acoustic Treatment

kzdruma

Senior Member
Hey everyone!

I would like to add some acoustic treatment to my studio and was looking for a little advice.

The room is about 20' by 30' and typically has two drums sets, about 30 snares, a couch, and a marimba. The acoustics are awful! Should I start looking into foam or panels? Do you have any specific products that you like?
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
Go to Walmart and get some foam mattress pads. Spray paint them if aesthetics are an issue. Treat the whole wall section or use some as panels.
 

Vintage Old School

Gold Member
It depends on how you're going to use the studio--just for rehearsal or for recording--and a lot of other variables (ceiling height, wall surfaces, type of ceiling, type of flooring, etc.). Without knowing all those variables I would say look at both panels and some well placed foam treatment. Sound blankets are another option you can use to hang in some areas to help absorb some of the sound.

I just refinished parts of my rehearsal studio with Green Gizmo 3" foam wedges. Great product and great service. I've got to give credit for borrowing the design elements from Mike Johnston's studio.
 

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Aeolian

Platinum Member
Go to Walmart and get some foam mattress pads. Spray paint them if aesthetics are an issue. Treat the whole wall section or use some as panels.
Please do not do this. This is what the people in The Station did when Great White came to play. Bad Idea.

The stuff you see on the walls of theaters and pro studios is Owens Corning 703 rigid fiberglass insulation. It comes in a box of 1" or 2" thick 2x4 panels. If you build a frame to stand the 1" off the wall, you create a sort of bass trap. Not super effective at really low frequencies but it balances the high frequency absorption down into the mid bass a bit. Use the 2" across corners to create better bass traps and where you want more mid/high frequency absorption. You need to cover it with some sort of fabric. Here I would recommended fire retardant rated cloth but I realize that's kind of expensive and would likely only find it's way into a commercial establishment where the fire marshall won't sign off your use permit without flame retardant certification. At least, some cotton remnants from the fabric store won't burn like mattress pads or give off the toxic smoke they do.

Proper foam such as Auralex is expensive. A box of OC703 is about $100.

The other safe and cost effective thing you can put up, although it mostly only has high frequency absorption, is dropped ceiling panels. This is what studios did for years before they realized how to do balanced absorption and dissipation.
 

Aeolian

Platinum Member
Among other forums I participate in are the ProSoundWeb and GearSlutz. Lot of pros on those pages, especially PSW. One thing they go to great lengths is to not advocate cheapo solutions that have hazards. You don't have to set off flash pots in your studio to start a fire. Any electrical problem, someone smoking, it could be something completely innocuous. It's like hanging consumer speakers from lighting truss over people's heads. You might get away with it. Maybe even for quite awhile. But if something goes wrong, it's on you big time.

I can't in good conscience recommend, or see an unqualified recommendation for something that would not pass building or safety code. If you want to do it anyway, you are at least forewarned. There are lawyers who would go after Bernhard because he hosted information that turned out to be hazardous.
 

BillBachman

Gold Member
Yay to the 703 panels! I made a bunch of them like this: 2' x 4' 703 panels that were 1/5" thick (if I remember correctly) framed into cheap 1" x 3" wood and then had fabric stretched over the frame and stapled to the back. Cheap, easy, functionally great & they look good too.

Here's a fun vid in my old studio where you can see them: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cMvlQ9tRCRE
 

New Tricks

Platinum Member
I can't in good conscience recommend, or see an unqualified recommendation for something that would not pass building or safety code. .
I'm going to agree with this all the way.

I was assuming that, because this was bedding material, it would logically have some sort of retardant built in. We are both are assuming that the panels they sell as dampening is fire retardant to an acceptable level.

And, I just checked and, the foam mattress padding is very flammable (with an open flame) :)

Now I want to check the proper panels but I don't have any.
 

FiveString

Member
Hey guys,

I just want to chime in and agree with many of the folks who have already posted: fake acoustic treatment is bad juju. First, it's dangerous. Second, it doesn't really work very well.

Even the pricier "acoustic foams" represent very little actual acoustic improvement, especially considering the price. You might reduce some bouncey high frequencies, but if you want to really transform the sound of a room you need absorbing mass and good planning. Parallel walls are a huge problem, as are 90 degree corners.

There are tons of plans out there for building Corning rockwool acoustic panels. Just make sure you choose an acoustically transparent covering for them, or soundwaves will bounce off instead of get absorbed.

For my studio, I went to the amazing guys at www.gikacoustics.com. I sent them a 3d mock up of my studio, they had an acoustic engineer analyze the room and make recommendations. They built me the panels (bass traps and regular panels), and shipped them to me. They are neat as a pin, and totally transformed the sound of my room.

I think it ended up being $350-400 for the room. An amazing value given all the expertise, and the fact that everything was made by GIK right here in the US.

I don't work for them, or have any ties to them other than being an extremely satisfied customer. It's the best money I've spent on anything music related.
 

Bobrush

Senior Member
For my studio, I went to the amazing guys at www.gikacoustics.com. I sent them a 3d mock up of my studio, they had an acoustic engineer analyze the room and make recommendations. They built me the panels (bass traps and regular panels), and shipped them to me. They are neat as a pin, and totally transformed the sound of my room.

I think it ended up being $350-400 for the room. An amazing value given all the expertise, and the fact that everything was made by GIK right here in the US.
So, you're saying that for about $400, they analyzed your studio, made appropriate panels and shipped them to you? I just want to be clear because that does sound like an amazing deal. I have a crappy sounding room, but I'm probably going to move soon. However, I have been looking into room treatment and $400 sounds really good for what you got. How big is your studio? Can you tell us a little about what kind of 'analysis' they did? What kind of product did they finally ship to you?
Note to everyone: I have done a lot of reading on room treatments (although I still haven't decided what to do myself) and it sure seems like if you do it right, it's gonna cost you something (like at least a couple $100, even DIY), and if you do it wrong, you've completely wasted your time and whatever little money you did spend.
 

jeffwj

Platinum Member
It depends on how you're going to use the studio--just for rehearsal or for recording--and a lot of other variables (ceiling height, wall surfaces, type of ceiling, type of flooring, etc.). Without knowing all those variables I would say look at both panels and some well placed foam treatment. Sound blankets are another option you can use to hang in some areas to help absorb some of the sound.

I just refinished parts of my rehearsal studio with Green Gizmo 3" foam wedges. Great product and great service. I've got to give credit for borrowing the design elements from Mike Johnston's studio.
I noticed that Mike Johnston, Pat Petrillo, and yourself have the acoustic foam on the bottom portion of the wall. I really like the way it looks with the bottom third being foam and the top finished wall. Is there a benefit to that as opposed to having square or rectangular foam panels midway up the wall?

Jeff
 

FiveString

Member
So, you're saying that for about $400, they analyzed your studio, made appropriate panels and shipped them to you? I just want to be clear because that does sound like an amazing deal. I have a crappy sounding room, but I'm probably going to move soon. However, I have been looking into room treatment and $400 sounds really good for what you got. How big is your studio? Can you tell us a little about what kind of 'analysis' they did? What kind of product did they finally ship to you?
Note to everyone: I have done a lot of reading on room treatments (although I still haven't decided what to do myself) and it sure seems like if you do it right, it's gonna cost you something (like at least a couple $100, even DIY), and if you do it wrong, you've completely wasted your time and whatever little money you did spend.
Yup! It's ~$60 per 242 panel, and a little more for their bass traps. The room analysis was part of the package. Brian worked from a Google SketchUp model that I did of my room (which is 16' X 12' with 9ft ceiling), and gave me recommendations based on his analysis. He also told me where to place my monitors/listening station etc. based on the shape, size and surfaces in the room. I told him that I wanted a relatively live room, but wanted the standing waves and echoes to be controlled. He gave me several options. The one I chose was 4 242 panels, and two bass traps. I can always add more if I want a deader sound.

I can't tell you what a difference it's made in the sound of the room. I teach music out of my home as my day job, and do a lot of Skype instruction. My students immediately could hear the difference even over Skype. I also do a lot of recordings for students, and for my own rehearsal/playback. The difference was night and day. I can immediately tell which recordings are pre-room-treatment.

I have had a treated studio now for 3 years, and it is my sanctuary. Actually, after hanging the panels I immediately wanted to treat other rooms in my house because they sounded so "cold" in comparison. My students love coming in and playing because it sounds fantastic, and gives them that special "I'm in a real studio" feeling.

I did a lot of research before settling on GIK and Corning panels vs. foam. I initially wanted to go down the acoustic foam/Aurelex path because I liked the look and was initially swayed by the marketing and hype. I talked to many studio professionals and they all told me to stay far, far away from acoustic foam. There is a place for it in specific circumstances when room acoustics dictate it, but it is essentially cosmetic for most home studios.

GIK kept coming up as a highly recommended company to work with. I was planning on building my own panels to save some coin, but once I got into looking at the plans I figured my time was better spent playing music than building panels. I left it up to the experts, and have been delighted ever since.

I'll post some photos of my studio tomorrow if you guys want to check it out.

Yeesh. I'm sounding like a shill for GIK. I assure you I am not. Just a very happy customer!!
 

FiveString

Member
Hey guys,

Just went back and looked at my invoice. I was a little low in my remembering. It ended up costing me $590 shipped.

I went with the Guilford of Maine fabrics though, which incurred a sizable upcharge. It can be done cheaper for sure if you want just a basic fabric option.

My guess is ~475-500 shipped for a room like mine.

Still, a great deal. I would have paid several times that had I known what a difference it would make.
 

Vintage Old School

Gold Member
I noticed that Mike Johnston, Pat Petrillo, and yourself have the acoustic foam on the bottom portion of the wall. I really like the way it looks with the bottom third being foam and the top finished wall. Is there a benefit to that as opposed to having square or rectangular foam panels midway up the wall?

Jeff
This was a humble effort to be a "good neighbor" to the family living on the next block behind me. I built the lower walls out and put as much sound absorption as possible in the walls (up to the height of the rack toms) for rehearsal purposes only (no recording). I mounted all of the 3" foam wedges on masonite panels over the sound absorption so the foam panels can easily be removed and used again if I should ever move. The foam is only a meager attempt for room treatment, more so for my daughter who uses this space to rehearse singing when she comes home from college. This is far from being soundproofed, but it has helped maintain a good standing with my neighbors.
 

FiveString

Member
Hey guys,

Here are some photos of my studio. A lot of my cymbals/hardware/shells are in other rehearsal studios in Boston, but this is what I practice at home with.

Ideally, my listening area should be pulled away from the wall, but if I did that I wouldn't have much space for students.

Enjoy!







 

Otto

Platinum Member
Hey guys,

Just went back and looked at my invoice. I was a little low in my remembering. It ended up costing me $590 shipped.

I went with the Guilford of Maine fabrics though, which incurred a sizable upcharge. It can be done cheaper for sure if you want just a basic fabric option.

My guess is ~475-500 shipped for a room like mine.

Still, a great deal. I would have paid several times that had I known what a difference it would make.
WOW!

thanks for the reference!...that is a GREAT deal!
 
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