Low ceiling blues...

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by pbass2, Sep 5, 2017.


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  1. pbass2

    pbass2

    Jan 25, 2007
    Los Angeles
    My little home studio (built in half of my garage--very nicely sound-proofed) has a low ceiling. It's not even quite 8'. I sit at my desk currently and my nearfields are head-height, I've got the room treated for the way it is now with Auralex panels, bass traps, etc.--the usual stuff. A very good (i.e. dead) - sounding little space actually. Been working in here for 10 years. Thing is, I want to try making my setup a standing up rig. I'm sick of going in there every day and plonking my butt down for the duration--would rather stand most of time (there's a variety of adjustable chair/stool options for when I'll want to sit if I do this).
    Unfortunately, this would put my monitors up less than 3' from the ceiling to get them at head-height(I work with nearfields and a sub at all times, BTW). Do you studio acoustics experts think with some treatment on the ceiling directly above it could be OK, or is that just gonna be weird no matter how I try and tackle the potential reflections from up above?
     
  2. Badwater

    Badwater

    Jan 12, 2017
    This may sound weird but there may be a possibility of angling the monitors upward to your ears. Being that only half the area is treated, this will allow the sound to bounce back to the roof and rear floor & wall, giving a hair more time before the sound reflects back to you and the forward wall. And you could use diffusers in the back wall and roof to spread out the sound. But it may cause a echo effect if the room is empty.
     
  3. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    What are the room dimensions? How do you have your monitors setup in the room (proximity to the front wall, triangular orientation to the listening position, sub placement relative to the room and the nearfields, etc.)? What lives between the monitors (i.e. a large LCD screen, gear racks, computer equipment, instrument racks, etc.)? Are you solely mixing/mastering in this room, or are you tracking anything with a microphone where the room sound is transferred to tape/HD?

    If it's truly a tiny room your best bet will likely be to get it as close to anechoic as possible. For that reason alone, I would at least install a cloud above your listening position, traps in as many corners as you can fit (vertical AND horizontal corners), absorption at the first reflection points of your monitors, and bass trapping between the monitors. That configuration is commonly as good as it gets for a small room.

    If you don't have a reasonably significant amount of distance between the sound generating source (i.e. the monitors), your listening position, and the reflective surfaces in your space (i.e. the untreated portions of the walls, the ceiling and the floor) then don't waste your money on diffusion-based products. Diffusion requires enough distance from the source to be effective, and commonly only serves to drain the wallets of people buying it without the actual space to see any benefit. There are some cool products out these days that incorporate both absorption and diffusion, but for a tiny space all of the money is in absorption products.
     
  4. pbass2

    pbass2

    Jan 25, 2007
    Los Angeles
    Thanks for the replies guys. It's a "composer studio", so it's really just me in there, tracking DI stuff 95% of the time, sometimes mic'ing an acoustic guitar or other stringed thing. The ceiling as I say is just shy of 8", and the room is a rectangle, about 8x11. I have your basic Omnirax desk set up towards one end of the rectangle(not up against the wall but about 3 feet out or so), monitors on the bridge with computer monitor in between, and after much experimentation got my sub placed accordingly--nearfields are in the correct triangular/head orientation when seated. It all works now and I mix with confidence in there (heck, other people have mixed here and were quite happy with it--it is very close to anechoic as you say, with all the Aurelex material I've positioned).
    I've come up with a way to test it out with some stands so I can try various heights. If I do this standing thing, I'd be using a different desk and the monitors would be on stands.
    Definitely an "if it aint broke" kinda situation - as it is now it is dialed in very nicely. I'm just burnt out on it after 10 years. If it doesn't work I'll just paint the room a different color and buy some new piece of gear I guess!;)
     
  5. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    This is the important thing, and please keep that in mind as you read my ramblings below. A room doesn't have to be perfect to be effective, and quite frankly "knowing" a room is more important than having a perfect room regardless of what any textbooks will tell you.

    A room with that low of an internal volume should strive to have as much of the room sound negated as possible. Mo' anechoic, mo' betta (for this situation). As you say, you're primarily tracking DI so on the front end that makes no difference. When you mic an acoustic guitar in a room that size reflections will be problematic, not helpful, so as close to anechoic as possible is once again a benefit in this situation. Sounds like you're on the right track.

    This is a red flag for me immediately. If your desk is about 3' off of the front wall, and the monitors are on the bridge that puts the front of your drivers at about 3.5' off of the front wall. With that in mind you'll have a half wavelength cancellation frequency of 40.307hz, and a quarter wavelength cancellation frequency of 80.615hz. These cancellations can be as much as a 1/3 octave wide. If you can put the monitors on stands and get the backs of the monitor cabinets as close to the front wall as possible (without actually touching) you'll improve this condition substantially. Assuming that puts the front of the drivers at about 0.5' off of the front wall your half/quarter cancellations will be 564.304/282.152hz respectively. Those are MUCH easier ranges to deal with acoustically.

    It's close to anechoic yet you don't have any ceiling treatments? That doesn't add up, but to be fair I haven't seen your space. Have you done any waterfall plots using a calibrated mic? My guess is that your decay times are not as short as you believe if your ceiling is untreated, the ceiling is low and the horizontal room dimensions are that small.

    EDIT: Regardless, my recommendations still stand. Put a cloud over the listening position, stuff as much bass trapping as you can get in the vertical and horizontal corners, as well as the space between your monitors, put absorbers at the first reflection points, get some carpeting/rugs on the floor if you haven't already... Basically just get rid of the room sound given the size of your space.
     
  6. pbass2

    pbass2

    Jan 25, 2007
    Los Angeles
    No, no--I do have ceiling treatments. I have Aurelex foam panels above my sweet spot, and elsewhere in the room, as well as corner treatment up in the corners, etc etc.
    Interesting about the distance from the wall considerations. When I experiment with the monitors on stands, off of my desk, I'll play with that!
     
  7. silky smoove

    silky smoove Supporting Member

    May 19, 2004
    Seattle, WA
    There's not really much to experiment with. Unless you have an infinite baffle (i.e. flush/soffit mounted monitors) you're going to run into half and quarter wavelength cancellation frequencies. You want to get the cancellation frequencies into a range that's easy to treat acoustically. This leaves you with two options, and two options only if you want to do things "correctly" (my use of quotes around the word 'correctly' was very intentional since what's correct isn't necessarily what's best).

    Option 1: Put the speakers as close to the front wall as possible which pushes the cancellation frequencies higher. Higher frequencies are easier to deal with using acoustic treatments than low ones.

    Option 2: Put the speakers far enough off the wall that the cancellation frequencies are driven so low that your speakers can't reproduce them, or you would always high pass them out of the mix regardless. Let's assume for this example that 30hz is the lowest usable frequency that you would ever even consider in a mix (honestly for most mixes it's a fair bit higher than that, but let's assume you're occasionally doing something electronic that needs big booty down low). To push the cancellation frequencies down that low you would need to place the front of your drivers 9.51' off of the front wall. That's nearly the entire length of your room!

    For a room your size, and most home and even project studios, the only viable method is option 1, or possibly soffit/flush mounting if you want to go down that particular rabbit hole. The positive upshoot of using option 1 is that it gives you more usable floor space. Now, ideally you'd set your speakers in that position and build an equilateral triangle based on your listening position being 38% of the way across the room (as a starting point), which will of course determine the width of the monitor spacing. Furthermore you'll want to place the subwoofer assymetrically in the room and as close to one of the monitors as possible. Again, this is all the "correct" way to do things, and it may not be the best way for your needs.

    Here's a handy calculator for determining cancellations: mh-audio.nl - Acoustic
     
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  8. pbass2

    pbass2

    Jan 25, 2007
    Los Angeles
    Great info--thanks again. I do electronic music quite a bit but for the stuff I do, I still roll off everything below 30hz, usually higher. In the middle of a project now, but once I'm done in a couple weeks I'm going to try changing things up. And moving everything closer to the front wall will indeed give me more floor space, so even if standing doesn't work, I can still get some benefits from revisiting my set up.
     
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