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Why soundproof?

Discussion in 'Recording Gear and Equipment [BG]' started by Sound Guy Paul, Jan 24, 2002.


  1. I have been reading a book lately about acoustics and sound engineering, and I have been wondering about why people sound proof a mixing room. I understand that you want an absolutley straight sound, but if you think about it, why not mix in a normal enviroment? Thats the enviroment things are going to be listened to. I think it would be more realistic to mix down, using a small stereo system, and a cluttered room. Can anyone explain the logic of spending ten thousands of dollars on a soundproof room?
     
  2. Oysterman

    Oysterman

    Mar 30, 2000
    Sweden
    Not sure, but I think it's like this:
    Professional mixmakers oftentimes do their work in more than one studio. Having identical acoustics in the mixing rooms when you move from one studio to another can advantageous, for if you've learned how to mix in a sterile environment, you can mix the same way in other equally sterlie environments. Getting your ears used to a new room - or perhaps even worse, a new pair of monitors - takes time and time is as we all know, money. If the mixman has to get used to a new set of monitors, having a new room as well only adds to the problems. A cluttered room might also clutter up the sound, which is bad since you don't hear what's going on.

    You want to hear every detail in the sound when you mix. You want to have total control over the stereo spread, and you want to be able to tell if there's too much of anything - mids, highs, reverb, whatever. That's why you have studio monitors, unforgiving speakers, to bring out the aspects of the soundscape that consumer-grade speakers may hide arbitrarily.

    The idea is, if you learn to mix on a pair of reference monitors, you can make any song sound good on ANY system. If you mix with say, a pair of Panasonic home stereo speakers, you can only be sure that the mix will sound good on THOSE particular speakers.

    BTW, all studios don't have soundproof mixing environments. I've actually never been in one that has, I've only seen pictures of them. :)
     
  3. Josh Ryan

    Josh Ryan - that dog won't hunt, Monsignor. Staff Member Supporting Member

    Mar 24, 2001
    I have no actual knowledge of the reasons pro's do this, but I think it's because there are SO many real world variables to take into account. Removing as many variables as possible creates a sort of middle ground in which the audio will be MORE acceptible in a wider variety of locations/situations. Otherwise I'd mix in my car!;)

    edit: and what Oysterman said!
     
  4. jblake

    jblake

    Aug 30, 2001
    Gray, ME
    One problem with standard rooms is that the frequency response changes in relation to your position in the room. That's one of the reasons you see diffusors and sound proofing materials in mix rooms. There is the "sweet spot" right in the middle of your monitors but if you have to move away from the sweet spot to add an effect or EQ you don't want the spectrum to change when you move.

    Jon
     
  5. Alright, I guess that sheds some more light on the subject. I can see how having a standard sound in all the room you would mix in could help, and also having that "sweet spot" be the entire room. But recordings we have made in my friends basement, with the worst acoustics in the world, have sounded great, no matter where we are. Could his basement have really good acoustics for mixing?
     
  6. I am talking about mixing for soundproofing. I know the term is not soundproofing, but I am not sure about the actual term so forgive me. The room, is a short ceiling, with steel pipes, and brick walls. It sounds bad when we are actually recording the sound. But the playback sounds really well done. I have had several musically-inclined" people ask me which studio downtown we recorded in. We want really good, quality, and we get it for the mostpart. So my question is.. why do people spend $20,000 in getting a flat response in a room, where we get a professional sound in the above mentioned room?
     
  7. Oysterman

    Oysterman

    Mar 30, 2000
    Sweden
    My guess is that most people don't. A lot of people treat their recording rooms, but I think only the really anal ones do it with their mixing environments.

    But I don't know anything, really.
     
  8. Thats good to know Oyster;)
     
  9. jblake

    jblake

    Aug 30, 2001
    Gray, ME
    Actually one of the main reasons to spend the money on a great mix room, a $250,000 console, and scads of outboard gear is the tax write-off. Good studios make great money. Why give it away to the government when they get a business write off for this stuff.
     
  10. Haha thats awesome, so basically, rather than give a bunch of money to the government, you just buy a lot of useless gear? I didnt know you could do that.
     
  11. It sounds like that your basement recording was a stroke of luck.
    But I bet if you put that recording in the hands of a professional (or even advanced amateur) sound engineer and they would be able to pick it to pieces.
    To ensure that people hear what is actually on a recording, you have to mix and master in a "flat" environment - that way you hear all the subtle nuances of the recording without room acoustics, vibrations, etc masking the sound. For example, without a "flat" sound environment you could be over-compensating for that loose ceiling panel or cavernous natural reverb of the room.
     
  12. Oysterman

    Oysterman

    Mar 30, 2000
    Sweden
    I listened to your latest recordings ("The Shotput Strikes Back", right?), and what immediately struck me were the undistinct kick and snare drums. When more instruments get into the mix the drums get lost, especially the kick which after all should be the pulse in rock music. In one of the songs there is also a some noise going on in the background during a keyboard intro... was it meant to be that way or did you just miss it during the mixing process? I can clearly hear the basement acoustics on some drum parts... but I don't know, it kind of fits your music. What makes it a bit odd though, is that the other instruments don't really have the same sound to them... makes the drums sound a bit out of place, I think. The bass is also a bit lost in the mix, it would have needed a bit more "edge" to it, IMO. Vocals are a bit low on some parts too.

    But other than that (for now), I got to tell you it's cool stuff! I like your music, man! :)
     
  13. Thanks alot Oysterman, but in actuality those are not at all songs that are on the album, the songs themselves are, but not the versions you hear. We recorded those with our old drummer, who is now out of the band. We have re-recorded those songs, and they were mixed in a real quick hurry, because we were entering a radio contest, and we recorded three songs, and mixed them all down in a day(we still turned them in late, and they didnt count our CD) I have always thought we did a pretty good job considering the speed, but I do not know which song you are talking about that has the sound in it. Was it Johnsons' cookies? that is the only one with a real Keyboard intro. By the way, if anyone else wants to check out the songs, ignore all bass parts from the songs under "Voodoo Raindance". That was not me, that was the drummer from the OLD SGT, so just ignore them.