The construction of three new studios in the AIX building is almost complete. After over 6 months of work, the solid maple floors are installed, the sound proof laminated glass is in place, the door frames sealed with rubber gaskets, and the walls are getting covered with insulation and fabric. The only major things left was to complete involve the wiring, the ceiling cloud, setting up the equipment and furniture, and the actual “room tuning”. It’s been a long haul but as you can see in the pictures below, the room is looking really great.
The sonic characteristics of your listening environment are among the most important factors in determining the enjoyment of your sound system — and the quality of sound you experience. The size, the shape, the ceiling height, and the treatment of acoustic reflections and resonances are much more important than cables, clock regenerators, and the sample rate/format of your delivery format. I see a lot of pictures on Facebook showing rooms where audiophiles enjoy their music. Generally speaking, they are living rooms, entertainment spaces, bedrooms, basements, and occasionally dedicated listening areas. If you’re in the fortunate position to be able to custom build or modify a room in your house to maximize your audio listening pleasure, more power to you. I feel extremely fortunate to be able to enjoy and work in my dedicated, professional, acoustically tuned, audio studio. But this is what I do for a living.
So let’s turn our attention today to exploring how you might improve the sonics of your space. There are three things to be aware of when considering acoustic treatments: isolation, diffusion and absorption. I’ll be covering the basics over the next few posts but you might want to check out the chapter in my book “Music and Audio: A User Guide To Better Sound”, where I’ll be going into much more detail.
• Isolation means that sound from one space or location will not impact any other spaces. Studios like the three new ones in my building must be designed and constructed to minimize “leakage” from the control room, isolation booths, main live room, drum booth, or machine room. While isolation is a very important concept in professional studios, it’s not as critical in consumer environments. Most homeowners or renters don’t have the resources or interest in building double walls, floating floors, or installing double glass, acoustic windows.
• Diffusion breaks up radiating acoustic energy by breaking up the sound in terms of timing, phase, direction, and intensity. This is done by placing acoustic “diffusers” in strategic places in the room. For example, my main studio has a solid maple floor in the center monitoring area. I built a large, ceiling mounted diffuser to break up any sound that might bounce or resonate from the floor.
Figure 1 – The view of the AIX main control room showing the diffuser located above the main mixing spot.
• Absorption deadens the reflectivity of a listening space. Professional studios are generally very “dead” sounding. Engineers want to avoid having the room place a large part in the ultimate sound that is being heard as they mix. Therefore, the walls are covered with fabric or sound absorptive panels. Acoustic energy hitting the walls doesn’t bounce back and distortion sounds coming directly from the monitor speakers.
We’ll take a closer look at these concepts and I’ll share some of the approaches we’ve used in the design and construction of the new rooms.
To Be Continued…