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Are these sound panels any good for recording voice?

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Are these sound panels any good for recording voice?

Postby johnr10 » Tue Feb 13, 2018 8:05 pm

I'm setting up a youtube video studio in a spare room in my house. It's got flat concrete walls (couple of windows), and a wood floor. Otherwise, apart from a sofa and computer desk, there's not really anything else in there at the moment.

I tested the audio today - a Rode NTG4+ with a Tascam 70D - and, obviously, it's terrible. Lots of echos.

I know I need to get some acoustic absorption panels but I could do with them now (ie, tomorrow) rather than wait for a delivery.

Does anyone know if these will be suitable? It's for recording my voice to camera (so I don't want them on the back wall that will be behind me - but I may make same canvas prints with foam in at some point to go on the wall that will be in shot).

https://www.bricomart.es/mediap/0/b/0/1 ... _ft_01.pdf

(I'm in Spain).

For now the plan is left and right walls, wall behind the camera (although there is a window taking up half that) and ceiling above the mic and me. I'll also be putting a rug down.

They are 43mm thick and 25kg/m3 density. But the brochure mentions them being used for machinery?

I've also read some sites saying 2" minimum and ideally more, and these are obviously thinner. But I'm not looking to make a Hollywood soundstage, I just need to reduce the echos so the sound is ok (ie, as good as it is in, say, my living room which has more soft fabrics etc).

Thanks
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Re: Are these sound panels any good for recording voice?

Postby blinddrew » Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:22 pm

Hi Johnr10,
It's probably worth your having a quick scan down the DIY section of the forum as there are a few recent threads there looking at sound treatment and the different types and materials.
In short though, foam panels like that should do a bit of good for the high-mids and upwards (position them at the mirror points on the side walls and ceiling) but they're not going to do much of anything below that. For that you'd need much thicker panel, ideally mounted away from the wall. Have a look at the thread from Sam Spoons to see what homemade solutions can look like: https://www.soundonsound.com/forum/view ... 24&t=57392

[EDIT - actually that's not the thread with the photos - give me a moment.]
[EDIT 2 - looks like he's taken those photos down]
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Re: Are these sound panels any good for recording voice?

Postby johnr10 » Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:35 pm

blinddrew wrote:Hi Johnr10,
It's probably worth your having a quick scan down the DIY section of the forum as there are a few recent threads there looking at sound treatment and the different types and materials.
In short though, foam panels like that should do a bit of good for the high-mids and upwards (position them at the mirror points on the side walls and ceiling) but they're not going to do much of anything below that. For that you'd need much thicker panel, ideally mounted away from the wall. Have a look at the thread from Sam Spoons to see what homemade solutions can look like: https://www.soundonsound.com/forum/view ... 24&t=57392

[EDIT - actually that's not the thread with the photos - give me a moment.]
[EDIT 2 - looks like he's taken those photos down]

Thanks. That's what I was thinking. The main use is for my voice which is obviously lower.
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Re: Are these sound panels any good for recording voice?

Postby blinddrew » Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:38 pm

The traditional budget method regularly recommended round here is to sling a couple of duvets over some mic stands. It works but you'll probably be limited with what you can do in terms of keeping things off camera unfortunately.
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Re: Are these sound panels any good for recording voice?

Postby johnr10 » Tue Feb 13, 2018 9:56 pm

blinddrew wrote:The traditional budget method regularly recommended round here is to sling a couple of duvets over some mic stands. It works but you'll probably be limited with what you can do in terms of keeping things off camera unfortunately.

yes, that's the problem, it's for video use so some of those tricks (which I've used before for audio-only, including sitting on a bed under a duvet) aren't really practical. It's not so much about budget as such - well, again, it's not a hollywood budget - it's more that it's a rented house and I'm not going to waste money on anything that 1) I'll have to move at some point in the near future - we're not planning to be here for more than a year or two more, and 2) I'll have to make good any damage etc.
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Re: Are these sound panels any good for recording voice?

Postby Sam Spoons » Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:18 pm

Not deliberately taken them down BD. Anyway here's one of the finished room.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/jnjnecivuelkuxm/Studio%20Finished.JPG?dl=0

The panels I built do a great job in a fundamentally poor room but I'd endorse the use of cheap 'lidl' duvets in the areas that remain unseen, hung around the room a few inches off the walls and suspended on the ceiling they will work much better than those you've linked too (and probably be cheaper). Hanging one behind you with a suitable drape covering it and the wall will give you a nice backdrop to film against and some serious absorption into the bargain. Mirror points should be off camera too. The important thing it to balance the bass absorption to the higher frequency stuff and the rule, 1/3 bass trapping, 1/3 HF absorption and 1/3 diffusion (but I'd read that as untreated walls as the bass trap will usually absorb HF as well) should give you a reasonable sounding room without any particular frequency bad dominating or being absent.

Of course if it's for a podcast, speech only then you can remove the low end problems that any small room will have by aggressively high pass filtering the recording (as high as 150-200Hz before it will actually affect speech) reducing or removing the need for serious bass trapping.

HTH
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Re: Are these sound panels any good for recording voice?

Postby johnr10 » Tue Feb 13, 2018 10:45 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:Not deliberately taken them down BD. Anyway here's one of the finished room.

https://www.dropbox.com/s/jnjnecivuelkuxm/Studio%20Finished.JPG?dl=0

The panels I built do a great job in a fundamentally poor room but I'd endorse the use of cheap 'lidl' duvets in the areas that remain unseen, hung around the room a few inches off the walls and suspended on the ceiling they will work much better than those you've linked too (and probably be cheaper). Hanging one behind you with a suitable drape covering it and the wall will give you a nice backdrop to film against and some serious absorption into the bargain. Mirror points should be off camera too. The important thing it to balance the bass absorption to the higher frequency stuff and the rule, 1/3 bass trapping, 1/3 HF absorption and 1/3 diffusion (but I'd read that as untreated walls as the bass trap will usually absorb HF as well) should give you a reasonable sounding room without any particular frequency bad dominating or being absent.

Of course if it's for a podcast, speech only then you can remove the low end problems that any small room will have by aggressively high pass filtering the recording (as high as 150-200Hz before it will actually affect speech) reducing or removing the need for serious bass trapping.

HTH

Thanks for the pic.

I don't want to video with a cloth background, it's more of a relaxed 'home' studio setup - chair, pictures on the wall etc. Frankly, I'd do it in my living room if setting up and putting away wasn't such a pain (or if I could leave it setup all the time!)

It is for speech only (although with video) so yes, I can filter to a point but it's the echos that are the main problem at the moment. The other walls in the room will be used too (one already has a computer and desk against it, the other is going to have a worktop put in for other work). So hanging duvets isn't really ideal for my situation.

Thanks

Panels with prints (ie, canvas's) would work to make the wall look ok but I'd need to find some with acoustic transparency cloth.
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Re: Are these sound panels any good for recording voice?

Postby Ariosto » Wed Feb 14, 2018 7:57 am

With the duvets/blankets out of shot use a directional mic as close as possible 1-2 feet so you have strong audio (inverse square law). This eliminates most of the room echo and early reflections and enables you get a drier sound.
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Re: Are these sound panels any good for recording voice?

Postby johnr10 » Wed Feb 14, 2018 8:03 am

Ariosto wrote:With the duvets/blankets out of shot use a directional mic as close as possible 1-2 feet so you have strong audio (inverse square law). This eliminates most of the room echo and early reflections and enables you get a drier sound.

Thanks Aristo but this is a room that I will also be working in using the walls that are out of shot, and using one end as a backdrop for shooting videos. I don't mind putting panelling up, but I can't be putting blankets up and down every time I want to shoot, it would just slow the process down and make it less likely to happen.
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Re: Are these sound panels any good for recording voice?

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Feb 14, 2018 10:16 am

Any acoustic treatment you do will help, but to get a good result you will need quite a lot (say 50% of the walls/ceiling covered) and they need to be fairly thick and/or spaced off the walls to be effective down to a reasonable frequency. Thin panels similar to the ones you link to will just suck out all the HF and leave you with a very boxy sounding room.

The echoes you refer to are what causes the various audio problems in small rooms, the acoustic panels reduce them by absorbing the sound energy. The thickness of the panels (with simple absorbers such as those we are discussing) is what determines the lowest frequencies the panel will effectively absorb. A 100mm thick absorber panel (or a 50mm panel spaced 50mm off the wall) will be effective down to around 850 Hz.
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Re: Are these sound panels any good for recording voice?

Postby johnr10 » Wed Feb 14, 2018 4:58 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:Any acoustic treatment you do will help, but to get a good result you will need quite a lot (say 50% of the walls/ceiling covered) and they need to be fairly thick and/or spaced off the walls to be effective down to a reasonable frequency. Thin panels similar to the ones you link to will just suck out all the HF and leave you with a very boxy sounding room.

The echoes you refer to are what causes the various audio problems in small rooms, the acoustic panels reduce them by absorbing the sound energy. The thickness of the panels (with simple absorbers such as those we are discussing) is what determines the lowest frequencies the panel will effectively absorb. A 100mm thick absorber panel (or a 50mm panel spaced 50mm off the wall) will be effective down to around 850 Hz.

Thanks. I'm aware this is a very complicated and specialist area so I'm grateful for all advice.

I didn't see your message until after I bought them.

I've got 5 packs (of 1.62 m2 each so have enough for 8.2 sqm.

The room is about 3 meters by 6 meters by... normal height - about 2.5m?

Putting the room size in to this calculator (in feet) - https://www.acoustimac.com/room-calculator?limit=all

tells me I should be ideally using 5.29 sqm of foam. But I do have two fairly large windows to contend with. One at one end of the room (the opposite to where I'll be filming) and one to the left hand side of the wall (looking towards the filming area).

I also bought a couple of sheets of 40mm acoustic textile like this - http://www.leroymerlin.es/fp/17856832/p ... m-acustico and some wood to make canvas frames and an open weave cloth to go over them.

So, given that I've bought all this now... ;)

The next question is - what is likely to be best to go on the ceiling in the middle of the room right above my mic?

Some of the acoustic foam panels? Or a wood-frame, textile filled, 'canvas' panel?

And if the canvas panel, should I hang it from the ceiling so it is lower down and has a space between it and the ceiling? I bought some hooks to give me about 100mm drop (maybe a bit more actually).

Or I could put the canvas panels on the wall in camera view, but I've since re-arranged the layout and putting my computer work desk against that wall, so I don't mind putting acoustic panels behind that as much now.

I'll be sat in the middle of the room when filming with the camera at the far end so the desk and wall will be fairly out of focus in the background.

So really, it's what ever will be best - hanging (or not) one big or two smaller canvas panels from the ceiling - or use that on the wall instead and put foam panels up on the ceiling?

Thanks
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Re: Are these sound panels any good for recording voice?

Postby CS70 » Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:39 pm

johnr10 wrote:
blinddrew wrote:The traditional budget method regularly recommended round here is to sling a couple of duvets over some mic stands. It works but you'll probably be limited with what you can do in terms of keeping things off camera unfortunately.

yes, that's the problem, it's for video use so some of those tricks (which I've used before for audio-only, including sitting on a bed under a duvet) aren't really practical. It's not so much about budget as such - well, again, it's not a hollywood budget - it's more that it's a rented house and I'm not going to waste money on anything that 1) I'll have to move at some point in the near future - we're not planning to be here for more than a year or two more, and 2) I'll have to make good any damage etc.

Well remember the silver screen magic: you can have the duvet but you don’t need the show it. All you need is an appropriate background - if you use a green screen you can even create the backing you want. If you d this a lot and you have a permanent location, it’s very essy to rig up something stable that just is there
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Re: Are these sound panels any good for recording voice?

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Feb 14, 2018 5:47 pm

I'm not sure which panels you've bought 5 packs of? If it's the ones you linked to in the OP there's a risk they will make the room sound very mid heavy as they are too thin to work much below around 2kHz. The canvas panels would definitely benefit from being spaced from the walls or ceiling. I'd be inclined to use them in shot and other less attractive panels out of shot. I'd guess placing the absorbers at points where you would see your reflection in a mirror placed on the wall/ceiling (a slight variation on the usual, mix position 'mirror points' paradigm) would be most effective as that's where the initial reflections will come from.

A much used 'Studio SoS' trick is to stick old unwanted CDRs to the back of the foam panels and hang them on small picture nails (much less renovation needed when you move than drilling and plugging the walls).
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Re: Are these sound panels any good for recording voice?

Postby johnr10 » Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:18 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:I'm not sure which panels you've bought 5 packs of? If it's the ones you linked to in the OP there's a risk they will make the room sound very mid heavy as they are too thin to work much below around 2kHz. The canvas panels would definitely benefit from being spaced from the walls or ceiling. I'd be inclined to use them in shot and other less attractive panels out of shot. I'd guess placing the absorbers at points where you would see your reflection in a mirror placed on the wall/ceiling (a slight variation on the usual, mix position 'mirror points' paradigm) would be most effective as that's where the initial reflections will come from.

A much used 'Studio SoS' trick is to stick old unwanted CDRs to the back of the foam panels and hang them on small picture nails (much less renovation needed when you move than drilling and plugging the walls).

From a different shed, but they seem to be the same ones, yes.

As I 'appear' to have more than I need (based on that room calculator, and I know that won't be perfect) - could I double them up sticking one on top of the other? (I'd then have 4.1 sqm, or I could double only some up and have more?) Would that be better and help absorb some of the lower sounds?

Would it be better to do back-to-back with the pyramid shape of one at the front and the other against the wall? Then I'd have then more 'solid' back to back join, and have a bit of space between the wall and the pyramid shape of the back one? Actually, I guess i need to be careful how I join them if I do this. My first thought was using glue but if I put too much on, that would presumably stop the sound from getting to the second one.

Again, this is for voice, so my main concern is getting an echo free voice. At the moment untreated the room seems very echoey in the mid to high frequencies. I'm not remotely an expert in this though, that's just how it sounds to me. A bit tinny and echoey rather than boomy and echoey.

The trick with the CDRs (I guess we all have tons of those lying around unused!) - does hanging them off nails not cause problems. Do they not move around and cause noise? Presumably the actual sound waves are too 'light' to cause them to move during normal voice recording?

Thanks again for all this help. I can tell you how appreciated it is (even though it's slightly annoying it's stopping me from just 'sticking them up' ;) - it's good to have a bit of patience now and again and try to make the best of a crap room and, from the sound of it, bad - rushed - buying decisions!)
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Re: Are these sound panels any good for recording voice?

Postby johnr10 » Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:21 pm

CS70 wrote:
johnr10 wrote:
blinddrew wrote:The traditional budget method regularly recommended round here is to sling a couple of duvets over some mic stands. It works but you'll probably be limited with what you can do in terms of keeping things off camera unfortunately.

yes, that's the problem, it's for video use so some of those tricks (which I've used before for audio-only, including sitting on a bed under a duvet) aren't really practical. It's not so much about budget as such - well, again, it's not a hollywood budget - it's more that it's a rented house and I'm not going to waste money on anything that 1) I'll have to move at some point in the near future - we're not planning to be here for more than a year or two more, and 2) I'll have to make good any damage etc.

Well remember the silver screen magic: you can have the duvet but you don’t need the show it. All you need is an appropriate background - if you use a green screen you can even create the backing you want. If you d this a lot and you have a permanent location, it’s very essy to rig up something stable that just is there

Thanks but I need to do other work in that room too (some electronics and other photograph such as camera slider b-roll etc so duvets etc all over the place wouldn't be suitable. A green screen is something I thought of (in fact I have one but just not here) but I'd rather get the normal room in a good state to do some work in and film the talking head videos.
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Re: Are these sound panels any good for recording voice?

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:43 pm

You might have read my mind regarding doubling up the foam panels :). I've never tried it but I'd probably go back to back with a few small blobs of glue.

Maybe use a mix of double and single foam panels. The double ones should work a little further down into the vocal range.

But don't forget that for speech you can HPF the recording pretty aggressively to remove the frequencies the room treatment can't control.

The CDs seem to be an accepted method, again I have no first hand experience but, as you say, the sound energy is not likely to cause movement in the panels unless you put a lot (and I mean a huge amount) of bass into the room.
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Re: Are these sound panels any good for recording voice?

Postby johnr10 » Wed Feb 14, 2018 6:55 pm

Sam Spoons wrote:You might have read my mind regarding doubling up the foam panels :). I've never tried it but I'd probably go back to back with a few small blobs of glue.

Maybe use a mix of double and single foam panels. The double ones should work a little further down into the vocal range.

But don't forget that for speech you can HPF the recording pretty aggressively to remove the frequencies the room treatment can't control.

The CDs seem to be an accepted method, again I have no first hand experience but, as you say, the sound energy is not likely to cause movement in the panels unless you put a lot (and I mean a huge amount) of bass into the room.

;) Great, I'll do that then. I'll double up some back to back, and put some singular ones too.

And I'll make two (maybe three, but probably two ) panels for the wall that will be on camera as they will look nicer (although the material I got is light brown and the filling is black... didn't think that one through very well did I?! I could have easily got a brown filling right next to the black one!)

Thanks again!
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Re: Are these sound panels any good for recording voice?

Postby Sam Spoons » Wed Feb 14, 2018 7:17 pm

The cloth will have to be very open weave before the black filling does much more than just darken the colour slightly :D post some links to pics when you've done it (and to the finished podcasts too).....
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