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Room Acoustics for the common man

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Room Acoustics for the common man

Postby Dolmetscher007 » Sat May 16, 2020 6:06 am

My house is not large... but it is mine! I have watched dozens of videos on acoustic room treatment, and I have even built false floors, rooms within a room, and Willy-Wonka-style angled walls with Owens Corning panels and defusers. But, even after owning tons of books on acoustics and "How to Build a Recording Studio," I have to admit... hands up and vulnerable... I don't know what I am doing when it comes to room acoustics treatment.

I DO... however... know how to use a computer and CAD, like a mu'fu'g'er. So... can anybody tell me how I can take a meticulously accurate 3D model and/or 2-d layout of my "home studio space" and have someone that DOES know... tell me what the F to do?
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Re: Room Acoustics for the common man

Postby MOF » Sat May 16, 2020 3:47 pm

I’ve been looking through your old posts and there’s a consistent thread of you not working at something and then moving on to the next new thing and asking for help on this forum but not replying to anyone, e.g. me, that suggests you buckle down and master one thing at a time.
Below are examples from your posts:

https://www.soundonsound.com/forum/view ... 10#p142010

I ....bought BFD2 from fxpansion.

That was a sizable investment for me a couple of years ago, and I have NEVER gotten it to work.

https://www.soundonsound.com/forum/view ... 93#p659593
I hate having to post such a dumb title for this thread, as I know how inexperienced it makes me sound, but after 20+ years of recording with Logic, it still is not just obvious to me what the software that came with my audio interface is really for.

Six or seven years ago when I bought my Focusrite Scarlett 18i8, I installed the Scarlett MixControl software that came with it and opened it for the first time.......I played around with the MixControl software a little more, but I ended up just muting all the channels, closing the software, and not open it again for... all these years, until this week.

Can someone explain to me if Logic Pro X has all the functionality of the software that comes with an audio interface, or do I need to do some configuring to get Logic and my Scarlett 18i8 to communicate and work together?

https://www.soundonsound.com/forum/view ... 08#p665408

I have almost no desire to learn about synthesizers, drum loops, or anything the leans in the direction of electronic-based or pop music. I am a rock n roll: Beatles, Stones, Zeppelin, kind of guy, which means, I do want to add the occasional mellotron, piano, or some slight synth stuff, but for the most part... I record electric guitar and bass guitar into my Focusrite 18i8, and use the "Drummer" feature in Logic Pro X to simulate acoustic drums. So... my problem is, when I go to YouTube, LinkedIn Learning (fka Lynda.com), skillshare, or any of the online learning resources, almost all of the tutorials or videos focus on heavy use of synths. Also, they either are SO basic, that I fall asleep, or they assume that I was once an analog sound engineer behind a Neve desk with racks of outboard... whatever.
The thing is you need to understand Logic to do what you want to do, for Mellotron substitute synthesizer. You didn’t respond to my reply.

https://www.soundonsound.com/forum/view ... 96#p685796
I have a much more robust budget these days, and I want the highest quality audio capturing I can find/afford. My I/O needs are super simple.
Cart before the horse territory, if you don’t know how to operate Logic what’s the point in buying high value hardware?
You didn’t respond to any of the replies given there either.

https://www.soundonsound.com/forum/view ... 71#p685971
After fumbling about with the native stock Logic Pro X plugins for quite some time, I have finally just decided to throw in the towel and go back to basics. I obviously cannot afford to buy $200,000 worth of outboard analog gear just to learn how it all works, but I can read websites, subscribe to SOS magazine again, (*just re-subscribed after 15 or years), and ask questions.
Yes you can ask questions but you don’t seriously follow what is suggested. What kind of basic kit were you thinking of coupling with the 1176LN?

And your most recent posting
https://www.soundonsound.com/forum/view ... 74#p686074

I have watched dozens of videos on acoustic room treatment, and I have even built false floors, rooms within a room, and Willy-Wonka-style angled walls with Owens Corning panels and defusers. But, even after owning tons of books on acoustics and "How to Build a Recording Studio," I have to admit... hands up and vulnerable... I don't know what I am doing when it comes to room acoustics treatment.

I DO... however... know how to use a computer and CAD
So you can do CAD but you can’t be bothered to learn Logic and the interface(s) software and you spend lots of money on building a room within a room, yet again Cart before horse.

As I said in one of my replies to you, you really need to familiarise yourself with Logic first, either by doing the spade work yourself or pay someone to give you personal tuition.
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Re: Room Acoustics for the common man

Postby Hugh Robjohns » Sat May 16, 2020 3:58 pm

It all depends to what level you need to address the room's acoustics.

For a (semi) professional environment , a CAD model of the room space will not be anything like sufficient on its own.

The actual physical construction of the room -- the way the floor is put together, the types of walls and the detail of their build, the windows, the ceiling etc etc -- will all affect what can be achieved in terms of noise getting in or out, and how much space is available for acoustic corrective treatment in the room itself.

So if a professional standard is what you're seeking, then if I were you I'd contact an acoustician experienced in project studio builds and ask them to come to your abode and examine the space in person to then come up with a plan.

Only by examining it in detail will they be able to spot and work around construction issues and come up with a genuinely successful solution. In most cases -- but certainly in challenging rooms, consulting a competent designer easily pays for itself if you expect high-quality, effective results.

However, if you're just a home hobbyist who wants to make and listen to recordings that don't sound like they're made in a box room, it's all a lot simpler and most of it is very simple and intuitive.

Most noise gets in/out through gaps, so look to add decent seals to doors and windows. Double glazing and/or secondary glazing can help a lot. Mechanical noise transmissions (foot falls, banging doors etc) through the fabric of the building are very difficult to deal with... so find a workaround, like sending everyone to the movies for a few hours so you have a quiet house to work in!

As for room acoustics, treating the mirror points (side walls and ceiling) with broadband absorbers always brings a massive improvement. And adding as much effective bass trapping as you practically can is also very high on the list.
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Re: Room Acoustics for the common man

Postby Dolmetscher007 » Sun May 17, 2020 4:47 am

MOF wrote:I’ve been looking through your old posts and there’s a consistent thread of you not working at something and then moving on to the next new thing and asking for help on this forum but not replying to anyone, e.g. me, that suggests you buckle down and master one thing at a time.
Below are examples from your posts:

((LOADS OF QUOTED POSTS...))

So you can do CAD but you can’t be bothered to learn Logic and the interface(s) software and you spend lots of money on building a room within a room, yet again Cart before horse.

As I said in one of my replies to you, you really need to familiarise yourself with Logic first, either by doing the spade work yourself or pay someone to give you personal tuition.

I know in todays fast-paced world, it is difficult to find people who take even a few seconds to listen. I see you've put in the effort to respond, and you even seem to take a genuine interest. I am genuinely grateful. I also don't think you're wrong. I admit if all you could see were my posts on this forum, I'd probably think I had a scorching case of attention deficit disorder.

However, if I may... the truth is more somewhere in the middle. This is all a learning experience. The last few weeks have been an information bomb! Since I do not have the extra time or financial resources to just drop my job and attend a structured audio engineering course, with a syllabus, project, and a comprehensive curriculum that I can follow... I kind of have to carve out the path myself. At first, I thought I really need to learn every nook and cranny of Logic Pro X. Then I saw some videos and read some articles that fed me a lot of viewpoints on how native stock plugins are garbage and if I ever want to get a a cohesive and smooth mix, a hybrid DAW + analog outboard gear is how it's done.

So here I am posting questions about Logic Pro X... then about what some boutique hardware compressor does. I've also been drawn in by some savvy marketing into thinking that a new ADC/DAC/Audio interface might be where I need to start. So... <deep breath>... I'm in my mid 40s now. I have no dreams of releasing records or becoming the next Sir George Martin. I just want to step off the merry-go-round that audio can easily become, and build a solid... physics-based, relatively "future-proof" understanding of audio. It has taken me a few posts and quite a few frustrated evenings behind my monitor with Logic... but I think that I am finally beginning for form, sort of... my own curriculum for learning audio.

Course 1 - The recording/mixing space: Learn all I can about how sound pressure waves behave within an enclosed space

Course 2 - Monitors: Taking what I've learned from learning about sound pressure waves, I want to learn about which monitors would be best for my physical space and how/where to set them up to most accurately let me hear what I am/have recorded

Course 3 -The sound source: Now that I have a room where I understand how sound waves are behaving, and I can accurately hear those sound waves interacting... I want to learn about things like... guitar amplifiers... guitar string gauges... how P-90s sound through a Vox amp vs. a Fender... are software amp modelers a viable solution yet, or is there honestly still (no snake oil) no way that software can recreate a mic'ed guitar amp... (obviously... Course 3 is a f*****g rabbit hole, for sure!!!)

Course 4 - Capturing the sounds: Audio interfaces, Pre amps, Microphones, microphone placement, hardware signal processing vs plugins... Stock plugins from Logic vs. boutique 3rd party plugins.

Course 5 - Mixing: If anyone is still reading this... I understand... being lonely is difficult. She'll text you back... I'm sure of it. ;-)

Hopefully MOF, you kind of get where I am coming from a little bit more. I would love to hear more about your... back story.
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Re: Room Acoustics for the common man

Postby jaminem » Sun May 17, 2020 8:51 am

Oh gosh....


Mate, I read this post and couldn’t help thinking you’re approaching this the entirety wrong way.

It seems to me that you’re approaching this like a research project where you need to write a dissertation at the end of it that details your knowledge of how things ‘work’

To me the bit that’s missing, or is buried deep under surface is the most important bit:

I love music and I have some ideas I’d really love to explore by recording them.

When this is the objective, rather than knowing how the differences between HW and SW compressors affect a mix, you focus on the song, and along the way, come up against various challenges, that you then research to develop a solution and move on. This happens over time, but it’s less of an ‘issue’ because you’re having fun making music and learning along the way.

I to am in my mid 40’s, and I too hate reading manuals, so I play, I experiment, within the song to work out what does what. If I really can’t work something out, then I read the manual or ask on this forum, but it’s always done in a just enough kind of a way, that allows me to move on and keep making music. For example:

I’m recording a guitar amp with an SM57, all I need to know is how the get the sound into my DAW, and monitor the output. That’s it. I don’t need to know how all of the rest of the features work on the interface. Do I like sound I recorded? No? Then research why, possible issues: did I get the sound I wanted in the room, is the type of mic I chose right, is my Mic placement right or can I change it...etc...

Working this way takes time, but it’s fun and you get the experience (my journey has been at least 30 years doing this) you make your first song, produce it, then listen to it, and you start to notice: that sound crap, how do I improve that bit, that sounds good, what did I do...?

The response to these questions usually leads to experimentation with technique and as budget allows new kit. You may consider in this example an amp modeller. You may be sat there considering the merits of whether that technology was ‘good enough’ I’d be sat there not giving a sh!t about that nonsense, and playing with it to see if it got me closer to the sound in my head....and then reviewing the result in my song.....

I hope you get my point. Stop worrying about all that crap and make some music!! Best way to learn - have fun!!!!!
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Re: Room Acoustics for the common man

Postby Kwackman » Sun May 17, 2020 9:50 am

Dolmetscher007 wrote: At first, I thought I really need to learn every nook and cranny of Logic Pro X. Then I saw some videos and read some articles that fed me a lot of viewpoints on how native stock plugins are garbage and if I ever want to get a a cohesive and smooth mix, a hybrid DAW + analog outboard gear is how it's done.

Another opinion for you....
I don't think ANYONE knows every nook and cranny of Logic, because no-one needs to know this! Initially you only need to know the basics to get some music recorded. Then as you get used to it, you will naturally explore other bits that are going to be useful to you.
If someone can't get a professional quality mix out of Logic with it's stock plug-ins, no amount of "boutique" plug-ins/hardware isn't going to fix that!
Over the decades I have fallen for buying "THE" software eq or compressor that will change my mixes into masterpieces. They didn't!
Logic is great, it's plug-ins are great. Your interface is very capable of quality recordings. You have better quality and more facilities in there than any of your favourite artists in the 60s and 70s could have dreamed of!

Dolmetscher007 wrote: I just want to step off the merry-go-round that audio can easily become, and build a solid... physics-based, relatively "future-proof" understanding of audio.

Why?
When you learn all this stuff, what's next?
What's your goal?

Is it to make music?
Then I agree with Jaminem.

jaminem wrote:Stop worrying about all that crap and make some music!! Best way to learn - have fun!!!!!
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Re: Room Acoustics for the common man

Postby Mike Stranks » Sun May 17, 2020 10:56 am

An old sweat writes...

I've been involved in audio semi-professionally for over 45 years.

There are vast swathes of theory - and practice - that are alien to me, because I've never needed to know them for what I do.

I'm still learning, but always as a direct result of "I need to do this; I must find out how to do it."

As for plug-ins, I've only ever bought one. There's a vast range of them that are part of my DAW that I never use anyway - admittedly in my somewhat narrow field of previous and current operations.
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Re: Room Acoustics for the common man

Postby CS70 » Sun May 17, 2020 11:07 am

Dolmetscher007 wrote:My house is not large... but it is mine! I have watched dozens of videos on acoustic room treatment, and I have even built false floors, rooms within a room, and Willy-Wonka-style angled walls with Owens Corning panels and defusers. But, even after owning tons of books on acoustics and "How to Build a Recording Studio," I have to admit... hands up and vulnerable... I don't know what I am doing when it comes to room acoustics treatment.

I DO... however... know how to use a computer and CAD, like a mu'fu'g'er. So... can anybody tell me how I can take a meticulously accurate 3D model and/or 2-d layout of my "home studio space" and have someone that DOES know... tell me what the F to do?

Acoustics is "one of these things" where the basics are not difficult and can be used to get you 80% of the way (or at least to where you can decide whether or not spend more money and time), but the variables are so many and interact in so many ways that the remaining 20% is incredibly hard to pin down and 100% predictability is practically unattainable.

Actually most things worth doing are like that. Perfection exists only in mathematics - and even there there's already mr. Godel raising his hand.

Forget CAD and other stuff. They will not give you any particular more success than:;

- understanding the (not quite so difficult) principles and practical methods;
- applying them to get to the (not quite so perfect) best room treatment you can (the 80%);
- and then decide if you want to be a professional studio (and spend a lot of money and time to crawl over the remaining 20%, knowing you will never reach perfection), or not.
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Re: Room Acoustics for the common man

Postby Eddy Deegan » Sun May 17, 2020 11:18 am

Nobody learned to swim by reading a book about it ;)

I echo the above sentiments. Learn by doing, and fall back to reading if and when you need to in order to solve a real problem you've encountered that you can't fix by experimentation, trial and error alone.

Also, for some problems even if you understand the basics it makes more sense to get someone involved whose made it their job to know how to solve them. Electricians and Acoustic Consultants spring to mind.
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Re: Room Acoustics for the common man

Postby blinddrew » Sun May 17, 2020 12:57 pm

But if you do want a structered approach I'd recommend Mike Senior's books Recording Secrets for the Small Studio and the companion Mixing Secrets.
In terms of acoustics, the best way of doing it is to find a decent acoustician and give them some money for the benefit of their experience. They won't be cheap, but a) nothing good ever is, and b) if you're thinking of spending any serious cash then it's definitely worth doing this because it's one of those things where a single mistake or misunderstanding can completely undermine what you're trying to achieve.
If you're not thinking of going down that route then I'd recommend doing a search on here for 'Studio SOS' articles and settling in for a good read. For one thing you get to have a nosy at loads of other people's spaces! :)
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Re: Room Acoustics for the common man

Postby blinddrew » Sun May 17, 2020 12:58 pm

Oh yes, and don't forget this amazing resource: https://www.soundonsound.com/forum/view ... 16&t=26779
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Re: Room Acoustics for the common man

Postby MOF » Sat May 23, 2020 5:02 pm

I would love to hear more about your... back story.
Hi Dolmetscher007 I agree with what others have said here. I think you’re trying to get everything perfect before you start re acoustics and not putting in the time on Logic.
I did Physics up to A level and it’s a good grounding for many aspects of home studio recording but I don’t feel the need to research every last aspect of acoustics, electronics and programming.
I’m first and foremost a songwriter and buy what I need to get close (very close these days, thanks to Logic and virtual instruments) to what I hear in my head. Plus I’ve subscribed to industry magazines over the years including SOS for information. It doesn’t come all at once and does require effort, in my case when I simultaneously moved from Cubase/Atari to Logic/Mac (see below), it was a steep learning curve at a time when there were no YouTube videos or helpful forums.
I started out with a twin track tape machine and did sound on sound overdubbing, I moved on to four track recording with a very basic mixer and Shure SM58 mic’ and used the twin track for delays/echoes and mastered onto cassette.
Then onto Pro24, then Cubase midi sequencing on the Atari1040 and finally Logic on the Mac, initially synchronised with a 16 track Fostex E16 through a Seck, then later a Soundcraft mixer and finally just using the added audio capabilities of Logic.
When it was a separate mixer recorder etc setup I had various outboard reverbs, compressor plus synths and a DAT recorder for mixdown and somehow when I came back to a song it always sounded different to the last time. Logic, with its built in synths, effects, mixer etc and AUTOMATION are fantastic, the instant recall of everything is as I remember it from the last time I was working on that track. I couldn’t go back to lots of separate bits of kit.
You never got back to me on what setup you were planning to use the 1176LN with. It would require a mic’ preamp, a recorder and mixer to go with it and cost a good deal more than your Logic studio if you needed two or more of them. You did say you were going to get rid of Logic in that post.
If you think the 1176LN will be a magic ingredient then you’d be better off hiring one initially to try out after the mic preamp or as a line level insert in Logic. I still think if you’ve got the budget for one it would be better spent getting one to one help from a Logic tutor if you don’t get on with on-line courses.
If you’re being swayed by non Logic plugins then try out their (typically 14 day) demo’s.
I like the UAD plugins and the BX Focusrite Console but if I didn’t have them it wouldn’t stop me from getting a good sound. Logic has very good plugins and I use them.
I hope this helps you to get on with making music using Logic.
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Re: Room Acoustics for the common man

Postby Dolmetscher007 » Sun May 24, 2020 8:39 pm

Thank you all, really, for responding to this thread. I appreciate all the help I can get. A common theme that I'm recognizing in a lot of your responses is that I should stop trying to learn a lot of stuff, and just start doing it. So, I thought I might clarify a few things having to do with that idea.

I am absolutely, "just doing it." I don't think a day has passed in several months where I haven't opened Logic Pro X and done some form of tracking, mixing, or signal processing with plugins. I also do a fair amount of tutorial following on YouTube. Some of the "Experts" on YouTube are clickbait and snake oil salesmen just trying to get people to watch as long as they can by promising amazing "tricks" or "secrets" that they conveniently save until the end of the video, when they reveal some goofy $200 plugin you have to buy in order to perform their "secret trick." But there are also a load of great tutorials out there on YouTube, and I am in the process of watching and following them all.

In just the past two months, I have absolutely gone from frustrated permanent-n00bie to being able to track super solid guitar and bass guitar tracks with good levels and gain staging. I have learned tons about using busses to add signal processing to multiple tracks at once, and my mixes are already coming together in a way that I honestly never thought possible at home. Hell... I wish there were some way I could share some of my mixes just so you guys could critique them, or download and "fix them" as part of a learning experience. But I am extremely proud of how far I have come.

The reason I keep posting on here looking for help with things like room acoustics, is because there are some areas where I simply never will be able to just, "get out there and do it." Room acoustics is one of those things. Sure, I can clap my hands in the middle of a room and listen for certain audible phenomenon, but I don't have something like a legendary recording studio nearby where I can walk in, clap, and hear what it is "supposed" to sound like.

I used to work in marketing, and one of the industries I worked with was the wine industry. I'd gone to culinary school across Europe in my 20s, so I ended up teaching lots of cooking classes and wine tastings/pairings as a tool to market high end wines to fancy clients. I used to get all kinds of questions like, "What is the best wine in the world?... Which is better, Wine A or Wine B?... Which wine am I supposed to cook with?... etc." So, I am very well acquainted with the human desire to be told what to think when confronted with a highly subjective thing like tasting wine or listening to audio. That is not what I am doing.

I want to know things like...
  • Without having to waste a lot of time and money building skyline style diffusers, realistically, what should be my diffused surface to absorption panel ratio?
  • Where to place diffusion vs absorption?
  • Would it be better for me to position my mixing desk so that a wall is directly at my back, and I am looking out into the room, or turn it around so that the wall is directly behind my Mackie HR624 near-field monitors?
So yeah, while, in the end... sure... it does all come down to, "you like what you like." But there is also a treasure trove of information out there that I want to learn. As I am learning, I will begin to figure out what I actually do like along the way. The is the idea anyway.
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Re: Room Acoustics for the common man

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun May 24, 2020 9:33 pm

Dolmetscher007 wrote:In just the past two months, I have absolutely gone from frustrated permanent-n00bie to being able to track super solid guitar and bass guitar tracks with good levels and gain staging. I have learned tons about using busses to add signal processing to multiple tracks at once, and my mixes are already coming together in a way that I honestly never thought possible at home. Hell... I wish there were some way I could share some of my mixes just so you guys could critique them, or download and "fix them" as part of a learning experience. But I am extremely proud of how far I have come.

Posting tracks on here for critique is just a matter of putting them up on soundcloud or youtube and posting a link (the forum doesn't host content for various reasons)

The reason I keep posting on here looking for help with things like room acoustics, is because there are some areas where I simply never will be able to just, "get out there and do it." Room acoustics is one of those things. Sure, I can clap my hands in the middle of a room and listen for certain audible phenomenon, but I don't have something like a legendary recording studio nearby where I can walk in, clap, and hear what it is "supposed" to sound like.

Fairly dead without sounding dull is a good starting point (or a lovely rich, mellifluous reverb if you are lucky enough to have a huge room)

I used to work in marketing, and one of the industries I worked with was the wine industry. I'd gone to culinary school across Europe in my 20s, so I ended up teaching lots of cooking classes and wine tastings/pairings as a tool to market high end wines to fancy clients. I used to get all kinds of questions like, "What is the best wine in the world?... Which is better, Wine A or Wine B?... Which wine am I supposed to cook with?... etc." So, I am very well acquainted with the human desire to be told what to think when confronted with a highly subjective thing like tasting wine or listening to audio. That is not what I am doing.

I want to know things like...
  • Without having to waste a lot of time and money building skyline style diffusers, realistically, what should be my diffused surface to absorption panel ratio?
  • Where to place diffusion vs absorption?
  • Would it be better for me to position my mixing desk so that a wall is directly at my back, and I am looking out into the room, or turn it around so that the wall is directly behind my Mackie HR624 near-field monitors?
So yeah, while, in the end... sure... it does all come down to, "you like what you like." But there is also a treasure trove of information out there that I want to learn. As I am learning, I will begin to figure out what I actually do like along the way. The is the idea anyway.

The usual answer his ⅓ absorption and ⅓ diffusion but that assumes a reasonably large room. I have a small room, 4 x 4 metres, and am planning to add some more broad band absorbers which will bring me up to 25% wall and ceiling coverage. The room sounds pretty good with 15% at present but certain areas are still a bit live when tracking with mics.

Forget diffusion in s small room unless you are very keen, if you can get the mirror points covered (ceiling, side walls and back wall) that will massively improve your mixing environment and for tracking pretty dead is the way to go in a small room (I'm adding more absorbers around the small drum kit, maybe 50% in the immediate vicinity).

Desk and monitors are usually placed with the listening position facing the wall, the wall behind the monitors is a source of early reflections so needs some treatment. Don't end up sitting in the exact centre of the room or you'll have massive bass anomalies, IIRC, I've seen a listening position about 40% into the room quoted as having the most even bass response.

As you say all this info is out there if you spend the time but, as you've discovered, it can be hard to sort the wheat from the chaff.
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Re: Room Acoustics for the common man

Postby blinddrew » Sun May 24, 2020 9:38 pm

Have a look for the master handbook of acoustics.
https://www.amazon.co.uk/Master-Handboo ... th=1&psc=1 As recommended by Dr Robjohns.
It's a weighty tome, and not what you might call a page turner, but I read it before starting on my studio and found it well worthwhile.
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