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Box room problem or benefit?

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Box room problem or benefit?

Postby Gmonics22 » Wed Nov 13, 2019 11:26 pm

Hi All,

I'm getting back into music making after a long hiatus as I finally have some space in a new home, and am looking for a little advice on choosing the right room for my hobby studio. I have 2 options, neither of which are ideal but I'm trying to come up with a plan...

Room 1 - 10'x11' rectangle
Room 2 - 7'6"x8'9"(into L-shape with an open storage area
Ceilings are around 9'

I want to use monitors as I've tried mixing for years on headphones and just can't get on with it, too upfront and claustrophobic for me, and I find them very fatiguing on the ears. My music is all electronic, produced in-the-box, using Live. Not bass heavy dance floor fillers, more subtle, detailed stuff, and I don't tend to mix too loud. Even so, with such small, untreated rooms I don't think my existing 8" monitors will be a good idea! I'm looking at a few 5" options but not really after speaker recommendations...

I'm more interested in which room people think would be better. Specifically - would the slightly irregular shape of the smaller room be a help or and hinderance acoustically? I thought the bigger room would be better initially, I'm having doubts and think it might need more treatment.

Any thought's greatly appreciated,

Thanks!
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Re: Box room problem or benefit?

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Nov 14, 2019 12:15 am

Gut feeling go for the bigger room, symmetry around the mix position helps stereo imaging, bigger room means more room for effective acoustic treatment and, with the right monitors is likely to be better. But, as I think you are thinking, the L shape part may be something that alters the low frequency nodes that are inevitable in a small room so how big is it?

WRT monitors, I have come very close to buying some Neumann KH120s on several occasions but have pulled back each time 'cos I don't do enough recording/mixing and my present monitors (Kef 104aB's) are actually pretty good.
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Re: Box room problem or benefit?

Postby Gmonics22 » Thu Nov 14, 2019 12:30 am

Floorplan for reference:

https://imgur.com/TRGownY

Thanks for the reply Sam Spoons - yep thinking the same re: symmetry vs room mode problems, this is my dilemma!

I'm not spending big on monitors this time round, as I'm really just a hobbyist so getting perfect translatable mixes isn't essential fortunately - and I accept it ain't gonna happen in these rooms - but want to make the best of what I've got.
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Re: Box room problem or benefit?

Postby Music Wolf » Thu Nov 14, 2019 8:23 am

Bedroom 3 on your plan - in addition to being the smallest and least symmetrical there's also the added problem of the off centre window position which could limit your layout options.

I'd go for the bigger, more symmetrical, room. It may be almost a cube (11' x 10' x 9') but it's not the smallest space that we hobbyists have to work in.

Rockwool will be your friend
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Re: Box room problem or benefit?

Postby blinddrew » Thu Nov 14, 2019 8:38 am

A third recommendation for the 10x11 here.
They may still be outside your budget but you can pick up a pair of Neumann KH80s for £700 now...
But you'd probably be better spending less on monitors and allocating a couple of hundred to room treatment.
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Re: Box room problem or benefit?

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Nov 14, 2019 10:43 am

Yup, deffo Bedroom #2* and decide how much you can afford to spend on acoustic treatment then double it ;) DIY will save you about 40% over Gik Acoustics panels (they can supply the covering fabric for a very reasonable price). Don't just buy a pack of foam tiles, the more reputable manufacturers products are ok but the budget stuff does very little. Rockwool based panels are significantly more effective.

Is the LH wall a party wall (i.e. is the house semi-detached)? That would be he only potential issue I can see with noise to and from the neighbours possibly being a problem.

https://www.gikacoustics.com
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Re: Box room problem or benefit?

Postby Wonks » Thu Nov 14, 2019 11:11 am

Bedroom layouts (without having to use the link).

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Re: Box room problem or benefit?

Postby Music Wolf » Thu Nov 14, 2019 11:34 am

Does the geological fault line running through bedrooms 2 & 3 raise any concerns :bouncy:




Oh, is that my coat?
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Re: Box room problem or benefit?

Postby Gmonics22 » Thu Nov 14, 2019 3:08 pm

Music Wolf wrote:Does the geological fault line running through bedrooms 2 & 3 raise any concerns :bouncy:




Oh, is that my coat?

Oh no good point, surely that should've been mentioned on the survey?! :lol:

Thanks for all the input folks, lots of useful info. I hear you on the treatment front and ideally I'd be going whole-hog, but the bigger room may be needed for something else in the nearish future so will have to weigh things up. Moving in this weekend so will try a few setups in the coming weeks and see how it goes. I'll end up with about 4 sets of speakers in the house from floorstanders to a sub/sat system, plus the car and tv, so at least I'll have plenty to check mixes on!

Cheers all :thumbup:
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Re: Box room problem or benefit?

Postby Sam Spoons » Thu Nov 14, 2019 3:51 pm

Acoustic treatment doesn't preclude using the room for another purpose. Half a dozen broadband absorbers and a couple of corner bass traps will go a long way to making the mix environment very usable and, while they might look like an unusual choice of decor, they don't look out of place in an office or even a bedroom.

Image

My room is, obviously, a dedicated music room/studio but it would easily make a good office or workroom with minimal effort.
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Re: Box room problem or benefit?

Postby Gmonics22 » Thu Nov 14, 2019 6:12 pm

The proposed future use is a for my other half to have a space in the house that is exclusively her domain, for activities and with decor dictated entirely by her. I'll already have the lounge and a seperate office full of my toys, so a little sanctuary for her to read, draw and yoga in peace doesn't seem like an unreasonable request :lol:
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Re: Box room problem or benefit?

Postby blinddrew » Thu Nov 14, 2019 7:43 pm

We've just taken that approach, definitely a wise course of action if you can do it. :)
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Re: Box room problem or benefit?

Postby Gmonics22 » Sun Jan 26, 2020 10:53 pm

Hello Folks.

Firstly thanks for the advice you've already given, I ended up in the odd shaped room unfortunately which was a bit of a squeeze and had some issues with a bass null around 60hz but I was making it work. Sadly circumstances have now changed and I've had to move into what would otherwise be a dining room so I'm looking for some more advice if you'll indulge me...

Dimensions are 7'3" wide, 10'11" long, 7'5" ceiling. It's completely untreated and bare at the mo, and it has a pretty horrendous resonance around 130hz which basically makes my kicks sound like they're running through a very intense short delay & metallic reverb!

I'm hoping some bass traps in the corners and panels on the walls will help, but don't really know where to start and don't want to shell out on heaps of stuff to get no results.

Any thoughts really greatly appreciated!

Cheers :)
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Re: Box room problem or benefit?

Postby Sam Spoons » Sun Jan 26, 2020 11:01 pm

Start off by hanging some duvets off mic stands at the mirror points (you'll struggle to do the ceiling that way though) and see how much the sound improves (and it will improve.....) then have a look at my previous post.
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Re: Box room problem or benefit?

Postby Gmonics22 » Mon Jan 27, 2020 10:54 am

Thanks again Sam I've only the duvet I sleep with and no mic stands unfortunately, but overnight I've pretty much settled on making some treatment.

By my calcs I can make 12 panels , 2ft x 4ft using 100mm Rockwool for not much money. I'm flexible on placement but thinking best use would be 2 of them to cover floor to ceiling across each corner and then experiment with the other 4. Only restriction is really the ceiling as it's artexed and I don't want to disturb that asbestos if I can avoid it! Good start?

PS my brain was a bit fuzzed last night... the celings are actually 8'2" and the problem resonance is at 200hz. Assuming the Rockwool is going to be best to deal with that.

Cheers all :)
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Re: Box room problem or benefit?

Postby Folderol » Mon Jan 27, 2020 11:37 am

The usual recommendation with artexed ceilings, is to put 9.5mm plasterboard over them - using screws, not nails so pretty much zero disturbance.
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Re: Box room problem or benefit?

Postby Gmonics22 » Fri Jan 31, 2020 2:41 pm

Update:

So I managed to source a couple of double duvets, and tried them in various locations held up by a precarious arrangement of dining room chairs, curtain poles, a mop and a broom. I consider this a rite of passage. Placing on the side walls to cover first reflections seemed to be the most effective, massively reducing my 200hz honk. Happy days!

Well, this has created a dilemma. Before last night I'd settled on building 4 panels from 100mm Rockwool, 2 for first reflections 120cm x 80cm, and 2 at 240cm x 40cm to sttaddle the front corners. But I'm now wondering if this would be worth the effort and cost - even though I'm more than happy to do this if the results are much better, not least aesthetically!

My main wondering I'm hoping someone can help with as you've been great so far, is this: Is it possible that the duvets could actually perform better, as although they are nowhere near as dense, the coverage is far greater than I'd get from panels and my understanding is that in small room coverage is especially important.

Appreciate this is a complex science that I'm barely getting to grips with, but any insights really much appreciated!

Cheers :)
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Re: Box room problem or benefit?

Postby Sam Spoons » Fri Jan 31, 2020 2:52 pm

It is very complex but now you have convinced yourself of the benefits go to it, you can always add additional panels as time and budget allow. Received wisdom is that around ⅓ of the walls and ceiling covered with broad band absorbers (or bass traps) is about optimum, (ideally with another third covered with diffusion but in a small room decent diffusers take up a lot of space*).

* I have less than 1/3rd and no diffusion but my room sounds reasonably well balanced and free from too much dodgy 'small room' ambience. I may get around to posting a brief recording sometime.
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Re: Box room problem or benefit?

Postby blinddrew » Fri Jan 31, 2020 3:53 pm

A lot of it comes down to what you can live with. If you're happy with a couple of duvets being up all the time (or with the putupandtakedown routine), then the performance gain for the cost of a couple of cheap mic stands and duvets is hard to beat.
But...
Corner traps and mineral wool will extend the efficacy of your control in the low end.
So if you don't mind the aesthetics, duvets at mirror points and mineral wool across the corners might give you your best bang for buck.
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Re: Box room problem or benefit?

Postby Gmonics22 » Thu Feb 06, 2020 10:37 pm

Update:

So after lots of research I have constructed 2 broadband absorbers. 4' x 4' of 100mm RWA45 in wooden frames, with a breathable cotton covering. Experimented with placing them straddling the front wall corners (no difference) first reflection points (no difference) and back wall (no difference).

Feeling kind of defeated at this point. I wasn't expecting anything near a perfect room, but I have seen literally no improvement whatsoever. The honk is still overpowering everything. And now I have two giant turquoise monoliths mocking me while I cry at my desk, which now smells like a builders merchants. Time to give up or double down and make another 2? A happy accident at Travis Perkins gifted me another 4 slabs of Rockwool, which they don't want back. Little victories...
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