You’ve got your interface and computer to run your studio. And you’ve even bought some premium plugins.
You’re pulling up up DAW and while it’s loading, you’re getting your guitar or instrument setup so that you can record that idea you’ve been playing for the past two weeks.
It sounds like you have everything in place, right? But there’s one thing you may not have thought about. And this is often overlooked in home recording studios…
The acoustics and room treatment!
In this post, you’re going to get a complete beginner’s guide to acoustics and room treatment. That’s right, we’re going to show you everything you need to make sure you can get the ultimate mix in your studio.
Why Acoustics and Room Treatment Are Important
The room you’re recording will have more influence on your sound and production than anything else. In fact, it’s like the difference in having a high-end monitor versus crappy ones.
So you don’t want your studio room to be the weakest link when it comes to mixing and music production.
You can watch the video here where pro audio engineer Ken and co-owner of Metal Mastermind talks about acoustics and room treatment.
However, I encourage you to continue reading this post as you’ll get even more details about setting up your studio room to ensure you’re getting a premium sound.
How Your Studio Room Impacts Your Sound
Think about the last time you moved into a new place, whether it’s a house or apartment, or just renting a room from a friend. You were probably moving a bed, a sofa, a heavy dresser, and, of course, what seemed like 1,000 boxes of stuff.
And, yes, moving sucks, so I don’t mean to bring back bad memories here…lol!
Now, think about when you (and hopefully your buddies who were helping you move) placed those furniture items on the floor and moving them around. Do you remember the sounds that created?
Those sounds are determined by that specific room. And there several elements to factor in here, such as:
- The type of material the walls are made of
- The room size (which we’ll talk about next!)
- The type of flooring
- How much cloth furniture is already in the room and where it’s placed
All of these can (and will) impact what you hear coming from your studio monitors. The frequencies and how your ears interpret them are altered based on your room.
Materials You Need for Acoustics and Room Treatment
Now let’s dive into some practical things you can do to make your home recording studio sound better. The cool thing is that it’s really not that complicated, and not overly expensive.
And for the most part, you can DIY for room treatment. You just need a few materials and basic tools.
Here are some options you can consider for room treatment in your studio:
- Acoustic foam (not just any foam, but acoustic foam)
- Mineral wool
- You can buy premade acoustic treatment and paneling from most any music equipment store or online
Using acoustic foam is the cheapest way to treat your room. However, that only takes care of high frequencies. It doesn’t help much with those mid and low frequencies (low frequencies are often the biggest issue for mixing).
One of the best ways to treat your room is with mineral wool insulation (also referred to as Rockwool).
Here’s how to do it:
- Place the panels mineral wool insulation onto the walls in your studio
- Cover the mineral wool with canvas (you have to cover mineral wool with something as it will flake off)
- Cover the canvas-covered parts of the wall with pinewood (the pinewood will offset the unpleasant sounds and frequencies that come from having sheetrock)
This is a fairly easy and inexpensive way to treat your room.
The more expensive option would be to buy a pre-made acoustic treatment solution for your room. These are often sold as paneling that you can place on your studio room walls.
The only thing with buying premade acoustic paneling is to make sure you’re getting good material. Do your research on this before buying it!
Home Studio Room Size Matters
With acoustic treatment comes the importance of assessing the room size of your studio. That leads us to a discussion about getting the appropriate studio monitors.
Studio monitors are broken down into three types:
- Nearfield monitors
- Midfield monitors
- Farfield monitors
In short, if you’re recording music in a small bedroom, which is where many home studios are formed, you don’t need giant monitors. That’s only going to hinder your ability to get a good mix and cost your more money than you need to spend.
Likewise, if you have a larger room for your home recording studio, you can’t rely on just a pair of small-sized monitors. You’re probably going to need to invest in all three types of monitors for a premium sound and mixing capabilities.
You also have to factor in where you will be listening to your mixes in regards to the size of the room.
- Are you going to be up close to your monitors in a small room? Something like 5″ monitors will probably suffice.
- If you’re in a larger area, you’re more than likely listening from a little further away from your studio monitors. This is where having larger and different types of monitors will come in handy, given that your room is acoustically treated properly.
And, of course, regardless of the size of your studio, the room treatment we just discussed will play a huge role in how you interpret the sound coming from your monitors.
If all this is starting to sound complicated, don’t worry (or for you guitar players, don’t fret!).
At the end of the post, there will be a short easy-to-follow recap of everything you need for your studio room treatment!
Absorption in Your Studio Room
We need to now breakdown the elements of your room, such as windows, closets, and the shape of your room. The Jason Stallworth studio is a good example of this, and here’s what was done to treat those areas:
- A blackout curtain was placed over the window (this is a heavy material that not only blocks the sun and heat coming in from that direction, but also serves as sound treatment)
- A heavy curtain was placed over the closet doors
- The room has one little nook that leads out, so the studio desk placed a little off-centered on the opposite wall, which helped create better mixes and interpretation of frequencies
By no means are these perfect, but this is just to show you that there are little things that you can do to help. Depending on your room you will have to play around to see how sound absorbs throughout your room. Because every room can present its own challenges.
For that reason, there’s a video below that you can watch that goes in-depth of treatment a small studio room that has some interesting nuances.
Appropriate Studio Equipment for Your Room
Now that you understand acoustics and room treatment more, let’s talk briefly about the appropriate gear. The studio equipment you buy should be determined by two things:
- Your goals (what you truly need to accomplish them)
- Your room, mainly the size
We’ve already talked about getting the right type of studio monitors for your room. That’s the most important part.
But what about things like your interface, microphones, and amplifiers? It’s important to assess your room for that stuff, too.
In other words, if your studio is in a small 10 x 10 bedroom, you probably don’t want a bulky half stack Mesa or EVH in there. Not only is it going to take up too much space, but it may be difficult to get a good recording in such a small space. Plugins or processors may be a better option.
Or if you have a larger room but do not have the means to build a proper vocal booth, getting a super expensive condenser mic may not be the best choice because it’s going to pick up a lot of room noise. You may be better off using a dynamic mic for vocals, like the Shure SM7B, especially if you’re doing extreme vocals. This may be the same case for smaller rooms.
These are just some additional things to think about when it comes to room size and room treatment. You can learn more about getting awesome recordings in your home studio by reading our post: The Golden Rule of Recording.
Recap of Acoustics and Room Treatment
As promised earlier, here’s a quick recap of the things you need to know to treat your home recording studio room:
- First, realize that room treatment plays a crucial part in how you interpret frequencies, which will impact your mixing and music production
- Consider putting up acoustic treatment on the walls in your studio
- You can DIY or buy acoustic paneling
- Assess the size of your studio room to get the appropriate size studio monitors
- Consider your room size when buying other studio gear
We truly hope that this information helps you! That’s what Metal Mastermind is all about!
Please support us by sharing this post.
Ken & Jason