The space

The space you listen in is just as important as the speakers. There are many different types of acoustic spaces, and if you want to get the best out of your space you should try to understand the relevant acoustic properties. Spaces generally have three broad properties that you should pay attention to:

  • The size and shape of the space
  • The surface coverings
  • The placement of objects within the space

Size and shape

The size and shape of the studio are a critical factor in determining the general acoustic character of the room. Parallel walls create standing waves, which skew the native frequency response of the room. Unfortunately, most rooms have several parallel walls! The more square a room is, the greater the problems with standing waves. Larger rooms have standing waves at lower frequencies, which interfers less with the audible audio range. Conversely, smaller rooms have standing waves at higher frequencies, which interfers more with the audible audio range. The ideal size is a trade-off, however, because larger rooms bring other problems, such as reverberation.  Also, the ideal room shape wouldn’t have any parallel walls, but you might have to settle for less if you’re not in a position to design a new room (or inherit a previously-designed acoustic room)

Surface coverings

The type and arrangement of surface coverings will affect the reverberation characteristics of the room. Uneven surfaces (such as bookshelves) will “break up” the reflections and make the  reverberation smoother (which is less distracting). Soft surfaces (such as foam or fabric) will absorb sound and reduce the reverberation time and level. Again, correct treatment of surfaces is a trade-off. Too much absorption will makes the room sound dead and unnartural, which may encourage you to create mixes that are more dense and washed out.

Placement of objects

The placement of objects within the space also affects the sound of the room. Large objects can help absorb lower frequencies that surface coverings can’t absorb. This can be used to make the room less boomy. Objects can also diffuse the reflections in the room, helping to make the reverberation smoother.

-Kim.

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  1. I love this blog! You have a gift for keeping things succinct, to the point, and understandable without oversimplifying. It’s just enough :)

    Thanks for sharing this great information!! – Rich

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