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greg54

audio in home studio sounds bad

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, Cactus Music said:

If you look at what people use in "real" studios" for near fields you do not see brands like Presonus or KRK. 

You do see Yamaha's, Auratone, Genelec , Meyer, JBL and others.  

Music stores tend to push certain brands and if the price is right there will be a lot of people using those brands therefore a lot of good reviews by amature users.  But you won't find that stuff in a real studio.  Not saying you need the top of the line gear to make good recordings but you do need to be aware of what it is your compromising and learn how to adjust your expectations.  I don't think you need to spend any money, You just need to know how your speakers translate to the real world. Having something like the Yamaha's just makes this easier. And they do still make very similar versions of the NSM 10 in an updated powered version  https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/HS8--yamaha-hs8-8-inch-powered-studio-monitor-black   

Thanks!  I will check into them.

 

10 hours ago, Tezza said:

 

The gen 1's are square, the gen 2's have screws on the front, the gen 3's have no screws on the front and both high and low frequency adjustment on the back. You should get a good sound out of them in your situation although if I had that set up, I would probably lookout for some HS8's or even HS7's, I see Adam's around as well, would like to try those. I tend to buy a lot of secondhand gear because there is a lot of it about, if I don't like it, I just on sell it, mostly at a profit or no loss.  These models are popularly found going around the second hand places. I would stay away from the HS5's (too bass thin) and the HS series in general can have popping issues when you turn them on/off so look out for that, it can be annoying, I had HS5's, one popped the other didn't. They were terrible for my situation.

The Rokits have that circuitry, I just leave them turned on at the back and they get turned on or off from the wall, no popping or funny noises.

After trying numerous monitors over the years, I came to the conclusion that for my uses, a 6 inch is the minimum size I can go, normally, I wouldn't look at a monitor under 6 inches but my current situation means the 5's will have to do, although there is a 6 inch version at a very good price in my region available, I may end up getting it.

Definately in your situation, I wouldn't go below a 6 inch monitor.

I have Gen 3's.   I also leave them on, plugged into a power conditioner.  When i turn it on, they're automatically on.   Very slight popping though.  My old room was small, so the 5" speakers were fine.  But now that my room is 12.5" x 12.5", I could use an upgrade.

Scook:   Maybe 8" speakers would work better for me in a 12x12 room.

7 hours ago, Steve Leverich said:

Assuming your ceiling is 8', the only WORSE combination would be if it were 12' ALSO - I'm not sure ANY amount of "treatment" could make that size/shape room sound OK. Here's a really simple spreadsheet I wrote about 20 years ago, it only does axial modes - I've entered your dim's into it and assumed 8' ceiling. A decent sounding room (rectangular) would have a steadily increasing height of the bars from left to right, with NO TWO being the SAME height - all those equal height bars mean that your axial modes are "bunching up" and creating peaks in response of the room.

The picture is what your room (again, assuming 8' ceiling) would look like; I've also included the spreadsheet I used so you can play with some other dimensions - just enter L, W, H values in the upper left corner, just below those letters. Try dimensions that are NOT evenly divisible by each other until you get a fairly smooth rise from left to right. If you don't have Excel, you can get Libre Office for free, here   https://www.libreoffice.org/

Bottom line, it's no wonder to me your headphones sound better than ANY speakers would... Steve (AKA "knightfly")

Oh, almost forgot - can you explain more what/how/where your treatments are? the more detail, the better...

 

RoomTuneBad.jpg

roomtune.xls

Thanks, Steve!  I appreciate this.   My ceilings are 8'.    And I have Excel.

Edited by greg54

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Here's a couple of pics of my room.   I've added a few more panels.

room.jpg

room2.jpg

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What does "treated" mean?  Broadband bass traps and a combination of HF absorption and diffusion  or just some foam stuck on the wall?

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5 minutes ago, Byron Dickens said:

What does "treated" mean?  Broadband bass traps and a combination of HF absorption and diffusion  or just some foam stuck on the wall?

Are you saying it's not good enough?  I have looked at many home studios and have watched videos.   Mine is basically what they recommended.   

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Posted (edited)

OK, first off please do NOT take anything I say here as an attempt at being mean, bragging, cruel, etc; my only goal is to help - if you or anyone wants to learn I would strongly recommend you first go here -  http://johnlsayers.com/phpBB2/index.php  - and REGISTER - without registering (it's free) you won't be able to see any of the 1000's of pictures, uploaded files, etc -

I joined as a moderator in the construction forum in 2003, at John's invitation - spent about 4 years, typically 6-8 hours a day, til I finally realized I was helping everybody but ME get their dream... these days, most of the mods there are pretty knowledgable (and more up to date than I am, especially in newer ways of analyzing rooms) - specifically, I would listen to what "soundman2020" (Stuart) has to say...

Also, I realize this is a SOFTWARE board so don't wanna sidetrack things TOO much, so just some basics - but before you start, an easy way to verify that your ROOM is really the problem - take one of your recordings that sounds crappy on speakers but fine on headphones, find a way to make it AND your speakers/stands and anything that lets the speakers actually WORK; take that and YOU, OUTSIDE - set the speakers on their stands, maybe 5' apart, set your chair 5' from each speaker (equilateral triangle) - rotate each speaker so that, when you're sitting in your "mix" location outside, you can (without turning your head) sight down the INNER wall of each speaker - IOW, you should be able to place an imaginary board up against the inner wall of each speaker and it should hit you in the eye (left eye, left speaker, right eye, right speaker) - this puts your EARS centered on axis for the (more directional) tweeters, and should also be done IN the studio.

Now, play your recording - if it sounds noticeably better, it's time to fix your ROOM. This whole process is one version of the "scientific method", whose first tenet is to "only change ONE thing at a time before you test", or words to that effect. (if you can't do it outside, at least move that setup to as LARGE an area as you can find - any reflection that gets to your ears in about 20 milliseconds will add a "slap echo" to the sound - find an old elvis presley recording if you don't know what that sounds like) - Sound travels at roughly 1130 feet per second at sea level, so is delayed by just under 1 millisecond per foot of travel.

Assuming your speakers DID sound better outside -

1 - Stop listening to ANYONE who tells you ANY kind of foam is your friend - some of it will actually KILL you, either thru high flammability, noxious fumes, or both. Also, the minute anybody refers to "soundproofing" foam, RUN AWAY - the best even the more expensive foams (Auralex, for example) will do is handle highs/high mids somewhat.

2 - Randomly spaced, thin tiles of ANYTHING will only give you RANDOM spots in the room where things don't sound QUITE so bad - you need an actual PLAN - which should start with locating a source of rigid fiberglass or rockwool, in 3 PCF (pounds per cubic foot) density - if you do a search on "owens corning 703", it will bring up both glass and rockwool as options - they're very similar in absorption coefficients, so it's OK to shop PRICE.  Since the stuff typically sells "by the pound", just about anything you use it for can be done with the 2" thick blankets; just double/triple them where more thickness is needed (like corner bass traps)

3 - "the plan" - take down the foam, but don't toss it - you may wanna make a DIY version of this  https://www.sweetwater.com/store/detail/StuVocalKit1--se-electronics-reflexion-by-studio-vocal-kit-with-microphone-stand-cable-and-pop-filter - they do help some on cutting sibilance for voiceovers, etc - I literally "threw together" a plywood box about 18" on a side and 12" deep and put it behind my AT4033 condenser mic for voiceovers in a small room, the difference in clarity wasn't HUGE, but it was noticeable...

Once the foam's down, enlist a friend/helper - YOU sit at your intended mix position, speakers where they will be; have your helper slide a mirror along each wall (and ceiling), be sure the mirror is held FLAT against the surface) and mark start and end points in BOTH axes, of ANY location where you can look in that mirror and see EITHER SPEAKER - these are the positions (and sizes) of your First Reflection Points, and those will need an absorber panel. This is where your fiberglass panels need to go.  The ceiling may be sorta tricky without a ladder or step stool for your helper; the absorber in this location is referred to as a "cloud".  First reflection points include BEHIND you, so don't forget to turn around on your seat while marking absorber locations.

Bass traps - ANY corner is a good candidate for these, a lot of people forget wall-ceiling also works, doesn't take up floor space - bridging a corner with 4-6" of 703 (yes, it's fine to stack thinner pieces, hence the 2" recommendation) will work well.

Before you even take down any foam, you should find a way of analyzing the room at each step for comparison - again, Stuart on John's site should be able to guide you on "today" ways of doing this, possibly even using your phone - I have an Android free app that does spectral analysis, but I'm not sure I'd rely on a phone mic for wide range stuff, I mostly use that for setting the tension on my metal-cutting bandsaw blades (think "Industrial duty guitar tuner" :=)  My calibrated mic and room software is so old (tech times moves MUCH faster than "human" time :=) that it quit working on WinXP, much less anything newer, but Stuart is still doing this so even I would ask HIM on such matters...

Well, I already lied about not getting too far astray, but hopefully this will help you on your OWN "path of enlightenment" - I spent at least 20 YEARS and several thousand $$$  on books studying,  but that was pre-internet mostly... Steve

Edited by Steve Leverich
Mis-typed AT4033
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Steve:  I didn't take your comments as being mean.  I took them as being helpful, and I appreciate it.   

When my wife came into my room the other day, she said it "smelled."   So when you mentioned the fumes can kill you, I thought I might take down the panels based on that alone.

The panels I have put up, though, have made a big difference, as far as echo and reverb are concerned.  But with the audio issues, noise, and now this, I may call it quits.   I don't have a lot of money, and it seems I'll have to keep spending.  And if acoustic panels aren't the answer, I don't know what is.

Thanks,

Greg

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3 hours ago, Steve Leverich said:

I would strongly recommend you first go here -  http://johnlsayers.com/phpBB2/index.php

I thoroughly endorse what Steve says here. My studio was built in a very small and not particularly great space, but with John's help and some careful planning with another member there, we ended up making a room which has seen a lot of work from mixing to mastering, that's held up internationally.

A good lot of stuff I assumed made sense turned out to be wrong, after really getting into how the sound moves around the room, phase cancellations, etc. These guys live and breathe home studio construction and set-up, and I'd say anyone working from a home studio would benefit by even lurking the forum for a couple of days, even without asking questions from the gurus there.

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Posted (edited)

Greg,  I see another vote from someone who's been there; thanks Tim, back in 1980 I had NO CLUE just how much I did NOT know, til I built a practice studio into one side of my 36x48 pole barn - I'd built a couple houses, a shop, couple wood sheds, etc, so thought I knew everything - so you can maybe imagine my frustration after building the practice studio "extra tight", then having my wife tell me she could hear everything I played on my acoustic piano from 100 feet away, INSIDE the house... lotta years and books later, and I've helped people worldwide build studios that their neighbors can't believe there's a metal band practicing in there :=)

Greg, don't despair - there are cheap to nearly free things you can do to improve on your situation, for (as Lord Tim put it,) "stuff I assumed made sense turned out to be wrong" -

First off, I should clarify my "fumes can kill you" comment - in my experience, it doesn't happen without flames being involved. A lot of that type material will outgas - I've breathed fumes from a few different products, like "memory foam" mattress covers, seat cushions, etc, and it didn't affect me (honest, I wuz ALWAYS this way :=)) - but there HAVE been cases of clubs catching fire from pyrotechnics, and some people dying from inhalation if not the burns...

One thing that will likely ease or eliminate the smell problem is if you can open a window, put a fan or two blowing around the room, and leave the door to the rest of the house closed for a few days; usually less than a week will do it. Then, as long as you don't stay in the studio while the house burns down it should be a non-issue.

Next, puhLEEZE try to do the "outside" experiment, or at least in a larger part of the house where there's more dispersal - you MUST know if "you're even hacking on the right tree with that dull butter knife"...

Next, I need to know your APPROXIMATE location (nearest state is fine) so I know what materials NOT to bother suggesting -

Then, I need to know what your DIY abilities (both YOU and your tool availability) are so I know what you should be able to pull off - such as any carpentry/upholstery type things -

Lastly (for now) it would REALLY help if you could post a (sorta) scaled drawing of your room, including door(s), windows, closets, any odd shapes. Pics are fine, but do NOT show juxtaposition of things that may be acoustic problems.

This is all in the interest of getting you the biggest bang for the smallest buck, sorry if it seems intrusive - but I can tell by your Focusrite interface that you'd rather NOT settle for junk if there's a way to make things better; your help will GET you help... Steve

Edited by Steve Leverich
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Reiterating what has been said more than once already,  having an audio example would be  real helpful. 

 

It's about like calling up your mechanic and saying " My check engine light is on. What's wrong with my car?"   Oh, any one or more of about a thousand different things. 

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Steve Leverich:  It's the best drawing I could do.   If you need something else, let me know.  The window is 1' below the ceiling and is 2'H x 6'L.    

As for my DIY skills, I used to work in construction.   I can do some things.   I hate electrical stuff, but other stuff I'm ok with.

I've had the sliding door open most of the day.   The smell isn't as bad.  I'll continue to do that for the next few days.   

I live in northern CA.

Steve, I genuinely appreciate your help.  Thanks!

Greg

drawing.jpg

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Posted (edited)

I can't argue with the requests to post a recording, it never hurts to have a second (or 15th) set of ears; thing is, the recording you've been listening to sound "fine" on your cans, so that can't be the one you post - you'll need to set up Sonar to record a mic (at the mix position) while playing back your recording on your speakers - the mic you record with should be preferably a small diaphragm condenser, omni pattern if you have one, with levels set hot but NOT clipped .  (That type mic is generally flatter response, altho I have a couple small condensers that're hypercardiod, and they do fine if you're careful aiming 'em :=)

Also, make sure you record DRY - no FX whatsoever. Then you'd need to post BOTH files, labeled so we know which is which - make sure that ONLY your pre-recording is in the monitors at the time...

Then, after seeing what's what in your room I would try playing back your original recording again; first, with all doors/windows closed, then open them all (even the closet ones) and listen again, as soon as possible after first listen - then, if your sliding door has curtains CLOSE them (and the door) for a third test. Since you'd already be set up to record the speaker output, it'd be good if you could ALSO record each test, making sure NOT to disturb the mic AT ALL for ALL these tests - I know it's a PITA, but you'll find that ol' "good-fast-cheap" triangle is a bitch to avoid (seems like MOST of the time, even getting to pick TWO is unlikely...)

Oh, forgot - yes, your foam wedge stuff will change 'verb some, 'cause it starts working a bit somewhere in the 4-5 kHz and up range - 'way back when the earth was flat and I was still playing in bands, I had tried the ol' egg crate trick (who hasnt?) on the 8'x12' section of wall behind our drummer (one of the few that can sing better than most lead singers "=) -

I first stapled leftover "regurgitated foam" carpet pad to the wall, (so they wouldn't rattle) then followed with those 1' square egg separators they use at chicken farms - that made it so I didn't have to pull down the 6.3 kHz slider on the PA's graphic eq to avoid feedback - WIN...

about 10 years LATER, I discovered why - someone posted an absorption test of the infamous "egg crate soundproofing" myth; guess where the ONLY significant absorption was in their test??!? Good guess, MONSTER peak at 6.3k, pathetic everywhere else :=) The moral - sometimes what we THINK is a FIX, is really only a bandaid that only helped one of SEVERAL problems. I always try to remember that when i'm chasing down gremlins.

Oh, if you don't mind let us know what mics you have available, so we can bully you even MORE :=)) ...Steve

Edited by Steve Leverich

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Posted (edited)

I recorded a single vocal track to upload here.   When I sent it to Bandlab Assistant Mix Editor, I can't hear it.     The meter moves, but no sound.   I can play it inside Bandlab, but not inside BL Assistant.   And the vocal track sounds boomy.   I thought the acoustic panels I put up would help, but no.

Greg

Edited by greg54

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That's not a great room to start with, square with a window, probably brick/plaster/stone on all the walls. Can't see what you've got on the floor. Without treatment, if I played my acoustic guitar in there, I would expect it to be quite harsh on the high end and restrictive on the low end with an unpleasant harsh natural reverb to boot. I don't know what it sounds like with that treatment but I would be inclined to knock one of those harsh walls out completely and desquare the room before even beginning to treat the room. The one behind you with no doors, that has to go, I would get a couple of photographers backdrop stands with a 3metre backdrop bar, place it along that wall and throw over some absorbent material with a curtain so it looks cool. Or you could put a couple of mattresses or even just 1 to cover the wall and then run the curtain across the backdrop bar in front of it, so the whole thing takes up about about 2ft.

Next I would put a rug on the floor if you don't have one, can leave some wood showing about 2 ft or so all around if you want. Then I would bring in a big wooden wardrobe and put it against another wall, doesn't matter if it's only on one wall. Then you can use your treatment to correct whatever you feel needs to be corrected after that. That's probably the best you can do with that room, should sound fine though.

I've done these sorts of things in places I've stayed at and in mates rooms. I had a 12 X 12 X 12 Stone room in an old house that was just terrible but in the end was ok, In addition to other things, had 2 rolled up carpets in the corners to kill a horrid bass resonance frequency I couldn't get rid of.

There is no perfect room for a home musician because you want to record and mix in the same room so compromises have to be made. In professional studios, they have the control room (fastidiously set up to manage frequencies)  for mixing and then a whole bunch of other rooms for dedicated recording, or they might have 1 large room for recording but they have all sorts of material like mattresses, wooden dividers, made up acoustic absorption panels etc and they move those around depending on what the instrument sounds best with or what reflections/frequencies need to be killed.

Home musicians who are going to record and mix in one space just really need to kill square rooms, kill plaster, brick and stone and put in wood/rug/carpet to taste, depending on what you are going to record. If you want to go further with treating your room, that's up to you but you can spend an enormous amount of time, energy and money on this for little reward, especially if other aspects of your sound chain are pretty ordinary, mics, instruments, monitors etc.

 

 

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1 hour ago, greg54 said:

I recorded a single vocal track to upload here.   When I sent it to Bandlab Assistant Mix Editor, I can't hear it.     The meter moves, but no sound.   I can play it inside Bandlab, but not inside BL Assistant.   And the vocal track sounds boomy.   I thought the acoustic panels I put up would help, but no.

Greg

In that room, the vocal track should sound harsh and thin, if it sounds boomy, that's probably more to do with vocal technique, being too close to the microphone when singing.

You need to indicate what mic you used and how far from the mic you sing as well. If you upload the vocal track, say what mic you used, what audio interface and/or any preamps used.

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Posted (edited)

That's definitely phase cancellation.  I wouldn't expect it to disappear entirely if it was recorded in mono and didn't have the rest of the track bleeding into the mic, etc. but the room is most definitely playing a big part in how things sound.

Tezza has you on the right track. A square room is a nightmare to work in. Imagine your walls as mirrors and you're sitting in the middle of the room trying to take a photo of something but without seeing your reflection. That's how the sound is working - it's bouncing into itself at different times which is making some frequencies sound extra boomy when the waves are hitting you at the same time, or going thin or disappearing entirely if the waves hit you out of time. Listening in that environment is bad enough but imagine what a mic would hear if it's right in the middle of all of those sound waves intersecting... not great.

Thick rug on the floor is the first thing. Trying to get the side walls coming out at an angle so they're not parallel to each other is the next, and put absorbers up on them next. Ideally you'd want some big bass absorbers on the back wall, but I'd suggest trying to deaden that as much as possible, perhaps deadening it and putting random things in front (the odd small bookshelf, your guitar rack, etc. - something to diffuse the sound), and right above where you're sitting, stick up some absorbant panels on the ceiling.

Now this is just going to get you over the line. Ideally you'd take room measurements and build tuned slat resonators and bass traps and all of that stuff, as people on the John Sayers forum will definitely tell you, but these tips (and the other great advice in this thread) will likely make a huge difference to what you're hearing. The good news is it sounds like a lot of this stuff is already up in your room, you just need to arrange it properly. :) 

Edited by Lord Tim

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The minute I saw the picture of your room my reaction was, Oh oh,  That's not going to work. And as said the "treatment" you tried is only going to help a little bit.  For now forget the room and try this_ 

The idea mentioned back a few posts about building a small enclosure to put your mike in for singing would be something you could do cheap. You could use those foam things.  I think that might help vocal recordings. Mikes on guitar amps don't usually pick up the room if they are close in. But you can do the same with an amp. I used to have this big box I made so I could crank my guitar and not scare the animals.  

And just don't worry about the way your speakers sound, mix on your headphones until you can come up with a plan of attack...like moving to a house with a nice room.  

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Posted (edited)
11 hours ago, Tezza said:

In that room, the vocal track should sound harsh and thin, if it sounds boomy, that's probably more to do with vocal technique, being too close to the microphone when singing.

You need to indicate what mic you used and how far from the mic you sing as well. If you upload the vocal track, say what mic you used, what audio interface and/or any preamps used.

Yes, the vocals sound harsh.    Too much reverb still.   I use an seElectronics X1S, about 8" away from the mic.   I also have a Mudguard behind the mic on a stand.   Focusrite 2i4 (2nd Gen) interface.   And I have an 8x10 rug on a hardwood floor.   House is wood paneling outside.

Thanks!

Edited by greg54

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Posted (edited)

Lord Tim:   Yes, but I'm taking all the acoustic panels down on the back wall.   I'll have to find something to put against that wall - as well as figure out how to arrange the rest of the paneling.  Thanks!

11 hours ago, Cactus Music said:

The minute I saw the picture of your room my reaction was, Oh oh,  That's not going to work. And as said the "treatment" you tried is only going to help a little bit.  For now forget the room and try this_ 

The idea mentioned back a few posts about building a small enclosure to put your mike in for singing would be something you could do cheap. You could use those foam things.  I think that might help vocal recordings. Mikes on guitar amps don't usually pick up the room if they are close in. But you can do the same with an amp. I used to have this big box I made so I could crank my guitar and not scare the animals.  

And just don't worry about the way your speakers sound, mix on your headphones until you can come up with a plan of attack...like moving to a house with a nice room.  

We just moved into this house.  So I'm not going anywhere.   This room will have to do somehow.    Personally, I don't like mixing with headphones.  I like monitors.  

Thanks!

Greg

Edited by greg54

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Posted (edited)

Seriously, take the time to join John's forum; this one link 

http://johnlsayers.com/phpBB2/viewtopic.php?f=3&t=7814

   will MORE than be worth the time it takes to join, it's a picture-heavy account of one member's absorber builds - you won't see any pics if you're not logged in.

I'm working on a rough paint sketch of your room that would tame some of your modes, give some bass trapping, cost a few hundred$$$, and be completely removable/recyclable if you change your mind - later... Steve

Edited by Steve Leverich

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