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Is a soundproof room necessary for good recording quality?


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  • Is a soundproof room necessary for good recording quality?

    I was thinking of purchasing a recording interface like the lexicon alpha. the lowest price recording interface from lexicon. I don't have a soundproof room though. I have a shure sm57 mic and i'd like to record my guitars using the mic into the interface. do i need soundproofing to get satisfactory clarity in my recordings? I was thinking just direct micing of my loud amp i could get the same quality you'd get from a professional studio. i heard that i won't get the clarity i want if i don't have a soundproof room.

  • #2
    Sound proofing and sound treatment are two different things. When you sound proof like I did converting my garage into a studio the goal was to prevent sound from getting out and bothering the neighbors. I added additional padded walls and added many layers of absorptive material. I wasn't necessarily concerned what the final results would be. It wound up being very dead inside and I had to add reflective surfaces back into the room to get rid of deadness.

    Sound treatment is a matter of balancing the sound to make it flat sounding and neutral. You don't want too much reflection or have it too dead. Corners can accumulate bass waves and require bass traps, flat walls can cause hard reflections, cause unwanted phase problems, and frequency resonances.

    A completely bare room can have close to 50% reflection vs 50% dry. It may be good for recording an instrument if you want that particular resonance, but it cant be adjusted once its recorded so you have to use what you get. When you treat a room you bring that resonance down to more neutral levels and you can use artificial reverbs and echoes to produce the spaces you need.

    Mixing especially needs less reflection. Near field monitors are set to ear level and project direct sound to the ears much like headphones except you have some distance and crossfeed which is important in adjusting musical depth. If you have too much sound reflecting back at your ears it will contaminate what you're hearing and you'll think its part of the mix. You'll make unwise mixing decisions compensating for that reflection trying to make the room sound good and when the mix is played back on another system the mix will have holes in the frequency response where those resonances used to be making it sound unnatural.

    Since you're just starting off, I wouldn't be overly concerned about room treatment right away. It may take awhile before your mixes get to the point where reflection is your biggest problem and there are many ways of minimizing it which don't cost anything. You can take a blanket and tack it to a wall or a ceiling for example and neutralize a host of problems once you get to that point.

    The mic wont be a problem because its highly directional and wont pick up allot of reflection when close miced, but you may wind up adjusting your amps tone and gain to the rooms reflection using your ears instead of what's being heard through the mic. Loud is not great for recording either. The boom going on for small amps under 15W has come about because people are discovering they can get them to sound like huge stacks when properly mixed. You can record at loud volumes but you need to listen to the mic through headphones and tweak the sound that way. Its more important to hear good tones instead of feeling the air pressures. Allot of retraining goes into recording and I'm only touching on a few basics you'll run into quickly.

    What you did leave out in your post is the most important item. Studio monitors. Without them you have no hopes of getting anything close to professional sound. Its like a deaf man playing an instrument. If you cant accurately hear the sound you cant accurately mix it. It wont matter what you capture recording. It could be the best track ever but you'll never know it if you don't have monitors to mix. Headphones are no substitute either. They can get you part of the way but they have inherent problems with frequencies and imagery, because you have no space between your ears and speakers and your outer ears aren't being used to decipher depth.


    • #3
      To actually soundproof a room is a major undertaking, because it isn't just keeping your sound in, but keeping the outside sounds out. I have been in studios with shock-mount floors, so that the vibration of a large truck or a train would be completely negated. The sound of jets or helicopters or supercharged stunt planes flying by is also a concern [the curse of being in Los Angeles...there are no truly quiet places left].

      The room itself is not going to be your issue if you 'close mic' your amp. The speaker and the mic interacting, the volume and the mic placement are the critical factors.

      The best solution if you really feel like you need soundproofing is to build an isolation box, rather than do the whole room. something along the lines of this, but you don't need the clear front...https://www.sweetwater.com/store/det...i1DRoC1uPw_wcB
      here is a very good 'how-to' description, and I agree about not using the retail acoustic foam...
      Last edited by daddymack; 06-15-2017, 11:25 AM.
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      • daddymack
        daddymack commented
        Editing a comment
        which is where making an iso-box comes in! Pay attention, kaibigan! It is a box, not a room. you really only need ONE SPEAKER in it...piece of cake.
        Rack effects are great... until you need to haul them to a gig...

    • #4
      I will echo what daddymack has said. If you're mainly only wanting to record a guitar amp then you can try getting a "Guitar Amp Isolation Box". It will keep outside noise out and also stop the amp sound from getting too loud and disturbing others. There's also Do-It-Yourself options as well, like in this video.

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