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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.

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    • #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...
      http://www.prosoundweb.com/channels/..._the_studio38/
      Last edited by daddymack; 06-15-2017, 11:25 AM.
      "We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties due to reality fluctuations. The elves are working tirelessly to patch the correct version of reality. Activities here have been temporarily disabled since the fundamentals of mathematics, physics and reason may be incomprehensible during this indeterminate period of instability. Normal service will be restored once we are certain as to what 'normal' is."

      Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting '...man, what a ride!'
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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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      • #5
        What you didn't say mBengs is also important. You didn't describe the room you are/are planning to record in. These fellas are all long-timers here and know their craft and will have tons of learned advice for you.....First, describe the room you have now...Or better yet..Record something in it. Listen to your recording. What do you hear, that you don't want to hear, and what do you like? Maybe then post at link to a sample of the recording. Doesn't have to be a complete song at all. Bear in mind you're looking for sonic solutions, not a critique of your playing or music.Let these gentlemen listen to that...Then they'll be in a better position to make recommendations.
        http://thebasement.createaforum.com/

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        • #6
          Do you need two rooms? one to put the PC and recording interface, and where the drums and guitar amps and bass amps will be. or just one room?

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          • #7
            Originally posted by mbengs1 View Post
            Do you need two rooms? one to put the PC and recording interface, and where the drums and guitar amps and bass amps will be. or just one room?
            That's the traditional studio approach - use two rooms; one for the musicians (the "studio" or "tracking room") and one for the equipment and engineer (the "control room"), but it's not the only possible approach. A lot of people like using one single room. There are some issues with that, such as isolating equipment (usually fan) noise from the microphones and being limited in how you monitor (headphones only) when recording, but it can be made to work, and if you're working alone, it's often a good way to go.
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            • #8
              Great. is it expensive to soundproof a room? how much would it cost to sound proof a 20 square meter room?

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              • WRGKMC
                WRGKMC commented
                Editing a comment
                Man you really need to learn to read your responses.

                You were specifically asked whether you want to - sound proof - or - sound treat - a room.

                Sound treatment makes the room acoustically suitable for recording. Sound proofing has nothing to do with treatment.

                Once you sound proof a room (if it can even be done) you still need to sound treat the room for good acoustics.

                Sound treating a room doesn't cost much depending on the size. Sound proofing a room can cost you tens of thousands of dollars depending on the existing structures build and may not even be possible, especially if you don't own the real estate. You are essentially reengineering the building.

                The only reason to have two rooms is if you're running a business and need to keep the band separate from the monitors. If you plan on recording yourself, its less practical and even unnecessary You'd be forced to run from room to room every time you want to cue up to record something.

                If you run a business, the reason for the second room is isolation from the band from what you hear in the monitors. You hear what the mics are picking up with less direct sound from the actual instruments. This allows you to know if a mics not pickup up properly and make adjustments as necessary. If you record solo you only need headphones for that. You obviously wouldn't be mixing while you're playing so no need for a separate room for mixing.
                Last edited by WRGKMC; 06-27-2017, 02:26 PM.

            • #9
              Wait, now you want to record drums as well, which is NOT what you said originally.

              I can't tell you what it would cost to 'sound proof' your 20sqm [like 12ft x 15ft] room because there are so many variables, particularly material availability where you are.

              It can get pretty expensive to completely sound proof a large room. I've done it for myself and other people more than once, and when I did it for my home studio I was fortunate to not have to pay for the fire resistant insulating absorber foam, or I would never have been able to do it.

              The issue isn't just to deaden the sound coming in from outside or to contain the sound inside, but also to get a great sound in the room, so one has to look at the VSWR [vertical standing wave ratio] in the room, bass 'traps', reflectivity of materials, floor vibration, ventilation and so on. In the long run, it is typically far more cost effective to rent studio time when you are ready to record rather than attempt to create a viable soundproof home studio.

              The simplest way is, again, to just build a specific chamber/booth that is soundproof, rather than trying to 'sound proof' a large area.
              Many small studios here have a drum booth, vocal booth and an amplifier isolation booth/box. This eliminates a number of ancillary issues associated with a large room, and close mic-ing is a good way to record.
              Bass can be recorded direct to the board, as can keyboards [unless you are using a Lesley cabinet].
              Recording drums well is an art unto itself, and usually requires many different microphones/stands, baffles, etc.
              "We are currently experiencing some technical difficulties due to reality fluctuations. The elves are working tirelessly to patch the correct version of reality. Activities here have been temporarily disabled since the fundamentals of mathematics, physics and reason may be incomprehensible during this indeterminate period of instability. Normal service will be restored once we are certain as to what 'normal' is."

              Life's journey is not to arrive at the grave safely in a well preserved body, but rather to skid in sideways, totally used up and worn out, shouting '...man, what a ride!'
              "The greatness of a man is not in how much wealth he acquires, but in his integrity and his ability to affect those around him positively" ~Bob Marley

              Comment


              • WRGKMC
                WRGKMC commented
                Editing a comment
                I used blow in cellulite and filled the walls with it then put in about 15" up top.
                Between that, the second layer of sheetrock which was air gapped from the existing wall, fiberglass tiles and foam, plus a couple of extra walls put in, rugs, AC which is a major problem containing sound I spent about 3K. which is dirt cheap. I was lucky because the outside wall is brick. The sound is very well contained and doesn't bother the neighbors or my wife in the house when she's home.

                Any musician who is married knows how important it is to keep things quieter in the house if he wants to live a happy life. Wives can be very supportive within the first few years of marriage, but after 5 years go buy, the music can irritate them and in turn they make your life miserable. Best thing I did was sound proof the room. We wouldn't have passed the 20 year mark together otherwise.

                After the sound proofing I had to add reflectivity back to remove some of the deadness it produced sound proofing. At this point its effective but not pretty. My goal wasn't to make it look like a world class studio, just one where I could record and get good tones.

                Its still deader then I'd like. I can crank a 100W amp in there and it sounds as loud as a 15W amp in a reflective room because the sound doesn't bounce off the walls. You'd have to stand directly in front of the amp to feel its power. You get off axis and the sound drops drastically. That's why I use 2 amps rehearsing.

                It is good for recording vocals. I don't need a vocal booth. The entire room is a booth and I can move around to find the best spots for tone.
                Last edited by WRGKMC; 06-27-2017, 02:43 PM.

            • #10
              I'm a complete novice with this home studio thing. i don't know when i'll actually take it up...

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