Sound Treating/Proofing Room – Still Worth It?

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KVRer
7 posts since 21 Sep, 2020

Post Tue Jan 05, 2021 11:52 pm

Good Evening,

First off, if this belongs in one of the other KVR forums, I can delete and re-post. Or if the topic is better suited for a different site, please let me know where to go 😊

I recently rented/moved into a very old (100+ year) apartment in the basement of a house and I’m trying to convert the spare bedroom into a studio. Well, home office by day, “studio” by night. The goal is to launch a podcast, do some voiceover work and maybe a bit of light streaming/content creation.

As it stands the room/apartment is terrible for audio. The walls/ceiling are thin/hollow/bare, it’s very echoey. I have put some carpet down over the wood floor, which helped, but the walls/ceiling are an issue. See attached pic to get a better idea of the space.

A friend of mine is a general contractor and has kindly offered to help me sound treat the room. Before we spend time and money on that, however, I have one big concern – noise in the room itself.

The heating comes in through these old school vents and when the thermostat kicks in, which is about every 3 minutes, it sounds like a small plane is taking off in the room. The sound of rain drops can also be clearly be heard through the window (and I live in Vancouver so it rains most of the time). The apartment creeks and makes random noises…constantly. And my computer fans are also audible, especially at high loads.

With a bit of learning/research, hopefully a lot of that these issues can be minimized in post for the podcast, voice overs and video recording. I recently got my hands on an Nvidia RTX 3080 and I found out there is a relatively new broadcast plugin called Nvidia RTX Voice which uses the GPU to remove background audio, and apparently it does a good job of getting rid of it.

(Side note, I wonder if I can use that when recording (not broadcasting) to save time on post production...)

So, my question is… is it worth spending (what could end up being a lot of) money on sound tiles, thick curtains, acoustic panels, foam ceiling tiles etc etc, to treat the room, when none of it will do anything to stop the moderate background noise?

I’ll probably only be living here for another 12 months or so, I'm not sure if it is worth all the effort. But if will make a difference, I’ll go for it!!

Kind thanks!!
Dan
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KVRist
428 posts since 10 Jan, 2017

Post Wed Jan 06, 2021 5:32 am

What sort of microphone are you planning to use for your voiceover work and podcasting? A different approach might be to use a decent dynamic mic like a Shure SM7B or Electrovoice RE20 - which I would expect to be more forgiving of a bad room and background noise than say, a large diaphragm condenser.

KVRist
187 posts since 18 Mar, 2007 from London

Post Wed Jan 06, 2021 5:47 am

"I’ll probably only be living here for another 12 months"


:uhuhuh: In that case I wouldn't do it. + Just looking at your pic it's pretty obvious that you could get a better sound by moving to a new location in your room (facing the corner is usually the worst you can do acoustically, putting your listening position roughly 1/3 on the length of your room is usually the best but it's way more complicated than that).
When recording for your podcast/voice over perhaps something like an SE Electronics SPACE or Aston Halo Reflexion filter could tame the outside noise and room echoes a bit, perhaps worth trying.

If I were in your shoes I would make nice big acoustic panels out of rockwool (air flow resistivity; density kg/m3; depth... all matters a lot, premade panels are usually either rubbish or very expensive)
These properly designed panels will help you control the sound in your recent room (your noise issue won't be sorted though but to sort that out properly would be a fortune) + you can move your home made panels to your next studio/apartment.

KVR is not really the right place to learn about acoustic treatment. Try to find/read articles on the subject eg. on soundonsound.com +
Some basic info about the subject here:
https://ledgernote.com/columns/studio-r ... -and-foam/
There is a great sub forum on gearslutz called studio-building-acoustics. https://www.gearslutz.com/board/studio- ... acoustics/
This is informative for beginners:
https://www.gearslutz.com/board/studio- ... -here.html

My 2 cents
:hug:

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KVRAF
3665 posts since 16 Aug, 2017 from Land of The Charity Shop

Post Wed Jan 06, 2021 5:51 am

How about a portable solution?
https://youtu.be/UTeUeRxAS7M
https://youtu.be/D9pHxVCkof4
Image
TroyStudio Portable Sound Recording Vocal Booth Box
https://www.amazon.co.uk/TroyStudio-Por ... B07MZZ36L4
Currently trying to turn noise into music. :neutral: Is boutique the new old?

KVRer

Topic Starter

7 posts since 21 Sep, 2020

Post Wed Jan 06, 2021 2:38 pm

andymcbain wrote:
Wed Jan 06, 2021 5:32 am
What sort of microphone are you planning to use for your voiceover work and podcasting? A different approach might be to use a decent dynamic mic like a Shure SM7B or Electrovoice RE20 - which I would expect to be more forgiving of a bad room and background noise than say, a large diaphragm condenser.
Thanks Andy!

I'm still researching mics, but both of these are within my budget (albeit on the high end of the budget). If I go for one of these, will I have to switch to a different type (like the condenser you mentioned) when I move to a better space, or will it be good in quieter environments as well?

Cheers! Dan

KVRer

Topic Starter

7 posts since 21 Sep, 2020

Post Wed Jan 06, 2021 2:51 pm

ozonepaul wrote:
Wed Jan 06, 2021 5:47 am
"I’ll probably only be living here for another 12 months"


:uhuhuh: In that case I wouldn't do it. + Just looking at your pic it's pretty obvious that you could get a better sound by moving to a new location in your room (facing the corner is usually the worst you can do acoustically, putting your listening position roughly 1/3 on the length of your room is usually the best but it's way more complicated than that).
When recording for your podcast/voice over perhaps something like an SE Electronics SPACE or Aston Halo Reflexion filter could tame the outside noise and room echoes a bit, perhaps worth trying.

If I were in your shoes I would make nice big acoustic panels out of rockwool (air flow resistivity; density kg/m3; depth... all matters a lot, premade panels are usually either rubbish or very expensive)
These properly designed panels will help you control the sound in your recent room (your noise issue won't be sorted though but to sort that out properly would be a fortune) + you can move your home made panels to your next studio/apartment.

KVR is not really the right place to learn about acoustic treatment. Try to find/read articles on the subject eg. on soundonsound.com +
Some basic info about the subject here:
https://ledgernote.com/columns/studio-r ... -and-foam/
There is a great sub forum on gearslutz called studio-building-acoustics. https://www.gearslutz.com/board/studio- ... acoustics/
This is informative for beginners:
https://www.gearslutz.com/board/studio- ... -here.html

My 2 cents
:hug:
Thanks Paul, I'll check out those other sites you mentioned that are more focused on acoustic treatment.

I really like your suggestion about acoustic panels. I reached out to someone local who makes them and was quoted about $1000 for 4 big and 2 small panels for the room, so you are right, that's pretty expensive.

I think I'll try to make my own as you said.

Another relatively cheap option I just saw are these sound proofing panels from Home Depot:
https://www.homedepot.ca/product/sonopa ... L1uUIXQjvA

Then some acoustic tiles over the top? That will do the job for about $250.

Do you think the home made panels will work better?

Finally, for the door and window sides of the room, I'm thinking of putting thick curtains up that stretch the entire wall. That way when I'm not recording, I can pull them to one side.

What are your thoughts?

Thanks once again!!!

KVRer

Topic Starter

7 posts since 21 Sep, 2020

Post Wed Jan 06, 2021 2:55 pm

The Noodlist wrote:
Wed Jan 06, 2021 5:51 am
How about a portable solution?
https://youtu.be/UTeUeRxAS7M
https://youtu.be/D9pHxVCkof4
Image
TroyStudio Portable Sound Recording Vocal Booth Box
https://www.amazon.co.uk/TroyStudio-Por ... B07MZZ36L4
I appreciate your help!

I've heard mixed reviews on these kinds. Do they work well in your experience? As they are not too expensive, what I could to is if there is a part of the room I can't treat very well, get one of these and use it in the direction in which I'm having issues?

Thanks!

KVRer

Topic Starter

7 posts since 21 Sep, 2020

Post Wed Jan 06, 2021 4:12 pm

ozonepaul wrote:
Wed Jan 06, 2021 5:47 am
"I’ll probably only be living here for another 12 months"


If I were in your shoes I would make nice big acoustic panels out of rockwool (air flow resistivity; density kg/m3; depth... all matters a lot, premade panels are usually either rubbish or very expensive)
These properly designed panels will help you control the sound in your recent room (your noise issue won't be sorted though but to sort that out properly would be a fortune) + you can move your home made panels to your next studio/apartment.
On second thought, would the material I linked in my previous message (also below) be good material for these home made sound panels? Make the frame out of wood, put this inside, then get some nice canvas fabric for the outside to make them look nice?

The local store is low on stock, so I might just go and grab them anyway and use them for something else if they are no good for this.

Thanks!! :-)

https://www.homedepot.ca/product/sonopa ... L1uUIXQjvA

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KVRAF
3665 posts since 16 Aug, 2017 from Land of The Charity Shop

Post Thu Jan 07, 2021 1:16 am

JohnZe wrote:
Wed Jan 06, 2021 2:55 pm
I've heard mixed reviews on these kinds. Do they work well in your experience? As they are not too expensive, what I could to is if there is a part of the room I can't treat very well, get one of these and use it in the direction in which I'm having issues?

Thanks!
I don't use one, so I can't comment. I do use a reflection filter that improves the sound.

Another cheap method, to be used when seated, would be,
2 microphone boom stands fully extended upright with the boom at 90 degrees, parallel to the floor. Then, drape a quilt or similar over them.
mic.png
A better illustration would be appreciated.
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Last edited by The Noodlist on Thu Jan 07, 2021 2:07 am, edited 1 time in total.
Currently trying to turn noise into music. :neutral: Is boutique the new old?

KVRist
187 posts since 18 Mar, 2007 from London

Post Thu Jan 07, 2021 2:04 am

I couldn't open your link but you can use this calculator to have an idea of the acoustic effect of the absorbing material (you need to know the AFR - Air Flow resistivity of your chosen material). http://www.acousticmodelling.com/porous.php

On gearslutz in the studio building sub forum I already responded to someone about "planning out homestudio treatment". https://www.gearslutz.com/board/studio- ... st14374029
I copy that old post of mine here, some of my suggestions will hopefully be useful for you:
"A few suggestions before you buy any material for your room treatment:
1. First just move all furniture and everything else (except your computer/soundcard/speakers) out and do some REW (https://www.roomeqwizard.com/) measurements of your room. Experiment with different locations/orientations to find the least troublesome listening/mixing position. I'm sure you already heard it a million times that you should set up your speakers in an equilateral triangle (usually tweeter at ear height) and you should sit facing the shorter wall (in the middle), roughly 38% of the length of your long room wall. The truth is that in a small room like yours (and mine) this is often not true. Slightly deviating from the above mentioned "rule" often gives you much better (meaning less troublesome) spots/areas/setups/angles.... You need to play with the listening position and the speaker position not just vertically but also horizontally. Also play with the monitor toe-in (whether the acoustic axis of the speaker is precisely towards your ears, or slightly past your ears, or perhaps in your room it's even better if there is a bit more deviation). You will be surprised how a few cm position difference of the speaker or your listening area can completely change your measurement results.

2. Obviously low frequency management is going to cause the biggest problems. Experiment positioning your speakers as close to the window as possible (even try literally less than 1cm from the window) because windows are often great "bass traps", some of the bass energy can just leave your room through your window, leaving you with less nasty build up/cancellation trouble.

3. In my experience (in 3 different small/smallish rooms I treated) placing any absorbing material (not thicker than 6") directly behind the speaker did not make any meaningful/measurable difference (though I'm using sealed speakers, perhaps a back ported speaker would have given me different results).

4. Check your room modes with a room mode calculator (https://amcoustics.com/ or you can use REW's own room simulation).Mind you though that more often than not you're not going to get perfectly precise mode results as for example in your case windows, balcony doors, outer vs inner wall width differences...will all influence the results.

5. Try this as well: http://www.acousticmodelling.com/porous.php

6. When all this is done (and you found your "starting sweet spot") move your workstation desk back in the room and test/measure the effect of the desk on your "sweet spot"s acoustics. I'm pretty sure you'll have to do again some adjustments. (Finally move your electric drum kit, your couch... back in the room and measure the room again.)

7. When you're done with all this you'll have a much clearer idea what needs to be done and how much it would cost. Than you can draw the line and you can negotiate some reasonable compromises with yourself and you can decide how much are you happy to spend on this project.

8. Acoustic foam looks great but it is really expensive (considering it's effectiveness) and based on my own measurements (with 6cm deep foam with 3-12cm air gap behind it) it does absolutely nothing below 600Hz. In my opinion you are much better off spending your money on eg rock-wool/glass-wool and than use different depth at different areas of your room. Too much foam will kill all the high end frequencies, dry your room sound and you'll be left with a lot of uncontrolled low end.

9.I would keep some of the wall space bare but you need to first sort out the basic treatment (bass traps; first reflection points) before you can figure out how much wall area should be left alone.

10. Check the air resistance and mass details of the glass-wool product you intend to buy. You can find detailed info here on gearslutz about what depth (usually between 10-32 cm), AFr (usually between 5-15 kPa.s/m²) and density (usually between 28-75kg/m3) is ideal for which room treatment application.

11. Don't plan to do everything in one go. I would do the prep measurements and based on that I would decide about the listening position/monitor position etc. I would also listen to my reference songs and make necessary adjustments. Than I would treat the corners and first reflection points than I would make all the necessary adjustments and I would listen reference material again and measure again and again. Than I would buy material for the remaining treatment and constantly measure-listen-adjust, measure-listen-adjust.

12. Learn to use REW properly. If your measurements are wrong your decisions will be wrong; the more precise your measurements the more informed decisions you can make.

13. Use air gaps in your DIY traps!"



+ Same subject, (choosing the right material/where to place your panels etc) in an older soundonsound magazine article:
https://www.soundonsound.com/techniques ... -treatment

Also, read/learn as much from the following link as possible. You'll be so much better equipped to make informed decisions about room treatment/room acoustics.
https://www.gearslutz.com/board/studio- ... -here.html
It's well worth learning a bit about the subject, so you won't waste your money on useless stuff (that often instead of help, they even worsen your room acoustics).
For example to choose the right material for your panels the link in the 3rd point (titled Acoustic Treatment and Design for Recording Studios and Listening Rooms) is very useful. (Though in my experience AFR -air flow resistivity - better describes a materials acoustic behavior than density).


Anyway, I hope I managed to help you :phones:

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KVRist
428 posts since 10 Jan, 2017

Post Thu Jan 07, 2021 5:07 am

JohnZe wrote:
Wed Jan 06, 2021 2:38 pm
andymcbain wrote:
Wed Jan 06, 2021 5:32 am
What sort of microphone are you planning to use for your voiceover work and podcasting? A different approach might be to use a decent dynamic mic like a Shure SM7B or Electrovoice RE20 - which I would expect to be more forgiving of a bad room and background noise than say, a large diaphragm condenser.
Thanks Andy!

I'm still researching mics, but both of these are within my budget (albeit on the high end of the budget). If I go for one of these, will I have to switch to a different type (like the condenser you mentioned) when I move to a better space, or will it be good in quieter environments as well?

Cheers! Dan
They're both great sounding, industry standard dynamics that will hold their value. I use my RE20 with the inexpensive Klark Teknik mic booster which really took it to the next level. Aside from (potentially) a more detailed sound, the advantage of a large diaphragm condenser in a good room would be ergonomics I guess - as you could place it further away from you. With the SM7B and RE20 you'd want to be quite close to it.

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KVRAF
4137 posts since 7 Jun, 2012 from Warsaw

Post Fri Jan 08, 2021 4:22 am

Well, I'm in a similiar situation. And, following elbo's advice, I threatened my room for some funny money:
viewtopic.php?p=7800743#p7800743

This made day and night difference. The impact of proper (if very simple) threatment cannot be compensated by any recording gear or interface.
http://djwarmonger.wordpress.com/
Tricky-Loops wrote: (...)someone like Armin van Buuren who claims to make a track in half an hour and all his songs sound somewhat boring(...)

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KVRAF
3665 posts since 16 Aug, 2017 from Land of The Charity Shop

Post Fri Jan 08, 2021 5:08 am

I've been looking in to basic treatment. Nothing too technical. A reflection free zone and a bit of bass trapping and speaker/listener positions.

I found staggering panels on opposite walls is a method that can be used instead of a random location. As mentioned, foam panels, depending on thickness, usually treat 500Hz and above.
Acoustic foam is relatively inexpensive, can be purchased at your favorite music-equipment retailer, and comes in different thicknesses. Generally speaking, 2-inch foam will best reduce frequencies above 500 Hz; 4-inch foam can reduce frequencies all the way down to 250 Hz. Whatever the thickness, acoustic foam is easy to attach to the wall using spray adhesive or tack nails.
Here's some resources.
https://www.musiccityacoustics.com/acou ... ics-primer
https://www.presonus.com/learn/technica ... -acoustics
https://auralex.com/home-studio/
Image
Currently trying to turn noise into music. :neutral: Is boutique the new old?

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KVRist
428 posts since 10 Jan, 2017

Post Mon Jan 11, 2021 11:39 am

This will be stating the obvious to most people I imagine, but just in case - treating the walls and corners will certainly improve your recordings but won't do much, if anything for the background noise in the room.

Years ago a friend of mine misunderstood the difference between room treatment and soundproofing and bought a lot of foam tiles hoping it would block out the sound of the nearby church bells... they ended up with a very dry sounding, ugly living room!

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KVRAF
6530 posts since 7 Sep, 2006 from Roseville, CA

Post Mon Jan 11, 2021 12:00 pm

andymcbain wrote:
Thu Jan 07, 2021 5:07 am
JohnZe wrote:
Wed Jan 06, 2021 2:38 pm
andymcbain wrote:
Wed Jan 06, 2021 5:32 am
What sort of microphone are you planning to use for your voiceover work and podcasting? A different approach might be to use a decent dynamic mic like a Shure SM7B or Electrovoice RE20 - which I would expect to be more forgiving of a bad room and background noise than say, a large diaphragm condenser.
Thanks Andy!

I'm still researching mics, but both of these are within my budget (albeit on the high end of the budget). If I go for one of these, will I have to switch to a different type (like the condenser you mentioned) when I move to a better space, or will it be good in quieter environments as well?

Cheers! Dan
They're both great sounding, industry standard dynamics that will hold their value. I use my RE20 with the inexpensive Klark Teknik mic booster which really took it to the next level. Aside from (potentially) a more detailed sound, the advantage of a large diaphragm condenser in a good room would be ergonomics I guess - as you could place it further away from you. With the SM7B and RE20 you'd want to be quite close to it.
I agree. I don't do a lot of voiceover work, but I have owned an SM7B and it's an amazing mic for voiceovers/podcasts/broadcast/etc. Personally, I would just stick with that (or RE20, if you go that route) when you move into a better place, unless you feel a need to change. Also, +1 for the Aston Halo. I use it for recording vocals in my home studio and it does a great job of taming reflections. It doesn't do a whole lot for ambient noise, though, so don't expect it (or any other refection filter) to be a replacement for an isolation booth. But, a dynamic mic with proper gain staging should pick up far less ambient noise than a large diaphragm condenser in a small space.
DJ Warmonger wrote:
Fri Jan 08, 2021 4:22 am
Well, I'm in a similiar situation. And, following elbo's advice, I threatened my room...
Hmmmmm... I never considered that, but maybe should since my room sucks too. :hihi:

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