Acoustics Pt. 1

Alright, let's face it. I don't know much about acoustics. I know the basics and I've obviously researched quite a bit in preparation to building the studio but my room is a challenge because of the size (it's quite small) and the asymmetrical geometry. I consulted with the man who built my speakers and he gave me a lot of insight on what areas of the room I need to work on and what kind of material is necessary.

A note about material: Forget that black pyramid shaped Polyurethane foam. It's packing material, no more than that. I realized that when I was scraping the stuff off the walls back when I moved into the space. It makes the overall sound dull and muddy, because its absorption properties are too volatile to create a balanced sound and its bass absorption potential is non existent. My research confirmed that and my acoustic consultant recommended basotect, which is a special type of melamine foam with very balanced (and potent) absorption properties all the way down to about 100-160Hz, depending on how thick it is.

When I started working in the room, I had a hard time hearing a clear stereo image. The center was very undefined and instruments took up much more space than they actually did. All of that is caused by reflections off naked walls interfering with the direct sound from the speakers and causing phase cancellations and comb filtering. First reflections are the worst. These are the types of reflections that only bounce off one wall until they reach your ear. These had to go, both on the sides as well as the ceiling. As well as being the worst, they are the easiest to deal with. Find the reflection point on the wall from your speaker to your ear and cover it with acoustic material.
A little more has to be done in this department. The back wall needs treating and the back corners need treating (corners are the devil when it comes to unwanted sound wave build ups and reflections).

Here's a picture of what the side walls look like (you can also see the problematic wall layout). It's not quite done yet, but it's close.

Back wall, corners and modes are next!

In terms of sound, I was very happy with the result. I can quite precisely point at instruments in the mix, the center is nice and narrow and the depth greatly increased. It's quite a different listening experience and although I was able to do good work without the treatment, I feel much safer in making those important sound decisions.

I'm very much looking forward to taking the next step, getting some more insight by people who really know the craft and listening to music when it's all done!

-Rob