Sunday, August 5, 2012

So proud

I am so damn proud of myself.

You see, and those who know me will confirm this, I am not much of a DIYer. At all. Blame it on not growing up in a house, not seeing my dad doing a lot of it, being lazy... You get the idea.

So here am I in my new house with a space dedicated to music. If I already had the basic equipment at the apartment (audio interface, a mic, a guitar, a MIDI keyboard), I didn't need to worry about acoustics because I was mixing on (bad) headphones. Yes, I know. It's like cooking pizza in a microwave: smells like pizza, looks like pizza, but it ain't pizza. So my music sounded boxy and pretty much sounded like *ss. So back to my music space in the new house: after having bought more equipment like we all do (electronic drums, new acoustic guitar, electric guitar, guitar amp simulator, new mic /stand / pop filter / shockmount), I decided to go for the real thing and mix on monitors. That was a very important decision, and I must confess I only really discovered how important it was until several hundred dollars and tens of hours later.

Mixing on speakers means that your untreated unbalanced weirdly shaped full of resonating material excuse of a room comes into play big time. It's actually even worse than that: it defines your sound. You can of course change the sound during tracking (somewhat) and during mixing, but it's tedious and unless you spend a lot of time on it, the sound will still be most likely crappy. After having done my research and bought monitors, I placed my listening position at the best possible spot in the room, and the monitors in a nice equilateral triangle with one of its corners where my head is.


The advantage with fairly decent monitors like mine is that you hear a lot of detail.The disadvantage is that you hear a lot of detail :-) The need for acoustic treatment became very apparent. Of course, the first order of things when you decide to mix on monitors is to treat your room, not to buy more equipment! This is obvious and is repeated on countless forums, but for some reason, I only "discovered" it too late. So off I went, reading about acoustics, treatment, and most of all, DIY treatment. There are very good commercial companies selling you everything you need from bass traps to reflections treatment to diffusors, but I didn't have the budget, most of these companies are in the US (I'm not), and a little voice in my head told me that I could really try to do something on my own, for once. After reading and waiting and reading some more and hesitating for a few months, I finally decided to try. I needed 3 bass traps and 1 reflection absorber, something to cover the bare walls, and curtains for the window and the shelf space in the back of the room.

I bought the following material: 2cm x 4cm wood for the aborber frames, rockwool for the absorption, glue / nails / clip, string, clip gun to hold everything together, fabric for cover; I also bought curtains in a fairly dense material, two carpets for the walls and a smaller desk to avoid early reflections. After a few errors and a lot of trial, my room is now finished except for the overhead absorption that I need to attach to the ceiling, the curtains that my wife needs to sew (thanks honey) and the one stand I still need to build for the bass trap that will sit in the corner where the door is. Fixing the carpets on the walls was a bit of a pain, and attaching one absorber on a corner was a bit of a challenge, but I somehow managed. It looks really cool. I also completely redid the cabling around the monitors and the computer and it is much cleaner.

All of this for a guy who had barely used a hammer more than twice in his life :-)

(if you want moe detail on how I built the absorbers, let me know)

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