Getting acoustic treatment for your studio should be high on the list. Buying expensive studio gear will help but for the overall sound engineering, you need a treated room. When I say treated I mean, using acoustic tiles, diffuser and bass traps. I never understood this concept until I started going to studios to mix my songs. Years ago, I use to do my preproduction at home then take wav stems to a local studio to get mixed and mastered. I wondered what made a pro studio so great to get my music to sound better than I doing it at home. As my session was going, I ask the engineer about his studio and how they made it. He explained they got a plan from Auralex and built their studio to the specs. The room had an octagon shape and the ceiling was slanted up and the floors seemed hollow. They had diffuser and bass traps in all corners. My mixes were flawless after we were done.
After leaving I imagine that I could do something similar to my Home Studio using my existing room. My studio is in the basement of my home which is a no-no. Basements are notorious for plaguing your perception of the your sound while listening. My basement has concrete floors and walls. In fact, my room is working against me because of the hard surfaces. Many engineers would tell me to find a new location but in my case I didn’t have another location in my home.
I studied more about sound, frequencies and how they travel in a square room. Square rooms are not the best situation for a studio because the sound has many corners and sides to bounce around in. This can cause standing waves. When you get standing waves, this is where acoustic treatment can help. Mixing with no treatment is possible but will make your ears work harder and cause them to fatigue faster. Without treatment, you think you are hearing sound in real-time but it’s actually a reflection of sound. Check out this 3-d render from Auralex to give you an idea how to layout acoustic tiles in square room.
My suggestion for square room treatment is to use acoustic tiles on walls and ceiling. You don’t need to cover all walls completely with tiles. Your room still needs a little reflection but enough to keep a balanced listening room. Auralex has good acoustic treatment to get you started but over time I’m sure you will opt for something better. One thing you shouldn’t waste your money on is foam bass traps.
Bass Traps are essential but foam Bass Traps are a joke and don’t absorb the bass frequency. Foam Bass Traps are more like Broadband Traps. Broadband Traps are acoustic tile that absorb higher frequencies but nothing below 500hz. Bass frequency ranges are far below 500hz. Bass is where most of your problems will be in a square room especially a small one. Bass travels further than the higher frequencies and is harder to control in small room even with real Bass Traps. You can get massive bass build up in corners but the Bass Traps will keep bass tame so it won’t bounce around as much to affect your listening position.
Acoustic Treatment can be really expensive so its best to shop around. If you’re a handy person, you could build your own broadband and Bass Traps with Rock Wool or Owens Corning 703 and save tons of money. One thing to keep in mind is that those materials are not safe to breathe so build your Traps in a well ventilated area and wear a mask to be on safe side. I built my own outside. In the future I will do a post on how to build traps. There is helpful information out there if you’re really interested. Treat your room if you haven’t already.
Also check out http://www.atsacoustics.com/