Home Studio Acoustics And Room Treatment – With Jesco Lohan
Jesco Lohan is running acousticsinsider.com, an amazing resource on all things studio acoustics. He's got amazing articles, guide, tutorials and online courses on how to measure your room, build absorbers, etc.
Jesco is also:
- a platinum award winning mixer
- a leading expert on studio acoustics, who is well known in the industry and gets invited to speak at events, such as the URM summit, an audio conference, where he got on stage in Las Vegas.
- a studio designer who has designed and built countless studios
- a guest on many podcasts
- an author, who has written articles for magazines and blogs
- a fellow member of one of my mastermind groups, where we meet bi-weekly. This means I get to talk to him a lot and luckily, it was not too hard to convince him to do this for us! In fact, he was stoked and happy to bring his experience, knowledge and expertise to the show!
Listen to this episode and learn how to make your home studio room(s) work, so that you can capture great sounding source tones, trust what's coming out of your speakers and gain confidence instead of constantly doubting your decisions.
Download Jesco's 5 Steps To Recording Room Acoustics On A Budget:
This episode was edited by Thomas Krottenthaler.
TSRB Podcast 049 - Home Studio Acoustics With Jesco Lohan
[00:00:00] Jesco: [00:00:00] That's really my job, right? If somebody comes in and says, well, my room's really messed up. Can you do something? And then I go in and figure out for them how to approach using this room and making it usable for professional audio work.
Benedikt: [00:00:16] This is the self recording band podcast. The show where we help you make exciting records on your own.
Jesco: [00:00:23] you are, DIY style. Let's go.
Benedikt: [00:00:28] Hello and welcome to. The self recording band podcast. I am your host then at a time. And I'm here with my friend and cohost. Malcolm owned flood as well as yes. Go Lohan. Hello. how are you? Hi
Jesco: [00:00:40] guys. How's it going? I'm good. Hi, Malcolm. How are you today? Great.
Malcom: [00:00:44] I'm great. This is a exciting, yes. Go. I'm a big fan of your crazy knowledgeable brain.
Very, very big help in my life so far. So it was really great that we're able to have
Benedikt: [00:00:55] you on. Sweet. That's all in case you guys are not familiar with who yes-no is, [00:01:00] he's an acoustics expert, like for lack of a better term, he's going to tell us more about that, for sure. He runs a website called acoustics, insider.com and, um, he sh he's sharing a lot of free content, very valuable free content on how to treat recording studio spaces so that you can.
Use them, uh, actually, so because like, there's, there's a lot that goes into treating a room and two, um, improving the acoustics of a room. It's like a science and an art in and of itself. And, uh, yesterday was one of those few people who really know what they're doing here. And he's also a member of a mastermind group that I'm a part of and we meet.
Regularly. And, uh, so I'm stoked to have him on and to learn a thing or two about acoustics today also. And I want to say this in the beginning here, before we actually start the conversation. Yes. Go has prepared something for you, podcast listeners. Um, he's prepared. Um, a guide, a [00:02:00] five step guide to recording room treatment, like according room acoustics on a budget that's specifically made for you for the suffering band podcast listeners for bands recording themselves.
And you find that guide. If you go to acoustics, insider.com/self recording band that's right. So go there. Download it. It's free. Thank you so much for doing this ESCO. And again, welcome.
Jesco: [00:02:21] Thanks, man. A very kind of you, uh, a lot of goods, very kind information there and yeah, just to like specify I'm I'm, I'm definitely someone who focuses on like home studios as well.
You know, like recording home studios. I think that's the space in this, in this like our niche and this whole acoustics world that hasn't been properly served yet. And when I started treating rooms, I quickly realized that like, people who are. Building their home studios who are trying to work professionally from their home studios, be it mixing, be it any type of like audio work and obviously recording.
They're like struggling a lot with all that crazy amounts of insane information that's [00:03:00] available on the net, which is just such a mess. And, uh, and that's also, that's really, my focus is like helping you guys at home. Treating your home studios. Yeah. And I also
Benedikt: [00:03:10] forgot to say by the way, that yes is a mixing engineer.
If you're mixing, interviewed yourself a platinum award winning mixing engineer, actually. So we need, we shouldn't mention that probably. So he does not only know how to treat rooms, but you're also a mixer yourself. And, you know, you've probably. those problems yourself before you start to dive in. It's like building and optimizing
Jesco: [00:03:30] rooms.
Malcom: [00:03:31] exactly. I really loved the about section on your website. It says a platinum winning mixing engineer, reality and professionalism, actually a rocket scientist, no joke. Probably one of the nicest dudes
Jesco: [00:03:42] around perhaps.
Benedikt: [00:03:46] Yeah. An actual rocket scientist, Dell. We need to venture that as well. Like it's like that let's start to sound pretty crazy, but it's true.
Jesco: [00:03:53] Yeah. Yeah. So they got originally, how did the aerospace engineering back when, what feels like a different life? [00:04:00] So I spent four years in the UK studying for a master's in something called avionic systems engineering, which is again, a niche in, within aerospace. So focusing on electronics and computer systems in, in aerospace, And, uh, so after that did that did a bit of work in that, uh, in that field as well.
But I kind of realized at some point when the next, the, the, the, the guy next door was like working on missiles for like fighter jets. And I was just like, this is my, where else I love, I love the, the, the, like the engineering behind it, but like, this is like the place where I want to, I want to spend my life.
And so. That's going to kind of re refocus back on music, which I've been doing all my life. Um, but the, the, the things I learned definitely find, find their way into how I approach things now, because in acoustics, there are a lot of moving parts and you kind of have to take a step back and look at it more like top level, more like top level, like, uh, from, from the top down [00:05:00] to, to really know what's what decisions to make when.
And, and to having to re, to keep in mind how things are supposed to come together. Right. And it's that systems aspect that really drives a lot of, uh, of my thinking and my, uh, my approach and teaching as well in, in, um, yeah, in how I, how I treat, uh, home studios and what to focus on, where what to prioritize, that sort of thing right
Malcom: [00:05:28] now.
Maybe you should kind of describe what your job is and what that looks like, because I'm sure that a lot of our listeners didn't even know that it existed before this episode happened.
Jesco: [00:05:39] Sure. So, I mean, the easiest kind of scenario is let's say you're, you've got a spare bedroom, maybe a basement, maybe an attic or something in your house, and you want to build a studio in there and then you kind of.
Bring in your desk and your speaker stands and your speaker and you sit down and the first question you ask yourself as well, where do I set up in this new room? And then you kind of [00:06:00] start experimenting around and maybe you stumble across like Rumi Qwizard wizard and you start doing some measurements.
And before, you know, it you're like three, three days down the line and your head's smoking and you have no idea what the fuck's going on. And, um, and it's, it's, it's. It's at that point that you also realize, like, I probably, even if you found a good spot to sit and you decide on where to set up and you listen to your speakers first, maybe you do a mix.
Maybe you do like work on a production of something. Maybe you record a guitar or something and you realize just how. How warped, it sounds just how, how distorted, uh, it sounds in a way how messed up it is, what you're hearing and that you really can't trust what you're hearing and that it's it's, and that the room has, uh, a massive impact on what you hear from your speakers.
And so it's at that point that you maybe realize, okay, I need to maybe do some acoustic treatment. Right. So improving the sound in the room. So that the speakers give you a more honest representation of [00:07:00] what's being fed into them. What do you like the material is that it's playing back. And so that's, that's really my job, right?
If somebody comes in and says, well, my room's really messed up. Can you do something? And then I go in and based on experience measurements, hearing tests, I'll assess what's going on in the room and figure out for them how to approach using this room. And making it usable for professional audio work so that you can actually trust what you're hearing.
And so you don't have to constantly think about the sound coming out of your, your, your sound, uh, your speakers. So you don't have to constantly question whether what you're doing with like an, a ACU or a compressor, or if you're adding reverb, whether that's actually what's happening in the music. Right.
So that you can get back to more of an intuitive flow when you're working. So you can get back to also just having fun. Ultimately, right. Cause I mean, this creative process is supposed to be fun. And if you're constantly second guessing yourself, that just goes out the window, read it quickly. Right. So, [00:08:00] so that's kinda what I, what, what my job is really is like improving the sound on one hand.
Sure. But giving back. A sense of trust to your speakers and your room, giving it back a a, a H I chance a and giving back the fund in the music, basically.
Benedikt: [00:08:15] Awesome. Like that already sounds like, yeah, we need to separate two things here. So one aspect of the whole acoustics thing is treating your room so that you can trust your speakers and you can actually judge what you've been recording or what you mixing.
Like what comes out of the speakers. Sure. Um, and the other aspect is treating the room so that what you're capturing sounds optimal or sounds the way you want it to, and like the instruments in the room sound a certain way. So there's the. The life room treatment and the control room treatment. But in the case of most of our listeners, this is one of the same thing.
You know, like many people recording that in their jam spaces, in their rehearsal rooms. So they have to have the room. Um, yeah, the, the room needs to work as a recording room, but also as the control room [00:09:00] now, how would you approach such a situation? Is there, would you just treat a corner of the room is sort of the control.
Area. And would you leave part of the room were open or like what, how do you, how would you in general approach approach that and do you even need to separate
Jesco: [00:09:16] Or is it the same thing? It's definitely not the same, anything it's, I mean, the tools are all the same and the goals are completely different.
All right. So some extent, but the goals are quite different. Right. And the first thing to really understand is that the stakes are much higher in a control room or for a mixing setup. Yeah, the demands on the room are much higher. Because your, your, everything that you listened to, every move, every, every decision that you make goes through those speakers.
And so the more honest that representation is the easier and the quicker it will be to make decisions. Right? So the demand is higher. There. While with a recording setup or recording a live room. [00:10:00] Sure. There are, um, there are kind of restraints with what's possible in a really bad room, but you can do a lot with the type of microphone you use, where do you place the microphone where you place the performer?
First of all right. The, the way that the person performs is more important than anything else in that regard. Right? So, um, so the, the, the, um, The priorities are, are, are not skewed. That's not the right word, but they're, uh, they're weighted in a different direction. Right. So, um, yeah, so, so in that sense, when I approach somebody or I approach a room where somebody says, um, I need to mix and record in this room, I'll always say, okay, look, that's, that's totally fine.
But we got to prioritize the mixing setup because. If you make compromises there, especially in a home studio when the room was never built for that purpose. Those compromises are going to have massive consequences [00:11:00] on your ability to work right? While if your recording situation isn't ideal, you can probably work around that to some extent.
Yeah. It's much harder to work around issues you've caused for yourself, uh, on a mixing setup, if you haven't gone through the steps in the right order and gone through them property. Right. So in that sense, I would always focus on. Treating the room optimally, as best as I can for the mixing setup. And then seeing ideally, how can we now squeeze in the recording side afterwards?
Yeah, that's in my, that's my personal opinion. Obviously priorities change, depending on what kind of person you are and where your priorities lie in terms of recording and mixing. Right. So you might say, well, screw this. I need to squeeze my whole band in this room. Yeah. I don't have a, I can't use the third of the room for my mixing setup.
Yeah. So yeah, in that case, it's going to end up in the corner. You're going to [00:12:00] have a hard time mixing, but you know, that's just the compromise you make. Right. So I think that's kind of how you need to think about this. Yeah. Um, one other thing that you kind of can keep in mind is that it mixing set up is always about, uh, optimizing for one particular spot in the room where you sit while you work.
While if you want to record instruments, especially multiple instruments at the same time, you're trying to optimize for a whole area. And that is actually much more difficult to do. But, uh, not, not just much more difficult to do properly, but also, um, it's obviously you need to, you need to think about, um, how you place your treatment.
What kind of treatment goes where differently when you're trying to optimize for an entire area rather than just one spot. Right? So in that sense, um, the two are different because the goal is different. Um, And, uh, and the, the, the, the path that leads to that goal is different as well. Right. Um, and then finally, I [00:13:00] guess, yeah.
Uh, you, you need to remember that what you're trying to do in a live room when you're trying to treat a live room is you're trying to create a certain sound in that room. And there is no, there is no ideal standard for a certain recording room sounds. Right. So, whatever you like is. The right recording room sound for you.
And so, um, there is, there is, there is no, there is no, like look up some numbers on some website and then make them happen. That doesn't mean that, that doesn't exist in the, in the, in the process of treating a live room. Right. And so the, the, what you're trying to achieve requires a certain amount of experience requires a certain amount of knowledge of your taste in depth, knowledge of your taste.
In order to say, okay, I want to take this room in this direction or that direction in terms of sound. Right. So very different. Right, right.
Malcom: [00:13:56] Yeah. Because we're not trying to get like a reproduction of our [00:14:00] speakers to be accurate. We're trying to just make a room sound. With, uh, with a certain character, right?
Like if you go in and hit a drum, does it sound the way you want? Exactly.
Jesco: [00:14:09] And then obviously it depends on the tire using totally different type of music you want to you're recording or like how the person plays, what kind of sound you're going for all those things. Right.
Benedikt: [00:14:19] As like, with, with almost any other topic, it's again about like being intentional and having that vision first, before you go and treat the life room, you got to know, I mean, you can obviously experiment, but it sure helps to know.
Where you want to end up and like, and then figure out a way to do that because like you can go, you could go in all sorts of directions, you could have a very, very dry. Room, you can kind of like take the room out of the equation almost entirely. You can have a very lively room. Like you see if you, if you just Google recording studio live rooms, you'll see all sorts of different rooms like shapes and sizes and materials.
You'll see brick walls, you'll see wooden walls, you see absorptive materials [00:15:00] and everything in between because it's so much of it. It's just a matter of taste. Whereas if you look up control rooms, People use different materials. Yes. And also there are different styles, but some principles you'll find over and over again in different control rooms, because it just works universally because the goal, the goal is almost the same.
Jesco: [00:15:18] Yeah. That's exactly right. I mean, ultimately what we're trying to do in a control room or mixing scenario is create a sound where the room sound doesn't mess. With your own perception of the sound, right? So there's this whole aspect of psychoacoustics, as, for example, one of them that's maybe you've heard before is, is masking, right?
And there's frequency masking. So where a certain frequency will mask another frequency, very close by, but there's also masking in time. So where a one event in time would ASCII ma actually mask and events that comes right after it. Yeah. And so we have these, these, these kind of quirks of our [00:16:00] hearing based on psychoacoustics.
So this actually happens in the brain, right? This doesn't necessarily happen in the ear, but in the kind of a whole interaction of your, your hearing machine. And what you're trying to do is, um, is not, uh, is not have those things happen in the room that mess with the, the, your, your brains, your hearing machine's ability.
To kind of understand the music. And there are certain kind of thresholds that we've experimentally figured out over the years of understanding. Psychoacoustics where we know. Okay. Well, if w if we want to be able to hear a certain sound event from our speakers, then kind of the, the reverb has to be this low in terms of level in comparison.
Or the, the, there, there shouldn't be another similar event, very close by right afterwards, because it's going to mask what you just heard. Right. Or, um, in terms of localization, for example, in terms of figuring out [00:17:00] where things sit in, the stereo image. Right. You don't, you don't want a certain, a certain sound event, a reflection hitting your ear within a certain timeframe, or it's gonna mess with your ability to tell where in the stereo field, your actual sound event sets.
Right? So in a, in a control room scenario, we've got these, these kind of somewhat accurate thresholds or a numbers or targets to hit. If we want to be able to hear just our speakers properly and, uh, and that's much more malleable in a live room scenario, right? Some people like a slap back echo on. Well, you guys are the recorders it's on what your snare?
I don't know. Um, I know your times and everything. Um, some people wanted really to, right. Some people would like a really long river of tail, but that they want it to be really diffuse. So it's more like a blanket that kind of puts itself across the [00:18:00] sound. Some people like things to be quite bright. Some people just want like a really dark and gloomy really long bodied, you know?
And so there are very different tastes and, and, and goals with, for this and which, which, uh, yeah. Which is why it's pure art. Right. Treating a recording room is basically art. Yeah. Yeah.
Benedikt: [00:18:19] Agreed. What would you say about like mixing on headphones only and not worrying about the. Mixing treatments, like just treating the room as a recording room and like making the decision to just judge things on headphones.
Is that an option, especially for like DIY bands or is there no way around, like at least some sort of some pair of speakers in, in, in some treatment?
Jesco: [00:18:44] No, I think you can definitely, uh, do a lot on headphones. And I mean, even here in my room, uh, headphones, still feature prominently in every, any mix that I do in my, in my view, basically, it's like this, you can do just about [00:19:00] anything on headphones.
It's just that it's certain parts of it are going to be much harder than on speakers, for example, balancing. So that means. Figuring out how aloud each layer, each instrument in your mix needs to sit in relation to all the other instruments? Yeah. Balancing is in my opinion, very hard to do properly on headphones.
And, um, like balancing is like 80% of the mix. Like if you get the balance, if you really nail the balance, like all the layers can sound like shit. It's still going to be a pretty decent mix. Cause you're going to feel the music. But if your, if your balance is off. It doesn't matter how great your scenario sounds.
Right. So that kind of, um, that, that's why mixing on headphones is quite difficult. Um, and it becomes easier to do that on speakers. And it also, in my opinion is just more fun to do it on speakers because it's easier because it's quicker. Right. So there's this less fatiguing. Exactly. Yeah, exactly. So, so you can do all of this on headphones and you should definitely get a [00:20:00] good pair of headphones.
Spend 300, $400 on headphones. Oh like that is so worth it because you're going to let, they're going to last for ages. And if you're going to do like really detailed reverb work, if you're going to do really detailed delay work, that sort of thing. If like, if you're really getting down to the nitty-gritty details.
Um, but that's going to be a lot easier to do on, on, on proper headphones, just because for that to do that on speakers, you really need a very, very well-treated room. And just like with anything, like you have this kind of 80 20 relationship in terms of, uh, getting the bank, getting bang for your buck, with treating your room.
So getting that amount of detail from your speakers, where you can like. You can hear like 0.3 of a DB in like the last part of the reverb tail. Um, you know, that's going to be hard to get on in like in home studio scenario and for those sort of things, speakers as our headphones are great, you know? So, um, you should definitely get a proper pair of [00:21:00] headphones.
Uh, but ultimately if you realize that you're fighting your mics, if you're fighting the balancing process, you'll probably be better off switching over to the speakers. Right. Yeah. No,
Malcom: [00:21:12] most of our community is focusing on the recording side of things, more so than the mixing side of things. So it seems like this would be a great affordable first step, because you said three to three to Canadian, at least like three to $600 is going to be an amazing set of headphones.
That is going to be way better than any three dot $600 speakers you could buy by like a long shot, right? Like the investment you're going to get amazing headphones versus crappy speakers. And I would agree that if you went with headphone route, that's a way better
Jesco: [00:21:43] initially. Absolutely. Yep. Yeah. I think that's like the first, like you get your first kind of crappy piece of, uh, speakers, crappy set of speakers, but then the next step up, if not even before, that should be a really good pair of headphones.
Like you would need it and you will need it eventually. Uh, the earlier get at the better sort of thing, [00:22:00] you know,
Malcom: [00:22:00] definitely. What are you using for headphones there? So I got my ginormous things look awesome.
Jesco: [00:22:05] I sure S R H 1340, I believe. Uh, they're amazing. So they come in, uh, there's an even a more all above them, uh, which both of them sound amazing.
They had do have very, very tame, low end, as in like in terms of level, there's quite little. Low. And it goes down really low, but it's as an infrequency, but it's also quite quiet. So they're not based have you headphones? I, so I actually pushed, uh, with like a low shelf. I pushed the low end a tiny bit. So it resembles more what's uh, what's what I hear from my speakers and what comes out of my, my, uh, uh, yeah, what comes out of my speakers.
The only issue is I've had these for four years and I, not sure if you can see, but literally like two weeks ago, There's a little, they're like little, tiny little screws in there that kind of ripped out. And so they still sit on my head, but this is kind of flimsy and then I need to get them fixed. So I'm not entirely sure about the, the [00:23:00] build quality now.
Malcom: [00:23:03] I bottled down from those and they broke in the same
Jesco: [00:23:05] spot. Exactly. If you'd asked me like six months ago, I would have been like best headphones ever. And now I'm just like, but they sound amazing. Like the, especially the Sarah image, I really tried a lot, a lot of headphones. I had the DT. The biodynamic DT nine nineties before, which are great.
Um, but I had them for like 10 years and they came out with a newer version, I guess, lately. And those seem to be much better than those old ones that I had. Um, so that's another one that I, I can definitely recommend if you are mixing, not recording open back headphones. I love both of these models, uh, by dynamic and, and sure.
Interestingly enough. Yeah. Cool. Yeah.
Benedikt: [00:23:43] Cool. Um, yeah. Now if we go, like, let's say like we have a record recording room because that's what most of our, if not all of our audiences has so not everyone's mixing, some are some are, but not everyone, but almost everyone is recording. [00:24:00] So. Is there a strategy, like taste the side, but is there something that you actually absolutely need to do or need to tackle first?
Is there other common problems, especially with like small rooms, like the one thing I'm asking for a very specific reason, because the one thing that comes to mind for me, and I noticed that in a lot of recordings, when people send me stuff, is that those small rehearsal room. Um, yeah. Rooms, these small, typical rooms that bands use, they often sound boxy and sort of muddy.
They have a very like pronounced lower mid range and like it's theirs. It's not the same with every room, of course, but there are some characteristics that I considered typical for a room like that, but I might be wrong here. It's just what I'm hearing. So what would you say, what are the first things that you could actually like tackle first in the situation?
Jesco: [00:24:49] Completely agree. So at what I think what, you're, what you are kind of alluding to as, as early reflections, right? So it's, this is, this is sound bouncing off of all the [00:25:00] surfaces, the ceiling, the floor, the walls. Um, but which have surfaces that are very close to your, your instrument or your microphone as you're recording.
Right. And this, so the problem that that creates is that the, um, these, these, these reflections happen, uh, very quickly after the direct sound, as in the, kind of the dry sound. Has reached the microphone, right? So you can imagine the dude playing his guitar and let's just call it a, say an acoustic guitar and to make it easier.
And so the sound comes out of the guitar and then there's a direct path to the microphone. Right. But then there's one sound path where just like when you're playing pool, the sound will bounce off of like the sidewall and then into the microphone. But that sidewall, this guy is only like standing like three feet, like a meter away from the wall.
And so that sound has, doesn't have to travel very much further. Then the direct sound. And so it doesn't take very long for it to bounce off of that wall. And it [00:26:00] literally hit the microphone, milliseconds, I, as in SA thousands, a few, few thousands of a second after. The direct sound and our brains can't separate those two sound events.
They, it actually fuses them together. And within like the first kind of 50 milliseconds, we're talking about early reflections because our brain does this thing where it fuses stuff together. And that's part of the sound arriving after the direct sound as the back part of the reverb of the room. That really first, that first slice.
Of the reverb is to a large extent what tells our brain how that room sounds because they're so loud because they don't have to travel very far. Right. Sound decreases in volume as it travels. And so these guys are very, very close and very loud. And so our brains just like, Oh yeah, no, I know what this room sounds like.
Cause like that's what they're already perfection sounds like. Right. And the problem is that once that's baked into the [00:27:00] recording, Is that you can't get rid of it. It's very, very difficult to try and somehow change our perception of that particular space once it's baked into the recording. Huh? Um, it's easier to do that with the, like the, the, the, the rear part, the latter part of the reverb.
And we, there are like modern, like DV reverb, plugins, and stuff that can take care of that. Pretty well, um, I don't care what your guy, you guys, your, your experiences with these DB D reverb plugins, but whenever I try them, they never seem to do whatever. Um, it's just like, it's always like fiddling around and you're just like, yeah, it's kind of better, but not really.
And, um, and so that's, that's the main issue with small rooms that there's always going to be some surface, very close to your performer. And so the character of your room, if, if it's not treated at all is very likely baked into the recording and you as a [00:28:00] mixer, there's very little you can do about that.
You can kind of try and mush it with a ton more artificial river, but that's, doesn't usually, it's not a particularly elegant solution. You can, you can kind of tell. And, uh, you still have that vibe of the original small room in there. Um, and so the first thing, ideally in a small room that you want to do is try and reduce the impact of those early reflections, right?
Because that will give you a more, uh, possibilities in terms of what you can do with the recording. It's just going to be a cleaner recording. And so you get more choices, you get more options. Um, also those small rooms. Not just kind of, we can't that we can't remove them from the recording once they're in there, but they tend to kind of sound shit.
It's just to be Frank. Yeah. And, um, and so as a mixer, once you've got that, there's like, you can't fix that. You can't make it suddenly sound good. It's just, it's, it's very, it's close to impossible. And so, [00:29:00] uh, so it really helps if in a small room, you try and reduce the impact of those early reflections in order to give them mixer more.
Uh, more room, more room to play with pun intended. Um, and, uh, and, um, yeah, give them, give them something that is, uh, flexible in terms of what you want to do with it, right? So you want to treat those early reflections first. You want to reduce those. And that usually just means. Looking at where your performer is located, where the, or where the sound comes from in terms of the instrument.
Right. Looking at where the microphone is placed and then figuring out what's the closest surface to my performance and my microphone in between my performance in my microphone. What's the closest surface. That's going to be the one probably. That's going to cause the most issues. And then it's all just like thinking, you just have to think like you're playing pool or billiards in 3d.
Right. Sound's going to come out of that, that instrument. [00:30:00] There's going to be some. Some angle where it hits the wall, where that the, where, when, when it hits the wall at that angle, it can rebound at the exact same angle, again, like playing pool and it's going to enter the microphone. So you just kind of have to think about it that way and then be generous with your treatment.
Don't just think you can like take a small strip of like, One one by one foot, like one square foot of foam and just stick it in that exact spot. That's not going to do very much. You want to think bigger than that, right? Exactly. So that's, that's the way you want to go.
recently discovered. Um, and so, uh, yeah, and then, and then just try and cover those spots, the best you can with some sort of absorptive material. Right. And I obviously in, in like the DIY case, usually that will be some sort of mineral wool, stone, wool, or fiberglass. Um, if you, you can definitely [00:31:00] buy, um, uh, proper acoustic foams that will definitely work very, very well.
It's just that they're quite expensive. So they're, they're kind of in terms of bang for your buck, DIY and a DIY approach. You kind of have to think about whether that's something you want to
Benedikt: [00:31:15] do. I need to ask something about this, because if you say foam, I know that a lot of people will get that wrong or will be confused by that because the type of foam that you are mentioning now that you have mentioned now is not like the cheap, usually dark, thin foam stuff that you can, that everyone just can buy on Amazon for cheap, but it's like the posit tact and like the, the more expensive, uh, sorts of foam and.
That, that sort of foam that most people use and buy. I think no one can actually recommend that because it's like thin most of the time, like the whole, it doesn't do very much. So don't get, yes. Go wrong here. When you got foam, that's a very
Jesco: [00:31:54] specific, yeah, exactly. So, uh, it's in with, with, and just kind of as a [00:32:00] side sidetrack, um, in terms of getting absorption that works in the entire audible spectrum, ideally.
Um, you need quite a bit of material depth because the depth is what's gonna determine how low down and frequency your material is going to absorb generally speaking, where it all relates to the wavelength. Right. And you always have to keep in mind that, uh, high frequencies are very, very short wavelengths.
Like 20 kilohertz has, what is it? Three centimeters. So like, uh, just over an inch of a wavelength, right? And I'm down to a hundred Hertz, which is already 10 feet or three and a half meters of wavelength, right? 50 Hertz is double that. So we're talking, going from very, very, very small wavelengths, very short distances in terms of wavelengths to very, very long wavelengths and the material that needs to suck up this wavelength has to obviously be somewhat in the, in the, in the realm of that size of [00:33:00] that depth.
Yeah. There's. I mean, if you go into more detail, you can look up the quarter wailing through in terms of figuring out the actual, actual frequencies that you're absorbing. But the matter of fact is that you need depth in order to hit long wavelengths, AKA low frequencies. And so that's why these, these very shallow pyramid forms.
And don't be confused by those little bumps on top. They're literally just visual they're they're just like for visuals. They'd like they do nothing. There's no diffusion happening for diffusion units, like a solid hard materials. This is foam. It's not going to diffuse anything. It's just going to pretend to absorb something when really all it does is like probably absorb upwards of, I don't know, four or five, six K.
Right. And in terms of, in terms of doing useful work for you, for music, that doesn't really. That doesn't really help. So you need something that is a lot deeper than that. I tend to say at the absolute minimum, if you're putting something on the wall, just for kind of reflection purposes, at least four inches or 10 [00:34:00] centimeters, I guess that is 12 centimeters.
And, um, and if you, if you want to think, even, even remotely approach based absorption, we're talking six inches of material depth. So that's, uh, that's about 16 centimeters. So you need at least six, six inches or on 16 centimeters, if you're even gonna even gonna remotely approach and use anything relating or anything like base absorption.
Right. So those are kind of the depths we're talking about here. And that's, and that's just the material depth. We're not talking about the actual size of the panel. Yeah. As I said before, you don't want something that is like a square foot of material, always think in like steps of at least. Uh, one or two square meters.
What does that in feed? I have no idea, but, um, I mean, we're talking like at least three by three foot, you know, um, panels or surface covered. Yeah. Um, I, I tend to say when we're talking about these standard absorber panels that come in, like, uh, what are they like [00:35:00] four, four by two feet, uh, sizes. That you need to, you always want to go in steps of like three of those panels at a time.
There's really no point in just buying one of these cars, uh, cause it's all about covering surface area. Um, and so if you're going to invest in acoustic panels, buy three of those at a time at a minimum, right? In order to get an effect that you can actually hear, that actually makes a difference to what you're doing.
Benedikt: [00:35:27] So, but when you say it's about size and depth, are there any DIY materials or items that people might already have that they could repurpose or use? Like I'm thinking about mattresses or whatever? Like if people are on a badge and on a budget and they're just starting out, they want to do something with their room.
Does it help to use, like to put a sofa in the room to put mattresses against the wall, stuff like that, is that, does it help in any way? And it will,
Jesco: [00:35:55] but it's not meant to absorb sound. Right. So the [00:36:00] effectiveness considering how large it is, is going to be pretty small. Okay. So that's kind of the thing to keep in mind.
You can totally put up a bunch of old mattresses. It's going to look like crap. It's going to absorb a ton of high end. But because it's not made for absorbing sound is probably going to do very little for your low end. Right? And so when you put a lot of these large high-frequency absorbers, large surface areas of high frequency absorption in your room, you're going to really reduce the reverb time and those high frequencies while the lows and the mids are going to just remain uncontrolled.
And that can actually work against you because it's going to go unbalanced the river of time and the room. Even more than it probably already is. And, uh, so this is something that you can definitely experiment with and I highly recommended if you have some mattresses are lying around or you're like, you just don't have an option to like run out to the store right now and buy some, some mineral wool, uh, give it a go.
Uh, absolutely. I mean, it's, it's one of those things acoustics in general is one of those [00:37:00] things where. You can talk about it a ton, but ultimately you got to gain some experience with it. You gotta, you gotta get, uh, you gotta try it and just see what it actually does so that you understand what all this stuff is that we're talking about here, you know, and, and also to get an idea of what it does for you in your daily work, right?
Because ultimately that's where it should show its strength. It doesn't matter if you walk in the room and you were like, ha my room sounds great. It's like when you're sitting there churning out the tennis mix and in the, in that, in that 16 track album, right. And then it really makes a difference whether you spend five hours on it or three hours on it, or if you spend three days on it, Or half a day, you know?
So that's where obviously where it shows and that's, and, and, and that you can only get that once you give it a go. Right. So I always say, don't, don't worry about Mason mistakes. You can't really break anything. You can only learn that something doesn't work. And so, um, so in worst case scenario, you can learn, you can only learn that something [00:38:00] doesn't work, right.
So best case you do something you're just like, huh, that's kind of nice. I kind of liked that. How can I do more of that? You know? And, and that's why you really want to just get started. And if that means putting up some mattresses, some curtains go for it. Question
Malcom: [00:38:12] for you. Awesome. When you're talking about the depth, um, like six inches, ideally, are you also taking into account that the air gap behind these
Jesco: [00:38:21] panels or is this.
Not yet. Just the moment I'm talking only about actual material, the material core, the insulation material core. Yeah. Wow.
Malcom: [00:38:30] Okay. So you could have six inches of material and then potentially another six inches of air, a 12, four foot of treatment. So yeah, in a small room that's really gonna make, yeah. I
Jesco: [00:38:42] mean, if that's right, I mean, that's kind of the reality of acoustic treatment as well.
It requires a lot of space. Right? You got to remember that. As I mentioned sound waves, especially low frequencies are very long wavelengths. Right? So you've got these huge waves sloshing [00:39:00] around in your room. You obviously can't see them. But that's what's happening. Yeah. And just imagine that, like, you're trying to break away of that size, like an actual ocean wave and all you put in, like, you put like a plastic bucket and it's past, like, it doesn't care, you know, it's just gonna, it's just going to wash it away.
Right. And the way, the way you get a re like you get a change in your room is by you you're you're properly redesigning. The sound in the room, your property redesigning all the surfaces in the room because you have those huge wave next to take care of that carry a lot of energy. Right. And so you gotta, you gotta put a lot of treatment in your room, or in other words, you're kind of.
Redecorating your room. That's, that's kinda how you think about it. Like you need to you're, you're properly changing all aspects of the room and, uh, and that's what it takes to take care of those huge wavelengths. Yeah,
Benedikt: [00:39:55] exactly. And is there, uh, could that over-treatment [00:40:00] like over-treating the high and upper mid range frequencies while not really affecting the lower mid range and base frequencies.
Could that be part of the reason why I tend to perceive those recording rooms as like muffled, dark, muddy? Let's sort of quality because I think that's what many people do. I think not many people do anything about the base or mid range. Right. And that's why it lacks clarity. Openness. And it's part two of this question is if so, what can you do to treat your room?
But still make it balanced and still retain clarity and air. Um, and like the sense of like, yeah, they just opened it.
Jesco: [00:40:40] I mean, the, the, the, the, the important thing to, to realize is that pretty much in pretty much in any small room, just as an empty room, it's already gonna be unbalanced in terms of reverb.
Like, what you're starting out with is already bad, right. Or is it's already not working [00:41:00] in your favor. Yeah. And so you already have a much shorter reverb in the high frequencies than in the lows, just because it's also so much easier to stop high frequencies again, because of those short wavelengths.
Right. And so you, you are starting off with something that is already unbalanced. And your target should be to rebalance it. It has. So your focus needs to be in an ideal world on just cutting down on low frequency and low mid-frequency reverb time. Now, the problem is there is no tool to do that. It doesn't exist, right?
So you, you can't actually just focus broadband on the low frequencies. That's literally impossible. Well, so the next best thing is to try and absorb all of the spectrum, including the highs more or less, but then see if we can bring back some of that high-frequency energy. That [00:42:00] gives us a sense of the space of the openness of the liveliness.
Right? So. In our DIY world, what we're trying to do is reduce everything and then see if we can selectively bring back some reflecting surfaces on top of our absorption that will only reflect high frequencies. Right. And you do that through something like a simple kind of type of scatter plate, or I call them diffuser fronts.
And, uh, it's basically a very simple type of diffuser. And again, because of those wavelengths with high frequencies, if we build a surface. That only has surface in the diet in, within the size of those small wavelengths. Only those small wavelengths are going to be reflected. And the long wave things are going to bend around these surfaces and actually get absorbed.
Right? And so that's how we can build a, a surface that only reflects high frequencies on top of our absorber. And now we're sort of getting into the realm of an absorber that [00:43:00] works broadband in the mids and lows. But doesn't reflect it. Doesn't absorb all the high frequencies. Yeah. And one of the things that you really only learn once you've tried this, and once you've gotten has gotten some experience with diffusion is that this reverb balance is this or imbalanced.
And reverb is, excuse me, is one cause for a room feeling dead or over dams, but. You, you don't necessarily need a long reverb time in the highs to make it lively. You can just have a diffuse early reflections, so reflected energy that is broken up to give you a sense of space. You don't actually need that, that energy to linger on very long.
AKA the reverb, Ty can still be short in the highs, but while you have some of those. That's some of that broken up [00:44:00] reflected energy focused on the high frequencies. You still get a sense of space, your brain stoves. It's still going to tell you, Oh, this room is nice and open and it feels like there's ambience, but it's not based on pure reverb time.
Right. And this is obviously once again, a, an, uh, an aspect of psychoacoustics or a result of psychoacoustics our brain decodes early reflections. As space. Right. Awesome.
Benedikt: [00:44:28] Thank you. Thank you. Thank you. So Malcolm, I know bef before, um, I like, I know you have some, some questions prepared for yesterday as well that I found very interesting.
So I'd love for you to, to ask some of these. Uh, but before we do that, I want to give you guys a practical example that you can experience right now, because I realized when finishing and like finalizing these podcasts episodes. As soon as I like lately, I switched to do like having my podcasts set up here at home in my office and not at my studio anymore.
So yeah, if you listen to earlier [00:45:00] episodes of this podcast, a podcast compared to this episode, you'll notice like a big, huge truck in how my voice sounds on the show and with the same mic and everything. And if you also compare Malcolm's voice to my voice on the recent episodes, You're going to hear a big difference there as well.
Malcolm is sitting in a, in a control room and Malcolm has probably absorbers above him. I guess you have some sort of cloud probably. And I don't, I have my entire ceilings. Yeah, exactly. And you can tell, because I don't have this, this above me. So I get this, uh, these early reflections from right above my head.
Uh, and you can tell my voice, like you can really, really hear the room, especially if you compare it to the really dry recording that Malcolm has. So there you can already hear, like, in this episode, probably you can already hear the impact of like a small room like that at the early reflections. It doesn't sound like a long reverb tail.
It's just a short sort of echo that kind of gets mixed with my voice. It might just sounds indirect and not as [00:46:00] good, basically as Malcolm, just because Malcolm's what you hear from Malcolm is. The sound of his voice directly into the mic and not much else. So you can experience that right away. And it's a pretty drastic change from the early episodes to right now when, when I switched my setup here.
So I just want to say that so you can like hear what we're talking about
Jesco: [00:46:19] right now. You know, what, you know, what we should do as a fun experiment is just all three of us do a little session where we let a little, sort of a little experiment where we, we remove back from our microphones while we're talking.
So that you get increasingly more room in the recording. So you are, the listener can tell, just I get a direct comparison between three different small rooms, just to see just for fun, just to see what they sound like. And then, uh, and then you can focus on, or like pay attention to, first of all, the length of the reverb, the amount of reverb is it very high in level as it, is it loud in comparison?
Between the three of us. Is it dry? Is it dark? [00:47:00] Is it bright? Right. So I'm going to start, I'm recording into a road. , uh, condenser. So I'm just going to get really close and I'm going to not gonna break my microphone or the, the levels here. So I'm now maybe half a foot from the microphone. And so now as I'm moving back, so this was my original position, maybe a foot to foot and a half from the microphone.
Now I'm maybe two feet from the microphone. I'm Mel, I'm moving back to maybe three feet from the microphone. And now I'm about four feet from the microphone. Right. So obviously now I'm probably very quiet and also you can hear a lot of the room in the recording. So now do you want to do the same?
Benedikt: [00:47:41] Absolutely. Like that, that was already a great, like I could absolutely tell. Yeah. Uh, so let's yeah, let's, let's start. So right now I'm basically eating the mic. I'm like as close as I can get to the SM seven. Now I'm moving back, like half a foot or so to my original, um, position. Now I'm moving back. Like [00:48:00] that's probably a foot though that like now I'm away like two to three feet, I guess.
And now I'm moving all the way to the back wall here. I'm a small office and I'm obviously also pretty quiet and my room sounds terrible. And you should really hear some flutters and echo, I guess, at least. And I'm going back while I'm talking and now I'm in my original precision again, very close to the mic.
Jesco: [00:48:28] Awesome. Nice. All right, come on.
Malcom: [00:48:32] I am literally touching the mic, share this podcast. And now I am heading back. I'm like now about a foot away and Oh, by the way, it was Benny's birthday yesterday. So everybody,
Jesco: [00:48:44] if any yesterday, thank you.
Malcom: [00:48:49] Now. I'm like three feet away. Hello? Hello. Hello, check, check. And I'm going to head back to the back wall.
[00:49:00] Jesco: [00:49:00] I am sitting back on the couch. To the back
Malcom: [00:49:02] of the room. And this is what it sounds like.
Jesco: [00:49:05] Check one, two, I'm
Malcom: [00:49:06] talking louder though. I'm going to try and just talk the moment.
Jesco: [00:49:14] All right. And now interesting. Awesome.
Benedikt: [00:49:17] Now what you probably hurt now is. I guess I am like when I moved back, I guess it wasn't as much of a volume change as it was with Malcolm. And that's partly, I mean, we both use dynamic microphones by the way. It's not a condenser mic, so they both get really quiet.
Jesco: [00:49:35] This is the road pro castor.
Benedikt: [00:49:38] Oh yeah. I'm using the SM seven, the shore. So there are both dynamic, um, microphones. So they get, they get very quiet if you move away from them. But. In a room like mine, where you have this, like a whole bunch of like reflections and the reflections are pretty loud. I assume there is still more level on the mic when I move away from it.
Whereas with Malcolm, when you move to the back wall, [00:50:00] I could, I could almost not hear it.
Jesco: [00:50:02] Interesting. Yeah. You were pretty much gone. Yeah. Very interesting. How was it? How was it in my room and with the, the, the condenser microphone. In comparison.
Benedikt: [00:50:13] Yeah. Like you with the row, the condenser, the condenser microphone, the road and your room.
It sounded to me pretty consistent. Like the room got louder when you moved away, but it didn't change the sound as much. Mm. And also, um, it's, I mean, it was not nearly as quiet as with the volume stayed up as well. Yes. Well, it was not nearly as quiet as with Malcolm Lake. It got a little quieter, of course, but not as drastic as with Malcolm.
And I felt like the room was sounding or the sound of your voice was like pretty consistent. Like it got a little quieter. He got the sense of space was increased of course, but it didn't get worse.
Malcom: [00:50:50] Yeah. It was kind of like the. The reverb and room got added to the more or less character of your voice.
Jesco: [00:50:57] Obviously there was a low end and, and that's something we would kind [00:51:00] of kind of expect more with the condenser microphone as well. Wouldn't we? Right. Because it's much more sensitive than the, than the dynamic microphones. The pickup pattern is probably, well, it's definitely different. It's probably wider than it is with you, you or both of your microphones, isn't it?
Benedikt: [00:51:16] absolutely. Yeah, that was interesting. Cool. Awesome. So I'm curious to, to hear your, um, what you, what you say if you notice that and, uh, I mean, Yeah. I'm curious to listen back to that as well, as soon as it's like process, because I'm listening
Jesco: [00:51:29] to this, obviously we didn't know, we didn't hear
Benedikt: [00:51:32] our own.
And also hearing like the shitty internet compression that not the raw recording. So I'm curious to hear this whole thing when it's, when it's finished, but now, uh, Malcolm to your very specific questions for yesterday. I'm curious to hear some of these answers
Malcom: [00:51:46] in advanced story to the audience, because these questions are like, hit me up questions I have, but hopefully there's something you can clean from them, but just go talking about.
Jesco: [00:51:56] Yeah. Talking about,
Malcom: [00:51:59] like you said, [00:52:00] you can bring, just do things like bring a mattress in and see what, what happens. Um, there's no, really you can't really break anything. I recently Rose my speakers up, like maybe two and a half inches. Um, and, and it seemed to me like a dramatic difference. And that was, I was quite surprised initially by how much of a difference is it kind of seemed like it might mixing position.
And then I tried to think why and my theories are that I'm now skipping the desk, the desk a little bit more. Yeah. Um, cause I was pretty low. Uh, and so I'm now a little bit above it and then also, uh, yeah, I don't know how much you guys can see from my camera. I'm trying to go full screen here so I can, you can't see the traps on either side of me.
Um, but now my speakers are also more. Further into the kind of depth of my, where my, uh, where my absorbers are. Right? So they're, they're kind of getting closer towards center. So in theory, the spread of the speaker is going to hit more of [00:53:00] those panels as well. That was my, my guesses, but I'm wondering what your thoughts are on why I would have sensed such a change from just a, a few inches in height.
Jesco: [00:53:09] Cool. All of those, all of those, all of those reasons. I mean, that's the thing, like, I mean, just moving the speakers a little bit. You're going to get, uh, potentially a whole range of changes. I don't know. Did you do this just by re by, just by raising your speaker standards? Or did you put in like those D couplers or why did you raise them in?
I put it
Malcom: [00:53:32] into couplers. Yeah. So I have speaker stands and then I put the couplers on top of the stand and then the
Jesco: [00:53:37] speaker sits on top of it. Now that the D coupler is the reason for the rise of the speakers. Okay. So obviously we've got the potentially hopefully doing its job. Right. Yeah. Now
Malcom: [00:53:49] the bits of the stands have one built into it as well.
So it's kind of like another one, like I just bought them
Jesco: [00:53:56] for height. Okay. I mean, it's still though, like it's, [00:54:00] something's going to change in terms of just what's, uh, how the speaker sits on the stand and dynamically as in how it moves on the stand. Right. If, uh, those speakers speaker to couples work and that's a whole different discussion, um, then there is going to be some change there for, for those reasons.
The, the change in height is going to be just purely in the room is going to make a difference, right? So the speakers will play into the room slightly differently. Um, although that totally depends on your room, how big that impact is. Same with the desk, the desk reflection. Yeah, most definitely is going to change to some extent, but it very much depends on your, your exact speaker model and the dispersion pattern of your speaker, how that changes.
Right. So it might have been that you had very strong, a very strong reflection before, which has now reduced. It might be the opposite. I've seen it, all of this happen, right? So, [00:55:00] um, So that's why I'm saying all of the above. Yeah. Um, and it's very difficult to, to, to nail it down to one specific reason of those potential realities right now.
Um, you are going to get a big change and, uh, and yeah. And there are multitude of potential reasons for that. And they all probably work together to give you that change. Yeah. Right. That's why when people consider we're using a standing desk with their mixing setup, Which gets thrown around every once in a while, you know?
And I'm just like bad idea as far as mixing goes. Yeah. As far as, as far as consistency goes, because you're going to change the sound drastically. I mean, obviously you, first of all, you'll have to build some sort of setup where the speakers get moved along with the desk. You mean those sort
Benedikt: [00:55:45] of standing desks that you can change, right?
Jesco: [00:55:49] yeah, yeah, yeah, exactly. That's what people are thinking. Like those motorized desks where you're like, you're like, Oh, I don't want to sit anymore. I'm going to stand up and walk on my treadmill for the next half hour. Um, Uh, you need to, you need to [00:56:00] like move your speakers alongside,
Malcom: [00:56:10] he's an artist,
Jesco: [00:56:10] I tell you,
hippies hippies are increasing at a rate of five prime circles an hour. Um, so I don't know if you saw that South fuck up. So, um, so the speakers are gonna gonna increase this because are going to change. Uh, the sound from this because it's going to change massively and the, the key or one of the keys to getting consistent results from your mixes, as in doing the same work over and over and over again is having a consistent sound from your speakers.
And there are many, many things that will change how you perceive the sound amongst them, obviously moving the speakers, but also changing the volume. While you're listening is going to drastically change how you perceive what you're hearing right now. So there are a lot of these little, these little [00:57:00] gremlins in the chain of hearing that are going to mess up the consistency of what you're hearing.
And if you, uh, if you move your speakers like three times a day, because you're moving your desk up and down, unless you're a very experienced mixer. It's probably going to make your life a living hell, but that's just a side note on your question of why the sound changes.
Benedikt: [00:57:23] What I find interesting about this is that we tend to.
Always when we, when we think about speaker placement and, and acoustics in general, we tend to think about like the back and forth and left and right of our room, but we kinda often ignore the up and down aspect. And it's just the same, like it's the same principles apply. So if you like, most people understand that if you increase or decrease the distance from your wall, like the speaker distance from the wall, that this is going to change the sound.
But if you're like, Increasing or decreasing the height, you just increase or decrease the distance from the floor and ceiling, which is the same thing. That's what I like. But it's [00:58:00] interesting because I tend to forget that as well. Sometimes I think a lot about symmetry left and right. And like back and forth.
Sure. But like, there are more than four corner corners and more than four walls in a room, so, right.
Malcom: [00:58:11] Yeah. That's right. It's harder to control the up and down,
Jesco: [00:58:14] I guess. Yeah. And just for people now, it's like, if you're listening and you're now like thinking, okay, then how the, like, how am I ever going to find the right position for my speakers?
So just a couple of words of, uh, of, uh, soothing maybe, um, the way I like to do it is I just fix certain aspects of this problem in place. Right? So I'm for example, always going to say. I, my, my chair is this high. My ears are this high. Therefore my speakers are going to be at this height, which is my ear Heights.
And I'm just going to fix that height because then I've got one less variable that any top to demise. Yeah, I can still optimize how far from the [00:59:00] front wall I am. I can still mess with the spread of the speakers like left to right. I can still mess with how far away I am from the speakers. And so there are still plenty of variables that I can use to optimize the sound.
And it's, it's much easier to just. Okay, go and just say, I'm going to fix certain variables in place because it's just going to make my life so much easier. Right. And, um, and, and that's, so that's one way you can reduce the complexity of this problem. Yeah. Awesome. Yeah.
Benedikt: [00:59:31] Thank you. I, uh,
Malcom: [00:59:32] I'm really shocked at how many people don't utilize the working at the same volume trick.
Um, that constantly blows my mind that that people mix it different volumes every day. And it's like, how, how do you, how do you manage to do that? I don't get that much, but, uh,
Jesco: [00:59:48] yeah. So funny story. I went to, to my, my mastering engineer, um, this guy in Hamburg, Hans Philip Glass, happy mastering HP mastering.
In my opinion, the best [01:00:00] mastering engineer ever, but I think everybody thinks that their masters, but so this guy, this guy, um, so this guy, I, I went and I actually wanted to interview him for my YouTube channel. And I just, we got started talking and like after two hours, I was just like, shit, I should have put up my microphone and started recording right inside.
But so. So I, I was just like, so how do you do with this volume thing? Right? Like, I'm sure you kind of standardize your volume and then blah, blah, blah. And he was just like, uh, no, I don't do any of that. And I'm just like how, and, and, and I was thinking about that and I've thought about it quite a bit. And what I realized is that he works extremely intuitively.
Right. He's one of those people who literally does what we all think we should be able to do where you literally just intuitively correctly, judge what you're hearing. And I definitely can't do that [01:01:00] nearly as well. And like, I get sidetracked. I get my, my taste drifts within minutes and I'll mess up a mix if I don't consistently remind myself of what my target is with references.
Uh, and if I stick to the like religiously stick to the same volume, um, and he doesn't need that. And that was just like how I think it's, I think there are people out there. I don't know. Yeah. Malcolm, like, do you do that? Like what's
Malcom: [01:01:27] yeah. I'm like almost always working at the same volume. I've got a dim switch that I go to and then I do crank things up, but I'm like, I'm, I'm always going to put it back to the same spot and that totally works for me.
I got that from doing like television mixes and stuff like that. That it's really common to post-World and I know a lot of mastering guys that do it. And then it's just like, well, this makes sense to bring it to my mixing workflow. Um, I tried to do it even while I'm tracking, but in variably while you're tracking things get loud.
Um, but, uh, but yeah. Yeah. There's, I'm not saying that you can't. Yeah, you can definitely get good results without doing it. [01:02:00] Cause most people
Jesco: [01:02:00] do. Those are the exceptions. Right? I mean, what I realized is like, I think those, those guys are like the exception that proves the rule. That for the rest of us, it's like, especially if you're starting out, if you're still learning, but even if you're like, if you're in a store, if you're an experienced mixer, I mean, loads of the top guys do it.
Right. I mean, uh, somebody like, uh, Dave Pensato on his long running show. I don't know how many episodes he's, he's done talking about referencing, right? I mean, I think like 99% of the people do it and then there's like that one weirdo off percent who have like perfect, perfect tastes somehow and they can do it without, and they're just like, I'm just like, I like this.
And then it's actually good. And it's actually the right thing. Yeah.
Malcom: [01:02:41] That's a while we've been having this conversation. Thinking about Joey Sturgis and his room literally doesn't have treatment. It's just like this wooden room. And Andy could obviously do great work. It's like, okay, don't copy that guy because he's a freak of
Jesco: [01:02:56] nature.
Yeah. Yeah. And some people make it, make it like [01:03:00] some people get, I mean, what I've realized is that not, not everybody needs the same amount of treatment, right. As in not everybody needs. To go down that rabbit hole as far as like, as far as, as a TA, as it, as it goes, lots of people do amazing work with just very, very basic treatment.
Right? Cause you can out work to some extent, a bad sounding room with very, very structured and systematic work workflow. If you have your tricks, mixing tricks, your, your, your ways of checking, whether you are hitting your target. If you've got those figured out, you can work around certain, certain problems in the room.
And some people are so good at it that they don't need any treatment whatsoever. And most of us will vary. Like most of, for most of us, our work will drastically improve. With just some treatments. And then there are some people who are just like, I want the best of the [01:04:00] best, just because I'm an addict.
And I want to, and they will go and like hire Northwood acoustics and like pay a hundred thousand euros to build a spaceship for them. You know, it doesn't have sound, I don't know what I'm talking about, but yeah. So like, so there's a small percentage that want to go that far or that need not. Yeah. I don't think anybody needs to go that far, to be honest.
I think it's, it's, it's one of those things where there's a certain percentage of people who work at a level. Um, like starting sound in, in New York and in the States, uh, I think they opened in Nashville as well, right. To work at a level where it just makes their life easier when they have that quality of a room.
Right. Um, but for the rest of us, we, we can do very, very satisfying work with a much more basic version of treatment in our rooms. And then there are some people who just need like a panel here and a panel there. And then there's some like jewelry surgeons who just like. Throw there Adam old Adam [01:05:00] says seven X's on a, on a desk and just.
Call it a day, you know, get the word
Benedikt: [01:05:06] really be careful here, like people, and don't, don't think you can do that as well. And like copying those, those unicorns because people tend to like those people because it's easy. So I know for a fact that a lot of listeners hear this and they'll say, okay, well, if it works for them, it will probably work for me as well.
Or they, they C they ignore the fact that 99% of all great mixers do something with their treatment and like, Uh, that it really matters to them. It makes a difference. And then they see that one choice there's just, or they see an interview with. Andrew Shaps who has this big ass old to NOI speakers in the really small room.
And his only treatment is a carpet on the wall, like a piece of carpet,
Jesco: [01:05:48] you know, like, I didn't know that.
Benedikt: [01:05:52] Did you know that like he's mixed, he's been mixing on the side, eighties, 10 Oh eight, um, speakers for, I don't know how long, like big aspects, [01:06:00] because right in front of him and he mixes really, really, really, really loud.
He says he always wants to feel. The kick and snare and like, yeah. And he's got no treatment. It's like an office in his home with like a carpet on the wall. That's it. So, and then he checks on headphones as well, but you know, and then people see this and they tend to immediately, people tend to gravitate towards those people and ignore 99% of all the other, like,
Jesco: [01:06:26] yeah.
So here's the thing, right? You don't want to judge whether you need something just by somebody else doing something. What is going to tell you whether you should think about acoustic treatment is, uh, how easy it is for you to do your work. Um, how, like what kind of mistakes are you making while you mix, for example, why do you record, how difficult is it for you to balance that, that baseline, that you recorded, that guitar that you recorded, that vocal, that you recorded?
Right? How, uh, how consistent are [01:07:00] your mixes when you take them out to the car? Yeah. It's your work that is going to tell you what you should be doing potentially do, or where there is room for improve, improve. But that was, I mean, I thought, I thought it would work as I was throwing it, but then that quickly fell apart.
So, um, so your work is what is gonna give you indications indicators of whether you might want to, uh, look at acoustic treatment. Yeah. And in particular it's how, how difficult are you finding it to, to judge what you're hearing? I mean, that's the first one, right? If you're constantly asking yourself, is this what's actually happening in the music.
That's a clear indicator that you can put probably to improve the sound in your room. If you're making consistent mistakes, as in you take your, your mics out to the car and it's always bass heavy, that's a clear indicator that you need to fix something about the sound in your room, [01:08:00] because that means it's telling you something wrong that you're compensating for every single time.
And it shows up every single time when you take the mics out of the room. Yeah. Same with the high end to some extent, um, Uh, if, if, if you've just got trouble balancing, right. Bay, kick and bass, right. If you just can tell, where does that kick end? Where does the bass notes starts? Does the, does the kick, the next kick already overlap with the last bass notes?
If you can't tell whether that's happening. That's an indicator that your rooms, uh, that you might want to improve the base response in your room, because it's just going to make that easier for you. Right? So don't look at other what other people are doing. Look at what your own work is telling you and what, how it feels to do the work as you're doing it.
That's going to tell you what you should be doing, what you should focus on.
Benedikt: [01:08:58] Yeah, absolutely. And [01:09:00] also if you are a self recording band, and if you're working with mixing and un-useful and engineers, for example, which a lot of people do then. Just listen to their feedback or ask for feedback and then improve your room.
A mixer will probably tell you that all your recordings and every single track has some sort of issue that might come from your room. So take that seriously and improve before you do the next production. So we've had that a couple of times when I'll come in and I, where people sent us stuff and we just said, Hey, um, you might want to retract those vocals and do X, Y, Z to solve that problem.
Or like all your tracks seem to have a problem here. And it would really be. A good idea to do something about it and don't ignore that sort of stuff, but just learn that way, learn about your room and then tackle those, those issues that you have. Yeah. I totally agree. Exactly.
Jesco: [01:09:50] Just talking about something that I put in the, in the PDF for you guys as well.
If you want to download that in order to just, just a quick way to judge in your own recording room, [01:10:00] whether you've got issues. I think there are two, two ways to do this. One is. In terms of, uh, one is one is to just, uh, focus on how hard it is to understand another person while you're talking. So not even while you're playing, but while you're talking while you're conversing with your band mate, right.
How hard is it to understand them? How hard is it for them to understand you? Right. That's, that's an indicator of speed in speech intelligibility, which is a difficult words, just to explain that there's too much reflection stuff going on too long reverbs and too many reflections in that range of that frequency range of your vocals.
Right? So if you're having trouble understanding your band mate, then that's, that's an indicator that you might want to look at. Reducing those early reflections that I talked about before. Right? Because those are the ones that cause problems, understanding your band mates. If you are, uh, if you, if you're a basis or a drummer and you are having trouble finding a, like locking in the [01:11:00] groove with the basis or the drummer and D depending on who you are, right.
If like those two, if those two can't figure out their groove, if they're constantly fighting each other, if they're having trouble, um, finding their, their, their flow, that might be an indicator that you should look at. Some, some base controls, some base absorption. Right. Because if you are fighting a long reverb times and standing waves in the low end, those will make it really difficult for you to hear what the other person is doing or what what's happening in the low and what we got.
What's what the other instruments are doing in the low end. And in particular, obviously with bass and kick it's particularly important that those two, uh, that find their place right. Find their groove, find their pocket. So. That's that's something you can focus on your room will tell you what you need to know what you need to do if you know what you're listening out for.
Right. So I think those are two indicators that you want to pay attention to that are clear [01:12:00] signs. That you can make your life easier just by doing some basic treatment. Right. Um, and then obviously you can, you can, you can then see if you can hear that problems in those problems, in your recordings as well.
Once you've, once you've recorded stuff, but even before then, it's literally just walking in the room while you're talking while you're performing. That will tell you whether there's potential for you to improve what's going on in your room. And that will, that all this will improve your performance as well.
Right? I mean, this is a it's like acoustics is a force multiplier. It doesn't solve any issues itself. It just improves everything else. Right? So, so if you, if, if the room, if you've got certain amount of control and it becomes so much easier to let's say, find the pocket with your drummer, if you're a basis, your performance will improve.
Which in turn will improve your recordings because the performance is the most important part of the recording. Yeah. So it's like, it's like one, one ball gets the next [01:13:00] wall ball rolling. Yeah. And so that's why acoustics is so interesting in a way, because it's, it's that more force multiplier and it just makes everything easier that you do while at the same time not solving any problems in itself.
Right. Um, and also what makes it so difficult. To judge, whether you've actually improved things, those things don't show up just like while you, they do obviously show up to some extent in the minute you put up those panels, but it is as you start working in that room, that the benefit really starts to show.
And ultimately the best indicator that you've solved a problem is when you don't think needed to do think about it anymore. Like once, once you've done this and you're just like three months down the line, you're just like, huh? For some reason, like, I, I'm not even, I'm not even like, I'm not even questioning what, what the basis is doing anymore.
Like, I'm not like it's just, it just works. I'm not even really thinking about it anymore. This used to be such an issue. And now I don't even think about it anymore. That's when it's working, you know? And, [01:14:00] um, so that's, that's just to give you some kind of indicator of what to look out for. In your own rooms.
Malcom: [01:14:07] It'll even improve your writing as a result because of that. Being able to hear that everybody's on the same page. Exactly. That's exactly goes a
Jesco: [01:14:13] long way. That's great. And just as a reminder, that like all of this, I've put all this together in the PDF for you, right? At acoustics, insider.com/self recording band.
So a lot of the stuff that we've talked through right now is in those five steps to give you a clear path through figuring out what you need to do in your particular, in your particular practice room or hassle room. A recording room and, uh, and, and, uh, come up with a strategy strategy to treat
Benedikt: [01:14:38] it.
Awesome. Uh, thank you again for doing that. And, um, Malcolm again. Uh, is there anything. Um, I think we'd be here all
Malcom: [01:14:47] day. I don't wanna take any more of your time.
Jesco: [01:14:51] I'm good. These are all, I mean, pandemic, we just, we're just entering the second lockdown. Like we'll be here all month. Where am I going to [01:15:00] go?
Let's talk about acoustics. I mean, it'd be helpful if you have any more, by all means. I've got time.
Benedikt: [01:15:04] I mean the one that, that really like, um, I don't know. You've if that was meant for like more recording rooms or mixing rooms, but now you put down here, is there such a thing as too much treatment? Yeah, that one's interesting for me as well.
Like, did you mean recording rooms or mixing rooms or what do you mean? Ah, I
Malcom: [01:15:23] meant, I think, well, I meant mixing room because I'm in, I have a, like quite a small room and I'm continually filling up space with more treatment. Um, so it makes me wonder, is there a, can I go too far?
Jesco: [01:15:36] Um, yes and no. So generally, generally speaking, let's start with no, because.
Ultimately the, the, the most modern kind of research and most modern approaches to control room design show that it's best to simply try and remove the room altogether. Yeah, because ultimately you're never going to [01:16:00] get a cleaner signal from your speakers than if they're not in a room at all. Right. I, if you could put your, your, if you could build a little hut out of bed, uh, like, uh, like what do they construct Stripe no-BS heat.
What is it called? Straw bales. Hay bales. Uh, what's the word I'm looking for here?
Benedikt: [01:16:17] I don't know the English word.
Jesco: [01:16:18] Um,
Malcom: [01:16:21] I live on a farm. So
Jesco: [01:16:23] there you go. That's the one that the word I was looking for. So let's say you build a hut made out of a hay bales, right? So they let pretty much all the sound through all the, everything through, except for what they absorb.
Right. So you could put it a little hot out of hay bales and then put your speakers in there. It would sound fantastic. Cause you're literally be listening to only the speakers and you're never going to get a cleaner signal. Then, if you just have speakers. Yeah. Assuming that your speakers give you a perfect representation of what you're feeding them with, but let's say that's a given, right.
Um, so as soon as you start putting a room around it, you're causing, you're creating all sorts of issues. [01:17:00] And so the kind of the most modern, uh, idea to control room design is to just try and remove any impact. The speed of the room has on the speakers as best as you can. Right. And in that sense, You can't, since that's in practice, that's pretty much not possible.
You can't really have too much treatment. Yeah. Because you're just going to get closer and closer and closer to that goal of removing the room completely. There are two caveats to this. The first one is that obviously once you are in a, in a non-existing room, Sure the speakers sound great, but it's going to be terrible to sit in that room and spend any time there.
Right. It's not going to be a pleasant room to be in. Right. So, um, so you, you don't want to you while you want to try and remove any effect, the, the, the room has on the speakers. You don't necessarily want to remove the room completely in terms of what you're perceiving as a person in the room. And there are certain kind of ways you could, you can find a balance between those two, those two requirements.
[01:18:00] Um, on the other side, if you do too much purely mid and high frequency treatment, then you'll end up with that really unbalanced, reverb time that we talked about before. Right. And, uh, and sure you can do too much high-frequency absorption. You can do too much just high in mid-frequency. I was an option, which is gonna unbalance your room.
And so, uh, in that sense, yes. But if we're talking about proper full range treatment, There is not, you can't really go too far because in practice it's not actually possible. Like, there's just not enough space to put that. So, so, so much treatment in your room that the room disappears. Yeah. It's literally impossible to, you're always going to have a floor, right?
Like you're always gonna have a floor. That's I mean, that's one thing. Yeah, exactly. The desk and a desk and yeah. And probably some furniture and stuff. Right. So, um, Yeah. So I don't think there's any, any, you don't really need to be afraid of doing too much. Uh, you can, you can, you could potentially unbalance the room more than [01:19:00] you would like, but, uh, in terms of overall treatment, I don't think you can go too far.
Cool. So be intentional at least. Yep. Yep. Yep.
Benedikt: [01:19:08] Great. Awesome. Well, um, again, the, the guide is you can find this at acoustics, insider.com/self recording band. I would also want to mention. That yes go. You have not only your website and like the free guides and everything you've been done for, you've been doing for awhile.
You've also got some courses and like other stuff and program and coaching and things you do. So what do you have there for people if they want to dive deeper into this? Like, first of all, they should consume everything you have for free, of course, but what else can they do if they really want to learn this, these things?
Jesco: [01:19:42] mean, you should definitely sign up to my, my email list. Um, and, uh, and, and just be part of a part of my gang, uh, where I kind of send out a weekly tidbits of information and, and, uh, interviews and, and. Just analyses [01:20:00] and interesting things that I've thought about and figured out about acoustics. Um, but uh, if you want to treat your room yourself, I've got two programs, uh, that I'm, I just recently finished and I'm actually relaunching again, most likely, uh, beginning of February.
Um, so that's a course on building your own bass trap, building your own broadband absorber in combination with this simple diffuse of front that I talked about before. Right? So it's a tool that I developed specifically for these small rooms. So kind of a best bang for your buck. Acoustic tool, simple to build, um, but still looks good and obviously works as a, as, uh, or like is intended to solve in particular small room issues while working on a budget.
And, um, and then together with that a course on, on placing your panels, right? Because obviously. Depending on what, what your room looks like. Especially if you're working from like an asymmetrical, oddly shaped kind of weird room, uh, [01:21:00] quickly becomes difficult to figure out where do I need to place my panels?
Where do I work? Where should I start with the placement? Which parts of the room are the most important, like the front of the room, the back of the room. People talk about this all the time. Um, start with sidewall reflections, ceiling clouds. Like how do you, how do you work through this in a systematic way to figure out where everything needs to go?
So I've got this, this kind of double pack of two courses that you can, um, that you can get if you, um, if you sign up to my email list and I'll launch those again in February, um, and then obviously if you. If you want more personal help, I've got a, I D I definitely coach people online and there's a, there's, um, a, a form you can fill out on, on acoustics inside of.com, uh, to get in touch with me and, and figure out if that's something that, uh, that works for you.
If that's something we want to, we want to do together. Um, and then there's a lot of different ideas and programs in the pipeline. So something that I'm working on right now, [01:22:00] but it's going to be a bit of time until that gets reduced as a, as a course on acoustic measurements. Right. Cause those tend to confuse people a lot and they're, they're, um, they're very, very, it's like it's a rabbit hole you can get lost in very easily.
And, uh, and so I'm, I'm trying to put a program together. That's. Shows you the, the essentials of measurements as in the stuff that you actually need to know in order to perform proper acoustic measurements and then understand them properly and do this kind of before and after comparison, figure out what my room, what is the situation in my room right now?
What are some targets that I want to meet and then, um, and then comparing the results results in the, in the finished room to figure out if you've actually reached those target numbers. And that's, I think really important because ultimately it's sold hard to know whether your treatment is actually working.
Like, that's a really hard question to answer. Does this actually work? And there are tons of ways you can, you can [01:23:00] get an idea of whether it's working, but ultimately there's nothing like just having some hard numbers to look at and some, some, some proper targets to reach, to figure out whether you've.
Solved those issues in your room. Right. And so that's what that course is about. But again, that's going to be a while until that comes out. I've got a course on, on subwoofer placement in the works. Um, there's a ton of different, uh, other ideas that are sort of going to happen in the long run, but, um, cool.
Yeah, for now it's about building a broadband based trout panel, uh, combined absorbed diffuser, sort of, and, uh, and figuring out how to use that, to really get the best out of your room. For the smallest amount of money. Right. Cause that's all, we're, that's what we're trying to do in our, in our DIY studios.
Right? Yeah, definitely. Awesome. Yeah, it sounds
Benedikt: [01:23:48] super great. And yeah, go ahead. I was just going to say
Malcom: [01:23:51] that I think every dollar and an hour I've put into this topic. And, and, and building panels and like, [01:24:00] just anything that I've put into treatment has paid me back tenfold, you know, it's just one of those things.
That's always a good investment worth knowing the stuff. And it'll what it'll do for your workflow is just going to
Jesco: [01:24:12] make it so worth it. Yeah. And I mean, I really focus on sound engineers professionals, who you don't want to become an acoustician yourself, right. You don't need to be an acoustics guru yourself.
So my focus really is on teaching. What you actually need to know and ignoring all the other stuff, right. Because 80, 20, the 80 20. Yeah. And like, you need to get back to working on music. Yeah. And it helps a lot to know the fundamentals, to know the stuff that actually matters for your work, but all the other stuff, like it doesn't matter to you, you know?
And so I really try and walk that line carefully. To not leave stuff out that you, you should know, but also not to get into, into detail where it's not going to help you, you know? So, um, so that's kind of, [01:25:00] uh, yeah, so that's really my focus and helping somebody, uh, like you Malcolm, the Nike Benedict to, to, uh, to learn and improve your work.
But not get lost in detail. That is unnecessary.
Benedikt: [01:25:13] Amazing. Thank you. Yeah, that's, that's a very important aspect of it is there are some of us who actually like topics like these, but most of us would just go back to mixing and recording. Yeah. So not everyone's a rocket scientist, so. Uh, yeah. And, and I want to also make that you, yes, go, you did a Q and a session before for my better students of my course of the self recording band Academy.
So if you're showing that program, if you sign up for that, there is a bonus module in there where like my students ask the SQL a bunch of questions. Some of them are in the same direction as the stuff we've been talking about today, but some of them are. Um, yeah. About different issues. It's been a very cool sort of yeah.
Thing and a Q and a session. So [01:26:00] that was fun. I remember that. Yeah. So that's included in the self recording band Academy course as a bonus module and yeah, between that this episode, yes. Goes free material. And of course his courses and coaching, I feel like there's more than enough you would, that you would ever want to know and you would have a need to make great.
Uh, recordings and great art on your own DIY style. So. Really dive into all these things. Um, and you will notice a big, big difference in the end if you invest in some of it, be it, yes. Coach coaching or courses or whatever. It's definitely be. It will definitely be worth it. And, uh, as Malcolm said, it will probably pay you back and it's probably a better investment than.
Any piece of gear that you've been eyeing for a while. So, um, definitely I'm pretty, pretty confident. Yeah. So yeah. Thank you again for your time. Yes, go.
Jesco: [01:26:54] That was a lot doing this. Thanks. Ma'am thank you so much. That was a lot of fun. Thanks.
Benedikt: [01:26:59] Cool. [01:27:00] Awesome. Then, um, yeah, I think if people have follow up questions or if you are confused with any of the stuff that we were talking about today, just write us an email or post in the community.
We'll do our best to answer. And if you don't know the answer we just ask. Yes.
Jesco: [01:27:14] But I'll be, I'll be, I'll be around somewhere. I'm sure. Yeah. All
Benedikt: [01:27:19] right. So thank you for listening. Thank you. Yes. And, uh, thank you back as always, of course. And then yeah. Bye.
Jesco: [01:27:27] See you guys next week. Bye .
TSRB Academy Waiting List:
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Outback Recordings (Benedikt's Mixing Studio and personal website)
Outback Recordings Podcast - Benedikt's other podcast
Stone Mastering (Malcom's Mastering Company)
Your Band Sucks (at business) - Malcom's other podcast
Gimme The Beat (The Netflix Documentary Malcom is involved with)
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