Need a little help? Got a question? Need a lot of help?!

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Since some people have asked, I thought I better clear up what I do for a living.  🙂

  • I consult worldwide on Acoustic Design and coach on Studio Technique.
  • I can design studios for self build, or offer a team to build for you.
  • I also organise and oversee studio moves and wiring, and
  • I design bespoke studio furniture for supply or self build.
  • I can run training sessions or one-to-one tuition on an ad hoc basis.
  • I create short course curricula, to deliver myself or for others to teach.
  • I troubleshoot existing rooms and come up with cost-effective remedies.

I have a flexible team of professionals I work with and we have successful builds completed all over the world.  Feel free to go to www.studiowizard.com or send me an email / set up a skype meeting.

A chat is free!

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We design – You build!

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It is quite common for our clients to engage a local builder, or someone personally know to them, to undertake the building of their studio.  As a result, we make sure that the studio building manual, which is provided alongside the design plans. is both detailed enough for a studio build novice to follow, and uses as many familiar materials and techniques as possible.  There is also, of course, our legendary ongoing telephone & email support that we offer throughout the build project.

Of course, many of these self builds are quite compact ‘home studios’, but not always.  Here’s an example and a few words from the owner.

Old Blacksmiths Studios (www.oldblacksmiths.com/) has been in existence in Portsmouth UK for a while.  Ben the owner wanted to up his game and re-purpose part of the facility into a decent sized control and live room.  He had the builders, but he needed the design expertise – so he called Studio Wizard:

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Ben writes:

“Hi Howard, Hope you’re well. I just wanted to let you know that our studio refurbishment went very well! The work was completed in 34 days over December and January.”

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“We’re delighted with the results and both us and our clients love the new studio.”

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“We’ve had such a busy year and this looks set to continue for the rest of 2019 and beyond.”

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It’s lovely to get feedback like that, and also great to see the commercial success that a decent studio build can generate.

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The cost of a full design package is much less than most people think.  We also go into existing studios and troubleshoot issues with acoustics and isolation.

Our global reach allows us to work not just in Europe, but further afield into the Americas and also as far in the other direction as China.

If you have something you think we might help with – head on over to the website at www.studiowizard.com or give us a call!

The Author.

Howard Turner has over 30 years experience in the studio business, and for the last two and a half decades his Studio Wizard Organisation has allowed him to stop shouting at musicians and going to sleep on the mixing desk all of the time, instead he gets to design studios and shout at builders for a change…

Further information:  +447803666789

web: www.studiowizard.com

and http://www.facebook.com/studiowizard

How to line up a 24 track analogue tape machine. No ‘scope required!

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This guide was produced for a client back in the mists of time.  It features a tape machine with probably more available controls than yours has to tweak, but just ignore the ones you don’t have.

This is excellent as it allows you to set tape azimuth without needing an oscilloscope – and lets face it – who has one of those nowadays!

Materials + tools:
Tape head demagnetiser.  
Plastic ‘tweaker’.
2″ Test tape.
Oscillator (in desk or separate) capable of 1khz, 4khz, 10khz, 100hz at +4 dBm or less.
True RMS voltmeter (calibrated in dB’s).
Frequency counter (optional).
Blank reel of tape (same sort you intend to use – preferably from the same batch).

Procedure:

1).  Demagnetise the heads.
Turn off the machine!
Danger! – keep demag away from test tape and other sensitive
material – switch on and off well away from everything!  Power up the demag and
bring it (slowly) up to the heads.  Move it (nearly touching the head) in a zig-zag from top
to bottom and then vertically up the head over the head gap.  Move slowly to the next
head and repeat.  Now pull it away slowly and when 3′ or more away – unplug.

2).  Repro alignment.
Clean the heads.  Lace up the test tape, select the 30ips AES section.  Connect the
frequency counter to the o/p of any channel of the m/c.  Hit play and listen to the
1k tone – if the Freq counter doesn’t say 1k, adjust the speed control until it does! –
(do the same for 15ips – while you’e at it).
Connect the RMS vvm to ch8 o/p.  Play the 1k tone.  I suggest we set the machine to a
400nWb/m operating level, meaning that a 320nWb/m test tape should read -2dB on
machine meters – or +2dBm on a true RMS one…If needed – set the azimuth at
this point by putting all channels into play and pushing all faders up in centre position
mono.  Play the 15k tone.  If you now move the head by tweaking one of the sideways
adjusters, you will see a single peak of response.  This corresponds to in-phase azi
adjustment.  
Do the same for the sync head.
Now select play head and play 1k(level), 15k(hf) and 60hz(lf) and set the response to -2dB
on the vu’s (equiv to +2dBM).  
Use the True RMS on ch8 to check this.
(We cannot be sure the machine meters are telling the truth so if we get a channel right
by using the true rms, then we can copy that setting across and be sure it’s right (assuming
the vu’s are OK!!).  
 
Select the sync head and do the same.

3).  Rec/Rep alignment.
Clean the heads.
Lace up the blank tape.
Put 8 channels into record.  
Replay off the repro (play) head.
Using your Oscillator choose 10khz and set an o/p of around 5dB below 0.  
Run the tape in record.  
Use the tweaker to reduce bias (anti clockwise) – watch the o/p rise to a peak and then fall.  
Increase bias (clockwise) and keep increasing it past the point where the o/p hits a peak
and starts to fall.  
Take it ‘over the hill’ 1-2dB (30ips), [3-4dB (15ips)].(You will need the true RMS voltmeter
to do this).

Now put an oscillator input in of 1khz(level) @ 0dB (i.e. +4dBm) – the same should come out.  
Ditto at 10khz(hf), 4khz(mf)(if you adjust this you will need to check 10khz again),
and finally 100hz(lf) which should read +1dB (i.e. +5dBm).(M/c meters ok for this).
Now put the next 8 channels into record and do it all again!!
Finally, put all channels in  record and listen to the o/p’s individually – there should
be no excessive or different noise on any one track.

Congratulations!  Your machine is now lined up and ready to go!

The Author

Howard Turner has over 30 years experience in the studio business, and for the last two and a half decades, his Studio Wizard Organisation have been at the forefront of the development of effective & affordable designs and solutions for studios.

Further information:  +447803666789

web: www.studiowizard.com

and http://www.facebook.com/studiowizard

My Production CV

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Not comprehensive, just some highlights!

HOWARD TURNER

 Producer/Engineer.

D.O.B. 24/02/59 – Languages:  English/French.

BIOG.After a childhood spent in war torn Indo-China, and a BA (in third world development of course!) the music business seemed like a nice quiet life (you know, early nights, regular pay etc. etc.) so I started Raven Recording as a studio in the early 80’s and quickly developed a reputation in the indy and rock sectors as a producer/engineer, working in the early days with such luminaries as the now late Peter DeFreitas (Echo and the Bunnymen), Steve Johnson (Teardrops) etc…

With the development of my old studio Raven as a residential facility in ’87 I started to concentrate more on guitar bands and “live feel” projects, this fitting in well with my long standing interest in manipulating ambient sounds and “less than dead” recording environments.

After selling the studios in ’91, I was free to spread my wings and pursue much more varied freelance production/engineering and performance interests, and also my studio and equipment design projects with my company, StudioWizard.

 

STYLES

Primarily guitar orientated material. (Being a fanatical devotee of “live” type recording – starting with a full performance to catch the feel of the thing…)

The whole approach hinges on making the most of the live feel of the band, and over the years I have developed a not inconsiderable reputation working with successful major rock and indy bands in this manner.

I have kept the “frustrated muso” in me at bay with my own old band – THE NIVENS – Knocking out jangle/psychedelia and making sure I never ever forget what its’ like in the recording booth when the red light goes on…..

INSTRUMENTS

Where it may help, I’m passable on guitar, slide guitar, blues harp, some odd (very odd) keyboards, additional vocals and programming….all if and where required – never imposed…..

 

DISCOGRAPHY

CROME YELLOW – Dorian Gray (ep) (Cipher).
JACOB`S MOUSE – No Fish Shop Parking (a) (Blithering Idiot), Good (s), Group of 7 (s),
Fandango Widewheels (ep),Rubber Room (a), (Wiiija).
TRIPP – Demos, California Screaming (s) (PMW).
SHERWOOD new album (a)(Bee Side – France)
JAZZ BUTCHER – Cult of the Basement* (a), Girl Go* (s), Condition Blue* (a), Shirley Maclaine* (s) (Creation).
14 ICED BEARS – Mother Sleep (ep), Wonder (a) (Borderline).
PERFECT DISASTER – Time to kill (ep), Up (a), Mood Elevator (ep) (Fire).
CLOSE LOBSTERS – Nature Thing* (s&a) (Fire).
THE POLLEN – Contrasts (a&s’s), Nurturing Desire (a&s’s), Factory Hours (ep) (Danceteria).
THE PARK – If all the Seas (a&s’s)* (Danceteria).
BAD MANNERS – Eat the Beat (a) (Blue Note)*.
SHREDDED ERMINES – Aldila (a&s’s) (Danceteria)*.
LIBERTY CAGE (ex The Men They Couldn’t Hang) (ep) (EMI).
CAPTAIN SENSIBLE – Revolution Now (part a), Riot on Eastbourne Pier* (s) (Deltic).
DAMNED – Riot on Eastbourne Pier* (s) (Deltic).
VENUS FLY TRAP – (a&s) (Danceteria).
LIZA WOLFE – eponymous (a)(self).
WORLD EXIT – (a&s)* (EDW-Roadrunner).
THE NIVENS A Taste of Money (a), Alright Now (s), Sex, Lies and Gaffatape (a), Play Blue (s),
House Come Tumbling Down (s), Shake (a), Recycle (mini-a), Shake it from the Top (s)(Danceteria – France),
Giving it Away (a) Sarah-Jane (s) (Trumpet).
SUNDIVER – Cautionary Tales (a)*(J.Nuttall mgt).
HONEYBUZZARDS (ep) (Sheer Joy).
TOSS THE FEATHERS – Awakening (a) (Fat Cat).
RED HARVEST – Strange (a), Heaven (s), World won’t Listen (s&a) (Aftermath).
THE DENTISTS – You and your Bloody Oranges (a) (Spruck).
THE SEX GODS (THE BALCONY DOGS – ex Teardrops & Bunnymen)* – (a).
THE AVONS (ex Farmers’ Boys) – Three Rivers Reach (a) & (s) (Letharge).
GEE MR. TRACY – Shoot the Sherbet, Herbert, Straight from the Fridge Pops (a&s’s), Lava Man (s)
& many other (s’s) (Backs).
CHUNK (ep).
DR. MILLAR (ep)(Treasure Island).
THE CHAIRS-Honey I Need A Girl Of A Different Stripe (s), Size 10 Girlfriend (s) (Pink Halo).
ROBINSON-Toasted (ep)* (Gem/BMG).

PURPLE ORANGE (a).
THE BARDOTS (s&demos) (Cheree).
GIRLSCHOOL – Girlschoolive (a)* (GWR/Legacy).
TOUS LES CACTUS – (a) (Sony France).
SCHEIN – Little Girl Blue (a) (Process France).
ODE ROSE – (a) (Process France).
LES RATS – Bienvenue au Club!(a) (Danceteria France).
GREEN ON RED – Keith can`t Read (ep)* (China).
LES ENFANTS TERRIBLES (a)(Peek-a-boo – France).
*=engineering only, otherwise production and engineering too………

The Author

Howard Turner has over 30 years experience in the studio business, and for the last two and a half decades, his Studio Wizard Organisation have been at the forefront of the development of effective & affordable designs and solutions for studios.

Further information:  +447803666789

web: www.studiowizard.com

and http://www.facebook.com/studiowizard

Not everything we do is a Recording Studio!

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As the boundaries blur, we have increasingly been asked to work on multimedia projects, such as small cinemas, cinemas in super yachts and this – the hardest one so far:

A theatre. A cinema. A 7.1 mix room.  All at the same time.

Composer, film director and all round nice guy Tony Britten (best known to you perhaps for his UEFA Champions League Anthem) pitched me an interesting and complex challenge last year:  ‘ Can you take this little old barn, and convert it into a 50 seat private movie theatre and performance venue, that is also accurate for mixing 7.1 stems for movies?’

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That’s not as simple as it sounds.

It has to have a ventilation system that can cope with the CO2 and heat of 50 people, yet quiet enough to mix a pin dropping.  And accurate.  And not to look like a Studio (Tony said!)

I hope you think we succeeded!  Design by yours truly.  Construction by the ever reliable master craftsman Jeff the Builder…

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We enlisted the assistance of a brilliant a/c consultant and retained the ‘look’ of the barn (It had previously housed 2 old theatre organs and been lined in wood by the previous owner.)  Ventilation plenums were hidden behind said panelling as was bass trapping.

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My first experience of the finished building (after testing) was the private premiere of Tony’s latest film ‘Chick Lit‘.  The pre – film piano concert sounded great and the 7.1 rendition as I had expected!  Also, no-one got too hot on a warm summer evening with every seat occupied.  That’s what we are there for!

The Author.

Howard Turner has over 30 years experience in the studio business, and for the last two decades his Studio Wizard Organisation has allowed him to stop shouting at musicians and going to sleep on the mixing desk all of the time, instead he gets to design studios and shout at builders for a change…

Further information:  +447803666789

web: www.studiowizard.com

and http://www.facebook.com/studiowizard

We’ve been busy at StudioWizard!

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Sorry for the lack of posts recently!  The first half of 2017 has sped by, and in the process I’ve had the chance to design and help build some great facilities that I’d like to share with you.

This first one is Orange Tree – built for a company called AmpFactory in East Anglia, UK.  Designed by yours truly and built by the ever impressive Jeff the Builder, who has been building studios with me since the early 90s.

Here’s some pictures:

That’s fully renovated 1989 Neve VR, a fully loaded Burl Mothership, and a properly ‘live’ live room!

First clients were JoanovArc to record their new single.

The owner’s comment after the first session:

“Normally it takes me a few hours to nail the drum sound.  In this room it took 20 minutes!”  Thanks Andy – great to be appreciated!

Andy blogged the build on Gearslutz – here’s the link… https://www.gearslutz.com/board/photo-diaries-recording-studio-construction-projects/1120553-orangetree-studios-build-uk.html

The Author

Howard Turner has over 30 years experience in the studio business, and for the last 2 decades, his Studio Wizard Organisation have been at the forefront of the development of effective & affordable designs and solutions for studios.

Further information:  +447803666789

web: www.studiowizard.com

and http://www.facebook.com/studiowizard

 

 

 

 

The Perils of the Bass Trap

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If you’ve ever built a home studio, you’ll have read much advice on the ‘net about Bass Traps….

When I built my first studio, way back when reverbs had springs in and autotune involved someone else, your guitar and a tuning fork, I got my first advice about bass traps.

Control Freak.

The back of the room with the speakers in – we called it the Control  Room, although the last thing you could describe its acoustic as was controlled – suddenly turned the track you were listening to into a dub reggae version if you put your head against the back wall.  In fact, if dub reggae was what you were aiming for, you listened to the back wall version, then tried to replicate it in the middle of the room.

An old lag in the industry who ventured into my domain told me: “what you need is a bass trap mate”.

Thus inspired, I ventured to find this holy grail, this ‘bass trap’ that would make my room sound perfect, and remove the ghost of Bob Marley from my back wall…

Set me free.

Legions of engineers since have been confronted by the same paradox – something that traps bass yet simultaneously makes it true and free.  Much has been written about this magical treatment and much has been bollocks.  My favourite being the wonderful flash animation on an alleged ‘professional studio builders’ page a few years ago that illustrated a bass trap as the ‘thing you put over the windows to stop the bass getting out’.

The truth is, sadly, much more mundane.  It turns out that in a conventional room, the sort that we all live our lives in, most of the bass ends up heading out via the doors, windows and ceiling, leaving precious little to bounce back and cause us trouble when we are listening to music.

Not none, of course.  Any room with parallel walls will conspire to boost some frequencies, and wipe out others, with the unfortunate characteristic of doing this sneakily and almost indiscriminately depending on where you are in the room.

However, when isolation is required and you try to trap sound in a room (or keep it out), the effect is magnified by a at least an order of magnitude, and the peaks and troughs can become so excessive as to render your perception of what is coming out of the speakers more or less meaningless…

Show me the way?

So, what to do?  Well in recent years, since the advent of the ‘net, a host of advice has found its way onto google.  Sadly, much of it is touted as generic – ie proposed as something that will work for everyone – when the reality is that every room is different, and every room will require trapping tuned to that room’s particular anomalies.

Lets face it – where was anyone going believing that all these problems had a universal solution?   Did anyone really think that someone’s total lack of bass and another persons huge boom at 100hz were going to be resolved by application of the same bass treatments?

Heal me!

Funnily enough – it turns out that the problems, and the solutions, can be more than just varied.  The problems can stem from many sources.

Likely causes:

Parallel walls- these cause peaks, and troughs (depending on where you are in the room) that distort at specific finely defined frequencies.

Weak walls – these will leak bass, causing poor bass response, either at specific frequencies, or wideband across the spectrum.

Strong walls – these will reflect the bass as part of keeping the sound in or out, causing peaks and nodes that vary depending on the offset of the barriers.

Weak doors allowing the influence of:

External spaces such as corridors – where the tube-like construction sets them up like tuned ‘organ pipes’ hanging off the room, and creating complex harmonic sequences of boost and cut that initially completely confuse the situation.

Then there are the secondary causes:

Poor speaker mounts – resonating at some frequencies and not others – upsetting the sound before it even leaves the cabinet.  Especially where speakers are resting on the top of nice symmetrical wooden furniture – and don’t get me started on ‘monitor walls… 🙂

Speakers sat one on top of the other – physical contact causing the speaker not in use to act as a limp membrane absorber to the one in use, causing what may be huge response suck-outs in the order of tens of dB…

Rock n Roll Doctor:

I frequently attend studios where the poor bass integrity has encouraged the client to purchase more and more bass ‘solutions’ – to the point where there may be no bass left to solve.  I have been seen dragging expensive bass trap panels out into driveways to undo the damage caused.

Worse, is the tendency for companies peddling acoustic ‘solutions’ to market generic bass traps as suitable for any environment.  These tend to come in two flavours – either the fixed centre frequency bass trap – often centred at 100Hz – that is sold as a universal panacea, or a wide band bass trap – often claimed to operate over a huge band – usually 100-600Hz, which, when assessed in situ, affects hardly any of these frequencies to any significant degree.

Dr Robert?

Why are these fake solutions peddled by modern day snake-oil salesmen?

Well, a few years ago, all of us in the audio industry were fixated on buying small boxes of electronics – reverbs, midi sound modules, compressors etc., that we were convinced would transform the output of our studios.  When those wonderful magic boxes were replaced with cheap virtual plug-ins, an entire generation of distribution companies and salesmen were cast adrift from the good ship audio.  Bearing in mind that only a fraction of those could find employment designing, manufacturing and selling us Microphones and Speakers (the last physical interfaces that we couldn’t avoid) then the rest turned their efforts towards selling us things that modified our rooms acoustically.

Sadly, apart from soft panels that make the midrange sound better (or get rid of it and make it sound worse, but that’s another story), any effective bass trapping these chaps could sell was going to be either too bulky, too heavy or too room specific to be a mass market product.  That didn’t stop them.  They made the products anyway – even if they didn’t work.  They made them light – so they could ship.  They made them small – so they could ship.  They made them all the same – so they could be mass-produced.  What they didn’t do is make them heavy, bulky and individual – so that they would actually work for YOUR room.

Here are some results from a room boasting £500 of proprietary light-weight bass traps (the sort that look, and feel, like an expensive mattress) – note that when we removed them, the change in LF response was minor and restricted to a tiny change in the lower mid – nowhere near the claims made by the product.

With proprietary bass trap.

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Without bass trap.

mf lh b down edit

I think the results are self explanatory.

Embrace the difference:

Just like we as humans are all different, then so are the rooms we listen to music in all different.  They require different treatments to achieve the same result – the universal monitoring environment we all crave.  No one says that environment is easy to achieve, but we can all agree that it is not achieved by application of some simplistic, universal treatments.

A comedy of errors:

So, why can we not simply adjust the response of a room by using a graphic equaliser or a digital room correction algorithm?  Well, our ears are fine tuned by millennia of training, to separate out direct sound from an object from the reflected ‘reverberant’ sound produced on the way to the ear.  Sadly microphones – and analysis software – do not have this ability.  In their crude attempts to ‘flatten’ the response, such systems lump both direct and reverb sounds together and attempt to equalise the amalgam of the two.  The result, to our much more sophisticated ears, is a signal now not only twisted by reverberation from reflections, but also by apparently random dips and peaks in the direct response, as the system attempts to correct in a manner as crude and inappropriate as a Victorian electrician trying to fix an iphone.

In conclusion:

You have three choices:

  1. Live with it.
  2. Get someone who knows what they are doing to diagnose it and prescribe a correction.
  3. Gain the experience to correct it yourself.

Now, given that your reading this because 1) is unacceptable,  I’m not about to advocate 3) when I can offer 2) for a sum far lower than the cost of one of those traps that don’t work – am I?!

The Author

Howard Turner has over 30 years experience in the studio business, and for the last 2 decades, his Studio Wizard Organisation have been at the forefront of the development of effective & affordable designs and solutions for studios.  Further information:  +447803666789 web: www.studiowizard.com

Regulation of Sound – Studios in Schools

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It’s that time of year again – Schools and Universities returning to find that the promised building work has not delivered their dream studio. Here’s an article I wrote tackling some of the issues…

StudioWizard

When is a recording studio not a recording studio?  When it’s a bog-standard classroom with some gear in!  Howard Turner from Studio Wizard looks at what it takes to make a proper educational audio facility, and how recent regulations should have spelt the end for shoddy school studios.

If your PE teacher was given a swimming pool full of mud, and told that this was the ‘new purpose built facility for gymnastics’, you’d probably forgive that colleague for getting more than a little upset!  However at the commencement of each term, we get calls from schools and colleges where equally inappropriate spaces have been foisted on Music Departments claiming to be ‘Recording Studios’.  We know it’s wrong, you know it’s wrong, and now the government have given us the means to do something about it!

Since July 2003, new approved Document E of Building Regulations came into force.  Since…

View original post 1,505 more words

BAD ROOM – NO MONEY? YOU NEED GUERRILLA ACOUSTICS! 

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QUICK AND CHEAP WAYS TO FIX THE ROOM – NOT THE MIX…

GUERRILLA ACOUSTICS I CALL IT…

This was originally written with school music departments in mind, but frankly, all the techniques involved will work for anyone!

It’s a fact of life that the majority of spaces used for music recording, listening and mixing are less than perfect.  Although the current regulations encourage new build facilities in education to be fit for purpose, they rarely are – and what about the rest?  Well there is hope, and in the coming paragraphs I hope to show you how to significantly improve the sound of your room(s) without breaking the budget!

Firstly – a quick lesson in definitions:  There are 4 significant issues that affect the usability of a room for sound recording or mixing.

  • Isolation:  keeping noise in – or out.
  • Background noise – whether from the building, surrounding – or students…
  • Reverb time:  Both High Frequency and Low Frequency.
  • Room Shape – the cause of odd noises such as booming low notes and flutter echoes between parallel walls.

Now some of these are simply not addressable without major engineering.  Certainly if the library next door complain about your drum lessons then its time to move the department!  Isolation works are major construction issues; there is NO quick fix – NO simple stuff you can ‘stick on’ the walls to stop the noise.

However for the rest, there are some simple experiments and tricks that will yield considerable improvements – let’s start with the most common:

Rattle & Roll

Most of the issues to do with intelligibility are caused by High Frequency (HF) reverb – typically above 500hz.  If you are attempting critical listening in a reverberant environment chances are that apart from students immediately in front of the speakers the rest are hearing more of the room than the speakers!  Solutions however are simple.

  • Prove you can improve matters:  Hang some borrowed sleeping bags or duvets on the walls or hang them over microphone boom stands set up in a T shape – try to cover at least 1/3 of the wall area – this should radically improve matters and should allow you to demonstrate to whoever holds the purse strings that you need to invest in some sound deadening panels made of sheepswool or rockwool slabs.  You can experiment with positioning so you know where best to fix the panels when you buy them – note most foam panels are hard to fix permanently, are easy to damage, and often do not have the smoke/fire rating for an education environment so are not recommended.
  • Consider carpet:  Hard floors not only reflect noise – they cause it – shuffling feet and chairs are huge distraction.  The simple act of laying industrial grade carpet or carpet tiles can help a lot by minimising these noises and also helping reduce the reverb time of the room.  However – beware of thinking this means you can use them on the walls!  A carpet tile only absorbs sound over a narrow range of frequencies – so the effect of completely carpeting a room can leave mid frequencies unchecked and actually sound worse than an untreated room!  Also – if your recording space suffers footfall noise from classes above – simply carpeting the offending space may remove the problem just as effectively as isolating your classroom!
  • Work closer:  If you can get the speakers and students into the same 1/3 of a room then a lot of the main reverberation effects – especially at lower frequencies – will be in the unused part of the room.  This isn’t a permanent fix, but certainly can be used quickly to improve matters when one is required to teach in unsuitable spaces.

Flutter & Boom

Hard parallel walls cause 2 particular problems:  Flutter echoes and Low Frequency (LF) bass boom at certain very particular frequencies.

  • Flutter can be dealt with in exactly the same way as the HF reverb – by placing soft panels on the walls.  The most efficient arrangement is as a checkerboard pattern on each facing wall with one wall being the inverse of the other, i.e. each soft panel facing an untreated bit of wall opposite.
  • Boom is caused by what is called the ‘axial modes’ of the room – i.e. the 3 parallel dimensions of a rectangular room each exhibit a note – a bit like an organ pipe.  For example 11 feet will give a note of approx 100hz (roughly where all the bass detail in rock music is centred), 22 feet – 50hz etc etc.  Sometimes the problem is worsened by dimensions of the room being all the same (cubic) or harmonic multiples of each other (e.g. twice as long as high etc).  The bad news is that these cannot be properly removed without reshaping the room, however, once the problem frequencies are known, and the offending dimensions identified, it is possible to build and place specifically tuned bass traps in such a way as to minimise the problems.  The measurement of such issues requires the services of a studio acoustician; however the construction and placement of the traps should be well within the capabilities of the average school handyman or woodwork department.

It is now accepted that good schoolroom acoustics are a major contributing factor to the learning experience all through the school – not just in the music department.  However – it is in music that the inadequacies of building design are thrown into starkest relief.  The government provided guidance to all these requirements in 2003 in Building Regulation BB93 – however this regulation is only a statutory requirement in new build projects, not renovations.  The good news however is that all these issues outlined above can be dealt with in the design stage, and frequently the cost of implementing good acoustic design can be barely more than that of ordinary construction.

In the meantime however a little ingenuity and rockwool can go a long way….

More Information

Master Handbook of Acoustics, F. Alton Everest, McGraw Hill. ISBN 0-07-136097-2

BB93 is available on paper as ISBN 0 11 271105 7 from the Stationery Office (www.tso.co.uk).

Or can be downloaded free of charge from: www.teachernet.gov.uk/acoustics.

The Author

Howard Turner has over 30 years experience in the studio business, and for the last 2 decades, his Studio Wizard Organisation have been at the forefront of the development of effective & affordable designs and solutions for studios.  Further information:  +447803666789 web: www.studiowizard.com

 

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Edge Studios Drum Room  –  Showing the use of soft panels and carpet to control room acoustics. www.theedgestudios.co.uk

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3d rendering of an education facility – showing non-parallel wall arrangements to minimise flutter and bass resonance, along with floating isolation shells.

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The main control room in the finished facility – Bath Spa University Music Lab.

 

How to line up an analogue tape machine

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Originally written as a useful ‘how-to’ for an old Aces 24track 2″ tape machine, this guide will work well with most other machines, as the Aces has more eq control than most, so you’ll probably find your machine has less eq settings to tweak.

Good luck!

Materials + tools:
Tape head demagnetiser.
Plastic ‘tweaker’.
2″ Test tape.
Oscillator (in desk or separate) capable of 1khz, 4khz, 10khz, 100hz at +4 dBm or less.
True RMS voltmeter (calibrated in dB’s).
Frequency counter (optional).
Blank reel of tape (same sort you intend to use – preferably from the same batch).

Procedure:

1). Demagnetise the heads.
Turn off the machine!
Danger! – keep demag away from test tape and other sensitive
material – switch on and off well away from everything! Power up the demag and
bring it (slowly) up to the heads. Move it (nearly touching the head) in a zig-zag from top
to bottom and then vertically up the head over the head gap. Move slowly to the next
head and repeat. Now pull it away slowly and when 3′ or more away – unplug.

2). Repro alignment.
Clean the heads. Lace up the test tape, select the 30ips AES section. Connect the
frequency counter to the o/p of any channel of the m/c. Hit play and listen to the
1k tone – if the Freq counter doesn’t say 1k, adjust the speed control until it does! –
(do the same for 15ips – while you’e at it).
Connect the RMS vvm to ch8 o/p. Play the 1k tone. I suggest we set the machine to a
400nWb/m operating level, meaning that a 320nWb/m test tape should read -2dB on
machine meters – or +2dBm on a true RMS one…If needed – set the azimuth at
this point by putting all channels into play and pushing all faders up in centre position
mono. Play the 15k tone. If you now move the head by tweaking one of the sideways
adjusters, you will see a single peak of response. This corresponds to in-phase azi
adjustment.
Do the same for the sync head.
Now select play head and play 1k(level), 15k(hf) and 60hz(lf) and set the response to -2dB
on the vu’s (equiv to +2dBM).
Use the True RMS on ch8 to check this.
(We cannot be sure the machine meters are telling the truth so if we get a channel right
by using the true rms, then we can copy that setting across and be sure it’s right (assuming
the vu’s are OK!!).

Select the sync head and do the same.

3). Rec/Rep alignment.
Clean the heads.
Lace up the blank tape.
Put 8 channels into record.
Replay off the repro (play) head.
Using your Oscillator choose 10khz and set an o/p of around 5dB below 0.
Run the tape in record.
Use the tweaker to reduce bias (anti clockwise) – watch the o/p rise to a peak and then fall.
Increase bias (clockwise) and keep increasing it past the point where the o/p hits a peak
and starts to fall.
Take it ‘over the hill’ 1-2dB (30ips), [3-4dB (15ips)].(You will need the true RMS voltmeter
to do this).

Now put an oscillator input in of 1khz(level) @ 0dB (i.e. +4dBm) – the same should come out.
Ditto at 10khz(hf), 4khz(mf)(if you adjust this you will need to check 10khz again),
and finally 100hz(lf) which should read +1dB (i.e. +5dBm).(M/c meters ok for this).
Now put the next 8 channels into record and do it all again!!
Finally, put all channels in record and listen to the o/p’s individually – there should
be no excessive or different noise on any one track.

Congratulations! Your machine is now lined up and ready to go!

The Author

Howard Turner has over 30 years experience in the studio business, and for the last 2 decades, his Studio Wizard Organisation have been at the forefront of the development of effective & affordable designs and solutions for studios.  Further information:  +447803666789 web: www.studiowizard.com