MIMO - When Music is Your Fix

Journal Of an Audio Student–Lesson Two: Acoustics

Continuing my video diary series as a student of the Recording Connection audio engineering training program…Lesson 2 dealt with acoustics, particularly as it relates to studio design. It was very interesting to take an in-depth tour of the studio, not just looking at the aesthetics of the different rooms, but also the materials used to build it. My mentor/instructor explained what materials were behind the walls to help them control and isolate the sound waves. These are the little things that make a studio sound good–better than your garage or bedroom–but many of the principles can be applied to building home studios as well. Take a listen.


In this week’s lesson, we talked about acoustics, and how sound waves act, and how that affects the building of a studio space. In the studio, my mentor took me around and showed me specifics of how our studio was built, the various methods they had used to diffuse and absorb different frequencies, as well as create isolation for the sound. While a professional studio may go to a lot of expense to create the best acoustic environment possible, there were a lot of things my mentor shared with me that could easily be applied to creating your own home studio space. I learned about how air can help with outside sound absorption, how a simple thing like building a double wall can create a helpful pocket of air to stop sound from going where you don’t want it to go.

We also talked at length about the control room, and studio monitors that engineers use to mix–and how even the best set of studio monitors can have a different sound in a different room. Thus, it’s just as important to have the room acoustics correct as it is to have a good set of speakers.

As we talked, I was impressed about how my mentor referred to the speaker monitors he liked to use–that good engineers will spend several years “learning” a set of speakers, much the way a musician gets to know an instrument. In particular, my mentor told me he prefers to use a set of monitor speakers that is actually not very good-sounding, because it makes him work harder to perfect the mix. Also, choosing and working with the same set of speakers over a period of time gives the engineer a good fixed reference point, so he/she will come to know how a song mixed with those particular speakers will sound in other environments.

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About the Author


Jeff McQ is a songwriter/composer/musician with a diverse resume that includes everything from directing music in church to scoring short films. In addition to his role as chief editor for Music Is My Oxygen (and writing our DIY Musician Channel), Jeff also covers the local music scene for Examiner.com in his hometown of Denver, Colorado, and maintains The Developing Artist [http://artistdevelopmentblog.com], a blog dedicated to offering advice and encouragement to indie musicians.

When he's not tinkering in his home studio or blogging for hours on his laptop at the local coffee shop (to the annoyance of the baristas), Jeff McQ enjoys taking in local shows, going on road trips, wandering aimlessly, and talking to himself.

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Posted in: DIY Music


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