Tag Archives: mix

How to insulate a home recording studio

When folks start making a plan to build a home studio, they usually miss a component that’s really important for the way you record and you mix songs. I’m talking about the acoustics of the recording and mixing room. The online stores are packed with audio foam panels, but buying two or three such panels and placing them behind the condenser microphone is not enough. If you want to build a quality studio, you need to learn which type of panels to buy and where to place them. The final goal of insulating your studio is to have a recording/mixing room with a dead sound (where audio waves does not bounce around, where is no reverb), so you can manipulate it later in the mixing sessions.

Recording-Booth

The recording booth

The recording booth is a closed space (usually a small room) where the actual recording is performed. There, we have the microphone, headphones, other acoustic instruments and… that’s all. For most types of music, this room needs to be as quite as possible, and most musicians prefer to add common acoustic foam panels on 100% of the surface. Since this room is small, you will not use too many such panels. If you don’t have two rooms for your recording studio, you can always build a small recording booth in a corner of your mixing room by adding to fake walls. Just look at the image above to get the idea.

The mixing room

The mixing room is usually larger than the recording booth, and placing the acoustic treatment here is more difficult. If you mix your own songs, you will spend a lot of time in this room and the acoustics need to be perfect, so you can create the perfect mix. Basically, you need to treat the most important areas of the room: the space behind the studio monitors, the side walls, the corners and the back wall.

mixing room

The computer area should be the first place to start your work. Place some panels right behind the studio monitors in order to cancel the early reflections that are causing the cancellation and filtering effect.

bass trappers for recording studio

Next, you need to take care of the bass reflections in the room. For this, you should use bass trappers and you should place them in the upper corners of the room. This way, you sill still have enough place in the lower corners to use it for anything else.

side-walls-acoustic-treatment

The sidewalls are also important, and you should place the foam panels at the ear level. Let them breathe, by allowing some space between them, just like in the picture above.

diffusion panels

For the back walls, you should use two or four diffusion panels placed in the exact middle of the wall. Don’t place them in the same pattern, but rather use a pattern that’s similar to the one in the image above. If you are on a tight budget, you can skip the diffusers and get common foam panels.

If you plan to insulate your recording room so your neighbors will not hear any noise, the typical egg crate foam panels are not enough. They are great when you need to cancel the reverb of the room, but they are not so great at stopping audio waves from getting past the walls. For that, you need a material with a larger/denser mass. Maybe I’ll talk about this topic in a future post.

Don’t forget to get some type of foam panels adhesive. You will find everything in your local music store, or you can check my recommendations from the slider above.

source:  home studio foam

image source: auralex.com

A short tutorial on how To Master a Song or Album [video]

Ok, so you have seen what “Youtube” says about mixing and mastering. I will give you my fast recipe about this topic. Before going into details, you need to know there is no ultimate tutorial on how to mix and master a song, because there are many factors involved, and the raw recordings will always sound different. There are so many mics, so many soundcards, it’s impossible to create a recipe that will work for every each one.

The Mix

First, you need to lay down your vocals. That’s the first thing you should take care of. Try to have the best performance ever, if you notice a mistake remove that recording and try again. Don’t think that the mixing will “save the day” because you will end up with a mediocre project. After you have your vocals in the multi-track software, you need to clean them. Use the cut tool and remove the parts before the actual voice and the large silence parts. It should be an easy process. Once you have your vocals cleaned, the hook/chorus is in place, you need to apply effects to each track. What I like to do here, is to create a Group or a FX channel and send the output of all these tracks to that group. This way, you can add the effects to a single Group/FX channel and it would be easier to work and to control. If you need additional effects for chorus, you can use a secondary group or FX channel for that group. And if we are talking about chorus, you should know that the chorus needs a different mix in order to stand up and be noticed. What I like to do is apply a stereo effect on it (adding a small delay to the left channel) or pan the chorus vocals in original mix, one to the left, one to the right and live the third one as it is. I presume that you have at least three vocals for the chorus. That should give you a nice stereo effect.

Mixing effects

I like to add the following VST effects on the vocal group: EQ (to cut down frequencies below 150hz), compression (max 4:1), de-esser, reverb. Sometimes, if you add the reverb before the first EQ, you will notice that the vocals may stand better in the mix. You should experiment with all these effects, depending on your music genre. At this point, you should watch the overall output levels of the song. Make sure there is no clipping (usually marked by red).

Mastering a song

Once the mix is done, you need to add mastering effects. I like the Wave SSL for mastering and I try to use effects that are transparent and clean. Add a small touch in the high frequencies (optional), stereo pan (optional), a mastering compressor add a maximizer (L2 or L3 is nice). You should listen to your final song on different sound systems and make sure there is not to much compression there. What I like to do is compare the sound levels and audio quality of my song with another song that’s hot right now on TV. That should give you an idea on what sound mainstream producers are going for.

Most of the audio effects plugins used in this video come from the Waves SSL 4000 plugin. You should the package is not cheap, but it’s used by audio engineers all over the world. There are many free or cheaper alternatives, but Waves plugins are the best.