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I've just built a recording studio, got all the basics i.e mic guitars cubase headphones. What cool extras can i add in? Answered

SO im in the process of building a recording studio in my garage, ive got all the basics, so guitar bass mic drum kit all the drum kit mics, etc and ive got it all wired up into my computer. ive also got a decent amp footpedal and headphones. so i waswondering if you had any ideas on cool extras (eg wall mounted guitar stands) that i could add in to make the garage cooler


Think acoustics. I cannot stress this enough. Particularly, since you have a garage studio, the walls and floor are going to be highly reflective. This is great for a live sound (when treated properly) but due to the reflective nature of concrete you will have nasty, untamed flutter echoes ("sproingy" sounds when you clap your hands) and room modes (resonant frequencies that become overly boomy) will color your recordings in a major way.

Sound treatment and sound proofing are two entirely different concepts. If you aren't in a noisy neighborhood and your neighbors don't care about outside sound, the concrete in the garage should reject outside sound fairly well (and will serve to bottle it in), so sound proofing might not be too big a concern.

There are some wonderfully aesthetic ways of creating absorption and diffusion to minimize nasty echoes and modes. Absorption is a pretty obvious concept in what it does (but don't be one of the millions who line the wall with egg carton, foam, blankets, or - as I've seen a few times - mattresses). You don't want to make the room too dead, and you don't want to put regularly spaced patches (which only encourage modal behaviors). Diffusion is not such a well-known concept to most who do home recording, but it is a fantastic tool in sound treatment. Diffusion breaks echoing sound into a smooth decay, thereby turning the "sproing" into a "tshhh".

Do a Google image search to see what I mean. Diffusers (even DIY) look handsome in the studio, and they impress the chicks too. These are different diffusion elements, and you can make super-effective absorbers with the same design, only instead using open-celled foam instead of wood.

A great resource to read before building or planning is The Master Handbook of Acoustics by F. Alton Everest; this will give you a great place to start if you can grok the math (which really isn't much harder than high-school algebra). The principles presented in this book will give you the ability to figure out your trouble areas, and also some tips on how to build effective (and pleasant-looking) diffusers and absorbers.

I've found this site to be a good resource as well. Included are handy calculators to help you figure out problematic room modes, proper speaker placement, dimensions for absorbers and diffusers, etc.

Oh, as an addendum: since you're using Cubase and you mentioned having a hard time gauging the accuracy of the recorded sound as reproduced by headphones, car speakers, &c, go to Voxengo and check out the SPAN plug-in. It's free, and gives you a great spectral analysis tool to use when mixing and mastering. I find that by setting the display to a -4.5 dB/oct slope and making sure the full spectrum looks fairly level, I'm able to get in the ballpark with my mixes.

Thanks for all of that, i'm have a look at the site now. I have a garage in the middle of the countryside next to farmers, so my major problem is that my 120 watt amp doesn't get loud enough to anger my neighbours, so thats not a problem. Also the walls and ceiling are made of plywood, so thats not a problem either. What can i do with the floor though which isn't just gonna get in the way.

Cool. Plywood on 18" bracing is an excellent (free) bass trap; all you have to do is acknowledge its existence and factor it into your design. Another cool thing you can do with the walls (using pegboard and some math) is create Helmholtz resonators at key locations. The holes in the pegboard form a neck to a resonant chamber (behind the board) that, if you build it right, will be tuned to a nasty frequency in the room. The energy needed to resonate the air inside will be absorbed, thus taming this frequency; doubly cool, any energy at that frequency which doesn't get absorbed is nicely diffused.

Believe it or not, if you have a well-treated room and still have a concrete floor, you should be fine. Most studios have wooden floors that they can cover with a reasonably-sized rug if they want to warm the room. If you're looking for aesthetics, paint it. You'll want to keep it this way because it's more flexible. High-end reflections help create a live sound, and you'll get plenty out of that floor; if you carpet or pad, do so in a temporary way as it's much easier to try out if it's not nailed or glued down. If you don't like the warmth, just roll up the rug and chuck it.

The same rules also apply for rugs as they do for absorption on walls: use different sizes and irregular placements on the surface. Otherwise, you'll encourage regular reflections rather than smooth them. Also, when using any kind of absorber, you can get more bang from your buck by cutting it up into smaller pieces. A 4'x4' square of absorber is much LESS effective than 4 1'x1' squares. This is due to the diffraction of sound along the edges.

Thanks for the best answer nod, I appreciate it. Be sure to reply if you need any more help, and good luck on your studio (I'd love to see some pics of it).

Yet another addendum (why don't I think of this stuff before I post?): if you want some ideas for weird stuff to do in the studio, check out my Instructable on turning a slide guitar sound into that of a dobro using aluminum pie plates and VST plug-ins. Perhaps it's not too dramatic a change for some, but using the same principles you can make some really freaky sounds by using drum or synth samples, toilets flushing, &c. to process your audio.

I want to nout together an inexpensice system to record stories for my grandchildren. I have a closet I am going to use and have the items in place to eliminate echo and outside noise, What I need now is the actual equipment.
What do i need in order to do this effectively but on the cheap?

My friend here in minneapolis invented what i think is an indispensible accessory for studio and stage.  It's a beverage holder that mounts onto a standard microphone stand.  It's called the Swirlygig, and it keeps your drink off the floor where it can't get kicked over. Also keeps beverages from being set down on top of valuable equipment.   Her website is www.swirlygig.com.

To minimize reflections in your room, try to have at least one wall that doesn't end in 90 degree angles.  This will greatly reduce the amount of sound abatement you need to do. 

 jim freund
 mpls, mn

 Hah, thats brilliant. Could deinately invest in a couple of those for the shed

Consider a big rug. It'll also help make the recording cleaner to put carpeting on the walls, since there won't be the echo of the room.

thanks for the answer, good idea but its a huge room, and its not really worth the hundreds it would cost in fitting

Hm. Putting foam pads on the floors would do the same job. They're dirt cheap, less than a buck per square foot; don't need to cover the whole floor, just a good amount of it.

Very good idea, reckon it would look quite stylish to, i may do that. If i do ill email you the results as a reward

bring in random old junk from storage and use it to make some neat filler effects to lay over your tracks. Think outside the bun here, like: plates, barrels, kids toys, tools, old lumber, shrink-wrapped babies, a slinky, use your imagination! Sometimes the best sounds come from the most unusual places...

Never tried it, i'm generally a distortion guitar player although sometime i play acoustic, what would work recording that sort of music

if you're a distortion player than all the items I've listed could go with your music, it depends on how you implement them. As for recording your options are limitless. I assume you have basic recording gear, and some kind of digital mixer (garageband, sound forge). You can augment your recording further if you record on to a boom box you can rip the audio and overlay it onto your professional mixer. Try to record with other types of devices with different media, overlaying them on top of each other can produce rich and full sounds, something many guitarists strive for when playing (especially distortion).

If you want a really pro sound, think about the acoustics of the room, and get studio monitors. Headphones usually don't reproduce the sound accurately when you're in the process of mastering a song. And maybe get some foam/carpet to cover the walls with, as many people have said. I would try to keep the random stuff in there to a minimum if you're recording in the same room.

If it's a garage you will probably want to add soundproofing, but that's not going to make it "cool". Simple suggestion - what about some inspiring images, e.g. music heroes? L


8 years ago

i reckon you should put a hairdryer in there - for cool sound effects. Ive found it really useful.

Thanks Fraaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaan, Your making it very hard for me to comply with the 'be nice policy,'. I would do that but im not a lame arse.

But what if you want to do a track with wind over the top?


8 years ago

I like to have OLD speakers. This way you will be able to hear what most people have (old speakers, little speakers. Not many people have good ones.) Its just to check the sound and make sure that everything sounds good no matter the speaker size or type

Yeah, ive found that out quite a bit, do u record. I find ithard to get exactly the right tone from my footpedal as the song sounds completely diifferent out my amp compared to my headphones