It’s Alive!

Building a Recording Studio Part 7

I love it when a plan comes together.

The studio is now complete. Well, as complete as any studio ever is given the ever changing technology in the recording industry. Last weekend, I recorded my first song in the studio and it came out great.

The last couple of months have been filled with lots of little bits and tweaking. It took over a month for all of the acoustic panels to show up, partly due to supply shortages. This gave me a lot of time to play around with how to position the monitors and desk in the room. In the end, it’s pretty close to the designs and the layout that I wrote about in Part 4.

Getting everything just so

Positioning the monitors went through a number of iterations. The ideal listening position is said to be 38% of the way between the front and back wall so I put some blue tape on the floor at that position (the tape is visible in the picture above). Similarly, the monitors should be placed so that they form an equilateral triangle between your ears at the listening position and both monitors. I made things a little more complex by having a 38" ultrawide Dell monitor mounted on the desk which forced the monitors to be farther apart so the monitor wouldn’t be blocking part of the sound. With the monitors farther apart from each other, they also needed to be farther from the listening position. While this worked, it looked a bit odd and make for some strange usage of the space around them. I replaced that Dell monitor with a smaller Asus wide display and that made it possible to tighten up the spacing to where it is now.

Next I used SoundID Reference to calibrate my monitors to the room. Even with all of the acoustic treatment in the room, there will always be some modes where certain frequencies are higher or lower at the listening position than they were when they left the speaker. SoundID Reference analyses the sound around the listening position during a relatively lengthy process of taking sound measurements with a specific microphone and then creates an EQ curve that compensates for any issues it finds.

Nice curves.

When I apply this profile with the SoundID plugin in Logic Pro X, the sound that I hear will be an accurate representation through these speakers of what has been recorded. Using this method, I can have more confidence that what I hear in my studio is what it will sound like in other places. The translation check feature even lets me test out what it would sound like on other speakers, laptops, headphones, Air Pods, etc. This is great for making sure that the mix translates as best as it can through the myriad other speakers that listeners will have.

The gaps in the rack are what I call… opportunity!

Meanwhile, on the live side…

Also as discussed in Part 4: A Place for My Stuff, the second part of the room is for live playing with folks or just by myself. The keyboards in the above image is positioned so they they can be easily used for recording while still hearing a good balanced mix from the monitors but they are also positioned to face the rest of the live playing area.

The bass traps are clearly working

This end of the room also has my guitars and basses, the Kemper Stage hooked up to my other effects pedals and my Roland TD-50 drum setup. There’s an X32-Rack mixer next to the drums that can mix all of these sources and it is connected via Ethernet to a stage-box in the rack by the mixing position so any source from either end can be sent to the other end with no extra wires needed. I had initially planned for having my PA speakers at this end of the room but the room is small enough that the studio monitors are plenty to fill the whole room but the Friedman ASM-12 monitor is nice to add some additional thump when playing the drums.

Building complete. Now for the creating

I am really thrilled with the results of the studio build. The sound isolation is fantastic and exactly what I had hoped it would be. A recent visitor stepped outside with music blasting in the studio as I closed the door, she remarked “the birds are loud” because all you can hear is the sound of nature when the room is sealed. It even blocked out the sound of the recent July 4th fireworks.

As we begin to emerge from the isolation of the pandemic over the past year or so, I’m excited to be able to start working with other people on their music as well as creating more of my own. I’m also set up to be able to jam with other musicians soon. With all of the new gear, I have months of learning and fiddling ahead in order to get the most out of everything that I have set up here.

But that is the fun part!

Here’s the first song recorded in the studio

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Chris Evans - Audiogust

Chris Evans - Audiogust

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Engineer (Software and Audio), Musician, Producer, Island Dweller