Studio acoustics: speaker mounting

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fluffy
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Studio acoustics: speaker mounting

Post by fluffy »

Lately my recording studio's setup tends to add a lot of bass emphasis to my monitor speakers and so I end up doing my mixing on headphones. I really need to get around to figuring out what's wrong with my audio treatment. I think I need to refresh the foam I've been using to decouple my speakers from the built-into-the-wall shelf they've been sitting on, or come up with a better isolation setup.

Does anyone have any ideas on things that I can do which aren't going to be ridiculously expensive?

For context, my studio room has a weird ledge along one wall, which is what I've been using as a shelf to keep a bunch of stuff on, including my monitor speakers, and the inside is hollow, which makes bass reverberate through it quite a lot. The layout of my room makes this the only suitable place to keep my speakers. When I first set things up I put some open-cell acoustic foam under the monitors which helped but over time it's gotten compressed down, and it's only recently that I've realized I've been avoiding mixing on monitors because of this.

I'm thinking that maybe some closed-cell foam might work, but even better would be some sort of small speaker stand that lifts them up by as little as possible (like 1-2") and isolates the monitors from the wall-ledge entirely. Does anyone know of such a thing?

Or maybe some wall-mounted speaker stands would work better, but that's getting into $$$ territory, and I also want to avoid lifting them up too high because their current vertical height is just about perfect with respect to my head position. Plus I'd be worried about coupling the sound of the speakers to the wall instead, which might make the problem even worse.
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Re: Studio acoustics: speaker mounting

Post by ken »

Do you own or rent? If you own, maybe you can poke some holes in that wall and add insulating foam?

I think a cheap way to isolate your speakers is with Cinder Blocks. I've used them in the past. Would using those put your monitors above an ideal listening position?

Can you roll off the bass on your monitors? What kind are you using? Often higher end speakers are adjustable to help with this.

Depending on how much room you have to play with, maybe try the Iso Acoustics stands: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/ ... ustic.html or the Primacoustics Recoil Stabilizer: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/ ... lizer.html

Otherwise, there are a lot of foam pads out there like the Auralex MoPad: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/ ... ation.html Maybe if you only need them an inch or two, try this: https://www.bhphotovideo.com/c/product/ ... _pads.html
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Re: Studio acoustics: speaker mounting

Post by fluffy »

I own, but it's a condo and the construction is weird and I'd rather not go into a major project like that right now.

Unfortunately my monitors don't have any built-in EQ. They're just some midrange Fostexes I got on clearance.

Cinder blocks would be too tall, but that's an interesting idea. I did just try shoving in some scrap closed-cell packing foam that I have lying around and it made some difference, so maybe those isolation pads would work. I'll look into those, thanks!

I should also try actually measuring the bass emphasis to see where this resonance is. It's definitely resonating in the walls though, when certain frequencies play stuff in my room starts to shake. :P
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Re: Studio acoustics: speaker mounting

Post by fluffy »

okay so yeah the wall's resonant frequency is 135Hz. But just decoupling the speakers from it won't make much of a difference; if I play 135Hz through just one speaker and hold it in my hands the rattling/shaking/etc. still happens. So I think I need a bass trap, or maybe I really do need to figure out how to add insulating foam into the wall. That becomes a major undertaking I'm not capable of right now, but it's stuff to keep in mind for the future I guess.

I think what I really need to do is get these speakers away from the wall somehow but I don't have a lot of desk space and I don't have a lot of flexibility in how I lay my studio out in the first place. Maybe I should just find a good notch filter that lets me cut my monitors just around 135Hz. Or maybe it's the monitors themselves that are resonating around there. I guess I could try testing them in the middle of the room or something.
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Re: Studio acoustics: speaker mounting

Post by ken »

I'm always happy to recommend GIK Acoustic Panels: https://www.gikacoustics.com/product-ca ... ass-traps/
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Re: Studio acoustics: speaker mounting

Post by fluffy »

Ooh, those are pretty. Pretty expensive. (But also pretty.)

I think I'll try the Auralex MoPad first, since it gets good reviews and the angle might also help to cut down on resonance with the wall or something (although that wall is also covered with acoustic foam panels so I'm not sure how much more I can get out of that), and if that's not enough I'll look into additional acoustic treatments. These are definitely good starting points for looking in any case. I also suspect that a bunch of the clutter around my studio is contributing to the problem. I don't recall having these problems when I upgraded my monitoring a few years ago, I think it's just an accumulation of small things that's ratcheted up over time. (or heck maybe these monitors are just starting to show their age...)
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Re: Studio acoustics: speaker mounting

Post by ken »

You might also try something heavy, like a brick, paver, or a piece of stone countertop underneath the mopads.

Oh, the other thing you could try are those inverted cones people use to decouple speakers from surfaces: https://blog.teufelaudio.com/speaker-de ... -coupling/

https://www.parts-express.com/dayton-au ... s--240-676
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Re: Studio acoustics: speaker mounting

Post by fluffy »

Hmm, those cones seem to be used to increase coupling, not decrease it, which is the opposite of what I want, isn't it? That first article mentions using tennis balls cut in half as a cheap decoupler, so maybe I'll give that a try, or try again with the hacky sacks I bought for this purpose before my cat decided they were her kittens and started herding them into weird places.
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Re: Studio acoustics: speaker mounting

Post by jast »

AFAIK you can't really use foam to dampen bass, due to the extreme wavelengths involved (rule of thumb being: 1/4 wavelength of insulation or don't bother). The only category of things that really work and don't have the size of a small building is bass-eating cabinets that have a membrane or something that dynamically absorbs energy. Not affordable, of course.
This is why I've pretty much given up on bass treatment.

(I mean, sure, you can do decoupling - I use cut-outs from crumb rubber mats, originally used to protect sensitive building materials, because I'm a cheapskate. But decoupling addresses only a small part of the issue. For instance, I still have standing waves in my room and there isn't really anything that I think will work against that. I'm basically working around that by being very careful with my listening position.)

PS. if your issue involves standing waves, experiment with changing the distance of your speakers to the wall behind. That results in substantial shifts to where the standing waves are strongest.
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Re: Studio acoustics: speaker mounting

Post by fluffy »

Hmm, that's a good point. So pretty much the only way to reliably cut down on bass reverberation is to prevent the bass from being generated in the first place, which means I should probably get an equalizer.
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Re: Studio acoustics: speaker mounting

Post by fluffy »

In fact, yeah, 135Hz has a physical wavelength of about 8.5 feet, which just so happens to be pretty darn close to the width of my room.

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Re: Studio acoustics: speaker mounting

Post by grumpymike »

I’m prob out of my element, but wouldn’t mass-loading the wall help? For example, mass-loaded vinyl. Can’t vibrate if it can’t move.
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Re: Studio acoustics: speaker mounting

Post by fluffy »

That might work but that sounds like a pretty serious undertaking, for something that wouldn't reduce the resonant mode in the room.

I wonder if this 135Hz resonance just wasn't bugging me before for some reason, because I see no physical reason why that would be new. This room's always been 8.5'ish across, and the speed of sound hasn't majorly changed to my knowledge recently. Maybe I'm just getting more persnickety as of late, especially since I'm spending more time on video conferencing where one of my project managers has a very bassy voice that rattles my walls.
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Re: Studio acoustics: speaker mounting

Post by fluffy »

Okay so after getting very annoyed with the available equalizers no the market I decided to try out the Sonarworks demo, and while the calibration process was annoying as heck, I gotta say, the resulting audio treatment is pretty darn amazing. At least spot-checking running Logic's test tone generator through it, and the 135Hz bump is gone and the response curve feels, like, flat. I might actually pay for this, hot damn.

EDIT: Crud, the way it works means I lose out on my multiple audio outs, which is a problem. I think a hardware EQ is still the way to go.
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Re: Studio acoustics: speaker mounting

Post by fluffy »

Okay I ended up ordering a dbx 231s for overall room treatment (as an insert between my audio interface and my monitor speakers), and I also bought Audio Hijack which lets you insert additional audio effects on the system audio output, which I can use to fine-tune specific frequencies that fall between the bands' center frequencies. It also has some other neat features like a built-in scheduler so you can change your soundstage at different times of day (like adding a dynamic range compressor late at night). Neat!

Oh and unlike Sonarworks it supports multichannel audio.
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Re: Studio acoustics: speaker mounting

Post by ken »

If you haven't already bought the mopads, MF has these on sale: https://www.musiciansfriend.com/accesso ... tor-2-pack
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Re: Studio acoustics: speaker mounting

Post by fluffy »

Awesome! I hadn't, since the repurposed packing foam seems to be doing an okay job and I have the equalizer on the way (arriving tomorrow). Those look like they're probably a bit better than the packing foam though.
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Re: Studio acoustics: speaker mounting

Post by fluffy »

The EQ arrived yesterday and while I still have the speaker isolation pads on the way I decided to do a quick calibration pass. First I tried doing frequency sweeping with my old SPL meter but that was too annoying, so I ended up looking up to see if any of my mics had a reasonably flat response, and it turns out the V63M is pretty good. So I set that mic up at my listening position, and set Logic to play white noise while metering the microphone, and kept on flipping the white noise generator between the left and right channels while I fiddled the EQ channels to try to kinda-sorta match the microphone's known response.
cal.jpg
cal.jpg (376.23 KiB) Viewed 32 times
The resulting calibration is pretty okay (and most importantly it cuts out the resonant nodes!) and I'll spend some more time fine-tuning it when the isolation pads arrive. Right now it's a bit short on treble compared to my reference headphones so this'll take some work still. I'll probably want to use a different spectrum plot. Fortunately Logic has a bunch available.
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