A friend of mine visited my home studio some months ago and told me to check the acoustics. He explained the basics such as the sound reflections coming from the walls, the bass which tends to accumulate in the corners and my listening position not being centered. He also suggested to clap my hands and listen to the reverb tail. Never really thought of that. Maybe those problems made me reach for headphones a bit too often.
I did some research and ended at GIK Acoustics. They have an online acoustic advice service, which means you can email them about your current situation and they’ll try to guide you through the steps of improving your acoustic environment. I sent them a map of my room, included some pictures and gave an indication of my budget.
I also created a recording with REW V5, an application which allows you to get measurements and visual feedback of your room acoustics. Just put your microphone at the listening position and let the software record the sounds that it plays through the speakers. Many aspects can be analyzed, I focused on both the frequency response (measuring the amount of dB during a sweep from 20 Hz to 20 KHz) and the reverberation times using their waterfall plot.
After some emails back and forth it became clear I needed 8 panels – so called bass traps – and needed to center my listening position. All adjustments would cost me some space but I was willing to give in.
The panels came in from England, 4 days after I had ordered. After mounting 6 panels to the walls and 2 panels to the ceiling I can honestly say that this was one of my best studio investments ever. I already noticed that everyday sounds like speaking or typing on a keyboard changed radically, it all sounds so much tighter. As if you stepped into some kind of vacuum room. The same counts for the music: less reverberation and no muddy bass but a much clearer audio spectrum.
Are we done? Not quite. Since the room isn’t that big, I will always have some audio difficulties, especially when trying to maximize bass control. Maybe some more panels / diffusors will even further optimize this room. For now however, I’m more than satisfied with the results.