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Martin’s Audio Blah-Blah #4

By April 21, 2015March 16th, 2016Audio, Blog

The Room

So often in the pursuit of good audio recording we talk about gear. Microphones, preamps, EQ, converters and so on and so forth.  I am a self admitted gear nut. Neumann mics and API consoles make me giddy as a school girl.  And I feel a pride of ownership with certain pieces of equipment and instruments because there is history and legacy there that I try to live up to.  But there is one crucial element to the recording chain that you can’t screw into a rack or wire into a patch bay and it doesn’t require electricity (unless you need the lights on).  Yes, you guessed it, I’m talking about the recording room.

All the best gear you could wish for can only capture the sound of the source in the room.  Crappy sounding source in a crappy sounding room is gonna sound crappy even through a $5000 mic.  However, to offer a contrast, a great sounding source in a great sounding room can sound amazing through a far less expensive mic.  Which indicates the importance of your recording space.  “But I live where I live, I can’t do anything about that.”  Well, you may not be able to custom build a new studio for yourself but there are things you can do to improve how your room sounds.

Here’s an example.  At TPH we have a large room that functions as a multi-purpose space for both video and audio.  Because it wasn’t built specifically for audio, we have to get creative in the way we set up a recording environment. The approach to this is, of course, different depending on what we are recording. At TPH we record a lot of acoustic music from solos to full bands and although we’ve gotten great results, I am always looking for ways to improve things.  It occurred to me that some gobos could really help, so we built some (see pics).


We made these from cheap IKEA bookshelves, Owens Corning insulation and stretch fabric.  Four of them cost us about $500.

10996464_898190723565608_4275668312340636527_nIKEA BOOKSHELVES


FIBERGLASS BOARDS11102739_917819224936091_1072680444601486281_nBLACK FABRIC22685_917819238269423_2416844230955148935_n

And the next time I recorded acoustic guitar, I set them up as back and side absorbers letting the Mics pickup up a little natural room and BAM!  They worked like a charm. The most noticeable thing was it was really fast to get a good recording. The sound was more focused but still open. And phase issues when miking in stereo were much easier to overcome because the gobos were effectively absorbing the frequencies that can cancel out and leave “holes” in your sound.  Build yourself some gobos, or better yet, come to TPH and use ours.
Next project – roll away wooden floors!

Martin Shears, Audio Engineer TPH