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Recording Studio Design

Book Description

Philip Newell's comprehensive reference work contains pearls of wisdom which anyone involved in sound recording will want to apply to their own studio design. He discusses the fundamentals of good studio acoustics and monitoring in an exhaustive yet accessible manner.

Recording Studio Design covers the basic principles, their application in practical circumstances, and the reasons for their importance to the daily success of recording studios. All issues are approached from the premise that most readers will be more interested in how these things affect their daily lives rather than wishing to make an in-depth study of pure acoustics. Therefore frequent reference is made to examples of actual studios, their various design problems and solutions.

Because of the importance of good acoustics to the success of most studios, and because of the financial burden which failure may impose, getting things right first time is essential. The advice contained in Recording Studio Design offers workable ways to improve the success rate of any studio, large or small.

Table of Contents

  1. Cover
  2. Halftitle
  3. Dedication
  4. Title
  5. Copyright
  6. Contents
  7. About the author
  8. Acknowledgements
  9. Preface
  10. Introduction
  11. Chapter 1 General requirements and common errors
    1. 1.1 The general requirements
    2. 1.2 Sound isolation and background noise levels
      1. 1.2.1 From the inside out
      2. 1.2.2 From the outside in
      3. 1.2.3 Realistic goals
      4. 1.2.4 Isolation versus artistry
    3. 1.3 Confidence in the system
    4. 1.4 The complete system
    5. 1.5 Very common mistakes
      1. 1.5.1 The need for space
      2. 1.5.2 Height
      3. 1.5.3 Floor loading
    6. 1.6 Summary
  12. Chapter 2 Sound, decibels and hearing
    1. 2.1 Perception of sound
    2. 2.2 Sound itself
    3. 2.3 The decibel; sound power, sound pressure and sound intensity
      1. 2.3.1 The dBA and dBC scales
    4. 2.4 Human hearing
      1. 2.4.1 Chacun A Son Oreille
    5. 2.5 Summary
    6. References
    7. Bibliography
  13. Chapter 3 Sound isolation
    1. 3.1 Vibrational behaviour
      1. 3.1.1 Relevance to isolation
    2. 3.2 Basic isolation concepts
      1. 3.2.1 Damping and the mass law
      2. 3.2.2 Floating structures
      3. 3.2.3 Floating system choices
    3. 3.3 Practical floors
      1. 3.3.1 Floors on weak sub-floors
    4. 3.4 Ceiling isolation
      1. 3.4.1 A trip through the ceiling
    5. 3.5 Summing the results
      1. 3.5.1 Internal reflexions
    6. 3.6 Wall isolation
    7. 3.7 Lighter weight isolation systems
    8. 3.8 Reciprocity and impact noises
    9. 3.9 The distance option
    10. 3.10 Discussion
    11. 3.11 Summary
    12. Reference
    13. Bibliography
  14. Chapter 4 Room acoustics and means of control
    1. 4.1 Internal expansion
    2. 4.2 Modes
    3. 4.3 Flutter echoes and transient phenomena
    4. 4.4 Reverberation
      1. 4.4.1 Measuring reverberation time
    5. 4.5 Absorption
      1. 4.5.1 Speed of sound in gases
      2. 4.5.2 Other properties of fibrous materials
      3. 4.5.3 Absorption coefficients
      4. 4.5.4 Porous absorption
      5. 4.5.5 Resonant absorbers
      6. 4.5.6 Membrane absorbers
    6. 4.6 Q and damping
    7. 4.7 Diffusion
    8. 4.8 Diffraction
    9. 4.9 Refraction
    10. 4.10 Review
    11. 4.11 Summary
    12. References
    13. Bibliography
  15. Chapter 5 Designing neutral rooms
    1. 5.1 Background
    2. 5.2 Large neutral rooms
    3. 5.3 Practical realisation of a neutral room
      1. 5.3.1 Floors
      2. 5.3.2 Shapes, sizes and modes
      3. 5.3.3 From isolation shell towards neutrality
      4. 5.3.4 Lower frequency control
      5. 5.3.5 Relative merits of neutrality and idiosyncrasy
    4. 5.4 What is parallel?
    5. 5.5 Reflexions, reverberation and diffusion
    6. 5.6 Floor and ceiling considerations
    7. 5.7 Wall treatments
    8. 5.8 Small and neutral
      1. 5.8.1 Practical constructions
      2. 5.8.2 The journey of the sound waves
      3. 5.8.3 The pressure zone
      4. 5.8.4 Wall losses
      5. 5.8.5 Transfer of sound between high and low densities
      6. 5.8.6 Combined effects of losses
      7. 5.8.7 A micro-problem
    9. 5.9 Trims
    10. 5.10 The degree of neutrality – an overview
    11. 5.11 Summary
    12. References
    13. Bibliography
  16. Chapter 6 Rooms with characteristic acoustics
    1. 6.1 Definitions
    2. 6.2 A brief history of idiosyncrasy
      1. 6.2.1 From a room to a classic
      2. 6.2.2 Limited, or priceless?
    3. 6.3 Drawbacks of the containment shells
    4. 6.4 Design considerations
      1. 6.4.1 Room character differences
    5. 6.5 Driving and collecting the rooms
    6. 6.6 Evolution of stone rooms
      1. 6.6.1 Construction options
    7. 6.7 Live versus electronic reverberation
    8. 6.8 The 20% rule
    9. 6.9 Reverberant rooms and bright rooms – reflexion and diffusion
      1. 6.9.1 Bright rooms
    10. 6.10 Low frequency considerations in live rooms
    11. 6.11 General comments on live rooms
    12. 6.12 Orchestral rooms
      1. 6.12.1 Choice of venues, and musicians’ needs
    13. 6.13 RT considerations
    14. 6.14 Fixed studio environments
    15. 6.15 Psychoacoustic considerations and spacial awareness
    16. 6.16 Dead rooms
    17. 6.17 Summary
    18. References
    19. Bibliography
  17. Chapter 7 Variable acoustics
    1. 7.1 The geometry of change
    2. 7.2 Small room considerations
    3. 7.3 Summary
  18. Chapter 8 Room combinations and operational considerations
    1. 8.1 Options and influences
      1. 8.1.1 Demands from control rooms
    2. 8.2 Layout of rooms
      1. 8.2.1 Priorities and practice
    3. 8.3 Isolation considerations: doors and windows
      1. 8.3.1 Sliding doors
      2. 8.3.2 Window systems
      3. 8.3.3 Multiple glazing considerations
      4. 8.3.4 High degrees of isolation
    4. 8.4 The Geddes approach
    5. 8.5 Recording techniques for limited acoustics
      1. 8.5.1 Moving musicians and changing microphones
    6. 8.6 A compact studio
    7. 8.7 Review
    8. 8.8 Summary
    9. References
  19. Chapter 9 The studio environment
    1. 9.1 Some human needs
      1. 9.1.1 Daylight
      2. 9.1.2 Artificial light
      3. 9.1.3 Ease and comfort
    2. 9.2 Ventilation and air-conditioning
      1. 9.2.1 Ventilation
      2. 9.2.2 Air-conditioning systems and general mechanical noises
    3. 9.3 Headphone foldback
      1. 9.3.1 Loudspeaker foldback
    4. 9.4 Colours, and general decoration
    5. 9.5 AC mains supplies
      1. 9.5.1 Phase
      2. 9.5.2 Power cabling
      3. 9.5.3 Balanced power
      4. 9.5.4 Mains feeds
      5. 9.5.5 Earthing
    6. 9.6 Summary
    7. References
  20. Chapter 10 Limitations to design predictions
    1. 10.1 Room responses
      1. 10.1.1 The envelope of the impulse response, and reverberation time
      2. 10.1.2 Schroeder plots
      3. 10.1.3 Energy/time curves
      4. 10.1.4 Waterfall plots
      5. 10.1.5 Directional effects
    2. 10.2 Scale models
    3. 10.3 Computer models
    4. 10.4 Sound pulse modelling
    5. 10.5 Light ray modelling
    6. 10.6 Ripple tank modelling
    7. 10.7 Review
    8. 10.8 Summary
    9. References
  21. Chapter 11 Loudspeakers in rooms
    1. 11.1 From the studio to the control room
    2. 11.2 Room influences
      1. 11.2.1 Radiation patterns
      2. 11.2.2 Loading by boundaries
      3. 11.2.3 Dipole considerations
      4. 11.2.4 Diffraction sources
    3. 11.3 Room reverberation and the critical distance
    4. 11.4 Sound power radiation
    5. 11.5 Corrective measures
      1. 11.5.1 Minimum and non-minimum phase
      2. 11.5.2 Digital correction techniques
      3. 11.5.3 Related problems in loudspeaker
      4. 11.5.4 Summary of correct applications of equalisation
    6. 11.6 Phase and time
    7. 11.7 The black art
    8. 11.8 Summary
    9. Bibliography
  22. Chapter 12 Flattening the room response
    1. 12.1 Electronic correction concerns
    2. 12.2 The standard room
    3. 12.3 The anechoic chamber
    4. 12.4 The hybrid room
    5. 12.5 A BBC solution
    6. 12.6 On listening rooms in general
    7. 12.7 Close-field monitoring
    8. 12.8 Summary
    9. References
  23. Chapter 13 Control rooms
    1. 13.1 The advent of specialised control rooms
      1. 13.1.1 Geometrically controlled rooms
      2. 13.1.2 Directional dual acoustics
      3. 13.1.3 The LEDE
      4. 13.1.4 The Non-Environment
      5. 13.1.5 Toyoshima rooms
    2. 13.2 Built-in monitors
    3. 13.3 Directional acoustics
    4. 13.4 Scaling problems
    5. 13.5 The pressure zone
    6. 13.6 One system
    7. 13.7 Aspects of small control room designs
      1. 13.7.1 Conflicting requirements
      2. 13.7.2 Active absorbers
    8. 13.8 A short overview
    9. 13.9 Summary
    10. References
    11. Bibliography
  24. Chapter 14 The behaviour of multiple loudspeakers in rooms
    1. 14.1 Mono sources
    2. 14.2 Stereo sources
    3. 14.3 Steady-state performance
    4. 14.4 Transient considerations
    5. 14.5 The pan-pot dilemma
    6. 14.6 Limitations, exceptions and multi-channel considerations
    7. 14.7 Surround in practice
    8. 14.8 A general view
    9. 14.9 Summary
    10. References
    11. Bibliography
  25. Chapter 15 Studio monitoring: the principal objectives
    1. 15.1 The forces at work
    2. 15.2 Where is the reference?
    3. 15.3 Different needs
    4. 15.4 What is right?
    5. 15.5 Close field monitoring
    6. 15.6 Why the NS10M?
    7. 15.7 General needs
    8. 15.8 Summary
    9. References
    10. Bibliography
  26. Chapter 16 The Non-Environment control room
    1. 16.1 Introduction
    2. 16.2 Sources of uncertainty
    3. 16.3 Removing a variable
    4. 16.4 Limitations, real and imaginary
    5. 16.5 Spacial anomalies
    6. 16.6 Solutions
    7. 16.7 Stereo imaging constraints
    8. 16.8 The concept of stereo as currently used
    9. 16.9 Conflicts and definitions
    10. 16.10 A parallel issue
    11. 16.11 Prior art and established ideas
    12. 16.12 The zero option – the origins of the philosophy
    13. 16.13 Summary
    14. References
  27. Chapter 17 The Live-End, Dead-End approach
    1. 17.1 First impressions
    2. 17.2 A window of objectivity
    3. 17.3 Working and listening environments
    4. 17.4 Summary
    5. References
    6. Bibliography
  28. Chapter 18 Response disturbances due to mixing consoles and studio furniture
    1. 18.1 The sound of mixing consoles
    2. 18.2 Equipment racks
    3. 18.3 Computer and video monitoring
    4. 18.4 Sofas
    5. 18.5 Effects and equipment racks
    6. 18.6 Close-field monitors
    7. 18.7 General commentary
    8. 18.8 Summary
    9. Bibliography
  29. Chapter 19 Objective measurement and subjective evaluations
    1. 19.1 Objective testing
      1. 19.1.1 Pressure amplitude responses
      2. 19.1.2 Harmonic distortion
      3. 19.1.3 Directivity
      4. 19.1.4 Acoustic source
      5. 19.1.5 Step-function response
      6. 19.1.6 The power cepstrum
    2. 19.2 The on-axis pressure amplitude response
    3. 19.3 Harmonic distortion
      1. 19.3.1 Intermodulation distortion
    4. 19.4 Directivity – off-axis frequency responses
    5. 19.5 Acoustic source
    6. 19.6 Step-function responses
    7. 19.7 Power cepstra
    8. 19.8 Waterfalls
    9. 19.9 General discussion of results
    10. 19.10 The enigmatic NS10
    11. 19.11 The NS10M – a more objective view
      1. 19.11.1 Specifications and measurements
      2. 19.11.2 Discussion of results vis-à-vis subjective perception
      3. 19.11.3 Conclusions
    12. 19.12 The noise of conflict
    13. 19.13 Summary
    14. References
  30. Chapter 20 Studio monitoring systems
    1. 20.1 The constituents of the system
    2. 20.2 Console monitor circuitry
    3. 20.3 Audio cables and connectors
    4. 20.4 Monitor amplifiers
    5. 20.5 Loudspeaker cables
    6. 20.6 Crossovers
      1. 20.6.1 Passive crossovers
      2. 20.6.2 Active crossovers
      3. 20.6.3 Crossover characteristics
      4. 20.6.4 Slopes and shapes
      5. 20.6.5 Digital crossovers
    7. 20.7 Loudspeaker cabinets
      1. 20.7.1 Cabinet mounting
      2. 20.7.2 Cabinet concepts
      3. 20.7.3 Mounting practices and bass roll-offs
    8. 20.8 Loudspeaker drive units
      1. 20.8.1 Low frequency driver considerations
      2. 20.8.2 Efficiency and sensitivity
      3. 20.8.3 Magnet systems and cone materials
      4. 20.8.4 High frequency loudspeakers
      5. 20.8.5 Mid-range loudspeaker
        1. 20.8.5.1 Cone drivers
        2. 20.8.5.2 Dome drivers
        3. 20.8.5.3 Mid range horn loudspeakers
    9. 20.9 Review
    10. 20.10 Summary
    11. References
    12. Bibliography
  31. Chapter 21 Surround sound and control rooms
    1. 21.1 Surround in the cinemas
    2. 21.2 TV surround
    3. 21.3 Music-only surround
    4. 21.4 An interim conclusion
    5. 21.5 The psychoacoustics of surround sound
    6. 21.6 Rear channel concepts
    7. 21.7 Perceived responses
      1. 21.7.1 The simple discrete source
      2. 21.7.2 The multiple distributed source
      3. 21.7.3 Dipole surround loudspeakers
      4. 21.7.4 Diffuse sources
    8. 21.8 Low frequencies and surround
      1. 21.8.1 Music-only low frequencies
    9. 21.9 Close-field surround monitoring
    10. 21.10 Practical design solutions
      1. 21.10.1 The choice of rear loudspeakers
    11. 21.11 Other compromises, other results
    12. 21.12 Summary
    13. References
    14. Bibliography
  32. Chapter 22 Human factors
    1. 22.1 The ambiance of the occasion
    2. 22.2 The subjectivity of monitoring
    3. 22.3 Conditioning and expectations
    4. 22.4 Lack of reference points in human judgements
    5. 22.5 Studios and control rooms
    6. 22.6 Summary
    7. References
  33. Chapter 23 A mobile control room
    1. 23.1 The problems to be solved
      1. 23.1.1 Electronic control limitations
      2. 23.1.2 Space problems
    2. 23.2 The vehicle
    3. 23.3 Acoustic discussion
      1. 23.3.1 Rear wall absorber
      2. 23.3.2 Frequency breakdown
      3. 23.3.3 Side wall reflexions
    4. 23.4 Close-range monitoring
    5. 23.5 Directivity and total power
    6. 23.6 Attaching a sub-woofer
      1. 23.6.1 The appropriate equalisation
    7. 23.7 Results
    8. 23.8 Conclusions
    9. 23.9 Summary
    10. References
  34. Appendix 1
  35. Appendix 2
  36. Appendix 3
  37. Glossary of terms
  38. Index