Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Back to the studio

OK, I've been quiet for some time, apologies for that but I have been busy. First I went away for a break for a week or so then since I've been back I've been doing some maintenance on my studio.

Actually, maintenance isn't quite the right word. Ever since I built the studio 10 years ago there's been a big problem with bass in there. I won't go into all the maths and acoustic theory but in a nutshell the shape and size of the room means that a lot of the bass from the speakers gets bounced back from the walls, floor and ceiling then it all meets in the middle of the room and cancels itself out. I've tried various things over the years to sort this out and made some improvement but overall I have still heard very little of what is really come out of the speakers and have had to do a lot of mixing by guesswork and checking on other systems in other rooms.

All this suddenly got a lot worse a few years ago when I decided to start experimenting with 5.1 surround sound mixing. Again without going into the theory, the new speaker system I put in made the problem even worse and for the last year or so I have been scratching my head trying to work out what I could possibly try that I haven't tried already. Roll on to this year, and specifically the car crash in Turkey which put my immediate plans on hold, and I decided that as I had a bit of time with nothing else to do I would have yet another crack at tackling the problem.

So, I thought about it, I looked at what I'd done already, I talked to other people who know about these things and I read loads about similar problems. And I came to the conclusion, again, that what I had done before should really be doing the job.

But clearly it wasn't so what to do next? Well, eventually flawless logic won the day and I figured that if what I had done already should be working then I should do that again, in other words just do more of it. A lot more in fact. So, yet again without going into all the theory, I got hold of a large amount of acoustic material (mineral insulation used in the building trade if you must know) and built myself a load more bass traps. Now, this was actually quite fun as we had a few days of really lovely weather so being out in the garden sawing up pieces of wood was very pleasant. Unlike dealing with the insulation material which is made of kind of fibreglass and really itches if it gets in your skin. Picture the scene: me in the garden wielding a Black and Decker wearing shorts and sandals. And a pair of rubber gloves. (A prize to anyone who can convincingly recreate that in Photoshop).

OK, that's the porn out of the way.

So, did it make any difference I hear you say? Is my subwoofer shaking the room like Concorde on steroids? Well, frankly, yes. Really, at last, after 10 bloody years I've cracked it and finally my room sounds like it's supposed to and I can hear what I'm doing again. Makes me wonder how the hell I've managed to turn out all those album in there, I hope they've been sounding OK to everyone... For those of you who like to look at such things I've even taken a picture (of the studio, not me wearing rubber gloves).

Incidentally, more good news is that my damaged wrist, which I was told could be out of action for 6 months, is making remarkably quick progress and you'll be pleased to know that I'm planning to get back in the studio and start recording again as soon as I've finished tidying up the building site.

Which means even more good news: I should have plenty to blog about for the next few months...