Taming the Control Room

The control room at The Shack is basically a square bedroom with a hard wood floor and plaster board walls and ceiling.  It challenges the dimension rules for a pristine recording and listening environment (being almost cubical) – 3m x 3.5m x 2.7m high.  It was noisy … reflections everywhere … but that’s what I’ve got and I had to make the most of it.

 

Acoustic Panels

These are cheap and simple to make for anyone with a bit of handy man (or woman) skills.  They are simply a wooden frame, with a cloth cover and inserted with a single insulation batt.  I have 16 individual panels for the control room, each 1.2m x 0.45m.  I then joined 2 panels end to end to make to make 8 long floor to ceiling panels.

The frames are old 90mm x 18mm (4” x ¾”) decking boards which I had left over from a deck renovation several years ago.  To minimise waste, I split them down the middle to make 45mm x 18mm boards and then cut them length.  A spot of glue and butt joined with a few nails (I used a cheap nail gun), and there you have a frame.  I also softened the edges with a sander.  The frame might be a bit flimsy at this stage, but it will strengthen when the cloth cover goes on.  I reckon if I made these with new timber I’d buy 60-75mm boards as the frames are a fraction too thin for the acoustic batts.

The acoustic batts are basically insulation batts.  I had acoustic ones in my shed (where I once had my drums set up).  These are slightly more dense than the regular ones, and don’t dust up at all.  They’re a lower insulation rating, but I’m not looking for thermal quality, and that’s what I had at hand … so that’s what I used.  In the past I’ve used normal insulation batts from the hardware store, and they work fine as well.  These days they’re made from glass fibre and they don’t dust up so much.  I recon they’re just as good.

The cloth cover is a bright red “Eco-fabric” that I bought from a linen store.  It was the cheapest fabric they had at about $5/m.   It is 1.5m wide, and so it was perfect size for the 1.2m panels with a bit of overhang, and each metre gave me 2 panels.  I just wrapped the frames and stapled the fabric to the back.  I didn’t cover the back as they were going hard against the wall anyway.  I simply inserted the batt into the cloth covered frame … and there you have it.

I joined 2 panels end to end with my trusty nail gun, and just stood them up against the wall.  Simply attached them with some nails, and pulled tight against the wall with fishing line.  I know they’re better to be off the wall a few inches, but I was limited by space and time.

 

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Windows

The end wall has a large window which I covered with more “treatment”.  I’m a bit embarrassed by this rough fix … but it works.  I cut up an old foam mattress to slot neatly into the old wooden window frame and fit hard up against the glass.  Then I bought a cheap curtain from Ikea, which covered the whole window and end wall.  It’s black …. it’s rock’n’roll.  I added the Australian flag to remind me of the lucky country in which we live.

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Floors and Ceiling

Treatment of the ceiling was pretty simple.  I put it in the “too hard basket” and left it alone.  The floor has a nice red circular rug and some old Ikea chair.  When you put 2 or 3 people in the room, the last of the reflections get soaked up and it sounds pretty good.

 

Overall

The speakers are also pretty cheap Behringer Truth 3031, with some QSC-K10 PA speakers for the loud test.  So you have to put it in perspective and assess the room for what it is.  But the room does not sound dead.  It does sound natural, and I guess that’s the goal.  I haven’t had it professionally tested, and I don’t really want to, as I’m not going to change it anyway.  Overall, I’m very happy with it and I’ll learn to mix in this room with whatever warts remain.

It looks good, sounds good and feels good.

 

 

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Next Steps

Apart from using the room more often, the next step is to make another panel or two to go above the control room window and one for the back of the door.  Not sure that the room really needs it, but I have some frames, cloth and batts left over.

The room does get warm and a bit stuffy on a typical Aussie summer’s day.  The next adjustment is a simple air conditioner to fit into one of the windows.  I’ll just have to pull back the curtain when I need a bit of airflow to tame the heat.

Rock on …