Room Sound or NO Room Sound?

Discussion in 'Recording/Live Sound' started by guitarplayer, Feb 1, 2008.

  1. guitarplayer

    guitarplayer Member

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    I recently upgraded my DAW/preamp/converter equipment and have noticed a HUGE improvement in the recording quality. For the past few years I've located my studio downstairs in a relatively large room with hardwood floors and taller ceilings. Since I've upgraded my equipment (for unrelated reasons) I've moved upstairs into an extra bedroom. The new room is carpeted, smaller with shorter ceilings and basically "dead" sounding. Since I've upgraded to Logic I have access to more and better plugins for room sound, reverb, delay, etc. I've been able to get better recordings with the new equipment in the smaller room than I could with the old equipment in the "better" room. ...So my question is this...

    Is it better to record in a "dead" room and add the room sound with plugins or in a more lively room and be "stuck" with the room sound you
    ve recorded. I've been told it's easier to ADD the room sound than to try to REMOVE what room sound you may have originally recorded. What do most of you do?
     
  2. Dave Klausner

    Dave Klausner Member

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    Some of the newer reverbs (especially the convolution ones) do an awfully good job. It is probably better to record in a dead room and add ambiance later than record in a bad sounding live room. I don't think we are yet to the point where artificial reverb is a perfect substitute for a good sounding live room, however, especially for drums. Mic position for overheads and room mics in a good sounding room gives a palette of creative choices that I think is still lacking in software. Plus, a good room is just more fun to play in!
     
  3. gainiac

    gainiac Senior Member

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    Nothing beats a good room sound imho. Creative mic' placement is key here. I like to march around the room with an earthworks on a stand with the cans on while the band is playing until I find the sweet spot. A weird little jig at the same time seems to bring out the mojo and humor.

    That being said if the room is crappy Dave is on the money.
     
  4. mep

    mep Supporting Member

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    Your recordings will be more consistent and probably sound better in a dead room. Some studios use live rooms but they are tuned to sound right and in most homes you have to deal with all sorts of weirdness. Your vocals will definitely sound better in a dead room.
     
  5. Shiny McShine

    Shiny McShine Member

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    A real room is better but they are hard to come by. Most studios over do it with acoustic deadening and don't understand what is really required to create a room with truly remarkable character. It's one of life's great sadnesses for me.
     
  6. chrisgraff

    chrisgraff Member

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    Small bedrooms can be the worst sounding rooms. The walls are typically of similar dimension, constructed out of the worst acoustic material known to man (drywall), and are full of standing waves.

    No guarantee that the big room sounds better, but that's where I would be. The sound of the room is EVERY bit as important as all that gear.
     
  7. Shiny McShine

    Shiny McShine Member

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    ChrisGraff... yes, but a 10 x 10 x 10 room with no parallel walls or ceiling made of drywall and concrete on the floor is magical. I know from which I speak!
     
  8. chrisgraff

    chrisgraff Member

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    I can't imagine, but I'll take your word for it.
     
  9. Bastille Sound

    Bastille Sound Member

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    Yes. Yes. Real instruments, a real room. Absolutely. It's a big part of something having a "fingerprint" so to speak rather than sounding like a bunch of corny Apple JamPack loops and a bedroom amp. If you've got a largish room with a hardwood floor and reasonably high ceilings, I'd definitely just make or buy a few bass traps and work in there.
     
  10. smorgdonkey

    smorgdonkey Member

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    Yes not many people have the opportunity to hear/experience that.
     
  11. peachead1071

    peachead1071 Member

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    I don't like room sound much. Lately I've been using the hammerhead in the studio, and whenever we do live stuff in a big tracking room, I like to build a fortress of small blankets and baffles around it, about 2 feet away on each side. Combined with the mic choices/placements I have come upon, it cannot be beat.
     
  12. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    If you've got a live band or a solo piece in a room that sounds good, leave it in, if your gut instinct says it's good. Capture the emotional moment, then think about how (or whether to) tart it up. It's just one recording. Worst case, if your instincts were wrong and you hate it tomorrow, make another.

    But if you're stacking a lot of single takes made in the same room, or the same spot in the room, you might find frequencies start building up, one track atop another, that begin to annoy the **** out of you.

    This might also happen in a tight space that feels "dead" but actually is favoring frequencies that give a real sensation of the smallness of the space. I accidentally stumbled onto that when we tried using a walk-in coat closet as a vocal booth. There were enough coats in there to deaden the sound a lot, and I felt pretty confident (incorrectly) that the room was "dead." Seems there was no way to get the "closet" ambience out of those tracks. Plus the singer hated trying to capture an emotional moment in a f***ing coat closet, and refused to buy my prefered brand of chocolate almonds for a week.

    Ideally a truly dead space or a controlled reflective space is much better. I agree with David K that convolution reverbs do an amazing job with ambient space. I use Altiverb; I've had it for years and I love it. Besides just adding ambience, I've used it to fix room sound that was not-so-great. I flipped through the menu til I found one that complimented, opened and enhanced the blecch sound of the room so that it actually sounded nice. I can't explain it any better than that, but it was not ideal. Ideal is sounding good in the first place.

    You can also tweak it to create terrific "analog" delays, by using some of the spaces people have captured for film. There's one bathroom or supply closet with real short, tight reflections that if you make the pre-delay about 100 ms. or thereabouts, makes a wonderful delay.
     
  13. Bassomatic

    Bassomatic Silver Supporting Member

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    I've gotta agree that most rooms we're talking about will be inferior to *the right* convolution (or, alternately, quality outboard) reverb and setting. Once can easily paint ones self into a corner if one is summing room and close mics to a single track or stereo sub or pair.

    Not so if room and close mics are printed separately - then one can compare real room sound to simulated room (or plate/chamber?what-have-you) at ones leisure.

    I'd be amazed if more than a handful of our members have a room that brings more magic to the table than the sort of room problems Michael's post hints at (with freq buildups, nodes, cancellations).
     
  14. MichaelK

    MichaelK Member

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    Sometimes it's just a matter of "finding your spot" in the room. A little exploration can sometimes unearth "magic" in a particular corner, or by a window, or next to the drapes, or by standing at a particular angle. I have one corner of my living room that's fantastic for vocals, another spot by a bookshelf that's particularly nice for acoustic guitar. No joke.
     
  15. Shiny McShine

    Shiny McShine Member

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    Just take an acoustic guitar into a parking garage and you'll see that there's nothing wrong with your imagination.
     

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