Your Recording Environment – Reverb

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This post is part of a series called Your Recording Environment, where we look at how to create an environment for the best quality recording.



Reverb is made up of all the reflections of sound off the different surfaces in a room. It’s what gives any room its own unique sound and tone. Hard objects like tables, walls and windows reflect a lot more sound that soft things like carpeting and people. In an acoustically treated room like a rehearsal studio it may sound pretty much free of any reverb or echoes, but even then they are unlikely to be completely acoustic ‘dead’. For instruments that don’t need a microphone like a keyboard or a synthesiser, the reverb of a room won’t matter at all. For acoustic instruments like guitars, vocals or drums, a very echoey room can ruin your recording. At home in the living room you may well find that there are a lot of hard walls and floors that will reflect sound all over your recording, so we’ve come up with some sneaky ways of reducing the echoes and reverb they will create.

Soft furnishings – These can be a big plus, whether they are carpeting, big soft sofas, rugs or beds etc. they will all absorb sound rather than reflecting it back. Putting a nice thick rug or carpet underneath a drum kit can have a surprising effect on the sound you can get in a recording. Even pulling in a spare sofa from another room can help in echoey rooms.

Duvets – everyone owns one, and by combining a duvet with one or two mic stands you can create a makeshift acoustic screen. Put the main body of the stand up quite high, above head height if possible, and then angle the boom arm to horizontal so the stand forms a tall ‘ T ‘ shape. You can then drape the duvet over the top of this to create a big soft screen. You may need another mic stand at the other end of the duvet if it’s particularly long. This works particularly well for singers, get them to stand with the microphone between them and the screen. This way a lot of the sound energy the singer generates will be absorbed by the duvet before it has a chance to echo around the room.

Curtains – Close them! Glass is very brittle and very hard, so it reflects a great deal of sound especially at high frequencies.

Blankets – If you can hang these up against the wall ideally an inch or two away from its surface, they will help absorb some of the reverb, both before and after its reflected off the wall.

[image via iwillbehomesoon]

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