Recording - September 2014 - 46

By Malcolm Doak

ten Steps for setting
up your Studio
Easy and practical advice for making
your room a nicer place to work
I've moved more times than I care to count, and I hate it. The only thing that
makes it worthwhile to box up the gear and coil up the cables is the thought
that when I arrive at the next destination, I can strive to make my setup even better than before. Bordering on perfection, I fancy!
Well, scratch that last bit. With each successive version, though, the efficiency
and smooth functioning of my workspace have improved. I've made all the rookie
gaffes, and have blundered down many a wrong path. I've learned from my mistakes, and so can you.
With that in mind, here are ten topics for consideration when setting up your successful studio. Understand, this is not a technical primer,
nor an advanced class in acoustics (we have
Bruce Black for that!). This is just some keyboard
curmudgeon sharing a few lessons he's learned
along the way.

2. Experience isolation
One of the simplest and most cost-effective
improvements you can make in your studio is to
acoustically isolate your monitor speakers. In
addition to preventing speaker vibrations from
causing squeaks and rattles in your studio, proper isolation prevents the unwanted transfer of
energy (motion), allowing your speakers to function more efficiently, providing a tighter bass
response, and improving overall clarity.
Free-standing speaker stands are ideal; they
are easy to isolate and can be positioned independently of other equipment. If floor stands are
not practical in your studio, using desktop speaker isolation stands or pads is a great alternative-
companies like Primacoustic and IsoAcoustics
make well-respected models. These may also provide a boost in height, while allowing your monitors to be slightly angled up or down, which
brings us to our next tip....
3. Hang 'em high
Speaker placement can be critical for accurate monitoring. We oldtimers grew up with
UREI monitors the size of a small chest freezer
built into the studio walls. By contrast, in today's
home and project studios, the use of compact
monitors and all-in-one workstation furniture
often leaves the speakers sitting too low.
Higher frequencies are the most directional,
so aim to have the tweeters positioned at (or
angled and pointing to) about ear level. Our
ears are a little lower than our eyes, so when
you look straight ahead, you should be staring
at the tops of the tweeters.
Also, for proper imaging, the distance
between the two tweeters should be
the same as the distance between each
tweeter and your closest ear, forming
an equilateral triangle. Rotate each
speaker so that as you look straight at
it from your mixing position, you do
not see the sides.
Keep the monitors a safe distance
from the wall, or you may experience
some unwanted audio coupling, where
bass frequencies are exaggerated at
the listening position. How far? Use the
diameter of the woofer as a good rule
of thumb. Using a subwoofer? To start
with, keep it out of the corners of your
room... and if you want more advice
than that, check out David Bryce's article elsewhere in this issue.

1. Get the best seat in the house
This is your creative space. You will (hopefully!)
spend countless hours here striving for musical brilliance and audio excellence. And you don't want
cramping, fatigue, or a sore backside to impede
your artistic process. So choose a comfortable,
functional seat; it may seem silly to spend time
and effort on something so ordinary, but your
body will thank you for not simply slouching in a
spare kitchen chair for hours at a time. Music is
your work; you need a good place to work from,
4. Stay in position
at least as much as any office worker.
In addition to comfort, mobility and accessiPicture 2 shows some samples of a
bility are of prime importance. For many, wheels
product called Shelf Liner. I love this
are a must. Having a chair that rotates and
stuff. Non-slip shelf liner comes in rolls,
swivels can offer expedient access to all of your 1. Laugh if you want... let's see how is easy to cut and comes in lots of great
you feel after a ten-hour session
gear. A chair that is height-adjustable can be a
colors-including black, for when you
trying to make music in a cheap
plus. Search for one that tilts back. If you have
prefer it not to be seen. Placing a cusuncomfortable chair.
back issues, try to find an adjustable lumbar suptom-cut piece under each piece of gear
port. Arms on a chair can be cozy and sensible, but they can also get in the provides a non-slip backing that prevents things
way.
from creeping and moving as you play. The latI eventually discovered a high-back, fully articulating leather office chair tice design improves airflow around the product,
whose arms pivot up and out of the way (see Picture 1). This is ideal for sitting and it provides extra protection for the surface of
at the console with a guitar in my lap, while also making it easy to slide the your studio furniture. It's a cheap, effectively invischair under the desk to save space when not in use.
ible way to keep everything where it should be.
46

RECORDING September 2014



Recording - September 2014

Table of Contents for the Digital Edition of Recording - September 2014

Contents
Recording - September 2014 - Cover1
Recording - September 2014 - Cover2
Recording - September 2014 - 1
Recording - September 2014 - 2
Recording - September 2014 - 3
Recording - September 2014 - 4
Recording - September 2014 - 5
Recording - September 2014 - Contents
Recording - September 2014 - 7
Recording - September 2014 - 8
Recording - September 2014 - 9
Recording - September 2014 - 10
Recording - September 2014 - 11
Recording - September 2014 - 12
Recording - September 2014 - 13
Recording - September 2014 - 14
Recording - September 2014 - 15
Recording - September 2014 - 16
Recording - September 2014 - 17
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Recording - September 2014 - Cover3
Recording - September 2014 - Cover4
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