The science of acoustics is just that: science. The basic laws don’t really change, though they are greatly affected by the environment in which the sounds interact, whether in a dry desert canyon, a swampy forest, or a corporate boardroom with lots of glass. Inside a recording studio, with high-resolution audio across a wide frequency range, bouncing off of walls, floors, ceilings, consoles, couches and all kinds of objects, the need for treating acoustics is paramount. An engineer needs to trust what he or she hears.
Every single studio is different, and every single studio—even those built by the most brilliant facility designers—requires some form of acoustic treatment to tame reflections, remove room nodes or correct specific frequencies. Every studio.
To meet those acoustic challenges, manufacturers have been developing both off-the-shelf and custom absorption and diffusion products for decades. Most all offer panels and absorbers; many offer specific products for vocalists or instruments or speakers. Lately there has been a trend toward packaging room-based systems, often tailored through software to reflect an individual studio’s needs, regardless of size and shape.
While the science might not change, the materials and applications do. The following are a few of the more recent releases from a variety of manufacturers.
Aeolian Sound Diffusor
Known for Art Diffusor, a patented, two-dimensional, binary array sound diffuser, Acoustics First has spread the principal technology to other designs, reflected in its unique angled end caps to further control specular reflections above 4 kHz. In 2017, the company released its latest creation: the Aeolian Sound Diffuser. In some ways a simplified version of the Art Diffusor Model D, the Aeolian is the latest in the company’s line of “organic quadratics.” Part of the Aeolian’s design comes from its use of “implied symmetry.” Although the edges are asymmetric, the height variations are subtle enough to create an illusion of symmetry when installed in a standard 15/16-inch grid, or spaced appropriately on a wall. The Aeolian is class A thermoplastic, and weighs 4 pounds per unit. Nominal size is 23.75 x 23.75 inches, with a depth of 5.1 inches.
Pro Room Pack 6, 8, 10, 12
The most recent release from Chaska, Minn.-based Acoustic Geometry is the Pro Room Pack Series, featuring the 6, 8, 10 and 12. Known for its research and application of curved diffusers and corner absorbers, the Pro Room Packs are designed to combine phase-coherent diffusion, low-frequency mode mitigation and broadband sound absorption. The largest package, the 12, features 8 fabric-wrapped wall panels (2 x 4 feet, 2 inches deep; six fabric-wrapped ceiling clouds (2 x 4-feet, 1-inch thick); 12 medium Curve Diffusors (21 x 42 x 7 inches); and four CornerSorbers.
Tech Profile: Acoustic Geometry, by Tom Kenny, June 11, 2018
Full-Room Solutions in 2018
Throughout the first half of 2018, Auralex has been showing its new MAX Kits portable treatment kits. MAX kits (shorthand for Mobile, Absorptive and eXpandable) include of applications, providing ultimate flexibility in configuring their room. Three packages are available: VoxMAX, EditMAX and ProducerMAX kits. The VoxMAX Kit is designed for voiceover/vocal recording and instrument baffling. This kit can also be quickly positioned to address reflections within a small recording, monitoring or mixing environment. It features two ProMAX v2 Panels, one MudGuard v2, two 24-inch Stand-Mounted LENRDs. The EditMAX Kit is designed as an easily configured baffling for recording but can also be quickly positioned to create an accurate monitoring environment for editing and mixing when you don’t want to put holes in the wall. EditMAX includes four ProMAX v2 Panels, two DeskMAX v2 panels, four 24-inch Stand-Mounted LENRDs, and one MoPAD-XL four-piece set for speaker isolation. The ProducerMAX Kit is a versatile and easily configured acoustical treatment solution for recording, monitoring and mixing. It includes six ProMAX v2 Panels, two DeskMAX v2 Panels, two Studio6 Panels, one ProPAD (4-piece set, each pair isolates two speakers).
ClearSonic has added to its Sorber Absorption line with the introduction of the SKT (Sorber Kick Tunnel) and SMB (Sorber Microphone Baffle). The company’s hallmark 1.6-inch thick sound absorption baffles are especially efficient at absorbing lower frequencies. Sorber baffles feature a compressed fiberglass core that is encased in a tough Velcro-receptive charcoal gray cloth and are available in freestanding, Velcro-tackable or booth lid system models. The SKT allows the bass drum mic to be placed up to about 3 feet from the bass drum, creating a more ambient sound; it also provides isolation from other drums, cymbals, and instruments. It can be used in combination with a closer mic if desired. The SMB includes one MBKT Steel Sorber support, two S2224 panels, and two 1.5-inch x 3-inch Velcro sections.
Acoustic Treatment: Affordable Kits, Unique Products, by Strother Bullins, May 30, 2016
The Impression Series from GIK Acoustics is a line of acoustic panels and bass traps with decorative plates that delivers a visual statement to enhance any room. Impression Series panels create an even balance of low-end absorption that also helps reflect/scatter high-frequency content in the room. The panels come in five designs (bubbles, checkerboard, Gatsby arches, mod geometric, 3D cubes), three sizes (square, 24 x 24 inches; narrow, 12 x 48 inches; and rectangle, 24 x 48 inches), three levels of absorption (2 , 4 and 6 inches thick), and three plate finishes (blonde wood veneer, black acrylic and white acrylic).
Isolation Speaker stands is what IsoAcoustics is all about. The company's new ISO Series includes the ISO-130, ISO-155, ISO-200 and ISO-200Sub. The ISO-130 is designed to support smaller speakers and studio monitors (5.1 x 6 inches; short: 2.7 inches; tall: 8 inches; supports 20 pounds). The ISO-155 supports medium-size speakers and studio monitors (6.1 x 7.5 inches; short: 2.9 inches; tall: 8.75 inches; supports 40 pounds). The ISO-200 is designed for larger speakers and studio monitors (7.8 x 10 inches; short: 3.5 inches; tall: 8.75 inches; supports 60 pounds). Finally, the ISO-200Sub is designed to support subwoofers (7.8 x 10 x 5 inches; supports 75 pounds). All but the ISO-200Sub provide 14 variations of height and tilt adjustment to optimize speaker placement and performance.
Primacoustic provides a vast range of acoustic treatments, from its Brodway line to its Element Series, from bass trapping and diffusion to ceiling clouds and its popular Recoil Stabilizers. This year the company, a division of Radial Engineering, introduced Hercules, “impact-resistant” absorption panels that are designed to withstand the abuse of environments such as gymnasiums, offices, classrooms and other public occupancy spaces. Hercules impact-resistant panels are manufactured from the same high-density (6 pcf/96 kg/m) glass wool core as Primacoustic Broadway, but the face of the panel is covered with a high-density fiberglass layer. This facing allows the panel to effectively absorb most frequencies, but the protection will prevent damage occurring from accidental contact. Hercules panels measure 24 x 48 x 2 inches, with square edges, and are available in beige or gray acoustically transparent fabric.
Problem-Solving the Room: New, Notable and Unique Acoustic Treatments, by Strother Bullins, June 14, 2017
The Da Vinci Box
A Unique Collaboration of DHDI, Clair and IAC
In March, the Da Vinci Box was simply a concept. By July, there should be a 35,000-square-foot structure in place fully outfitted with stage, lights, 4K video, production and post-production audio, power and HVA, all of it lined with Delta H Designs ZR Acoustics. Sixteen weeks, from drawings to completion. That’s fast.
“We’re calling it brick-and-mortar at internet speed,” laughs Hanson Hsu, celebrating 20 years as the founder and principal of Delta H Design Inc. (DHDI). “It was truly a matter of necessity being the mother of invention. A client came to us and need a performance space in July, to produce content for delivery to a client in September. All of the architects had told them it would take two to two-and-a-half years. They didn’t have that time. These are the types of people who build an app in a week and want a studio in a day.”
The only way to do it, Hsu figured, was to work with existing products and talents. So he pulled together friends at Clair Brothers for the integration and IAC for the structural build. “We already have the best maker of isolation boxes in the world in IAC, and they already incorporate ZR Acoustics. And Clair has 50 years of rock and roll touring and high-end, stadium-sized installation. DHDI gathers the separate drawings, provides the layout, and we’re off and running with premade, modular structures of any size or scale.” Plans are already under way for a 100,000-square-foot structure in under eight months.
DIY Acoustics: Using Modern Absorption and Diffusion Tools, by Strother Bullins, June 22, 2015
The possibilities are endless, from educational institutions that need portable additions to touring acts who want professional recording/editing facilities on the road. The Da Vinci Box, the first iteration called the Diamond Mine (pictured), can be put on wheels or put into an existing structure without touching the walls. Think backstage at Coachella, or semi-permanent facilities in an NBA arena. They can be on wheels, or built-in. Just don’t call it a pop-up. These are high-end facilities, built and shipped on demand. Stay tuned. It’s a pretty cool concept.