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A Guide To Acoustics

Every time you turn the knob on a mastering tool or mixer, it applies a certain acoustics for the recording.  If you are able to understand recording acoustics and how they work to develop a specific sound, you will have more recording capabilities and have the ability to portray the audio sounds you create.

Acoustics starts with a vibration of the air or an electronic device in some cases.  Air moves through a specific compartment, like the voice or an instrument, in the case of natural acoustics.  The more vibration from the air movement that there is, the more sound it can create for an instrument.  This results in sound waves.  They re-create the air vibrations that are moving through space.

It is the air vibration that causes different acoustics to respond inside of a specific space.  It is also this basic concept regarding air vibration that results in specific ideals being held about how a recording studio should be specifically set up so that it is able to take in the correct sounds for recording.  Understanding how to properly control acoustic forms the basis for getting a recording studio set up in addition to the main concept that is used to control the sounds while they are being recorded.

Whenever a sound is generated by an instrument, there are different levels of air that come into contact with the instrument and causes it to vibrate.  We hear it as a note being played through this sound at one level.  However, in addition, the acoustics are also able to take on various capacities in order to produce different sounds that go unheard.

The first sound generated is derived from the environment that the sound is played in.  If it is a large, spacious room with high ceilings, then the sound will have a tendency to bounce off the walls.  That has a tendency to cause the sound to resonate over the entire area, become louder and move faster.  That is why for recording purposes, small spaces get created and walls are deadened.  If the song has an echo effect in it, the beats will start to sound off.

Resonance is another way that sound is changed by acoustics.  This is when a sound’s vibration is heard, even after the note is not being played or sung any longer.  The resonance continues to move for as long as the air vibration continues hitting the specific area.  A majority of the time, resonance filters the initial sound off as the air vibration continues slowing down.  This resonance during recording also gets muffled through a sound proof room to create a much clearer sound.

The idea of overtones is the final part of acoustic sounds.  Although we hear just one note that is either being sung or played, that isn’t the only note contained in the air.  A vibration of sound waves are created by acoustics.  They continue vibrating and resonating at various levels.  These are pitches that get created beyond the original pitch, and they have certain spacings within the pitch.  Although the human ear doesn’t hear them, the sound vibration moving through the air still has an effect on a person’s ear.  In recording, this makes a difference as well, since a different effect can be created by the overtones and they can be recorded in the form of a wave file.  This can also cause peak differences in addition to basic sounds that are heard coming from the piece.

Having a thorough understanding of all of these various acoustic concepts also provides you with the ability of controlling them inside the recording studio.  Each of the different areas get ‘sound proofed’ to a certain degree.  This makes it possible for the audio to move in the form of a pure wave file inside the recording area.  This prevents the acoustic sounds from changing, echoing or muffling a certain sound that the recording is intending to be heard.

When recording and acoustics are defined, there are various perspectives that need to be considered that are related to sound waves and the way that they work.  When you understand these different perspectives, you are able to set up a recording space that is more conducive for allowing some acoustics to resonate through the air and to muffle certain others.

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