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On the importance of acoustic treatment of the recording space

Trawling through one internet music recording forum after another (as I often do) is certainly illuminating. The multitudinous posts from earnest recordists enquiring from the experts which microphone, preamp, soundcard, converters, compressor, EQ, reverb – blah, blah, blah – is better than another have a rather dulling effect on my sensibilities before too long. And in truth, I’ve begun to make a bit of a nuisance of myself at one or two places by interjecting with a recommendation that the poster look to the room before he batters his credit card in the hope that some sparkling new high-end “professional” piece of gear will solve all his recording issues. Sometimes the repost comes back claiming that the initial poster is a hobbyist and is not aspiring to achieve professional results – so why don’t I just back off and let the guy/gal spend his/her money the way that he/she sees fit? That’s all very well, but it doesn’t gainsay the logical flaw in spending in the region of $2k on gear when a similar amount – or much less with a bit of research and DIY – on some acoustic treatment of the recording space would achieve a whole different order of improvement.

At this point I should perhaps confess (as you might read elsewhere on this site) that it took about a year for me to reach the same conclusion. There’s no question that a sexy new microphone with a price tag to suit is far more appealing than buying bags of mineral wool slabs, or even proprietary, pretty looking, sound treatment products. I should also admit that I did read a whole lot online about ways and means, materials and products, and earnest debates between the experts – not all uncontroversial – before I felt confident about doing something about it in my own place.

That notwithstanding, I won’t apologise now for my evangelising about the topic whenever I get the opportunity – such a difference has acoustic treatment made to my own projects. Hobbyist or not, you’re better off recording in a field with the cheapest of gear than in most untreated rooms with the most expensive recording equipment on the planet. So there!