Audiophile interview: Acoustical Measurements for the Rest of Us

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How to make acoustical measurements without a Ph.D.- By Dave Moulton

As Lord Kelvin said, “To measure is to know for sure…maybe.

The acoustical behavior of the rooms we produce music in is often baffling. To make it worse, acoustical treatments are regularly shrouded in hypespeak (as in “Our Soundsucker® Wall Panels will remove all time smear and clarify the reverberation of all acoustic instruments.”).

Often we suspect that something might be wrong with our room, but we don’t know how to find out. When we consider the cost of measurement equipment that acousticians use and the steep learning curve needed to use it, we can easily see why room acoustics remain baffling. They aren’t easy to understand, they’re expensive to measure and hard to learn about, and they’re tangential to what we really want to do—which is to make really cool recordings.

Happily, it’s possible to make some measurements on your own with some fairly basic equipment. A couple of pieces of measurement gear may even be worth investing in.

Then with some basic books on acoustics, you can start fooling around on your own and learn a lot about the acoustics of your studio. You can even begin to make changes and measure their effect physically while also hearing “how those changes sound.” In addition, some recent new products are available that can really help you out if you are interested in penetrating this particular briar patch a little more deeply.

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