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Quick Tip: DIY Basic Room Acoustic Measurement

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If you are serious about your own career as a musician, DJ, or producer, or just like good sounding environment, here's something worth learning. A room with good acoustics is essential for recording and mixing your music. If you make music in a room with great acoustics, it has the best chance of sounding good in other rooms too.

Step 1: Get the Basic Tools

In the past, a measurement setup would cost more than $1,000, but nowadays you can grab the tools to do the job for a couple hundred bucks.

Gear You Need

  1. Measurement microphone. I recommend a calibrated Behringer ECM8000 or Dayton Audio EMM-6 from Cross Spectrum Lab. Price is from $65-100 with different calibration data. Personally, I use Dayton Audio EMM-6.
  2. Small mixer with mic preamp and sound card which supports full duplex operation, or just an audio interface with integrated mic preamp. I use my audio interface MOTU Ultralight.
  3. Microphone stand ($30 or $40).
  4. Cables to connect everything together.

Software You Need

Freeware Room EQ Wizard (Win, Mac and Linux) or Fuzzmeasure (Mac, costing $150). There are many more options with a higher price for professional use.

Step 2: Connect Everything

Connect everything together, as you see in the diagram.

Important: Buy cables long enough to move around.

Step 3: Configure the Software

See the diagram below for some typical settings. Please check software manual for detailed instruction because every case is different.

Step 4: Make the Measurements

Frequency Response

Frequency response is usually measured within the range of human hearing, from a low of 20 Hz to a high of 20 kHz. This measurement shows how the room is responding to various frequencies. Peaks or troughs show reinforcement or cancellation at specific frequencies.

Reverberation Time

This is the time it takes for an initial sound to decay a certain number of decibels. For example, RT-60 is the time that it takes a sound to decay 60 dB. My measurement result makes it possible to see the RT-60 times across the frequencies and identify any frequencies that are problematic.

Cumulative Spectral Decay

This measurement shows the combination of the frequency responce along with the decay times for specific frequencies - ideal for understanding low frequency decay in a room and see effects of resonances.

Final Thoughts

Making the measurements is actually quite simple task, but being able to interpret the data in another matter. You will read about measurements interpretation, reality examples, myths and tricks in my next tutorials. All reality examples will be from our DIY small project studio measuring session.

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