The future of acoustic treatment goes back to the ‘40’s.
The 1960’s are often regarded as rock’s finest decade, producing music that became the template for much of what followed. The recording studios in which this iconic music was created were mostly live-sounding rooms – the trend toward very dead-sounding rooms didn’t start until the 1970’s, when studios discovered fiberglass insulation.
My first job in a recording studio, at AudioTek Studios in North Minneapolis in the ‘70’s, was putting up a boxcar-load (literally!) of fiberglass four inches deep on the walls and ceilings of the huge main room. Back then, fiberglass batting was the new go-to solution – put up a ton of this stuff and magically ‘fix’ your room. The dead acoustics reduced ambient microphone leakage, making overdubbing vocals, guitars, or just about anything, easier.
And that’s when the trouble started. I’d go home after a long day of attaching fiberglass batts to twenty-foot-high ceilings and watch glass particles float to the top of my bath water. Not good. But far worse than my aversion to being covered in (and breathing in) glass spicules was the affect this massive amount of absorption had on the sound – the life went out of the room and often out of the performances. “Getting a sound” became a marathon struggle against the acoustics. Not good.
In the ‘80’s, working at a state-of-the-art studio in Burbank (Kendun Recorders), I learned that a well-designed recording studio can be an exciting, performance-enhancing space. Acoustic designer Tom Hidley had created a multi-zone set of acoustic environments – diffused areas, absorbent areas, combination areas – which were a joy to use, a multi-tool for optimizing sound and performance.
Yet here in the mid-2010’s, some of you are still leaning heavily on fiberglass-only treatments to ‘fix’ your rooms. Not good. We have better options, and one of the best comes from the 1940’s, pioneered by ground-breaking facilities like Bell Labs and RCA Studios – polycylindrical diffusion. Today we can mix-and-match the two “opposites” of absorption and diffusion to create better-sounding, more-flexible spaces. Our Curve Diffusor is an improved version of the RCA polycylindicals, and our acoustic-cotton absorption material – Echo Eliminator – is a non-spicule, non-VOC absorbent material that compares very well acoustically with fiberglass.
Let’s use the entire history of acoustic developments in our modern rooms, not just the over-damped, lifeless rooms of the ‘70’s – I got through that decade’s over-use of absorbers, and so can you. Mixing cylindrical diffusion with cotton absorption – very good!