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Absorbor Equipped Workspace

Intro

Recently we've needed to do a fair few voice overs sessions. Its easier it you have your NLE and voice together in the same room as you iterate over the work.

We generally use Logic Pro X and a Rode NT1A/Audient iD22 for voice. We use FCPx to show the sequence so that the voice can synchronise. We been using a booth cobbled together from two foldable acoustic panels and a SE Reflection Filter X to cut down on the room reflections.

Workspace improved by RPG Europe Absorbor

The main issue is that there's quite a bit of messing about and time lost as the voice goes between the booth and the desk for takes and the inevitable re-working of sentences to make them match the time and sentiment.

The more I've worked at my desk the more aware I've become of the limitations of the sound quality of the room. I'd recently read an article about sound absorbers with a goodly set of graphs showing performance of a range of vendors materials. RPG Europe's absorbor come out tops, so I made a phone call. Mostly we talked about the size of the room and what it would used for. The original suggestion was to use five 1200x600mm panels. In the end I ordered seven panels to give us more options, four for the ceiling and three for the walls.

Installation

The ceiling Absorbor panels took a little more effort to install than we'd estimated. We've since discovered that they use a 100mm jig to position the 'Z' bars at the factory. This jig is used to set the position of the bars relative to the end of the panel. Therefore depending on the fold of the cloth and the pressure applied the 'Z' bars might not be exactly the same distance apart.

We did all the usual maths, the mid point of the wall, the mid point of the wall to the adjacent lights, the offsets of the 'Z' frames and then their inset into the panels. Marked up the ceiling, screwed in the 'Z's. We used 5 holes rather than 3 on account of the plaster and lathe ceiling construction.

We treated the panels as individuals when marking up and this made a neat job of it.

The wall panels were much easier to fit. We only used the top bars and added a little 'white tack' to the bottom bars so that they rested nicely on the wall.

Performance

We began to notice the performance during the installation. It was quite marked. We'd got the first ceiling panel up and not noticed any difference in the room. Since we'd cleared that area we put the first wall panel up. With just one ceiling and one wall panel we could really hear the difference.

Listening to the installation in a semi empty room convinced us that the Absorbors were working well. Once all the chairs and racks were moved back I could sense that the room had a sweet sound to it.

I spent the early part of the evening just listening to music on the PSI A17's and was well pleased.

Describing audio performance is always tricky. I would say the room is now 'neutral' and doesn't impart any character onto the recordings. Others have said that it is 'subtle' in that you still know that you are in a room rather than a booth but that recordings have that 'booth' cleanliness about them.

As an additional note, people have suggested that I'd need more control for the bass frequencies. In the room and listening to recordings I feel this is not the case. Obviously we're not working down at the 20Hz zone. It would appear that mounting method the panels leaves a 25mm air gap between the panel and the wall. This helps in the mid to lower registers.


I almost forgot to mention - they look good and add to the professional feel. So even when clients are visiting to review video, the panels are adding something to the environment.

Next Steps

Over the next couple of days its become obvious that my 'near silent' RAID arrays aren't. Its not that they are particularly noisy, but now the room's reflections are well controlled, its become very clear exactly where the remaining sound is coming from.

We know what the next project is: A sound proof enclose with a glass front and fan based ventilation for RAID drives. Watch this space as they say!

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WbAV productions a Berkshire based video productions house, Newbury, Berkshire, RG18 9JE