How to Soundproof Your Apartment

Not everyone can afford a house, and in many places if you want to live close to where a lot of audio work is, you’ll probably have to live in an apartment anyway. Unfortunately, apartments aren’t designed to be the most sound acoustic space ever, and usually they are far from it. While mixing on headphones is OK from time to time, sometimes you just have to use speakers to really understand what is going on in your mix. If you want to actually record real instruments in your apartment, your neighbors are going to get tired of you real quick.

Alexander Gelfand wrote up a great article for Wired.com about what he did to his New York apartment so his wife could keep practicing drums without them being through out of the place.

They certainly took this job overboard and spent way more than most people probably would on this job, but they do have some great tips on what they have done:

  • Go Green

Green Glue is a new product made by the Green Glue Company. It is an adhesive used for mounting drywall, and it works really well at converting acoustic energy into heat.

  • False Ceiling, Real Results

Creating a drop ceiling allows you to control your acoustic space better, and having the buffer of empty airspace does a great job as a sound-trapping chamber.

  • This Carpet Sure Is Heavy

Even if you don’t have downstairs neighbors, a nice thick carpet and solid flooring can help isolate acoustic vibrations from outside your place. Most studios have a floating floor to accomplish this, but if you can’t replace your floor altogether you can use a couple different materials, such as mass-loaded vinyl to decouple what’s on your floor from the floor itself.

  • Block Those Exits

Doors are often the weakest links in a soundproofed room. Ensuring you have quality, thick doors, and no gaps in the weather stripping is a great start to solidifying your doorways.

  • Fill any gaps with flexible caulk
  • Mount anything that shakes on isolation pads
  • Make baffles for your walls and ceilings. Bonus if you can make adjustable ones so you can change the tonality of your room.

Read more about his experience and his tips on making this happen here.

Pitch Correction 101

It’s no secret that audio engineers can alter the tuning of vocals either during or after recording. Originally finding fame with artists like Cher and E-40, pitch correction using software runs rampant through the modern industry. Sometimes it’s used cleverly, sometimes it’s overkill, but love it or not it makes money in this industry so we may as well accept that fact at least!

pitch correction 101

Not only can pitch correction be used to make a performance sound better, but it can also be used as a creative tool, as we can see here…

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Grad Spotlight: Wes Willard

cras grad wes willard

Graduating in 2005, Wes Willard has been immersed in the audio industry for 8 years now. Currently he works as the Front of House engineer for Covenant International Church. He was kind enough to do a quick Q&A with some future CRAS students, and I thought I’d share it here with you all!

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Mopey Mic Stands

mic microphone stand stands

Mic stands are a necessary evil in the audio industry, whether you are in the studio, playing live, or doing post production work. Anyone who has been around their fair share of mic stands knows that eventually, the stand will get to a point where the boom just droops, no matter how hard you tighten the clutch.

This problem is caused usually by moving the boom around without properly loosening it first, although this will no doubt become a problem eventually with nearly any mic stand. The good news is that this issue can commonly be easily and cheaply be fixed.

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Why test mics by saying “check 1, 2”?

test mics hall check

Just about everyone who has seen a live concert is familiar with hearing the phrase “check 1, 2” or “test 1, 2” when people test mics. But why is this used instead of some other sort of phrase?

People tend to have varying opinions on this, but one thing is sure, no one likes to hear “check check 1 2” all night, so is it really useful? There are actually a few reasons behind using this phrase over others to test mics, although there are plenty of other phrases that can accomplish a similar task.

First off, let’s look into a few terms related to vocals, and specifically vocal miking and recording.

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Berkeley Creates the First Graphene Earphones

Postdoctoral researcher Qin Zhou and physics professor Alex Zettl have been working in Berkeley labs to come up with a revolutionary new audio technology. They have developed the first prototype speaker using a “new” material, graphene as the diaphragm. What is graphene?

graphene mic earphones headphones

Graphene is a material that has an extremely low mass density, but an incredibly high mechanical strength. Essentially it is a one atom thick sheet of carbon atoms, arranged similarly to a chicken wire fence. The piece of graphene they are using for this test is 7 millimeters across, but only 30 nanometers thick. This makes it one of the thinnest materials that could possibly be used for this purpose.

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Elton John and the Million Dollar Piano

elton john piano million

Elton John, five time Grammy winner and the mastermind behind 25 Platinum albums and 35 Gold albums, has a special arrangement set up in the heart of Las Vegas. Starting in 2011, Elton began doing his “Million Dollar Piano” show in Caesar’s Palace. The show got its namesake from the piano he actually bought, which did indeed cost $1 million, and is tricked out with 68 LED panels that are capable of playing live or recorded video.

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Grad Spotlight: Mike Balzarini

mike b cras gilbert ssl studio a

Starting classes in February, 2009, CRAS Grad Mike Balzarini has done pretty well for himself! Working full time as a musical instrument specialist for Insurers World, he spends most of his free time working on his own studio projects and recordings. Here are some good words from him:

Hey all, I graduated from CRAS in 2009 and use a ton of what I learned in my every day life. A couple years ago I emailed Kevin about adding a class that focused on doing more with less inputs, in the box recording, and demo recording. A huge part of the market that I felt was mostly overlooked, the men and women who really want to give back to their community and help keep music alive tend to get into the smaller project studios rather than intern at a huge place in hopes to make a hit. We in the smaller places are still professionals, we earn our money by recording and mixing, and have a great relationship with musicians with a lot of talent but no record deal. I just wanted to share with you some of my personal demos, played, recorded, and rough mixed by myself. www.reverbnation.com/amprecords can show you there is a place between working at a big studio and not working at all. I wish everybody the greatest success in whichever route you choose, and thanks for listening!

We’ve listened to his advice and we’ve been working more on including more individual, small scale recording into some of our classes. Today, for example, one of our classes is focused on commercial production. Students are split up into small groups, typically 2 or 3 people per group, and are tasked with re-recording the audio for TV commercials. All of the recording happens using their own MacBook Pro, M-Audio interface, Sennheiser mic and Pro Tools setup.

mike balzarini studio a

Mike in CRAS Studio A, Gilbert, Arizona

Thanks for the feedback Mike, and congrats on the success you’ve had! Good luck!

MIDI Quantization

midi quantization quantizing

Quantization, in musical terms, is the process of adjusting the timing of played notes so that they fall precisely on a grid or bars and beats. This technique can be used to take a performance that may have been a little sloppy, or rushed, and adjust each note so it is played where it should be, instead of ahead or behind of the beat.

Quantization is a very common process in MIDI programming, since it easily allows the user to create spot-on performances with as few takes as is necessary. Quantization can be used to alter a previously recorded MIDI performance, and it can also be used in real time when using devices like Maschine and Ableton Live.

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Grad Spotlight: Mario McNulty

cras grad mario mcnulty

Since graduating from the Conservatory in 2001, Mario McNulty has been making a big name for himself out in New York City. His first year working in the Big Apple found him working with Phillip Glass, composer for such films as “Naqoyqatsi”, “The Hours”, and “La Belle et la Bete”. One fateful night at Looking Glass Studios, David Bowie was working with producer Tony Visconti, and Mario was asked to fill in for Sterling Campbell for drums on “Space Oddity” and “I Would Be Your Slave” as they rehearsed for the Tibetan Benefit show at Carnegie Hall. Not only did Mario get to play with David Bowie, but he played along side Phillip Glass on piano, Adam Yauch on guitar, and Tony Visconti on bass during their practice runs!

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