After two grueling months of learning how to pour concrete, run electrical wire, frame walls, and hang sheetrock, I have just finished transforming my detached garage into a mixing suite. The end result is a rectangular room (solely intended for mixing; not tracking), measuring 11-feet by 19-feet with an A-frame ceiling (11-feet high at its peak). It was always obvious that acoustics in this rectangular room would be problematic, much like the bedrooms-converted-to-studios I had put together in my past seven years of moving from rental to rental. As the studio manager of Jackpot! Recording Studio, I discussed my concerns with Jackpot! owner/Tape Op editor Larry Crane, and he recommended that I check out the GIK Acoustics room kits. Room kits have always been appealing to me, as they include all of the necessary/essential pieces needed to treat a room at a bundled price point.

Larry put me in touch with James Lindenschmidt, a GIK Room Designer, to discuss my space. I should mention GIK's fantastic customer service. James took the time to study my room measurements, consider my budget, and help figure out exactly what I needed for my space. GIK offers a wide range of products, from panels and bass traps dedicated to absorbing frequencies, to diffusors that treat distortion (such as comb filtering and flutter echo in musical detail, vocal clarity and response cancellations). Their FlexRange technology is a proprietary and patented system that allows an individual panel to absorb specific frequencies, as opposed to absorbing broad frequencies; this is useful when you want to tackle low end energy in your room without affecting the midrange to high end frequencies. I was interested GIK's Room Kit Package #2, which includes six of the 242 Acoustic Panels, four of the 244 Bass Traps [Tape Op #113] with FlexRange Technology, and a single Monster Bass Trap. The panels themselves measure 2-feet by 4-feet, so this kit covers a lot of wall space! Following James' advice, I complemented the Room Kit Package #2 with two extra 244 Bass Traps (intended to go on the two ceiling walls above my listening position) and a wooden Scatter Plate diffusor. While budget has been a big concern for me, having a room I could trust was even more important.

All of the walls and ceiling of my space are insulated with rock wool, with one layer of sheetrock on top. The floor is concrete. Before any treatment, the sound was bombastic, overtly live, and had flutter echo for days! It was so reverberant in my studio that I sometimes had a hard time distinguishing someone's words from only a few feet away. When the panels arrived, I was pleased by how large and hefty they were. For the treatment intended to be hung on walls, I went with GIK's recommendation by using Ooks Hooks, but any typical picture frame hooks will do. I first hung the 244 Bass Trap Panels (one in each corner), and the Monster Bass Trap on the wall directly behind me. This alone made a dramatic difference in the room's liveliness! I then hung the remaining 242 Acoustic Panels using the mirror trick; two on the wall directly behind the monitors, two on each side wall and one on each ceiling wall above my listening position. The mirror trick works like this: while sitting at your listening position, have a friend hold a mirror against the left wall at speaker height, then move toward the back of the room. When you can see the reflection of the left speaker in the mirror, mark that spot. That's your first reflection point. Switch walls and repeat.

At the risk of hyperbole, these panels made a loud rectangular room sound like a professional studio. I was, and still am, blown away at how controlled the sound is in such an initially problematic space. From my listening position the sound is tight, detailed, and free from any flutter echo or buildup. I haven't yet found there to be any "odd" spots throughout the room, which is nice to know when I have clients sitting behind me listening to mixes.

I've just finished mixing the first record in my new studio, by Grammy-nominated artist Celia Woodsmith, and was a little hesitant to send off the first round of mixes (as I'm still getting used to a new space and new monitors). So far, I've received glowing feedback from the artist and her producers - I know it's because they are hearing what I'm hearing. Anyone looking to treat a room, whether it's a square bedroom studio or a professionally designed space, should absolutely look into GIK products. The staff is friendly and incredibly helpful. The panels look professional (and can even be custom printed with your own graphics) and have outperformed my expectations! This Room Kit is the most important and worthwhile investment I've made for my space.

Tape Op is a bi-monthly magazine devoted to the art of record making.

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