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A Quiet Studio

One of the hallmark characteristics of a professional recording studio is a quiet room. Often, the noise level in the studio is a differentiator and competitive advantage over many home studios where noise can be a real problem.

In a professional recording studio, the acceptable noise level is generally very low in order to produce high-quality professional audio recordings. The specific acceptable dB (decibel) noise level can vary depending on the type of studio, its purpose, and the preferences of the engineers and artists working in it. However, a common guideline for a professional recording studio is to maintain an empty room noise level below 20 dB(A) in both the control room and in the recording room during recording and mixing sessions.

Perception of volume is always subjective and depends on one's own hearing but generally speaking, an increase of 10 dB roughly corresponds to the perceived volume doubling in intensity. Decibels are logarithmic, not linear. Thus, 60 dB is perceived as twice as loud as 50 dB.

It's important to note that these noise level recommendations are measured using the A-weighted scale (dB(A)), which takes into account the frequency response of human hearing and gives more weight to frequencies within the typical human hearing range. This scale provides a more accurate representation of the perceived loudness by the human ear.

To achieve low noise levels, recording studios employ various noise elimination techniques, including those in the structural engineering of the building itself, as well as specific soundproofing and acoustic treatments to minimize noise.

These often include specially designed (floated) walls, floors, and ceilings, sound absorbing materials and resonance reduction techniques between the layers of the walls, wool and fiberglass insulation, acoustic panels, low frequency bass traps, sonic diffusion devices, specialized and dedicated electrical systems, recording Isolation booths, and many other measures. Sorry bedroom studio folks, foam on the walls isn't good enough.

The first goal is to eliminate external noise sources, such as traffic, HVAC systems, other people (i.e. tenants) in a shared building, and other intruding sounds of nature.

Treatment of the rooms inside the studio is just as critical. It is important to record in a room that is “tuned” acoustically, having a flat frequency response, and treated sonically to eliminate unwanted room modes, reflections, and standing waves.

At Black Sheep, we have employed all of the best techniques and building practices to provide a quiet commercial recording studio. Our main room and the control room measure below the 20 dB(A) guideline for professional studios, and our primary vocal booth measures an astounding, almost dead quiet 13 dB(A).

All of the walls, floor, and ceilings are floated off of the building structure. Even the dimmer switches for the lighting are variable AC transformers so that no electrical noise is introduced in the studio. Did you ever hear that 60 Hz hum in your stereo speakers when you used a residential dimmer switch for the room lighting? Typical dimmer switches from Home Depot would wreak havoc in a professional recording studio.

All studio electrical outlets are isolated from the general purpose circuits in the building and are ground isolated to reduce that chance of ground loops in studio equipment and microphone power supplies.

Ultimately, the specific noise level requirements for a studio may vary based on the preferences and needs of the studio and the nature of the recordings being produced. However, at Black Sheep, we adopted recording industry standards to eliminate noise to create the premier recording and mixing environment.

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