Quick Sound Field User’s Guide2021-05-26T12:28:25-07:00

Quick Sound Field (QSF) User Guide

Introduction

QSF User's Guide

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The Quick Sound Field offers endless configurations in the studio and the practice room, depending on your application. Some people will want to practice duets with their StudioTraps; others may track a guitar solo, or a narration. Sooner or later, you’re going to start putting microphones into the center of the QSF and laying down tracks. The manual that follows is intended to give you ideas to draw upon when you’re looking to find a really special sound, as well as some stand-bys that you can always set up to return to a comfortable, familiar space, whatever your surroundings.

We’ll begin by introducing the basic Quick Sound Field setup, so that you can train your ear and familiarize yourself with the basic effects QSF can help you achieve, then suggest some less conventional arrangements you can use to vary your sound, and begin to see it as an opportunity to catch and channel your voice into various shaped spaces, each with a voice of its own. Our list of uses is by no means exhaustive. StudioTraps let you design, shape, sculpt and voice your own acoustic space with your own hands, and experiment with the shaping of sound in space and time. So experiment. Move it around, and make it your own. When you get a special sound from the QSF you think other Trappers should hear about, drop us a note—we’d love to hear from you!

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Quick Sound Field

A Discussion of Acoustic Space & Time

The Quick Sound Field is an acoustic space that captures and circulates each sound you make, holding it just long enough so that you get to hear all of it. A very general definition of it is that the QSF is actually a device used to maximize our ability to perceive a sensory experience. Our hearing system collects all similar sounds that exist around us within any given 1/20th of a second and turns this seeming cacophony into one recognizable sound. Our eyes, taste, feeling, and all our senses, work in this way. The Quick Sound Field collects and holds the sounds we make just long enough to enhance our perception of the sound. If it held it any less time, we wouldn’t be saturated with the sound. If it held it any longer, we would become over saturated with each sound and a sonic blur would begin due to the excess lingering of the prior sound.

The decay of sound inside the Quick Sound Field is very fast. It can be calculated and it has been measured. We know that the bulk of any given sound emitted into the QSF must effectively disappear within 1/20th of a second. When the traps are 6” apart, about 60% of the sound is reflected and 40% is leaked out every time the sound travels the 5 feet distance across the middle, between the sides of the QSF setup. This produces a regulated, steady bleed off of the sound that has been captured inside the QSF space. The decay rate (RT-60 is the time sound takes to die away by the amount of 60 dB) for sound captured inside the QSF is about 1/30th of a second. The RT-60 in a typical recording studio is about 10 times slower, around 1/2 second. Studios are slow because they are big, compared to the small size of the QSF.

If the sound stays inside the QSF too long, we get sonic streaking, the sound stream becomes a blur. That might not be all bad. Some amount of sonic blur may be good. For example, a crystal clear photograph may be technically correct. The same shot through thin cheese cloth or with the camera slightly defocused adds a visual blur that communicates emotion to the viewer. Sight and sound, are the two wave energy sensory channels that we have to the outside world. In audio, the engineer uses a tube mic to get that fuzzy edge, or they turn to the effects box and dial in the exciter to get hash and smear into the sibilant part of the talent’s voice.

There are no rules for calculating the exact amount of sonic defocus that would be best. It is an artistic issue, a matter of flavor to suit, one best left to the spirit of the moment. The QSF collects and holds your sound for a very short moment, right in front of you, before your eyes and ears to behold. It can be adjusted to hold the sound longer or shorter, more strongly or more lightly and in some way, you can even hear the shape of that sound-holding sonic bowl.

A well built studio that has that typical “dead” sound is designed to have absolutely no reflections of sound in the first 1/20th second, this applies to both the control room and the vocal booths. Following this initial short period of absolute silence, known as a “reflection free zone”, arrives a quiet, diffusive decay of sound, a backfill that dies away at a rate of 1/2 second. The QSF effect only lasts 1/30th second. Its reflection free zone is about 1/500th of a second, the time it takes for the first reflection to arrive. Then it fills the air around the talent and microphone with a plethora of reflections during the first 1/30th second.

That’s just what is so unique about the QSF acoustic space. It is not just another dead studio gobo. It is not just a portable reverb chamber, or a new sounding sonic space. It is essentially an ergosonic designed acoustic space. It recreates a natural, color-free sonic environment inside one of the most unnatural sonic environments around, a small, rectangular room. The Quick Sound Field might even be considered to mark the beginning of a new era: The Greening of Studio Acoustics.

Basic Setups

Using Corners and Walls

The Quick Sound Field and Duets

Music is not just about soloists, sometimes it’s just great to work duets. One of the more typical duets is a guitar player and a vocalist. The QSF setup for this is to locate the two talents opposite from each other and join them with an acoustic hallway. The communication is excellent. Each person hears themselves and each other so clearly that in almost no time they are locked in sync. And that’s when the symbiotic energy levels start to build. What is even better about this is when you dip a mic into the middle of that acoustic space, the mic hears just exactly what you hear and that’s the sound that goes to tape.

QSF in the Live Room

A vocalist can use the StudioTraps to generate real-time acoustic effects. The foley artist needs to be able to create a variety of acoustic spaces quickly. Dubbing artists have to work in an acoustic space that simulates the original space. Voiceover workers need their acoustic to match that of the original as do people doing dialog insertion. Music is not just about soloists, sometimes it’s just great to work duets. One of the more typical duets is a guitar player and a vocalist. The QSF setup for this is to locate the two talents opposite from each other and join them with an acoustic hallway. The communication is excellent. Each person hears themselves and each other so clearly that in almost no time they are locked in sync. And that’s when the symbiotic energy levels start to build. What is even better about this is when you dip a mic into the middle of that acoustic space, the mic hears just exactly what you hear and that’s the sound that goes to tape.

Orchestra Notes: Solving Ensemble Woes and Horn Rivalries

Often in recording sessions, the orchestra gets pushed up against a wall. People and mics along the wall hear each other too loudly; they get almost a hallway effect. Adding StudioTraps on 3 foot centers alongside the wall, with the reflectors facing outward, eliminates this hallway effect and provides just enough bandwidth of bass absorption and treble diffusion to soften the wall.

Mixing the Sound: QSF in the AttackWall

Often in recording sessions, the orchestra gets pushed up against a wall. People and mics along the wall hear each other too loudly; they get almost a hallway effect. Adding StudioTraps on 3 foot centers alongside the wall, with the reflectors facing outward, eliminates this hallway effect and provides just enough bandwidth of bass absorption and treble diffusion to soften the wall.

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