- Ease Of Use
Ever curious about how your rooms acoustics are? Are you getting issues in your mix in consistent frequency areas? Do you find the volume of certain notes on the keyboard disproportionately loud or quiet to the neighboring notes?
Every room on the planet (aside from anechoic chambers) have sonic reflections. Soundwaves are pinging back and forth from all the surfaces around us. For the most part, our brains use these reflections to judge distance, direction, and a host of other subconscious cues informing of the world around us. When we’re sitting at our desk trying to mix a tune, however, these errant sound waves can become quite a nuisance.
I’ve recently moved studio spaces, and was wanting to discover more about the acoustics in my room, and where/how to treat them.
I came across FuzzMeasure, created by the award-winning Ontario-based creative studio SuperMegaUltraGroovy. FuzzMeasure is an acoustic measurement tool specifically constructed for Mac computers, so I decided to give it a go; see how it worked, and how it helped me in my quest for better room acoustics.
To be able to use FuzzMeasure, you need the right equipment. This review is written with the understanding that you’ll have the necessary equipment to create and measure the sound in the room.
Essentially, a decent sound card, preamp, calibration/measurement mic (here you can find a good range of calibration mics that will do the job), and your monitors.
FuzzMeasure is supremely easy to start. Once you’ve got your gear setup correctly, it’s a simple case of selecting a template suited to your needs, clicking the + button, and starting your measurements. A one second sine sweep is picked up by your microphone; FuzzMeasure’s algorithms do their dirty work, and a graph pops up a few seconds later. If the signal’s too hot, or too quiet, the software lets you know and doesn’t take a measurement.
The GUI is super clean and if you’re a fan of infographics, this’ll float your boat. Once you’ve made the measurement, you can choose from a further 18 measurements to display in a vertical stream. The measurements cover both frequency and time domains. There’s also a measurement blending the two – a beautiful ‘waterfall’ graph, where the Z axis shows the decay time over frequency. This is perhaps the most useful measurement for me when listening in my room. Here’s an initial measurement of my room shown as a waterfall graph:
It immediately confirmed what my ears were telling me – there’s a hole in the low mids. But it also showed me some other really useful information, that I hadn’t picked up with my ears: there’s a strong resonance at around 90Hz, shown here as a ridge just to the left of 100Hz. That resonance was messing with my low-end clarity.
Another measurement that helped was the reverberation (T20), which is one of a handful that conform to ISO standards for acoustic measurements in an enclosed space (3382).
You can keep adding to the measurement the graphs you wish to see. On the right-hand side of the GUI window is a measurements/graph infobox, where you can see the settings for the particular graph. If you want to change the range of the graph, you do it here. I changed the freq range of the waterfall and printed that graph. It showed even more info about the low-end response in my room:
You can also zoom into any of the graphs to check a specific frequency. You can choose between line graph or bar graph, and you can choose and lock graph extents, or just have FuzzMeasure do it automatically.
By moving my monitors around, and adjusting the position of my Bass Traps, I flattened out the response curve in the room enough to make a noticeable difference. I also killed the resonance in a couple of modes, which made a huge difference to the low end, tightening the sound up, and clarifying.
What was really helpful as I moved stuff around, was to be able to overlay several of the same curve from different measurements. So I could directly compare the original frequency response with the same measurement once I’d moved the Monitors up or down, and could directly see the effect the positioning had on the modes in the room.
I also found the frequency response curve very useful, as well as the reverberation time (T20) curve. Notice how after repositioning the bass traps, I managed to cut the decay time of problem frequencies almost in half. Audibly noticeable difference!
Here’s an overlay of initial and final waterfalls. I’m moving the graph around with my mouse in this video. Notice the resonances on the room modes are a lot less, and the frequency response is a lot flatter. (although still not as flat as I’d like!)
You can import your own sweep impulses and mic calibration data for the measurement mic you use. If you can’t use the FuzzMeasure software in a particular place, you can take field recordings of the space, and import it into FuzzMeasure to get the measurements of the place.
Here is a measurement of my room before and after changing monitor placement and absorption (blue before, pink after)
FuzzMeasure is absolutely fantastic software, and more useful than I anticipated. I loved the ease of viewing the different measurements, and overlaying results for comparison. As you can see, it had a dramatic effect on my room acoustics after only a few hours of work adjusting monitor placement, positioning of bass traps and absorbers, and adjusting listening position in the room.
One thing I would mention is that although starting the software is simple, the following learning curve is quite steep, and I feel the software would benefit from a tight walkthrough that shows the correct steps in setting up hardware, calibrating to software etc. This would greatly reduce the possibility of miscapturing, or misreading measurements in your room.
Something that I wasn’t expecting from reading the measurements was that I knew where the issues were in the spectrum, and so would know to listen to those areas when I was listening to my mixes in other spaces, to see how they translated. This definitely helped speed up the mix process for me.
Price and Availability
You have to have at least OS X Yosemite for this version of FuzzMeasure. It only costs $99.99 if you are using it in your personal studio.
If you’re going to be using it in a commercial studio, and want blanket maintenance cover and free updates, it’s $499.99.
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For more information on FuzzMeasure, click here.
Also, if you would like to improve the stereo imaging of your monitor speakers and headphones when listening to/mixing music and sound. make sure to check out our Sonarworks Reference 4 review!
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