How do I increase reverb in a small room?
September 7, 2016 4:45 PM   Subscribe

I have a small 63" x 64" breakfast nook in my house. Is it workable to close it off, put in a door, and maximize the reverb to make it into a one-person music practice room for my household?

Is the room large enough to get any effect? Can this be done for less than $1K?

(I hear music rooms are supposed to be anechoic. Perhaps for real musicians, of which I am not one. I want something fun to sing and play in, as a stairwell is.)

Great video showing anechoic room and reverberation room:
posted by Jennifer S. to Sports, Hobbies, & Recreation (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
i suppose you could tile it and get that 'singing in the shower' feel...
posted by noloveforned at 4:54 PM on September 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

What about using a mic with a reverb machine/pedal/software plugin and headphones?
posted by TrinsicWS at 5:00 PM on September 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

As a musician, I would hate playing in the example room you linked to, other than every now and then for novelty or for really specific purposes. A big part of what makes reverb in something like a stairway or church pleasing is the delay caused by the sound having to travel a good distance to the far walls before bouncing off them and returning to you. Five feet's reflection is almost instantaneous, so even if you added lots of reflective material, you'd get something more like being in a tiny bathroom rather than something most people would find enjoyable.

I don't know what the reverb room in the video is intended for, but usually something like that in a recording studio would be used by having a speaker fed from the recording played through it and mixed into the main mix as a small percent of the sound rather than something performers would usually be inside.

If using headphones is too wonky for your purposes, you might run a mic into an effects unit and run that into speakers to add some reverb to the room. That way you could get assorted flavors depending on what you were playing at the time.

I hear music rooms are supposed to be anechoic.

Not really. Anechoic rooms tend to sound very sterile and unpleasant - music rooms might use some sound absorptive material to shape the reflections but don't generally try to avoid them entirely. Practice rooms in colleges are often heavily padded, but that's more about trying to prevent sound from leaking from one room to another than being anechoic.
posted by Candleman at 8:01 PM on September 7, 2016 [2 favorites]

On one hand this would feel pretty claustrophobic, even if there's a window. 64in square would just allow me to extend my arms diagonally.

On the second hand, natural reverb depends on a room's volume, shape, and the nature of its surfaces. It's simply physically impossible for a room of that size to have a lot of reverb, which you can test by playing with the "room size" parameter that comes pretty standard on a lot of reverb plugins. You would need walls of tungsten or diamond over marble backing to get reflection high enough for noticeably longer reverb, and even then it might not work with a person in the room.

Tiling is probably your best bet for the budget.
posted by rhizome at 8:45 PM on September 7, 2016 [1 favorite]

I think the guy in your video explains it pretty well. Hard surfaces is the most important factor. Think in terms of making the sound bounce around as much as possible, that's what reverb is.

You don't have a very big room. If the ceiling is high that helps, all distances count. I've seen small rooms for that purpose that had rounded corners, but I don't know the details.

This is probably not something MF is going to give you a definitive answer to. You're going to have to do some research.
posted by bongo_x at 10:45 PM on September 7, 2016

Consider that reverb pedals have settings like 'cathedral', but not 'walk in freezer' or 'large bathtub'.

Sorry, I think the idea is best but my suspicion is that at that size it can't/ won't give you that fun feeling, for the reasons above regarding delay time.
posted by SaltySalticid at 6:29 AM on September 8, 2016 [2 favorites]

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